The Case Against Atheism From S. E. Cupp

S. E. Cupp takes on Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and the group she terms “neoatheists” in an opinion piece in the Daily News. But who the hell is S. E. Cupp and why should we care?

Back in college, while I was busy pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers made me an intellectual giant, my fiftysomething father, who’d worked so hard to send me there, was quietly being saved. Having long eschewed any ties to his Southern Baptist upbringing, he suddenly found himself born again and on a quest to know God better.

As a longtime atheist, I was a little surprised. But eventually I came to be relieved by this development. While my friends’ fathers were buying flashy sports cars and exchanging their wives for models, my own father was turning inward and asking: Is there more to life than this?

I was also proud of him for becoming a student again. As I watched him pore over C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel and even neoatheist thinkers such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, I thought it amazing that he still wanted to learn something new.

It was a revelation I’d experience over and over again – meeting faithful believers and discovering that, no matter how long they’d been in the fold, many were still on a dogged quest for spiritual knowledge.

And it’s why I decided to go back to school as well and study religion in a more meaningful way. It wasn’t necessarily an acknowledgment of a higher power, but a realization that I knew little about the beliefs I had railed so arrogantly against.

Which brings me to the problem with modern atheism, embodied by the likes of Harris and Hitchens, authors of “The End of Faith” and “God Is Not Great,” respectively. So often it seems like a conversation ender, not a conversation starter. And the loudest voices of today’s militant atheism, for all their talk of rational thought, don’t seem to want to do too much thinking at all. As James Wood wrote in The New Yorker, “The new atheists do not speak to the millions of people whose form of religion is far from the embodied certainties of contemporary literalism. Indeed, it is a settled assumption of this kind of atheism that there are no intelligent religious believers.”

What spiritual quest are they on, except to put an abrupt end to those like my father’s? For them, the science is settled, the data are conclusive and the book (no, not the Good Book) has been written. Time for everyone else to pack up and move on to other business, like, presumably, accumulating wealth and fulminating at the sight of the nearest Christmas tree.

The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. That’s both meanspirited and radically unenlightened…

[continues in the Daily News]

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  • Bob

    If somebody told you having a gun made them more spiritual would you believe them? Anyone who looks to the supernatural or the old book for answers is opening themselves up to an overwhelming onslaught of nonsense. If you want to look for a way to change your life look no further than The Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. Extract only the value, throw away the garbage.

  • Bob

    If somebody told you having a gun made them more spiritual would you believe them? Anyone who looks to the supernatural or the old book for answers is opening themselves up to an overwhelming onslaught of nonsense. If you want to look for a way to change your life look no further than The Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. Extract only the value, throw away the garbage.

  • Hadrian999

    where was the case?

  • Hadrian999

    where was the case?

  • Butter Knife

    Icky, now I kind of agree with something from the Daily News…

    Most “atheists” seem to me rather like most “Christians” to me: dogmatic, unenlightened, pretentious, condescending, obnoxious, and, most damning of all, an absolute bore. In fact, I think the Quagmire Rant pretty well sums up my feelings, at least in spirit, for both groups.

    There are, of course, a small minority of people out there who are thoughtful and rational and eloquent, who are able to clearly and honestly state why they believe what they do, why they don’t believe what they don’t, and acknowledge the vast quantity of things they simply don’t know. Regardless of their beliefs, these are the people with whom a religious discussion is worth having, not least because it is actually possible to have one.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      on the bright side…after being bored by an atheist…you can still go hump the partner of your choice, soak up a cold one, visit an abortion clinic or gay bar or in general do anything you like…

      a pity the same can’t be said for the other side of the equation

      • Manny Furious

        I consider myself to be a “spiritual” person (for lack of a better word, though I would say I’m an agnostic). And I can still enjoy those things…. I can also go through the Christmas season without being a miserable wretch.

        My biggest problem with with the modern Atheist movement is that it sets up a bunch of false dichotomies and feels proud of itself because it’s the lesser of two evils….

        In short, there is more to religion/theism than Abrahamic literalism.

        • emperorreagan

          I think it’s a natural reaction to the literalist loons that have dominated religious discussion. People of more moderate views, religious scholars, and the like haven’t really done a good job steering the public debate away from the nutso fringe, so now in the neoatheists you’ve got an entire movement that’s basically pointing out that people who believe the earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are faked by some trickster deity who is constantly testing your faith are fucking stupid.

          Ultimately, the entire public discourse (not just religious) since Reagan in the US has turned to a lunatic fantasy fringe, so while I don’t necessarily agree with everything someone like Richard Dawkins has to say, it is always refreshing to have someone willing to yell “hey, dummy!” at the child playing chicken in the street.

      • http://twitter.com/jennydevildoll Jenny DevilDoll

        I’ll do all that stuff anyway. I don’t need the permission of an atheist, Christian, or anyone else.

        Anyhow, this article to me didn’t seem to really be a case against atheism itself. More a case against the behavior of some (not all) atheists.

  • Butter Knife

    Icky, now I kind of agree with something from the Daily News…

    Most “atheists” seem to me rather like most “Christians” to me: dogmatic, unenlightened, pretentious, condescending, obnoxious, and, most damning of all, an absolute bore. In fact, I think the Quagmire Rant pretty well sums up my feelings, at least in spirit, for both groups.

    There are, of course, a small minority of people out there who are thoughtful and rational and eloquent, who are able to clearly and honestly state why they believe what they do, why they don’t believe what they don’t, and acknowledge the vast quantity of things they simply don’t know. Regardless of their beliefs, these are the people with whom a religious discussion is worth having, not least because it is actually possible to have one.

  • Blamma

    “The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. That’s both meanspirited and radically unenlightened”

    This is a conclusion drawn from hurt. The militant atheist will most of the time be people who themselves were oppressed by religion, but no longer allow it. They see religion as a whole as oppression and wish the rid the world of it.

    But the idea is not to create that hurt. The idea is to let reason prevail and to get rid of the thing that oppresses. This is all perception on both sides, and so argumentation ensues. People who encounter their criticism feel hurt because of it.

    Saying that they’re “meanspirited and unenlightened” is a thinly veiled insult, akin to an angry child trying to cover up its rage against those nasty parents, setting bed time at 8 while their friends stay up till 9.

    They feel hurt and jump to the conclusion that this hurt was the goal of the militant atheist. It is not.

  • Blamma

    “The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. That’s both meanspirited and radically unenlightened”

    This is a conclusion drawn from hurt. The militant atheist will most of the time be people who themselves were oppressed by religion, but no longer allow it. They see religion as a whole as oppression and wish the rid the world of it.

    But the idea is not to create that hurt. The idea is to let reason prevail and to get rid of the thing that oppresses. This is all perception on both sides, and so argumentation ensues. People who encounter their criticism feel hurt because of it.

    Saying that they’re “meanspirited and unenlightened” is a thinly veiled insult, akin to an angry child trying to cover up its rage against those nasty parents, setting bed time at 8 while their friends stay up till 9.

    They feel hurt and jump to the conclusion that this hurt was the goal of the militant atheist. It is not.

  • Observing Ego

    S E Cupp likes to distort the news and reality, much like Glenn Beck, and you can hear that clearly in her interview with The Young Turks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWu5fLRCFDk

    She is very pretty though.

  • Observing Ego

    S E Cupp likes to distort the news and reality, much like Glenn Beck, and you can hear that clearly in her interview with The Young Turks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWu5fLRCFDk

    She is very pretty though.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    on the bright side…after being bored by an atheist…you can still go hump the partner of your choice, soak up a cold one, visit an abortion clinic or gay bar or in general do anything you like…

    a pity the same can’t be said for the other side of the equation

  • 5by5

    In the article, James Wood, speaking of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens stated that, “It is a settled assumption of this kind of atheism that there are no intelligent religious believers.”

    This is quite simply not the case.

    Their contention is not that all religious believers are idiots, but rather that because of religion’s insistence on belief without proof, otherwise intelligent people can be made to act in stupid ways according to those beliefs, which are not founded on any sort of objectively provable logic.

    Or as Voltaire famously said about religion and it’s pushers, “Those who can get you to believe in absurdities can get you to commit atrocities.”

    The author is also in error in this characterization, where she claims that, “The fact that religion has inexplicably persisted, even despite Copernicus, Darwin and the Enlightenment, doesn’t seem to have much sociological meaning for them.”

    Rather, it is of supreme concern for them, and the subject (especially in Sam Harris’ case) of a great deal of research, as the persistence of illogical Iron Age ideas (talking snakes, invisible presences, the insistence on places like Hell or Heaven about which there is no objective proof, talking burning bushes, etc.) in the face of modern advancements is disturbing, primarily because at the present time, they are leading to a real threat to the human species in the form of war and environmental degradation. The so-called “new atheists” are concerned about the viral nature of religious thought, which can be nothing more than an extension of the viral nature of cult thinking or other forms of mindless groupthink which have huge survival disadvantages in the modern world.

    And especially in the current socio-political climate, for any religious person to arrogantly preach to atheists about humility strikes me as particularly ironic. It speaks to one feature of especially conservative religious and political thought, which is that of perpetual victimization. Even when such people had total power over all three branches of government, and have near total dominance over the media, they were relentlessly “under attack” from Liberals.

    And that pesky science seems to have recently confirmed that there are actual brain differences between those who think conservatively/religiously and others, namely the fear center of their brains is actually bigger.

    They are literally scaredy-cats frightened of their own shadows, and as such are desperately grasping at straws, even invisible super-beings to comfort them and assuage their fears.

    Put simply, they lack self-sufficient courage, and so must seek an external source to fortify themselves against both real and perceived slights.

    This is not dangerous to others if religion were truly personal, but since it is applied in the world, this mythological thinking has led to innumerable problems, and so the root cause must be addressed. And the root cause is blind belief. By definition, I do not wish to be led by those who are blind to logic and reason.

  • 5by5

    In the article, James Wood, speaking of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens stated that, “It is a settled assumption of this kind of atheism that there are no intelligent religious believers.”

    This is quite simply not the case.

    Their contention is not that all religious believers are idiots, but rather that because of religion’s insistence on belief without proof, otherwise intelligent people can be made to act in stupid ways according to those beliefs, which are not founded on any sort of objectively provable logic.

    Or as Voltaire famously said about religion and it’s pushers, “Those who can get you to believe in absurdities can get you to commit atrocities.”

    The author is also in error in this characterization, where she claims that, “The fact that religion has inexplicably persisted, even despite Copernicus, Darwin and the Enlightenment, doesn’t seem to have much sociological meaning for them.”

    Rather, it is of supreme concern for them, and the subject (especially in Sam Harris’ case) of a great deal of research, as the persistence of illogical Iron Age ideas (talking snakes, invisible presences, the insistence on places like Hell or Heaven about which there is no objective proof, talking burning bushes, etc.) in the face of modern advancements is disturbing, primarily because at the present time, they are leading to a real threat to the human species in the form of war and environmental degradation. The so-called “new atheists” are concerned about the viral nature of religious thought, which can be nothing more than an extension of the viral nature of cult thinking or other forms of mindless groupthink which have huge survival disadvantages in the modern world.

    And especially in the current socio-political climate, for any religious person to arrogantly preach to atheists about humility strikes me as particularly ironic. It speaks to one feature of especially conservative religious and political thought, which is that of perpetual victimization. Even when such people had total power over all three branches of government, and have near total dominance over the media, they were relentlessly “under attack” from Liberals.

    And that pesky science seems to have recently confirmed that there are actual brain differences between those who think conservatively/religiously and others, namely the fear center of their brains is actually bigger.

    They are literally scaredy-cats frightened of their own shadows, and as such are desperately grasping at straws, even invisible super-beings to comfort them and assuage their fears.

    Put simply, they lack self-sufficient courage, and so must seek an external source to fortify themselves against both real and perceived slights.

    This is not dangerous to others if religion were truly personal, but since it is applied in the world, this mythological thinking has led to innumerable problems, and so the root cause must be addressed. And the root cause is blind belief. By definition, I do not wish to be led by those who are blind to logic and reason.

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    SE Cupp is an idiot and a shitty writer. That’s about as much critical thought as I can afford this hack.

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    SE Cupp is an idiot and a shitty writer. That’s about as much critical thought as I can afford this hack.

  • Anonymous

    This in no way seems like a case against atheism. It seems like a very thin skinned person lashing out. Most atheists (me included) that I know are less concerned with wealth than the religious people I know. The atheists I know are generally more tolerant and less judgmental as well. This seems to come from the very ignorant assumptions that believers make of atheists. That we hate them, that we all want to rid the world of believers, that we have no morals or conscience, that we are self centered and money hungry, that we give cigarettes to toddlers and eat puppies.

    You never hear of an atheist complaining about the Amish. Why? Because the Amish don’t travel the world trying to convert people. They don’t pass laws based on their religion that effect everyone (gay marriage, in god we trust on money, “so help me god” in courts, we can’t even buy liquor on a Sunday in many counties and states throughout the country.) The Amish don’t bomb abortion clinics or use their religion as justification for wars and torture. The main problem that most “militant” atheists have with religion is not it’s general disregard for reason and logic, not it’s use as a source for comfort and companionship to people, but the desire of it’s followers to inflict their beliefs on the rest of us. Their desire to force the rest of us to adhere to their dogma, superstition, and commandments stem in many cases from blind belief and not from statistical analysis with unbiased observations of the effects.

    There’s my two cents anyway, I’ll just go back to watching politicians in tv explain why their religious beliefs and total lack of knowledge on important issues make them the perfect candidate to represent the people.

  • hunter349

    This in no way seems like a case against atheism. It seems like a very thin skinned person lashing out. Most atheists (me included) that I know are less concerned with wealth than the religious people I know. The atheists I know are generally more tolerant and less judgmental as well. This seems to come from the very ignorant assumptions that believers make of atheists. That we hate them, that we all want to rid the world of believers, that we have no morals or conscience, that we are self centered and money hungry, that we give cigarettes to toddlers and eat puppies.

    You never hear of an atheist complaining about the Amish. Why? Because the Amish don’t travel the world trying to convert people. They don’t pass laws based on their religion that effect everyone (gay marriage, in god we trust on money, “so help me god” in courts, we can’t even buy liquor on a Sunday in many counties and states throughout the country.) The Amish don’t bomb abortion clinics or use their religion as justification for wars and torture. The main problem that most “militant” atheists have with religion is not it’s general disregard for reason and logic, not it’s use as a source for comfort and companionship to people, but the desire of it’s followers to inflict their beliefs on the rest of us. Their desire to force the rest of us to adhere to their dogma, superstition, and commandments stem in many cases from blind belief and not from statistical analysis with unbiased observations of the effects.

    There’s my two cents anyway, I’ll just go back to watching politicians in tv explain why their religious beliefs and total lack of knowledge on important issues make them the perfect candidate to represent the people.

    • 5by5

      Excellent point about the Amish (whom I actually admire, because their convictions are personal, and they don’t impose themselves on others – they took Christ’s admonition to “live humbly” to heart — something I wish more Christians would do).

  • Andrew

    S. E. Cupp is an atheist.

  • Andrew

    S. E. Cupp is an atheist.

  • Manny Furious

    I consider myself to be a “spiritual” person (for lack of a better word, though I would say I’m an agnostic). And I can still enjoy those things…. I can also go through the Christmas season without being a miserable wretch.

    My biggest problem with with the modern Atheist movement is that it sets up a bunch of false dichotomies and feels proud of itself because it’s the lesser of two evils….

    In short, there is more to religion/theism than Abrahamic literalism.

  • emperorreagan

    I think it’s a natural reaction to the literalist loons that have dominated religious discussion. People of more moderate views, religious scholars, and the like haven’t really done a good job steering the public debate away from the nutso fringe, so now you’ve got an entire movement that’s basically pointing out that people who believe the earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaur bones are faked by some trickster deity who is constantly testing your faith are fucking stupid.

    Ultimately, the entire public discourse (not just religious) since Reagan in the US has turned to a lunatic fantasy fringe, so while I don’t necessarily agree with everything someone like Richard Dawkins has to say, it is always refreshing to have someone willing to yell “hey, dummy!” at the child playing chicken in the street.

  • Tom

    I am in agreement with the author. First f all, although, the, “new atheist”, writers don’t come out and say that all believers are fools there is a sub-text that states this assumed atheist opinion. Dawkins often refers to sincere intelligent believers as, “deluded”, rather than, “stupid”, as such, what he means is that believers live in a total fantasy world that no fully aware and intelligent person would enter. This assumes that the views of the religious are all indeed fantasy and that believers are trying to escape reality. Many others as well as myself have contention with the aggressive labeling of religious belief as either, “fantasy”, or “escapism”, fore, believers have a multitude of reasons why they hold to faith. I will not attempt to illustrate all the reasons why many hold religious belief such as Christianity, Islam or even Wicca to be true, that would take too much space, it would fill a huge book and most people probably would not read even an highly abridged version of logical defense of faith.

    Most of the many well educated atheists I know can’t even name the four Gospels, they don’t know the history of the Christian religion, they assume that most Christians are literal creationists and they believe that the universe or the alleged multiverse created it self and thats that. There is no room for serious discussion of faith with most of the educated atheists I know. I am glad to see that others take faith in God seriously.

  • Tom

    I am in agreement with the author. First f all, although, the, “new atheist”, writers don’t come out and say that all believers are fools there is a sub-text that states this assumed atheist opinion. Dawkins often refers to sincere intelligent believers as, “deluded”, rather than, “stupid”, as such, what he means is that believers live in a total fantasy world that no fully aware and intelligent person would enter. This assumes that the views of the religious are all indeed fantasy and that believers are trying to escape reality. Many others as well as myself have contention with the aggressive labeling of religious belief as either, “fantasy”, or “escapism”, fore, believers have a multitude of reasons why they hold to faith. I will not attempt to illustrate all the reasons why many hold religious belief such as Christianity, Islam or even Wicca to be true, that would take too much space, it would fill a huge book and most people probably would not read even an highly abridged version of logical defense of faith.

    Most of the many well educated atheists I know can’t even name the four Gospels, they don’t know the history of the Christian religion, they assume that most Christians are literal creationists and they believe that the universe or the alleged multiverse created it self and thats that. There is no room for serious discussion of faith with most of the educated atheists I know. I am glad to see that others take faith in God seriously.

    • http://twitter.com/traffician vincent unconvinced

      sorry, tom
      you’ll have to lay out for me how one can distinguish spiritual events, revelations, and objects from delusional ones.

      i do love to point out: it ain’t atheists blowing up abortion clinics, and praying over their sick kids instead of getting them medical attention. these are behaviors which seem to require a fervent belief in “something greater”. i’m sure all the world would love to know how to distinguish that something from the imaginary realm. lay it on me.

      • Tuna Ghost

        sorry, tom
        you’ll have to lay out for me how one can distinguish spiritual events, revelations, and objects from delusional ones.

        There’s a quote from Jung that deals with a similar question: when asked what the differences is between a shaman who sees or hears “sprits” and a schitzophrenic, he replied “the schitzophrenic is drowning, whereas the Shaman is swimming”.

        Asking this question sort of puts all unseen phenomena into one category (delusions), which isn’t fair. I doubt you’d claim that you see no difference, or are unable to tell the difference, between a revelation and a delusion. There’s a line, of course: the revelation that an intelligence far greater than our own would be impossible to comprehend or even notice is different from the revelation that a witch hexed you so that nobody wants to fuck you.

        To an outside observer, these things are hard to distinguish when they happen to other people, but like my favorite Bible teacher used to say: “if you want to know what someone believes, never ask them. Just watch them and they’ll reveal what they believe soon enough”.

      • Tuna Ghost

        Also, its unfair to characterize people who kill doctors and their own children by refusing medical care as “not atheists” (therefore religious). Atheists kill people for stupid reasons all the time also. You don’t have to be religious to do terrible things (it just helps if you are, because stupid reasons and justifications for them are usually close to hand).

        • that1guy

          The problem with this that many of the folks that attack abortion clinics or pursue faith healing and prayer in lieu of medical care on behalf of their children are explicitly religious, and their decisions are informed by their religion. I’d say it’s a minority of religious people, but are larger minority than people who mae such horrible decision informed only by logic and reason.
          Also, there’s decent evidence out there that Atheists find themselves on the wrong side of the law proportionally less frequently than theists do, at least in America. There’s got to be economic factors mixed into that, but either way, the “Atheists are just as violent and horrible” argument is really just conjecture if you’re talking about violence on an individual level.

          • Tuna Ghost

            I’d say it’s a minority of religious people, but are larger minority than people who mae such horrible decision informed only by logic and reason.

            That’s a bit of a false dichotomy; even religious people who do terrible things are using logic and reason, just with truth values most of us would consider…eh…less than accurate.

            Also, there’s decent evidence out there that Atheists find themselves on the wrong side of the law proportionally less frequently than theists do, at least in America.

            Agreed, but you also have to consider that the majority of people in America describe themselves (or are described by others, such as in polls or whatever) as religious, so that doesn’t say anything. You’d have to look at acts of violence inspired by religious beliefs which I think we can agree occur about as often as, if not less then, violence inspired by anger, greed, mental disorders, etc.

          • that1guy

            Good point on the first quote. I guess I meant to say that truth values informed by rational inquiry in empirical effects were less dangerous because they could be argued against or changed given different data sets.

            On the 2nd, I believe that prison study presented the percentage of American atheists in prison vs members of other religions, not just the religious demographics within prisons, so, should still be pretty demonstrative of the likelihood of an atheist in the USA to go to jail vs. the likelihood of anyone else. I suppose there could be an underepporting problem in prison as well, or something about being in prison that leads on to think about the world more from a religious perspective. Also, for the purposes of the argument I was trying to make, you are right, we’d need religiously motivated crime vs. whatever atheistically motivated crime would be. But the point still stands that atheists appear to be either more moral, more afraid of the consequences of law-breaking, or better at getting away with stuff.

    • 5by5

      Tom: “Most of the many well educated atheists I know can’t even name the four Gospels, they don’t know the history of the Christian religion…”

      Actually, that has been studied by the Pew Research Center, and proven to be false.

      Ironically, most likely BECAUSE they have more questions and are willing to confront them, atheists and agnostics actually tend to know MORE about the Bible and the Christian religion than even most believers. And not only are they generally more educated about the Bible, but they also tend to know more about other religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, etc.

      You can find the research on that here:

      http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/nation/la-na-religion-survey-20100928
      http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

    • that1guy

      Matthew Mark Luke and John.

    • Tuna Ghost

      Most of the many well educated atheists I know can’t even name the four Gospels, they don’t know the history of the Christian religion…

      Then I don’t think they can be well educated. The history of the Christian religion features fairly prominently in the history of the western world.

      …and most people probably would not read even an highly abridged version of logical defense of faith.

      Actually in America I’m willing to bet “most people” don’t read much of anything to begin with.

  • ken vallario

    one cannot rationally study human history without delving into matters of faith, psychology, belief and virtue. and when one does such a thing, it is very difficult to do so unimpressed by the complexity of some of our greatest teachers. however, most educated people exercise a healthy skepticism about religion without necessarily throwing the baby out with the manger…

    religion allows for the use of parable, and this is simply a profound way of arousing wonder, in many people, and often leads them to a set of virtues that can then be used to lead more productive lives. is there other ways to get there, of course there are, but religion is winning in the darwinian meme department.

    what i dislike the most about the new atheists is that they are taking on the very attributes they so despise in religion…dogmatism, disdain and dismissal. the fact is, that atheists are no better suited to prove their claims than spiritual people are. we simply don’t know the ultimate reality. if we did we would no longer need science.

    atheists and religious people best represent their beliefs by shutting up about them…this was what Jesus taught, but of course, his believers, unable to cope with silent adherence to a personal experience, used his words to create new forms of government.

    we should not create scapegoats for those things we despise. we all despise oppression, violence, superstition and suppression of our freedoms. there is no single agency responsible for these things, they are generated by the rotten apples among us, greedy, hateful people, and these kinds of people can be found in churches, governments, PTA meetings, chess clubs, video game lobbies, and in atheist organizations. let’s fight the activities not the justifications these people use, that is a fruitless and avoidant procedure, in my humble opinion.

  • ken vallario

    one cannot rationally study human history without delving into matters of faith, psychology, belief and virtue. and when one does such a thing, it is very difficult to do so unimpressed by the complexity of some of our greatest teachers. however, most educated people exercise a healthy skepticism about religion without necessarily throwing the baby out with the manger…

    religion allows for the use of parable, and this is simply a profound way of arousing wonder, in many people, and often leads them to a set of virtues that can then be used to lead more productive lives. is there other ways to get there, of course there are, but religion is winning in the darwinian meme department.

    what i dislike the most about the new atheists is that they are taking on the very attributes they so despise in religion…dogmatism, disdain and dismissal. the fact is, that atheists are no better suited to prove their claims than spiritual people are. we simply don’t know the ultimate reality. if we did we would no longer need science.

    atheists and religious people best represent their beliefs by shutting up about them…this was what Jesus taught, but of course, his believers, unable to cope with silent adherence to a personal experience, used his words to create new forms of government.

    we should not create scapegoats for those things we despise. we all despise oppression, violence, superstition and suppression of our freedoms. there is no single agency responsible for these things, they are generated by the rotten apples among us, greedy, hateful people, and these kinds of people can be found in churches, governments, PTA meetings, chess clubs, video game lobbies, and in atheist organizations. let’s fight the activities not the justifications these people use, that is a fruitless and avoidant procedure, in my humble opinion.

    • Moonstruck

      IMHO you’ve penned a good comment! As an atheist I’ll try to keep that in mind before I eat another foot sandwich. I find the mention of religion in casual conversation stifling & offensive. I’ll have to practice what you preach!

    • that1guy

      “one cannot rationally study human history without delving into matters of faith, psychology, belief and virtue.” True, but, and here’s the kicker, if you are not in some sense, dispassionate or otherwise not personally invested in the existence or non-existence of a particular religion, it can be very hard to view objectively the social and historical effects of that religion. You can’t do a cost benefit analysis of a mode of behavior if you refuse to look either at the costs or the benefits. Atheists that entirely deny the importance of spiritual experiences for much of humanity are, for sure, ignoring part of the picture. But a rich spiritual life does not necessarily provide a framework for a rational and sustainable society, especially if the cost of that spiritual life is complete adherence to ethical and social codes that are anachronistic at best and abhorrent at worst.
      And sure, there are plenty of negative behaviors we can fight against instead of religion or the notion of god, but how far do you really think we’re going to get if people can always counter with “this is what god wants us to do. It says so in Leviticus (the Qu’ran, the Vedas)”? You can’t easily edit out the horrible aspects of a religiously-affirmed worldview, without, on some level, challenging the authority of the parent religion vs. the authority of another logical system.

      • ken vallario

        mostly i agree with you, detachment is an important part of a rich spiritual or philosophical life. it is important to note those christian theologians who praise doubt as a path to higher transcendent religiosity.
        my challenge to you is this, and it goes to what i think would reveal most atheists as dogmatists. what if the universe is not rational? i know this is an irrational question, but it is nonetheless one that our language allows. and imagine mathematics if we excluded irrational numbers.
        the institution of science is much younger than religion…and in its short time as a dominant force, if only in western society, it has justified countless atrocities. again, i think the causality is pretty simple. ignorance leads to superstitious adherence to dogma..and if fascism is being served, then they will swallow that, if religion is being served, then they will use that. ignorance is simply a lack of awareness of one’s choices, and those in power cultivate this limitation, and yes, religion is often the tool…but science can easily take its place…it is simply a totem, a symbol, used to justify the manipulation of the masses.
        many would call free-market capitalism a type of religion, with its belief in the ‘invisible hand’…religions are everywhere, they can be understood as philosophies, or as forms of social artistry. and i think atheism is a religion…it is a refusal to be open to outside intelligences affecting our world…and i cannot rationally exclude that possibility. i simply don’t know enough to make that leap of faith.

        • that1guy

          I’m more agnostic or non-theist and spiritually open than I am an atheist in the very strictest sense of the word, as far as my beliefs about the whole of the existence beyond that which can be known by empirical study. Therefore, however practically irrelevant its consideration seems, I don’t really find the prospect of an irrational universe troubling. I know for a fact that there are people who self-identify as Atheist who think similarly to the way I do, and who are even more open to some far out notions about the nature of existence. But I can’t be completely sure if my and their comfort with the uncertainties of existence are representative of what you view as the whole of Atheism. It boils down to semantics, and if you want to label all spirituality as a belief in deity, than, by your definition, there are no open-minded atheists. but just because you equate atheism with a dogged belief in scientifically informed models of existence doesn’t mean that all atheists do.
          That said, and even given an irrational and unpredictable universe, I feel as if I have more in common with New Atheists, like Dawkins and Hitchens, both major proponents of basing practical opinions on scientific knowledge and cutting out the rest, than I do with most theists. The reason is that religion at the lay level, most often claims ultimate and final authority on all matters of existence: material, ethical, and otherwise. In contrast, Science, by definition, makes no such claims to truth beyond its purview. Scientific truths, expressed as theory and law, are, more accurately, democratically held and demonstrably empirically supported opinions on specific physical occurrences. They explicitly apply only within the context of that which is empirically observable. It is for this reason that I don’t want a priest who is otherwise unqualified building my bridges, planning the layout of my city, or deciding long term environmental conservation policy, whereas, given proper parameters, like “find the most mutually beneficial solution” I would trust a scientist to make important ethical decisions.
          For the record, you stated, to paraphrase, that science has been a “dominant force” for years now. This is patently untrue, at least in an American context. No one is elected in the US based on how knowledgeable they are about scientific issues, and yet, social issues defined by a religiously derived ethos are all very much still wedge issues.
          As far as your comments on free-market capitalism, I’d have to agree with you. Not enough people think critically about the economic effects of blindly following one economic strategy vs another. But I think fewer people would do so if they spent more time studying new developments in the social sciences, including economics, and developing skills for viewing all empirical phenomena through the lens of the scientific skepticism. Sorry for the reply being so long. You asked a lot of good questions.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    This has been said before, but apparently it hasn’t sunk in yet:

    “If Theists truly believe in God as much as they claim to, why are they so desparate to PROVE His/Her existence?”

    Face it, by definition the very concept of God precludes proof through mundane scientific methods. God represents the transcendant, beyond the shallow 3-dimensional categories of logical positivism. Why are these supposed ‘believers’ trying to reduce God to an inert object instead of the mind shattering, all-embracing being majesty that by definition He/She is?

    Efforts to prove the Deity’s existence (or impose some type of shitty human social agenda in His/Her name) should be utterly beneath the contempt of a true believer.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    This has been said before, but apparently it hasn’t sunk in yet:

    “If Theists truly believe in God as much as they claim to, why are they so desparate to PROVE His/Her existence?”

    Face it, by definition the very concept of God precludes proof through mundane scientific methods. God represents the transcendant, beyond the shallow 3-dimensional categories of logical positivism. Why are these supposed ‘believers’ trying to reduce God to an inert object instead of the mind shattering, all-embracing being majesty that by definition He/She is?

    Efforts to prove the Deity’s existence (or impose some type of shitty human social agenda in His/Her name) should be utterly beneath the contempt of a true believer.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      Theistic proofs like these set up a very strange and elusive dichotomy on top of it all. This is the separation between the ideal god, and the popular god. With the “Ideal” God is made up of all of the over-enveloping universal forms that are by definition incomprehensible such as omniscient and omnipresent etc. (and therefore of course scientifically unprovable yet somehow easier to believe). Then theres the popular god that shifts with the times depending on the popular beliefs, such as the current homo’s are evil, abortion is evil, and the like.

      I like to think of the popular god as the collective unconscious of the closed minded hyper-religious(which is separate than the full collective as they aren’t open to it). The interesting thing is that the popular god requires a religion to survive, the ideal god does not.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Yes, that’s pretty much how I understand it.

        I had to laugh a bit when I considered the possible implications of the distinction being popularly accepted, though. Can you imagine if the hard-core Bible thumpers were to acknowledge that distinction? They’d have to openly admit that they don’t give a flying fukc about the true mystery of God, and are in fact, more interested in sociology.

        ‘Guess that would make them some kind of Socialists, or somethin’, trying to impose an absolutist regime.

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          Well personally I think they care much more about their own well being and actually believe the myths of “do what (Pop) god says or go to hell”. I think it more likely that the thought process never goes beyond that point.

          Well, at least this goes for those that aren’t within the power-structures I guess, who can say what motives exist up there.

    • Hadrian999

      the problem with the proof theists use is that it isn’t proof, you can’t have any kind of debate with someone when their catch all defense is to quote lines of poetry, or site emotional responses
      to life events. neither side can ever really prove their own belief or disprove the other it all really just boils down to ego stroking.

      • justagirl

        yes. a massive…ego…stroke. then they get it.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        I think I get where you’re coming from–but I’m not 100% sure.

        I mean, yeah, neither side really accepts the exhibits offered by the other, but I don’t think that’s out of just plain mendacity. My current thought is that it’s an illustration of unspoken biases:

        1. Theists’ (strongest) arguments are based on psychological or non-measurable realities. Like the poetry you mention. Their ultimate appeals may be to things that are “real” in an unavoidable subjective sense, but not have a thoroughly tangible factuality. Even when they’re talking about things like “mountains exist, ergo someone had to make them”, clearly what they really mean is that the ways we perceive mountains are non-random, so there clearly is some intentionality involved in our EXPERIENCE of the mountain.

        That seems fair to me–provided they keep a clear distinction between Experience of a thing and the Thing itself.

        2. Atheists’ (strongest) arguments are based on empirically quantifiable, objective analysis. There is just no falsifiable data to unambiguously suggest that a particular mythological diety literally created the universe from nothing.

        In fact, this seems so obviously true, so logically certain (from a positivist perspective), that some people wonder why anyone’d waste the time thinking about the question at all.

        So maybe this is kind of a tomaYto/tomaHto sortofa thing. These two camps just keep talking past one another, usually without even thinking about what they themselves really intend to say.

        • Hadrian999

          at best you can attack and disprove teachings of various religions or ideologies but all that does is discredit the people themselves and does nothing to approach the greater question of is there meaning or is everything just cause and effect of laws of physics.
          you can probably scientifically disprove the literal text of just about every creation story from every faith that has one, that doesn’t disprove that there is some force behind creation, just that records of it are faulty, faithful people can document that prayer has positive benefits or that belonging to a church has health benefits, that doesn’t prove there is a god granting these benefits only that people respond well to these activities. we have no way of really evaluating the existence of gods, all we can really do is evaluate the effects caused by belief or non belief in them.

  • http://twitter.com/Huddibras Jonas Kjaersgaard

    I haven’t formally studied religion or, in fact, anything really, so perhaps this next bit will be an exercise in my own ignorance (for which I, as such, apologize). In any case, perhaps some of the other brilliant readers here can help me answer a few questions? I’ve actually been wondering about precisely this sort of thing for a while, but I’ll get to that. First off, though…

    “pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers…” How much would the beers need to cost for it to be an actual intellectual discussion? Or would it be better if she had been drinking wine? (Isn’t it silly to assume that people who discuss Neitzche, or anything during any activity, does so in a drunken, incoherent manner, instead of because they’re trying to express something and want to talk about it? And, as the buried little snag in that bit of writing is, isn’t it also silly to think that people can’t discuss “big questions” when they’re young or because they want to?)

    “And it’s why I decided to go back to school as well and study religion in a more meaningful way. It wasn’t necessarily an acknowledgment of a higher power, but a realization that I knew little about the beliefs I had railed so arrogantly against.”

    Along with the Neitzche thing, doesn’t it always follow that you don’t need to be particularly sober when discussing anything, but it certainly helps to know what you’re actually talking about? I mean, if you’re an atheist out of sense of “eh, don’t care, don’t mind”, then that’s perfectly reasonable, but if you actively “rail arrogantly against…” anything, how about knowing what you’re talking about first? Why didn’t she? Oh well. Perhaps that is why she’s so self-depreciatingly disarming about her drunken college discussions. She realized she was talking about someone about something neither of them had studied or understood, nor bothered to understand, not even engaged particularly in thinking about. How trite…

    Because that actually brings me to this, and I swear, this’ll be the last pick from the article (honest)

    “What spiritual quest are they on, except to put an abrupt end to those like my father’s? For them, the science is settled, the data are conclusive and the book (no, not the Good Book) has been written. Time for everyone else to pack up and move on to other business, like, presumably, accumulating wealth and fulminating at the sight of the nearest Christmas tree.”

    See, if you read those three above segments, doesn’t it rather seem like S.E Cupps is simply being mildly dismissive of “new atheism” on the grounds that she didn’t know enough about a doctrine she professed to following (atheism) and then, when she went back to do her Religious Studies and learned more about what she was actually ignorantly railing against, decided she had been silly?
    And so, because that was the fact for her, she concludes it must be the fact for everyone, ever, at all time?
    That’s what irks me, just a tiny bit.
    And obviously, in the light of her new “Revelation” brought on by “studying religion”, she complains about “those dogmatic atheists”?

    See, lots of people use the “you’re just trying to deny me my ability to find a meaning with a paltry existence” argument, as far as I can see.

    As an atheist I don’t set out with an iron sword to proclaim that any kind of spiritual quest is meaningless! And that if you try you’re deluded! Hah, you fool.
    No.
    If you sincerely are looking for something, I wish you the very best of luck. As do, I think, most atheists (And most PEOPLE, for gods sake). But, if you come back with a certain complete sense of… justification and try to cram things down my throat I know to be (sorry) useless balony based on baseless conjecture and silly superstitious wishes (I said sorry!) then I reserve the right to deny your claims and call you… well, a silly person.

    Let’s be honest here. To an atheist who has actually studied these things and thought about them (unlike, I guess, S.E Cupps in her college years?), the science IS settled and the data IS conclusive and the book HAS been written.
    Is there a possibility of this conclusion to being wrong?
    Yes. Definitively.
    Am I choosing to base my existence on the probability that I am probably right in thinking that I am the judge of my own actions and that I need to live a good, decent life, based not on some external source of Ominpotence, but on… Being a decent guy?
    Yes.

    That’s why it both surprises me and annoys me when someone refers to atheists as if they should somehow be doubting their position. “Dogmatic, close minded atheists”, such as it were. I mean, how many people here, hands up, would disagree with the notion that gravity exists? The data there seem pretty conclusive.
    And if you arrive at the point where you say “Okay, given what I know so far, and given what I understand about the nature of galaxies and star systems and people and how they think and how I think, I’m going to say that the chances of there being some kind of higher, divine, ominpotent power who cares about my sex life and wants me to donate to his church is very, very, very low. Practically nill.” then why would you ever, ever, not be close minded?

    “The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. That’s both meanspirited and radically unenlightened…”

    I mean, see that? The answer to it is both that I certainly do and that I certainly don’t. I don’t think anyone wants other people not to look for the answers. That’d be silly! It’d even be telling them not to think for themselves.

    But if your friends come to you and say they’ve found peace of mind per the worship of a potato, and furthermore, the speaking potato demands that you now remove all tomatoes and bread from your kitchen, or you friend will never speak to you again, aren’t you going to tell him he’s being silly? That his, well, beliefs are unjustified and probably a neurological disorder worthy of the attention of psychologists and the publishing of psychotherapy papers?

    Trite arguments that “well, other people believe in it (like the 95 % of the world bit)” and the like are just baseless justification again, again, again. Sigh.
    —-
    Wow that was long. Let me round it up.

    Isn’t the problem the assumption that, somehow, any belief system is holy and must not be questioned? Atheists refer to deep religious believers as “deluded” exactly because they appear to be deluded (in the world view of an atheist). Frankly, that does seem to be the case to me too, but at least I can be nice about it (I’ll just use terms like “selectively perceptive in regards to reality”).

    I mean: “I wonder what they’d say to someone like Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who says that her faith in Jesus Christ got her through 91 days of hiding in a 3×4 foot bathroom while her family was murdered outside. Would they tell her she was crazy? Delusional? To just deal with it? I would hope not – but I am not sure.”

    Obviously. She is deluded, in my opinion. I’m sorry for her loss, and I genuinely, genuinely hope this person is better off now, but for all the good I think it does, she might as well have been praying to the Holy Potato of the Boiled Kingdom.

    Does that make me arrogant?
    Or does it make people, like S.E Cupps, who “rail arrogantly against” things superstitious and silly and nitpickingly, politically correct, nice and friendly?

    Eh, merry Christmas everybody. I hope you enjoy your time, whether it be for religious reasons or any other reason. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Huddibras Jonas Kjaersgaard

    I haven’t formally studied religion or, in fact, anything really, so perhaps this next bit will be an exercise in my own ignorance (for which I, as such, apologize). In any case, perhaps some of the other brilliant readers here can help me answer a few questions? I’ve actually been wondering about precisely this sort of thing for a while, but I’ll get to that. First off, though…

    “pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers…” How much would the beers need to cost for it to be an actual intellectual discussion? Or would it be better if she had been drinking wine? (Isn’t it silly to assume that people who discuss Neitzche, or anything during any activity, does so in a drunken, incoherent manner, instead of because they’re trying to express something and want to talk about it? And, as the buried little snag in that bit of writing is, isn’t it also silly to think that people can’t discuss “big questions” when they’re young or because they want to?)

    “And it’s why I decided to go back to school as well and study religion in a more meaningful way. It wasn’t necessarily an acknowledgment of a higher power, but a realization that I knew little about the beliefs I had railed so arrogantly against.”

    Along with the Neitzche thing, doesn’t it always follow that you don’t need to be particularly sober when discussing anything, but it certainly helps to know what you’re actually talking about? I mean, if you’re an atheist out of sense of “eh, don’t care, don’t mind”, then that’s perfectly reasonable, but if you actively “rail arrogantly against…” anything, how about knowing what you’re talking about first? Why didn’t she? Oh well. Perhaps that is why she’s so self-depreciatingly disarming about her drunken college discussions. She realized she was talking about someone about something neither of them had studied or understood, nor bothered to understand, not even engaged particularly in thinking about. How trite…

    Because that actually brings me to this, and I swear, this’ll be the last pick from the article (honest)

    “What spiritual quest are they on, except to put an abrupt end to those like my father’s? For them, the science is settled, the data are conclusive and the book (no, not the Good Book) has been written. Time for everyone else to pack up and move on to other business, like, presumably, accumulating wealth and fulminating at the sight of the nearest Christmas tree.”

    See, if you read those three above segments, doesn’t it rather seem like S.E Cupps is simply being mildly dismissive of “new atheism” on the grounds that she didn’t know enough about a doctrine she professed to following (atheism) and then, when she went back to do her Religious Studies and learned more about what she was actually ignorantly railing against, decided she had been silly?
    And so, because that was the fact for her, she concludes it must be the fact for everyone, ever, at all time?
    That’s what irks me, just a tiny bit.
    And obviously, in the light of her new “Revelation” brought on by “studying religion”, she complains about “those dogmatic atheists”?

    See, lots of people use the “you’re just trying to deny me my ability to find a meaning with a paltry existence” argument, as far as I can see.

    As an atheist I don’t set out with an iron sword to proclaim that any kind of spiritual quest is meaningless! And that if you try you’re deluded! Hah, you fool.
    No.
    If you sincerely are looking for something, I wish you the very best of luck. As do, I think, most atheists (And most PEOPLE, for gods sake). But, if you come back with a certain complete sense of… justification and try to cram things down my throat I know to be (sorry) useless balony based on baseless conjecture and silly superstitious wishes (I said sorry!) then I reserve the right to deny your claims and call you… well, a silly person.

    Let’s be honest here. To an atheist who has actually studied these things and thought about them (unlike, I guess, S.E Cupps in her college years?), the science IS settled and the data IS conclusive and the book HAS been written.
    Is there a possibility of this conclusion to being wrong?
    Yes. Definitively.
    Am I choosing to base my existence on the probability that I am probably right in thinking that I am the judge of my own actions and that I need to live a good, decent life, based not on some external source of Ominpotence, but on… Being a decent guy?
    Yes.

    That’s why it both surprises me and annoys me when someone refers to atheists as if they should somehow be doubting their position. “Dogmatic, close minded atheists”, such as it were. I mean, how many people here, hands up, would disagree with the notion that gravity exists? The data there seem pretty conclusive.
    And if you arrive at the point where you say “Okay, given what I know so far, and given what I understand about the nature of galaxies and star systems and people and how they think and how I think, I’m going to say that the chances of there being some kind of higher, divine, ominpotent power who cares about my sex life and wants me to donate to his church is very, very, very low. Practically nill.” then why would you ever, ever, not be close minded?

    “The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. That’s both meanspirited and radically unenlightened…”

    I mean, see that? The answer to it is both that I certainly do and that I certainly don’t. I don’t think anyone wants other people not to look for the answers. That’d be silly! It’d even be telling them not to think for themselves.

    But if your friends come to you and say they’ve found peace of mind per the worship of a potato, and furthermore, the speaking potato demands that you now remove all tomatoes and bread from your kitchen, or you friend will never speak to you again, aren’t you going to tell him he’s being silly? That his, well, beliefs are unjustified and probably a neurological disorder worthy of the attention of psychologists and the publishing of psychotherapy papers?

    Trite arguments that “well, other people believe in it (like the 95 % of the world bit)” and the like are just baseless justification again, again, again. Sigh.
    —-
    Wow that was long. Let me round it up.

    Isn’t the problem the assumption that, somehow, any belief system is holy and must not be questioned? Atheists refer to deep religious believers as “deluded” exactly because they appear to be deluded (in the world view of an atheist). Frankly, that does seem to be the case to me too, but at least I can be nice about it (I’ll just use terms like “selectively perceptive in regards to reality”).

    I mean: “I wonder what they’d say to someone like Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who says that her faith in Jesus Christ got her through 91 days of hiding in a 3×4 foot bathroom while her family was murdered outside. Would they tell her she was crazy? Delusional? To just deal with it? I would hope not – but I am not sure.”

    Obviously. She is deluded, in my opinion. I’m sorry for her loss, and I genuinely, genuinely hope this person is better off now, but for all the good I think it does, she might as well have been praying to the Holy Potato of the Boiled Kingdom.

    Does that make me arrogant?
    Or does it make people, like S.E Cupps, who “rail arrogantly against” things superstitious and silly and nitpickingly, politically correct, nice and friendly?

    Eh, merry Christmas everybody. I hope you enjoy your time, whether it be for religious reasons or any other reason. :)

    • ken vallario

      mr. Kjaersgaard, you are a wonderful example of what people find so upsetting about the new athiests. there is an obvious contradiction between supporting other peoples’ search for meaning, and the accusations of ‘sillyness’. it is dismissive. and to be sure, you have every right to claim that many religious people are equally dismissive.

      questions like this can easily fall into social tension, precisely because the answer is unknown, and because it is tied to our most powerful emotions. science too is based upon certain assumptions, and every technological gain can be countered by technological dangers. these two paradigms can be antithetical or supplementary. the new athiests are working to bring about a final confrontation, and this is what more inclusive people find infuriating.

      mathematicians use illogical numbers to solve equations, and they work, and provide us with technologies that are mind-blowing and yet they will admit an inability to fully understand their own work, this is not rational, it is dependent upon tools that are counter to common sense. many things were once thought to almost impossible, like many of the recent finds in biology that exist in very unlikely places.

      what is upsetting about the new athiests is the sense of certainty…and certainty is an unscientific attitude, it is a form of hypocrisy. do i think this article could have been written with a more nuanced argument? Yes..but i support the discomfort, the sense that there is something illogical about this passion against religion, even though at the same time, i think there is much to critique in organized religion. let’s all take the blame, let noone be immune from a skeptical analysis…and please, focus on the crimes and the ethics and not the symbols they are wrapped in.

    • Moonstruck

      Interesting dissertation! Thank you for ur holiday wishes – have a safe & prosperous New Year ;)

      Even as a little boy I questioned my Catholic indoctrination at the hands of nuns & priests. After confirmation at age 13, I was allowed by my parents to forgo mass. I abstained from the ritual until my mother died 20 years later. Her funeral mass was performed by two of her brothers, both ordained priests in the order of the MSMHT. Some 30 years have past since & never once have I doubted my atheist convictions.

      In some ways I consider myself a secular Christian being brought up in a western tradition of religion. I have read the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, Eastern Orthodoxies, Nietzsche, Camus, Heilbroner & others. I keep my Bible close. On occasion I refer to the Five Books of Moses, Psalms & the Gospels of the New Testament. I favor the synoptic Gospels, Mathew being my fav. I have studied the archeology & history of the Bible as well has the traditions of Eastern religions.

      In contrast, I have also studied advanced mathematics, physics, astronomy, psychology & communications(BS degree).

      I give you this information as a testament to my “spiritual” growth. In his reply to you, Ken Vallario eschewed new atheist “certainty” for “skeptical analysis.” Indeed, I took much from his comment, but I confess that I, too, am certain of the “certainty” in the powers that control our universe and all things in it. For me It is not a belief system of which I speak, but a scientific fact of life tho the evidence is far from complete(not certain?). I am an old school atheist who has eschewed dogmatic, mythical & “fantastical” theism for the sanity of chemistry. I suppose I could say something cavalier like, “get real, people!” as I trot my proud steed into the fray of self righteous, religious bigots that haunt & taunt the humble masses into submission. Am I out numbered here?

      For me life is simple and meaningful: We are born of the “stuff” of the Universe, for atomic sub particle decay is uncertain. We live nurtured thru mother Earth’s bounty(if we are blessed), then we die, returning the basic elements of our being to the power of our Sun, and the stars that shine in the sky(God bless them).

      Amen!

      • Whitewm

        dude, youre an old school fool. Atheists dont seek comfort in a bible. You would lend credibility to religious mumbo-jumbo by saying you have also studied the real sciences. like it’s all two sides of the same coin. you loose all credibility as a “deep thinking” reasonable intelligent person when you say something so contridictory as you being an” atheist secular christian.” WTF. Thats like being a….philosophical moron.

    • Smashandgrabprod

      Try taking a little air out of the windbag. I stopped reading after two paragraphs.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Theistic proofs like these set up a very strange and elusive dichotomy on top of it all. This is the separation between the ideal god, and the popular god. With the “Ideal” God is made up of all of the over-enveloping universal forms that are by definition incomprehensible such as omniscient and omnipresent etc. (and therefore of course scientifically unprovable yet easier to believe than the ). Then theres the popular god that shifts with the times depending on the popular beliefs, such as the current homo’s are evil, abortion is evil, and the like.

    I like to think of the popular god as the collective unconscious of the closed minded hyper-religious(which is separate than the full collective as they aren’t open to it). The interesting thing is that the popular god requires a religion to survive, the ideal god does not.

  • ken vallario

    mr. Kjaersgaard, you are a wonderful example of what people find so upsetting about the new athiests. there is an obvious contradiction between supporting other peoples’ search for meaning, and the accusations of ‘sillyness’. it is dismissive. and to be sure, you have every right to claim that many religious people are equally dismissive.

    questions like this can easily fall into social tension, precisely because the answer is unknown, and because it is tied to our most powerful emotions. science too is based upon certain assumptions, and every technological gain can be countered by technological dangers. these two paradigms can be antithetical or supplementary. the new athiests are working to bring about a final confrontation, and this is what more inclusive people find infuriating.

    mathematicians use illogical numbers to solve equations, and they work, and provide us with technologies that are mind-blowing and yet they will admit an inability to fully understand their own work, this is not rational, it is dependent upon tools that are counter to common sense. many things were once thought to almost impossible, like many of the recent finds in biology that exist in very unlikely places.

    what is upsetting about the new athiests is the sense of certainty…and certainty is an unscientific attitude, it is a form of hypocrisy. do i think this article could have been written with a more nuanced argument? Yes..but i support the discomfort, the sense that there is something illogical about this passion against religion, even though at the same time, i think there is much to critique in organized religion. let’s all take the blame, let noone be immune from a skeptical analysis…and please, focus on the crimes and the ethics and not the symbols they are wrapped in.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yes, that’s pretty much how I understand it.

    I had to laugh a bit when I considered the possible implications of the distinction being popularly accepted, though. Can you imagine if the hard-core Bible thumpers were to acknowledge that distinction? They’d have to openly admit that they don’t give a flying fukc about the true mystery of God, and are in fact, more interested in sociology.

    ‘Guess that would make them some kind of Socialists, or somethin’, trying to impose an absolutist regime.

  • Cerebralsubversion

    The real “case against atheism” and theism is this: our science and society has completely turned their back on transpersonal experiences, deemed that they have no value, and relegated them to the realm of “crazy” or “not real” so we don’t have to think about them.

    Hey science, explain why DMT causes nearly everyone that takes it to have an Alien Contact experience, and why it exists naturally inside the human brain and is released at the moment of death. Oh and here’s a weird little thing that Science and religion both like to conveinently ignore – when people get close to death, they almost all have very similar experiences of transcending the physical realm and transitioning into the spiritual one – even when they’re legally braindead for extended periods. These experiences change peoples lives, often making them more compassionate and empathetic to others:

    http://www.iands.org/nde_archives/experiencer_accounts/

    Now, even the most hardened of scientist (or religious people for that matter) would have to concede that there’s, by the most cynical of accounts, 50/50 odds that: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE. The alternate view being that, yeah, but when you “actually die” everything just fades to black nothingness. Sure. One might theorize that basing a religion on encouraging people to achieve these types of transpersonal experiences might benefit mankind. It’s easy to call these things crazy, but if you then say, smoked DMT, it’d be like tag, now you’re crazy. Oh, wait, but DMT is illegal, and only one study has ever been conducted on it. Instead, we’ll feed people selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

    Also, remote viewing has demonstrated repeatedly that human minds in a light trance can pick up on a meaning that’s attached to a random number. Huh?

    I know this shit is impossible to wrap your head around when you spend your life in normal states of consciousness. I know how difficult it is to pull yourself out of the group think that is scientific materialism. I’m not even sure how I did it myself. It’s your choice to continually ignore these inconvenient facts. Have fun with that.

  • Roreygrey

    I think that the truth is that most atheists couldn’t give a toss about arguing their views about “god” at all. I mean, really, what’s the point in getting worked up about something that you feel just doesn’t and couldn’t exist. Rather it seems that atheists ( am I’m one of “them” ) take aim at the cults…errr, religions that grow up around such silly beliefs and the pernious effects they have on the world in which we all must share. The issue of “god” is truly secondary to the things that are done by human cults in “his” name.

  • Cerebralsubversion

    The real “case against atheism” and theism is this: our science and society has completely turned their back on transpersonal experiences, deemed that they have no value, and relegated them to the realm of “crazy” or “not real” so we don’t have to think about them.

    Hey science, explain why DMT causes nearly everyone that takes it to have an Alien Contact experience, and why it exists naturally inside the human brain and is released at the moment of death. Oh and here’s a weird little thing that Science and religion both like to conveinently ignore – when people get close to death, they almost all have very similar experiences of transcending the physical realm and transitioning into the spiritual one – even when they’re legally braindead for extended periods. These experiences change peoples lives, often making them more compassionate and empathetic to others:

    http://www.iands.org/nde_archives/experiencer_accounts/

    Now, even the most hardened of scientist (or religious people for that matter) would have to concede that there’s, by the most cynical of accounts, 50/50 odds that: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE. The alternate view being that, yeah, but when you “actually die” everything just fades to black nothingness. Sure. One might theorize that basing a religion on encouraging people to achieve these types of transpersonal experiences might benefit mankind. It’s easy to call these things crazy, but if you then say, smoked DMT, it’d be like tag, now you’re crazy. Oh, wait, but DMT is illegal, and only one study has ever been conducted on it. Instead, we’ll feed people selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

    Also, remote viewing has demonstrated repeatedly that human minds in a light trance can pick up on a meaning that’s attached to a random number. Huh?

    I know this shit is impossible to wrap your head around when you spend your life in normal states of consciousness. I know how difficult it is to pull yourself out of the group think that is scientific materialism. I’m not even sure how I did it myself. It’s your choice to continually ignore these inconvenient facts. Have fun with that.

    • that1guy

      Dude, scientists brought you acid, case-studies of the psychological effects(positive and negative) and anthropological conext of altered states of consciousness, including near death and shamanic experiences, and science will most likely bring you technologically induced “trans-personal experiences” within the next century.
      How about a couple fried new-age types give credit where credit is due every once and awhile.

  • Roreygrey

    I think that the truth is that most atheists couldn’t give a toss about arguing their views about “god” at all. I mean, really, what’s the point in getting worked up about something that you feel just doesn’t and couldn’t exist. Rather it seems that atheists ( am I’m one of “them” ) take aim at the cults…errr, religions that grow up around such silly beliefs and the pernious effects they have on the world in which we all must share. The issue of “god” is truly secondary to the things that are done by human cults in “his” name.

  • Will

    I think this is a weak peice of work, done by a person who is at heart a theist and soon to be born again christian. They are a crafty and cunning lot.

  • Will

    I think this is a weak peice of work, done by a person who is at heart a theist and soon to be born again christian. They are a crafty and cunning lot.

  • E.R. Tengberg

    i’m getting sick of this whole “there is no god” and “there is too a god” childish bullshit. there is probably no right or wrong answer because it’s probably unknowable and ridiculous for anyone to devote their life to “finding out the answer”. there probably is no answer, and even that isn’t an answer.
    i’m conflicted about those bus signs from a few years ago “there is probably no god, so enjoy your life” or whatever it said; on one hand, i can get behind the “enjoy your life” part, but this “neoatheist” thing is like a new religion and is very smug and insistent, especially coming from the mouths of bill maher and hitchens (who i think is a great writer and speaker regardless).
    and i feel that a belief or disbelief in “god” or whatever, is your own personal thing to cherish and to comfort you or guide you through life or whatever purpose it serves you. but that’s just it; it’s for YOU. believe in god, or don’t. i don’t need to know, nor do i really care, so long as you don’t try to force your system on me, and try to convince me that you’re right, or worse, to try to save me. if it helps you get through your day, that’s great, but i can’t help but think that the louder that people shout about their beliefs, the more insecure they are about them. if you believe, deep down, with absolutely not a shred of doubt that there is a personal diety watching over you that loves you and protects you, then you shouldn’t need to shout in people’s faces about it and no one’s opinion to the contrary should affect that belief. a shrug and a smile and perhaps the old “agree to disagree” should suffice.
    now keep in mind that this is a very simplistic view, and it does not take into account militant fundamentalists who are willing to kill and be killed in the name of their “god”.
    i can’t begin to understand that mentality or it’s logic, or lack thereof. and i don’t know how to even begin to address that or justify it or incorporate it into my, for lack of a better word, argument.
    no one knows, and it probably is painful to some when they realize it. and maybe we’ll find out when we die, or maybe we won’t.
    how about focusing on the current life that we are living and maintaining some sense of civility with one another?

  • E.R. Tengberg

    i’m getting sick of this whole “there is no god” and “there is too a god” childish bullshit. there is probably no right or wrong answer because it’s probably unknowable and ridiculous for anyone to devote their life to “finding out the answer”. there probably is no answer, and even that isn’t an answer.
    i’m conflicted about those bus signs from a few years ago “there is probably no god, so enjoy your life” or whatever it said; on one hand, i can get behind the “enjoy your life” part, but this “neoatheist” thing is like a new religion and is very smug and insistent, especially coming from the mouths of bill maher and hitchens (who i think is a great writer and speaker regardless).
    and i feel that a belief or disbelief in “god” or whatever, is your own personal thing to cherish and to comfort you or guide you through life or whatever purpose it serves you. but that’s just it; it’s for YOU. believe in god, or don’t. i don’t need to know, nor do i really care, so long as you don’t try to force your system on me, and try to convince me that you’re right, or worse, to try to save me. if it helps you get through your day, that’s great, but i can’t help but think that the louder that people shout about their beliefs, the more insecure they are about them. if you believe, deep down, with absolutely not a shred of doubt that there is a personal diety watching over you that loves you and protects you, then you shouldn’t need to shout in people’s faces about it and no one’s opinion to the contrary should affect that belief. a shrug and a smile and perhaps the old “agree to disagree” should suffice.
    now keep in mind that this is a very simplistic view, and it does not take into account militant fundamentalists who are willing to kill and be killed in the name of their “god”.
    i can’t begin to understand that mentality or it’s logic, or lack thereof. and i don’t know how to even begin to address that or justify it or incorporate it into my, for lack of a better word, argument.
    no one knows, and it probably is painful to some when they realize it. and maybe we’ll find out when we die, or maybe we won’t.
    how about focusing on the current life that we are living and maintaining some sense of civility with one another?

  • E.R. Tengberg

    i’m getting sick of this whole “there is no god” and “there is too a god” childish bullshit. there is probably no right or wrong answer because it’s probably unknowable and ridiculous for anyone to devote their life to “finding out the answer”. there probably is no answer, and even that isn’t an answer.
    i’m conflicted about those bus signs from a few years ago “there is probably no god, so enjoy your life” or whatever it said; on one hand, i can get behind the “enjoy your life” part, but this “neoatheist” thing is like a new religion and is very smug and insistent, especially coming from the mouths of bill maher and hitchens (who i think is a great writer and speaker regardless).
    and i feel that a belief or disbelief in “god” or whatever, is your own personal thing to cherish and to comfort you or guide you through life or whatever purpose it serves you. but that’s just it; it’s for YOU. believe in god, or don’t. i don’t need to know, nor do i really care, so long as you don’t try to force your system on me, and try to convince me that you’re right, or worse, to try to save me. if it helps you get through your day, that’s great, but i can’t help but think that the louder that people shout about their beliefs, the more insecure they are about them. if you believe, deep down, with absolutely not a shred of doubt that there is a personal diety watching over you that loves you and protects you, then you shouldn’t need to shout in people’s faces about it and no one’s opinion to the contrary should affect that belief. a shrug and a smile and perhaps the old “agree to disagree” should suffice.
    now keep in mind that this is a very simplistic view, and it does not take into account militant fundamentalists who are willing to kill and be killed in the name of their “god”.
    i can’t begin to understand that mentality or it’s logic, or lack thereof. and i don’t know how to even begin to address that or justify it or incorporate it into my, for lack of a better word, argument.
    no one knows, and it probably is painful to some when they realize it. and maybe we’ll find out when we die, or maybe we won’t.
    how about focusing on the current life that we are living and maintaining some sense of civility with one another?

    • http://ainefairygoddess.wordpress.com ainefairygoddess

      ” there is probably no right or wrong answer because it’s probably unknowable ”

      Not necessarily. There are some gods whose existence we can dismiss as being impossible. Those which violate laws of logic, such as the omnipotent god (who is powerful enough to create a task he CANNOT do), or the omnipotent, omni-benevolent, omniscient god (see Epicurus). There are also gods that can be dismissed because they violate scientific discoveries, such as the gods of the various Young Earth Creationists.

      “how about focusing on the current life that we are living and maintaining some sense of civility with one another?”

      This is one of the most important reasons to focus on religion, since religion, in particular, Christianity, can be used to justify ANY act as moral. Society with such memes will never progress since at any point in time any number of Christians may receive the revelation that any particular act is moral, and thus act on it and bring it into society.

      • Whitewm

        All organized religions are at their root, evil. they are about power, control and money. (the vatican “treasures” were just in this city.1000s of children die everyday of curable maladies…)
        If what you say about christian morals having the potential to get in the way of progress, then
        if they were in complete control we would have what? an age of scientific darkness? HA!

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Well personally I think they care much more about their own well being and actually believe the myths of “do what (Pop) god says or go to hell”. I think it more likely that the thought process never goes beyond that point.

  • Smashandgrabprod

    Whether or not there is a God or not is not my concern. But I can conclude that my fellow ‘Atheist Buddies’ are far more dickheaded, smarmy, smug, and condescending then any of my friends that harbor an ounce of spirituality or religious sentiment. Upon reflection, I’m starting to feel quite hollow about throwing my cards in with such a bunch of self-anointed pricks.

    Humble? Most of us atheists don’t know the meaning of the word. Maybe we should study that. And I need to drink beer with atheists that aren’t constantly straining to make their intelligence known.

  • Smashandgrabprod

    Whether or not there is a God or not is not my concern. But I can conclude that my fellow ‘Atheist Buddies’ are far more dickheaded, smarmy, smug, and condescending then any of my friends that harbor an ounce of spirituality or religious sentiment. Upon reflection, I’m starting to feel quite hollow about throwing my cards in with such a bunch of self-anointed pricks.

    Humble? Most of us atheists don’t know the meaning of the word. Maybe we should study that. And I need to drink beer with atheists that aren’t constantly straining to make their intelligence known.

    • Moonstruck

      Count me among the “smug,” “condescending” atheists of which you speak, however I don’t fancy myself as a “smarmy dickhead!”

      I, too, am an educated person, but I DO fancy myself as “humble” as Uriah Heep even tho he was an arrogant, conniving little prick.

      My main gripe with religion is that it’s a keg of dynamite with a short fuse. The spread of Christianity & western culture around the globe has alienated half the planet. Don’t get me wrong. I respect faith in God & I admire evangelical fervor, as much good work is done in the world by missionaries, but pleze put the nix on proselytizing. I fear Crusades that are hell bent on(cultural) rape, pillage & plunder. They need to be confined to the pages of Robert Payne’s “The Dream & The Tomb.”

      Nuff said.

    • Honu

      Oh but the overly religious types are humble? I’m no atheist. I had a spiritual revelation years ago and what I took away from it is that the breadth of the universe is such that it is truly multidimensional and truly unknowable in the traditional sense of using the conscious mind to understand it. I know there are higher consciousness’ in existence. I could call them gods or deities (even though I won’t). I don’t prosyletize about my beliefs to anyone and I don’t believe the point is to convert anyone to a belief system or to punish or dismiss those with a Christian, Muslim, Jewish or other perspective. They all have an essential spiritual core lost in the dogma anyway. But it’s funny how these people tend to be pretty smug about their beliefs when it comes to comparing theirs to others. ‘Oh we don’t do THAT in our religion” or “God would never support people with beliefs like that” . Like anyone subscribing to dogmatic religion has an inkling of the multiverse. Humble my ass.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I don’t quite fit Ms. Cupp’s mold…I’m completely content to let people have their views and their ideas and their faiths…in their own home.

    Where I lose ground and fall into the ‘mean ole atheist spoilsport’ category is right about the time some asshat with a bug up their butt from reading a collection of Bronze Age BS comes to my door or my school or my political offices and dictates what is and is not legally in accordance with the ‘one true way’ that has enlightened them and should be made a part of daily life for all other beings by force of law.

    In the end, religions are like cocks…its great to have one handy, its even nicer if you have a big one and love it often and proudly…but keep it in your pants when you’re in public…and don’t shove it other people’s faces or attack children with it or we’re gonna hafta put you down like a rabid dog.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I don’t quite fit Ms. Cupp’s mold…I’m completely content to let people have their views and their ideas and their faiths…in their own home.

    Where I lose ground and fall into the ‘mean ole atheist spoilsport’ category is right about the time some asshat with a bug up their butt from reading a collection of Bronze Age BS comes to my door or my school or my political offices and dictates what is and is not legally in accordance with the ‘one true way’ that has enlightened them and should be made a part of daily life for all other beings by force of law.

    In the end, religions are like cocks…its great to have one handy, its even nicer if you have a big one and love it often and proudly…but keep it in your pants when you’re in public…and don’t shove it other people’s faces or attack children with it or we’re gonna hafta put you down like a rabid dog.

  • Moonstruck

    Interesting dissertation! Thank you for ur holiday wishes – have a safe & prosperous New Year ;)

    Even as a little boy I questioned my Catholic indoctrination at the hands of nuns & priests. After confirmation at age 13, I was allowed by my parents to forgo mass. I abstained from the ritual until my mother died 20 years later. Her funeral mass was performed by two of her brothers, both ordained priests in the order of the MSMHT. Some 30 years have past since & never once have I doubted my atheist convictions.

    In some ways I consider myself a secular Christian being brought up in a western tradition of religion. I have read the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, Eastern Orthodoxies, Nietzsche, Camus, Heilbroner & others. I keep my Bible close. On occasion I refer to the Five Books of Moses, Psalms & the Gospels of the New Testament. I favor the synoptic Gospels, Mathew being my fav. I have studied the archeology & history of the Bible as well has the traditions of Eastern religions.

    In contrast, I have also studied advanced mathematics, physics, astronomy, psychology & communications(BS degree).

    I give you this information as a testament to my “spiritual” growth. In his reply to you, Ken Vallario eschewed new atheist “certainty” for “skeptical analysis.” Indeed, I took much from his comment, but I confess that I, too, am certain of the “certainty” in the powers that control our universe and all things in it. For me It is not a belief system of which I speak, but a scientific fact of life tho the evidence is far from complete(not certain?). I am an old school atheist who has eschewed dogmatic, mythical & “fantastical” theism for the sanity of chemistry. I suppose I could say something cavalier like, “get real, people!” as I trot my proud steed into the fray of self righteous, religious bigots that haunt & taunt the humble masses into submission. Am I out numbered here?

    For me life is simple and meaningful: We are born of the “stuff” of the Universe, for atomic sub particle decay is uncertain. We live nurtured thru mother Earth’s bounty(if we are blessed), then we die, returning the basic elements of our being to the power of our Sun, and the stars that shine in the sky(God bless them).

    Amen!

  • Smashandgrabprod

    Try taking a little air out of the windbag. I stopped reading after two paragraphs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JR6QMHI5D3L6Z4JJBSAKO4KJBE brock

    At first I thought maybe the author of this article was just a dim bulb, but after doing a little research it’s pretty obvious that she’s some sort of propaganda creation of the religious right. In that light the article transforms from just being weak sauce into something more sinister. Either way the article is crap, but the discussion in these comments is actually pretty interesting.

    My main beef with religion is that it subverts the most meaningful thing we can possible think about: what’s the meaning of life and what happens when we die. It’s a really fascinating subject, but if you’re part of an established religion you’re told the answer to these questions and if you are allowed to think about them, it’s only within the narrow parameters that the faith prescribes. Science on the other hand doesn’t have much to say on the subject because there’s not a lot of empirical data but goes on to model the world in as much detail as possible with the understanding that unlocking natures secrets is a worthwhile path to understanding our place in the world.

    The way I see things is that religion and science both only cast a thin veneer over what is the unknown. They were both devised by mankind to explain the workings of the world. It is common for them to be pitted against each other and atheist always seem to get pushed into the science camp–which I guess is fairly logical. I think religion and science can both be relatively viable ways to try and come to grasp with the unknown. While I would say something like christianity doesn’t really hold a candle to science, when you take all religious disciplines and thought as a whole and distill the philosophical aspects I think you could achieve something as robust as science when trying to figure out what it’s all about.

    That said, I think theist and atheist fall into the same trap of thinking the unknown can somehow be summed up better with their way of thinking. I’m definitely more in the science camp than in the theology camp, and it really annoys me when either side says that science has (or thinks it has) the ultimate answer to any question. Science is just a set of theories and the best theories holds sway until a better ones comes along. That might sound a little wishy-washy but there has been such an incredible amount of time and discipline devoted to science as a whole that the prevailing theories do a really good job of modeling the various aspects of the world that they are directed at. A true scientist has a greater appreciation for the things unknown than for things known. I can only assume that the same might be said of true theist.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JR6QMHI5D3L6Z4JJBSAKO4KJBE brock

    At first I thought maybe the author of this article was just a dim bulb, but after doing a little research it’s pretty obvious that she’s some sort of propaganda creation of the religious right. In that light the article transforms from just being weak sauce into something more sinister. Either way the article is crap, but the discussion in these comments is actually pretty interesting.

    My main beef with religion is that it subverts the most meaningful thing we can possible think about: what’s the meaning of life and what happens when we die. It’s a really fascinating subject, but if you’re part of an established religion you’re told the answer to these questions and if you are allowed to think about them, it’s only within the narrow parameters that the faith prescribes. Science on the other hand doesn’t have much to say on the subject because there’s not a lot of empirical data but goes on to model the world in as much detail as possible with the understanding that unlocking natures secrets is a worthwhile path to understanding our place in the world.

    The way I see things is that religion and science both only cast a thin veneer over what is the unknown. They were both devised by mankind to explain the workings of the world. It is common for them to be pitted against each other and atheist always seem to get pushed into the science camp–which I guess is fairly logical. I think religion and science can both be relatively viable ways to try and come to grasp with the unknown. While I would say something like christianity doesn’t really hold a candle to science, when you take all religious disciplines and thought as a whole and distill the philosophical aspects I think you could achieve something as robust as science when trying to figure out what it’s all about.

    That said, I think theist and atheist fall into the same trap of thinking the unknown can somehow be summed up better with their way of thinking. I’m definitely more in the science camp than in the theology camp, and it really annoys me when either side says that science has (or thinks it has) the ultimate answer to any question. Science is just a set of theories and the best theories holds sway until a better ones comes along. That might sound a little wishy-washy but there has been such an incredible amount of time and discipline devoted to science as a whole that the prevailing theories do a really good job of modeling the various aspects of the world that they are directed at. A true scientist has a greater appreciation for the things unknown than for things known. I can only assume that the same might be said of true theist.

  • Moonstruck

    Count me among the “smug,” “condescending” atheists of which you speak, however I don’t fancy myself as a “smarmy dickhead!”

    I, too, am an educated person, but I DO fancy myself as “humble” as Uriah Heep even tho he was an arrogant, conniving little prick.

    My main gripe with religion is that it’s a keg of dynamite with a short fuse. The spread of Christianity & western culture around the globe has alienated half the planet. Don’t get me wrong. I respect faith in God & I admire evangelical fervor, as much good work is done in the world by missionaries, but pleze put the nix on proselytizing. I fear Crusades that are hell bent on(cultural) rape, pillage & plunder. They need to be confined to the pages of Robert Payne’s “The Dream & The Tomb.”

    Nuff said.

  • Hadrian999

    the problem with the proof theists use is that it isn’t proof, you can’t have any kind of debate with someone when their catch all defense is to quote lines of poetry, or site emotional responses
    to life events. neither side can ever really prove their own belief or disprove the other it all really just boils down to ego stroking.

  • Roseblue

    Shitty article………

    If religion didn’t put ALL of us in SO much danger…………. it might be different. But when people are raising children in these belief systems………. we can only expect in the future what religion has given us in the past…. violence.

  • Roseblue

    Shitty article………

    If religion didn’t put ALL of us in SO much danger…………. it might be different. But when people are raising children in these belief systems………. we can only expect in the future what religion has given us in the past…. violence.

    • Tuna Ghost

      I’m an american white male between the ages of 25 and 55, religion doesn’t put me or anyone like me in danger. But it does provide comfort to plenty of people that people like me have fucked over for centuries. Violence hasn’t been the only product of religion, organized religions have also been at the forefront of organized charity for much of their history. Yes you can have charity without religion, but you can (and do) have violence without religion, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

      • 5by5

        You know when I became completely unimpressed with the notion of religious charity?

        When I worked at a Christian charity that provided food to the homeless — but only AFTER they sat and listened to a session of proselytizing and prayed over their meal. Refuse either? No food.

        I’m not terribly impressed by conditional love.

        • Tuna Ghost

          For the record, none of the Christian charity organizations I’ve worked for have done that, but the real issue is: are you going to let one case of an organization with limited resources requiring prayer and listening for eligibility color your entire perception of religious charity? Doesn’t that seem a bit silly?

      • that1guy

        “I’m an american white male between the ages of 25 and 55, religion doesn’t put me or anyone like me in danger.” Unless you’re Gay or Bi.
        The problem is that religion provides an unimpeachable set of moral codes as justifications for people that are prone to act violently. There’s a 100 Jerry Falwells for every Liberation Theologist that ever lived.

  • justagirl

    “blottoed”? wtf does that mean?

  • justagirl

    “blottoed”? wtf does that mean?

    • Liam_McGonagle

      It’s Grandpa talk for “drunk”.

      The intention here is so marginalize people who question religion as irresponsible, self-indulgent, stupid and inexperienced teenagers.

      However, this Cupp person is a “sophisticated” rhetorician and we’re only simple folk who’re supposed to be manipulated by it unawares. So whatever you do, don’t let on that you’re on to her, ‘kay? Might shatter her fragile ego.

      • justagirl

        ah. the “scribbling rabble”. thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/praticuschaotic Jon Doe

    I hate when people use the example like they did of the victim who finds Jesus. It completely draws up a logical fallacy and tries to trap the opponent in a villifying position by trying to create a false duality of either Jesus or [insert bad thing here...drugs...alcohol...depression]. It puts the responsibility of one’s mind as either in some fake god’s hands or to be completely dismissed. The real story with that should be to consider how the mind is ability to continue and change either on its own or through belief amplified through external stimulus like god stories. Religion itself is still a villainous slavemaster who demands obedience and gives false answers instead of accepting “i don’t know, let’s work and find out” as permissible while using “you don’t know either!” as justification for their myths…but the problem with that is that there is a result in so far as what I described above with ability to change via belief and there’s also Stockholm Syndrome combined with a kind of “there is no Santa Claus” type angst.

    Merry Christmas. :D

    /no, I’d never grinch a holiday or give someone trouble for saying merry christmas but I won’t avoid being intellectually honest about the religion itself…despite how nice the holidays are; but, I’m pretty sure most of the holidays existed before Christianity anyways so this isn’t that big of a deal. And what I said above goes for Islam, too….you’re just as wrong with your fake deity as the Christian fake deity.

  • http://twitter.com/praticuschaotic John Doe

    I hate when people use the example like they did of the victim who finds Jesus. It completely draws up a logical fallacy and tries to trap the opponent in a villifying position by trying to create a false duality of either Jesus or [insert bad thing here...drugs...alcohol...depression]. It puts the responsibility of one’s mind as either in some fake god’s hands or to be completely dismissed. The real story with that should be to consider how the mind is ability to continue and change either on its own or through belief amplified through external stimulus like god stories. Religion itself is still a villainous slavemaster who demands obedience and gives false answers instead of accepting “i don’t know, let’s work and find out” as permissible while using “you don’t know either!” as justification for their myths…but the problem with that is that there is a result in so far as what I described above with ability to change via belief and there’s also Stockholm Syndrome combined with a kind of “there is no Santa Claus” type angst.

    Merry Christmas. :D

    /no, I’d never grinch a holiday or give someone trouble for saying merry christmas but I won’t avoid being intellectually honest about the religion itself…despite how nice the holidays are; but, I’m pretty sure most of the holidays existed before Christianity anyways so this isn’t that big of a deal. And what I said above goes for Islam, too….you’re just as wrong with your fake deity as the Christian fake deity.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    It’s Grandpa talk for “drunk”.

    The intention here is so marginalize people who question religion as irresponsible, self-indulgent, stupid and inexperienced teenagers.

    However, this Cupp person is a “sophisticated” rhetorician and we’re only simple folk who’re supposed to be manipulated by it unawares. So whatever you do, don’t let on that you’re on to her, ‘kay? Might shatter her fragile ego.

  • justagirl

    ah. the “scribbling rabble”. thanks.

  • justagirl

    yes. a massive…ego…stroke. then they get it.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I think I get where you’re coming from–but I’m not 100% sure.

    I mean, yeah, neither side really accepts the exhibits offered by the other, but I don’t think that’s out of just plain mendacity. My current thought is that it’s an illustration of unspoken biases:

    1. Theists’ (strongest) arguments are based on psychological or non-measurable realities. Like the poetry you mention. Their ultimate appeals may be to things that are “real” in an unavoidable subjective sense, but not have a thoroughly tangible factuality. Even when they’re talking about things like “mountains exist, ergo someone had to make them”, clearly what they really mean is that the ways we perceive mountains are non-random, so there clearly is some intentionality involved in our EXPERIENCE of the mountain.

    That seems fair to me–provided they keep a clear distinction between Experience of a thing and the Thing itself.

    2. Atheists’ (strongest) arguments are based on empirically quantifiable, objective analysis. There is just no falsifiable data to unambiguously suggest that a particular mythological diety literally created the universe from nothing.

    In fact, this seems so obviously true, so logically certain (from a positivist perspective), that some people wonder why anyone’d waste the time thinking about the question at all.

    So maybe this is kind of a tomaYto/tomaHto sortofa thing. These two camps just keep talking past one another, usually without even thinking about what they themselves really intend to say.

  • http://twitter.com/jennydevildoll Jenny DevilDoll

    I’ll do all that stuff anyway. I don’t need the permission of an atheist, Christian, or anyone else.

    Anyhow, this article to me didn’t seem to really be a case against atheism itself. More a case against the behavior of some (not all) atheists.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/76FHPHYKHMGFG3VIHZRY72U56Y Matthew S

    Sounds like a troll to me.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/76FHPHYKHMGFG3VIHZRY72U56Y Matthew S

    Sounds like a troll to me.

  • Hadrian999

    at best you can attack and disprove teachings of various religions or ideologies but all that does is discredit the people themselves and does nothing to approach the greater question of is there meaning or is everything just cause and effect of laws of physics.

  • HeXXiiiZ

    “busy pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers made me an intellectual giant…”. As someone who actually understands and enjoys Nietzsche, I always find anecdotal reminiscing like this horrifying. Nietzsche, Freud, Hegel, etc… are not just bourgeois games played by the privilege class colligates during their tender youth as an expression of pointless social transgression and “experimentation”. It is no surprise that someone with this mentality would have to reevaluate their position on atheism under the condition of realizing they had not formed one in the first place. To someone like this, sure Nietzsche is just tosh, and why not simply go crawling back to ones inherited values with a patchwork of post-rationalizations when finding oneself out of familiarity viscerally wanting them to be true, so the big ideas can be disavowed as they were never comprehended to begin with.

    • ken vallario

      to paraphrase an idea from physics, ‘if you think you understand Nietzsche, then you don’t understand Nietzsche’
      i think we all remember our first youthful reading of Nietzsche…and that is easily distinguishable from reading him as an older person. all of the great thinkers are bifurcated in this way.
      just as in youth we conclude that Nietzsche is an athiest, in adulthood we find nobody more attached to God, more dependent upon a personified deity toward which he points.

    • Tuna Ghost

      I was under the impression the author was referencing a time in many of our lives, usually occurring in college yeas, when we thought we were much smarter and much more well informed than we actually were. There are a number of names the author could have substituted there and had the same effect.

      • justagirl

        WE DID??? *faint*

  • HeXXiiiZ

    “busy pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers made me an intellectual giant…”. As someone who actually understands and enjoys Nietzsche, I always find anecdotal reminiscing like this horrifying. Nietzsche, Freud, Hegel, etc… are not just bourgeois games played by the privilege class colligates during their tender youth as an expression of pointless social transgression and “experimentation”. It is no surprise that someone with this mentality would have to reevaluate their position on atheism under the condition of realizing they had not formed one in the first place. To someone like this, sure Nietzsche is just tosh, and why not simply go crawling back to ones inherited values with a patchwork of post-rationalizations when finding oneself out of familiarity viscerally wanting them to be true, so the big ideas can be disavowed as they were never comprehended to begin with.

  • http://twitter.com/traffician vincent unconvinced

    sorry, tom
    you’ll have to lay out for me how one can distinguish spiritual events, revelations, and objects from delusional ones.

    i do love to point out: it ain’t atheists blowing up abortion clinics, and praying over their sick kids instead of getting them medical attention. these are behaviors which seem to require a fervent belief in “something greater”. i’m sure all the world would love to know how to distinguish that something from the imaginary realm. lay it on me.

  • Tuna Ghost

    sorry, tom
    you’ll have to lay out for me how one can distinguish spiritual events, revelations, and objects from delusional ones.

    There’s a quote from Jung that deals with a similar question: when asked what the differences is between a shaman who sees or hears “sprits” and a schitzophrenic, he replied “the schitzophrenic is drowning, whereas the Shaman is swimming”.

    Asking this question sort of puts all unseen phenomena into one category (delusions), which isn’t fair. I doubt you’d claim that you see no difference, or are unable to tell the difference, between a revelation and a delusion. There’s a line, of course: the revelation that an intelligence far greater than our own would be impossible to comprehend or even notice is different from the revelation that a witch hexed you so that nobody wants to fuck you.

    To an outside observer, these things are hard to distinguish when they happen to other people, but like my favorite Bible teacher used to say: “if you want to know what someone believes, never ask them. Just watch them and they’ll reveal what they believe soon enough”.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Also, its unfair to characterize people who kill doctors and their own children by refusing medical care as “not atheists” (therefore religious). Atheists kill people for stupid reasons all the time also. You don’t have to be religious to do terrible things (it just helps if you are, because stupid reasons and justifications for them are usually close to hand).

  • Tuna Ghost

    I’m an american white male between the ages of 25 and 55, religion doesn’t put me or anyone like me in danger. But it does provide comfort to plenty of people that people like me have fucked over for centuries. Violence hasn’t been the only product of religion, organized religions have also been at the forefront of organized charity for much of their history. Yes you can have charity without religion, but you can (and do) have violence without religion, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I’m an american white male between the ages of 25 and 55, religion doesn’t put me or anyone like me in danger. But it does provide comfort to plenty of people that people like me have fucked over for centuries. Violence hasn’t been the only product of religion, organized religions have also been at the forefront of organized charity for much of their history. Yes you can have charity without religion, but you can (and do) have violence without religion, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

  • ken vallario

    to paraphrase an idea from physics, ‘if you think you understand Nietzsche, then you don’t understand Nietzsche’
    i think we all remember our first youthful reading of Nietzsche…and that is easily distinguishable from reading him as an older person. all of the great thinkers are bifurcated in this way.
    just as in youth we conclude that Nietzsche is an athiest, in adulthood we find nobody more attached to God, more dependent upon a personified deity toward which he points.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I am utterly shocked that the discussion has not, at any point, fallen into the “religion is retarded//no, you’re retarded” stage. Shocked and very pleased.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I am utterly shocked that the discussion has not, at any point, fallen into the “religion is retarded//no, you’re retarded” stage. Shocked and very pleased.

  • that1guy

    Got to love a good straw-man argument. Thanks for nothing Cupp.

  • that1guy

    Got to love a good straw-man argument. Thanks for nothing Cupp.

  • 5by5

    Excellent point about the Amish (whom I actually admire, because their convictions are personal, and they don’t impose themselves on others – they took Christ’s admonition to “live humbly” to heart — something I wish more Christians would do).

  • 5by5

    You know when I became completely unimpressed with the notion of religious charity?

    When I worked at a Christian charity that provided food to the homeless — but only AFTER they sat and listened to a session of proselytizing and prayed over their meal. Refuse either? No food.

    I’m not terribly impressed by conditional love.

  • 5by5

    Tom: “Most of the many well educated atheists I know can’t even name the four Gospels, they don’t know the history of the Christian religion…”

    Actually, that has been studied by the Pew Research Center, and proven to be false.

    Ironically, most likely BECAUSE they have more questions and are willing to confront them, atheists and agnostics actually tend to know MORE about the Bible and the Christian religion than even most believers. And not only are they generally more educated about the Bible, but they also tend to know more about other religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, etc.

    You can find the research on that here:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/nation/la-na-religion-survey-20100928
    http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

  • Jake Khan

    Cupp’s article was flat and boring. What’s with the term neoatheist? Yawn. Why do we keep dredging up new words to describe the same old things? Let’s get to the point here. Folks like Maher and Hitchens are “out there” and good for them. Most of us are silent.

    Atheists are beyond exhausted with having god, religion, faith, blah, blah blah….rammed down our throats every friggin day of the week. Some of us choose to return the favor.

    I promise never to write a really, really, really long response, so i will now close. Smile.

  • Jake Khan

    Cupp’s article was flat and boring. What’s with the term neoatheist? Yawn. Why do we keep dredging up new words to describe the same old things? Let’s get to the point here. Folks like Maher and Hitchens are “out there” and good for them. Most of us are silent.

    Atheists are beyond exhausted with having god, religion, faith, blah, blah blah….rammed down our throats every friggin day of the week. Some of us choose to return the favor.

    I promise never to write a really, really, really long response, so i will now close. Smile.

  • Moonstruck

    IMHO you’ve penned a good comment! As an atheist I’ll try to keep that in mind before I eat another foot sandwich. I find the mention of religion in casual conversation stifling & offensive. I’ll have to practice what you preach!

  • that1guy

    “one cannot rationally study human history without delving into matters of faith, psychology, belief and virtue.” True, but, and here’s the kicker, if you are not in some sense, dispassionate or otherwise not personally invested in the existence or non-existence of a particular religion, it can be very hard to view objectively the social and historical effects of that religion. You can’t do a cost benefit analysis of a mode of behavior if you refuse to look either at the costs or the benefits. Atheists that entirely deny the importance of spiritual experiences for much of humanity are, for sure, ignoring part of the picture. But a rich spiritual life does not necessarily provide a framework for a rational and sustainable society, especially if the cost of that spiritual life is complete adherence to ethical and social codes that are anachronistic at best and abhorrent at worst.
    And sure, there are plenty of negative behaviors we can fight against instead of religion or the notion of god, but how far do you really think we’re going to get if people can always counter with “this is what god wants us to do. It says so in Leviticus (the Qu’ran, the Vedas)”? You can’t easily edit out the horrible aspects of a religiously-affirmed worldview, without, on some level, challenging the authority of the parent religion vs. the authority of another logical system.

  • that1guy

    Matthew Mark Luke and John.

  • that1guy

    The problem with this that many of the folks that attack abortion clinics or pursue faith healing and prayer in lieu of medical care on behalf of their children are explicitly religious, and their decisions are informed by their religion. I’d say it’s a minority of religious people, but are larger minority than people who mae such horrible decision informed only by logic and reason.
    Also, there’s decent evidence out there that Atheists find themselves on the wrong side of the law proportionally less frequently than theists do, at least in America. There’s got to be economic factors mixed into that, but either way, the “Atheists are just as violent and horrible” argument is really just conjecture if you’re talking about violence on an individual level.

  • that1guy

    “I’m an american white male between the ages of 25 and 55, religion doesn’t put me or anyone like me in danger.” Unless you’re Gay or Bi.
    The problem is that religion provides an unimpeachable set of moral codes as justifications for people that are prone to act violently. There’s a 100 Jerry Falwells for every Liberation Theologist that ever lived.

  • that1guy

    Dude, scientists brought you acid, case-studies of the psychological effects(positive and negative) and anthropological conext of altered states of consciousness, including near death and shamanic experiences, and science will most likely bring you technologically induced “trans-personal experiences” within the next century.
    How about a couple fried new-age types give credit where credit is due every once and awhile.

  • that1guy

    lest anyone think that the people she is characterizing as dogmatic and simplistic in their belief in god, http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/18/atheist-sam-harris-steps-into-the-light.html
    albeit, its written for 12y.o.s, but it gets the point across. not believing in God and not supporting religious institutions is not the same has having a spiritually unfulfilling life.

  • Haystack

    I read through the article looking for a reasoned argument against atheism, but only found an arrogant, dismissive rant about how arrogant and dismissive atheists are supposed to be.

  • Haystack

    I read through the article looking for a reasoned argument against atheism, but only found an arrogant, dismissive rant about how arrogant and dismissive atheists are supposed to be.

  • http://ainefairygoddess.wordpress.com ainefairygoddess

    It is the motivation of Ms. Cupp that interests me. Why does she run to the right-wing theocrats, the most radical subgroup of mere theists, to join them in dishing out gratuitous scorn of atheists, when the very group she is trying to are around with are the very people who actually do stereotype atheists, of which she is one? It is so confusing, Penn must have been right about her actual motives in these self-loathing attacks, she is prepping to be the next Lee Strobel, but of course, she claims she is not even that smart, so who are we kidding?

  • http://ainefairygoddess.wordpress.com ainefairygoddess

    It is the motivation of Ms. Cupp that interests me. Why does she run to the right-wing theocrats, the most radical subgroup of mere theists, to join them in dishing out gratuitous scorn of atheists, when the very group she is trying to are around with are the very people who actually do stereotype atheists, of which she is one? It is so confusing, Penn must have been right about her actual motives in these self-loathing attacks, she is prepping to be the next Lee Strobel, but of course, she claims she is not even that smart, so who are we kidding?

  • http://ainefairygoddess.wordpress.com ainefairygoddess

    ” there is probably no right or wrong answer because it’s probably unknowable ”

    Not necessarily. There are some gods whose existence we can dismiss as being impossible. Those which violate laws of logic, such as the omnipotent god (who is powerful enough to create a task he CANNOT do), or the omnipotent, omni-benevolent, omniscient god (see Epicurus). There are also gods that can be dismissed because they violate scientific discoveries, such as the gods of the various Young Earth Creationists.

    “how about focusing on the current life that we are living and maintaining some sense of civility with one another?”

    This is one of the most important reasons to focus on religion, since religion, in particular, Christianity, can be used to justify ANY act as moral. Society with such memes will never progress since at any point in time any number of Christians may receive the revelation that any particular act is moral, and thus act on it and bring it into society.

  • ken vallario

    mostly i agree with you, detachment is an important part of a rich spiritual or philosophical life. it is important to note those christian theologians who praise doubt as a path to higher transcendent religiosity.
    my challenge to you is this, and it goes to what i think would reveal most atheists as dogmatists. what if the universe is not rational? i know this is an irrational question, but it is nonetheless one that our language allows. and imagine mathematics if we excluded irrational numbers.
    the institution of science is much younger than religion…and in its short time as a dominant force, if only in western society, it has justified countless atrocities. again, i think the causality is pretty simple. ignorance leads to superstitious adherence to dogma..and if fascism is being served, then they will swallow that, if religion is being served, then they will use that. ignorance is simply a lack of awareness of one’s choices, and those in power cultivate this limitation, and yes, religion is often the tool…but science can easily take its place…it is simply a totem, a symbol, used to justify the manipulation of the masses.
    many would call free-market capitalism a type of religion, with its belief in the ‘invisible hand’…religions are everywhere, they can be understood as philosophies, or as forms of social artistry. and i think atheism is a religion…it is a refusal to be open to outside intelligences affecting our world…and i cannot rationally exclude that possibility. i simply don’t know enough to make that leap of faith.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I’d say it’s a minority of religious people, but are larger minority than people who mae such horrible decision informed only by logic and reason.

    That’s a bit of a false dichotomy; even religious people who do terrible things are using logic and reason, just with truth values most of us would consider…eh…less than accurate.

    Also, there’s decent evidence out there that Atheists find themselves on the wrong side of the law proportionally less frequently than theists do, at least in America.

    Agreed, but you also have to consider that the majority of people in America describe themselves (or are described by others, such as in polls or whatever) as religious, so that doesn’t say anything. You’d have to look at acts of violence inspired by religious beliefs which I think we can agree occur about as often as, if not less then, violence inspired by anger, greed, mental disorders, etc.

  • Tuna Ghost

    For the record, none of the Christian charity organizations I’ve worked for have done that, but the real issue is: are you going to let one case of an organization with limited resources requiring prayer and listening for eligibility color your entire perception of religious charity? Doesn’t that seem a bit silly?

  • Tuna Ghost

    Most of the many well educated atheists I know can’t even name the four Gospels, they don’t know the history of the Christian religion…

    Then I don’t think they can be well educated. The history of the Christian religion features fairly prominently in the history of the western world.

    …and most people probably would not read even an highly abridged version of logical defense of faith.

    Actually in America I’m willing to bet “most people” don’t read much of anything to begin with.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I was under the impression the author was referencing a time in many of our lives, usually occurring in college yeas, when we thought we were much smarter and much more well informed than we actually were. There are a number of names the author could have substituted there and had the same effect.

  • justagirl

    WE DID??? *faint*

  • Kajack

    If you really believe that the blood of mammals has the ability to hid your misdeeds from the all powerful, all knowing supreme creator of the universe…then i really have nothing to say to you because you are a barbarous idiot. Some ideas deserved to be mocked out of existence.

  • Kajack

    If you really believe that the blood of mammals has the ability to hid your misdeeds from the all powerful, all knowing supreme creator of the universe…then i really have nothing to say to you because you are a barbarous idiot. Some ideas deserved to be mocked out of existence.

    • that1guy

      and so it begins…

      • Tuna Ghost

        I wish had any idea to what he was referring. The Passover bit? Angel of death skipping the houses with lamb’s blood over the doorway? The notion of Christ’s blood washing away the sins of the world, as the saying goes?

  • Honu

    Oh but the overly religious types are humble? I’m no atheist. I had a spiritual revelation years ago and what I took away from it is that the breadth of the universe is such that it is truly multidimensional and truly unknowable in the traditional sense of using the conscious mind to understand it. I know there are higher consciousness’ in existence. I could call them gods or deities (even though I won’t). I don’t prosyletize about my beliefs to anyone and I don’t believe the point is to convert anyone to a belief system or to punish or dismiss those with a Christian, Muslim, Jewish or other perspective. They all have an essential spiritual core lost in the dogma anyway. But it’s funny how these people tend to be pretty smug about their beliefs when it comes to comparing theirs to others. ‘Oh we don’t do THAT in our religion” or “God would never support people with beliefs like that” . Like anyone subscribing to dogmatic religion has an inkling of the multiverse. Humble my ass.

  • soap.jackal

    That is weak. I agree with the fact that most atheist and theist debates are just bitch fests, but as an Atheist that does not make me not spiritual. I prefer to discuss spirituality and self-actualization over arguing the silly rituals some people have coined religion. In my opinion religion had its place, but now its causing more problems then fixing them, we need to go beyond it. Also why doesn’t the author look at other atheists then just those 2 authors? And those 2 books only describe the specifics of religion and its inconstancies, spirituality is ones own affair, not some crazed deities.

  • soap.jackal

    That is weak. I agree with the fact that most atheist and theist debates are just bitch fests, but as an Atheist that does not make me not spiritual. I prefer to discuss spirituality and self-actualization over arguing the silly rituals some people have coined religion. In my opinion religion had its place, but now its causing more problems then fixing them, we need to go beyond it. Also why doesn’t the author look at other atheists then just those 2 authors? And those 2 books only describe the specifics of religion and its inconstancies, spirituality is ones own affair, not some crazed deities.

  • http://twitter.com/strawprophet chet gaines

    “But who the hell is S. E. Cupp and why should we care?”

    anyone find an answer to that?

  • http://twitter.com/strawprophet chet gaines

    “But who the hell is S. E. Cupp and why should we care?”

    anyone find an answer to that?

  • http://twitter.com/strawprophet chet gaines

    “But who the hell is S. E. Cupp and why should we care?”

    anyone find an answer to that?

  • http://strawprophet.webs.com chet gaines

    “But who the hell is S. E. Cupp and why should we care?”

    anyone find an answer to that?

  • that1guy

    I’m more agnostic or non-theist and spiritually open than I am an atheist in the very strictest sense of the word, as far as my beliefs about the whole of the existence beyond that which can be known by empirical study. Therefore, however practically irrelevant its consideration seems, I don’t really find the prospect of an irrational universe troubling. I know for a fact that there are people who self-identify as Atheist who think similarly to the way I do, and who are even more open to some far out notions about the nature of existence. But I can’t be completely sure if my and their comfort with the uncertainties of existence are representative of what you view as the whole of Atheism. It boils down to semantics, and if you want to label all spirituality as a belief in deity, than, by your definition, there are no open-minded atheists. but just because you equate atheism with a dogged belief in scientifically informed models of existence doesn’t mean that all atheists do.
    That said, and even given an irrational and unpredictable universe, I feel as if I have more in common with New Atheists, like Dawkins and Hitchens, both major proponents of basing practical opinions on scientific knowledge and cutting out the rest, than I do with most theists. The reason is that religion at the lay level, most often claims ultimate and final authority on all matters of existence: material, ethical, and otherwise. In contrast, Science, by definition, makes no such claims to truth beyond its purview. Scientific truths, expressed as theory and law, are, more accurately, democratically held and demonstrably empirically supported opinions on specific physical occurrences. They explicitly apply only within the context of that which is empirically observable. It is for this reason that I don’t want a priest who is otherwise unqualified building my bridges, planning the layout of my city, or deciding long term environmental conservation policy, whereas, given proper parameters, like “find the most mutually beneficial solution” I would trust a scientist to make important ethical decisions.
    For the record, you stated, to paraphrase, that science has been a “dominant force” for years now. This is patently untrue, at least in an American context. No one is elected in the US based on how knowledgeable they are about scientific issues, and yet, social issues defined by a religiously derived ethos are all very much still wedge issues.
    As far as your comments on free-market capitalism, I’d have to agree with you. Not enough people think critically about the economic effects of blindly following one economic strategy vs another. But I think fewer people would do so if they spent more time studying new developments in the social sciences, including economics, and developing skills for viewing all empirical phenomena through the lens of the scientific skepticism. Sorry for the reply being so long. You asked a lot of good questions.

  • that1guy

    Good point on the first quote. I guess I meant to say that truth values informed by rational inquiry in empirical effects were less dangerous because they could be argued against or changed given different data sets.

    On the 2nd, I believe that prison study presented the percentage of American atheists in prison vs members of other religions, not just the religious demographics within prisons, so, should still be pretty demonstrative of the likelihood of an atheist in the USA to go to jail vs. the likelihood of anyone else. I suppose there could be an underepporting problem in prison as well, or something about being in prison that leads on to think about the world more from a religious perspective. Also, for the purposes of the argument I was trying to make, you are right, we’d need religiously motivated crime vs. whatever atheistically motivated crime would be. But the point still stands that atheists appear to be either more moral, more afraid of the consequences of law-breaking, or better at getting away with stuff.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Given that S.E. Cupp’s Wikipedia page has her graduating from Cornell in 2000, I find it hard to believe she was at college when she watched her father reading Sam Harris (first book published in 2004) and Christopher Hitchens (whose only book to date about religion was published in 2006). I wonder what other parts of this article are based on what Cupp wished had happened, rather than what actually happened.

    As for the rest, I’m still waiting for an apologist to explain to me how these “new atheists”, “neoatheists” or whatever they’re being called are any different in their ideas and rhetoric from Twain, Marlowe, Ingersoll, Russell, Mencken etc. etc. They’re not, of course, but it fires up the base if you can pretend you’re dealing with a radical new threat.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Given that S.E. Cupp’s Wikipedia page has her graduating from Cornell in 2000, I find it hard to believe she was at college when she watched her father reading Sam Harris (first book published in 2004) and Christopher Hitchens (whose only book to date about religion was published in 2006). I wonder what other parts of this article are based on what Cupp wished had happened, rather than what actually happened.

    As for the rest, I’m still waiting for an apologist to explain to me how these “new atheists”, “neoatheists” or whatever they’re being called are any different in their ideas and rhetoric from Twain, Marlowe, Ingersoll, Russell, Mencken etc. etc. They’re not, of course, but it fires up the base if you can pretend you’re dealing with a radical new threat.

  • that1guy

    and so it begins…

  • Oli42

    Phoney Baloney! I give her 12 months, to do a back flip on her backslide

  • Oli42

    Phoney Baloney! I give her 12 months, to do a back flip on her backslide

  • Yobi

    To claim God exists OR that God doesn’t exist is absolute dishonesty. You don’t know. To believe or not, is another story.

  • Yobi

    To claim God exists OR that God doesn’t exist is absolute dishonesty. You don’t know. To believe or not, is another story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gene-Garman/1247551500 Gene Garman

    A different understanding: belief in “God” is a matter of “faith,” and “intelligence” in respect to “God” is not relevant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gene-Garman/1247551500 Gene Garman

    A different understanding: belief in “God” is a matter of “faith,” and “intelligence” in respect to “God” is not relevant.

  • jewest

    So according to S.E. Cupp, modern atheists are smug, certain and ultimately closed-minded…while the religious(symbolized by her father), are actually the ones on a quest for knowledge? yeah sure.

    Listening to the likes of S.E. Cupp, one would think American culture was overrun with militant atheist thought because of Hitchens, Maher and Harris?

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. IME, atheists by and large, keep their opinions to themselves.

  • jewest

    So according to S.E. Cupp, modern atheists are smug, certain and ultimately closed-minded…while the religious(symbolized by her father), are actually the ones on a quest for knowledge? yeah sure.

    Listening to the likes of S.E. Cupp, one would think American culture was overrun with militant atheist thought because of Hitchens, Maher and Harris?

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. IME, atheists by and large, keep their opinions to themselves.

  • Ken Creten

    Any time anyone says another complex intelligent human being “wants nothing other than to…” I usually check out of their argument at that point. If that’s this person’s incredibly simplistic solution, that the famous athiests are nothing
    but party spoilers, then it’s wrong.

    Everything that is mentioned here has been gone over in debates over and over ad nauseum. If you’d like me to send you many links, I’d be glad to do so, just email at ken_creten@yahoo.com.

    I notice one of the favorite ways of putting down atheists is to simply say that they are mean, or “just want to ruin a party.” Yes they do, but the writer of this article has no idea which party, and why.

    Oh, and by the way, athiest are not on a spiritual quest. So the answer there would be none.

  • Ken Creten

    Any time anyone says another complex intelligent human being “wants nothing other than to…” I usually check out of their argument at that point. If that’s this person’s incredibly simplistic solution, that the famous athiests are nothing
    but party spoilers, then it’s wrong.

    Everything that is mentioned here has been gone over in debates over and over ad nauseum. If you’d like me to send you many links, I’d be glad to do so, just email at ken_creten@yahoo.com.

    I notice one of the favorite ways of putting down atheists is to simply say that they are mean, or “just want to ruin a party.” Yes they do, but the writer of this article has no idea which party, and why.

    Oh, and by the way, athiest are not on a spiritual quest. So the answer there would be none.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I wish had any idea to what he was referring. The Passover bit? Angel of death skipping the houses with lamb’s blood over the doorway? The notion of Christ’s blood washing away the sins of the world, as the saying goes?

  • Whitewm

    dude, youre an old school fool. Atheists dont seek comfort in a bible. You would lend credibility to religious mumbo-jumbo by saying you have also studied the real sciences. like it’s all two sides of the same coin. you loose all credibility as a “deep thinking” reasonable intelligent person when you say something so contridictory as you being an” atheist secular christian.” WTF. Thats like being a….philosophical moron.

  • Whitewm

    All organized religions are at their root, evil. they are about power, control and money. (the vatican “treasures” were just in this city.1000s of children die everyday of curable maladies…)
    If what you say about christian morals having the potential to get in the way of progress, then
    if they were in complete control we would have what? an age of scientific darkness? HA!

  • Bobbiethejean

    “The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. ”

    The militant atheist wants you childish, stupid wannabelievers to keep your stupid crap to yourself and stop foisting your idiotic fantasies on us. You want to believe in magical a daddy figure and people with wings, wonderful. More power to you. But STFU and mind you own damned business. Stop trying to take away women’s reproductive rights. Stop trying to turn American into a theocracy. Stop trying to teach Bullshit like creationism in science classrooms. Stop showing up at my door at 7 in the fucking morning. Stop excluding us, discriminating against us, and ruining our lives because we don’t subscribe to the idea that a magical being for whom there is no evidence farted the universe into existence.

  • Bobbiethejean

    “The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. ”

    The militant atheist wants you childish, stupid wannabelievers to keep your stupid crap to yourself and stop foisting your idiotic fantasies on us. You want to believe in magical a daddy figure and people with wings, wonderful. More power to you. But STFU and mind you own damned business. Stop trying to take away women’s reproductive rights. Stop trying to turn American into a theocracy. Stop trying to teach Bullshit like creationism in science classrooms. Stop showing up at my door at 7 in the fucking morning. Stop excluding us, discriminating against us, and ruining our lives because we don’t subscribe to the idea that a magical being for whom there is no evidence farted the universe into existence.