Even If You Are an Atheist, You Worship Something …

From the late great David Foster Wallace:

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships.

The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some in-frangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.

Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, cliches, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story.

The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.

250 Comments on "Even If You Are an Atheist, You Worship Something …"

  1. “Atheism” does not mean “not worshipping.”

  2. “Atheism” does not mean “not worshipping.”

    • Matt7542 | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

      And, for that matter, “worshipping” doesn’t mean “really liking something, perhaps to an excessive degree”.

      • emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 8:45 am |

        Worship, used as a verb, has two relevant meanings according to the Oxford dictionary:

        show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites
        treat (someone or something) with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity

        So it does, in fact, pretty much mean “really liking something, perhaps to an excessive degree”.   

    • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

      Maybe not in the sense of ascribing some supernatural authority to it, but possibly in the sense of an organizing principle for some aspect of your intellectual or ethical life.

      Atheism is an incredibly broad word anyhow, usually tossed about so carelessly that it adds more heat than light to any discussion it enters.  Quite often when people say that they are atheist, they really mean that they do not believe in organized corporate religious structures, or in an anthropomorphic God, or that they haven’t really made up their mind completely and are actually agnostic, or that they don’t believe that supernatural entities should be invoked in discussions of natural phenomena or social structure.  Et cetera, et cetera.  I’m sure I missed more than a few variations there.

      All of which are perfectly reasonable positions and should actually be thoughtfully engaged with by the religious believer.  Far from being a debasement of religion, as users of the pejorative phrase “Cafeteria Catholics” would have us believe, they actually represent an opportunity to enhance the religious experience.

      I look at it this way:  What fooking good would a car be to me if I never took it out for a spin now and again?  Is that how I show my estimation of the car’s worth?  By locking it in storage, away from the sun, where it never performs the service for which it was intended?

      • Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

        ethical codes are not some divine gift, they are a necessary part of societal progress. without some form of ethical code to keep order no work would get done, we would see constant attack and reprisal, theft and murder, no work would get done, if you look at the 10  commandments they can all be explained as rules who’s goal is simply to keep the system working in an orderly manner, preventing constant family/clan warfare and keeping the laboring classes in their place, not some holy plan. no god is needed for such an adaptation.

        • E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm |

          That’s true of six commandments. The other four are just driving the point home that “god” is the boss and everyone better remember it.

          • Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

            he ain’t the boss of me

          • MoralDrift | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm |

            So you espouse ethical codes, yet you pick and choose which you follow?

          • Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm |

            yes, if you don’t choose you are merely reacting out of fear

          • MoralDrift | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:22 pm |

            not that I disagree, it is ultimately your choice to follow the codes set forth or not. I’m asking though to clarify your point and maybe to see if it needs to go a step further. Is it really then that society is not held together by a proper set of ethical law but a combination of proper law and fear?

            And if so, the question arises again, who are you to be without fear, if you feel that nothing would get done without it? The code does not allow for subjugates to self-select themselves out of the program, lest every junkie, dead-beat, lazy asshole or opportunist make a rational choice to dance to the beat of his own tune. those without the fear of god are damned…..so to speak

          • Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm |

            just because I recognize the function does not mean I embrace it, my code is informed by my chosen faith but it will never be one of society at large

          • Exactly.  This is what we call reason.

          • well, aren’t *you* a spiritual rebel?  

          • the velvet teen | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm |

            maybe the idea was with the 4/10 was that in order for the 6/10 to work, people need to know someone is watching. Really all that matters to ‘God’ are the 6 ethical commandments. If there is a powerful being that made these commandments, the truth about is he/she doesnt mind if people worship him or not, but really just needs them to be good to each other so society can progress.

          • E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm |

            With rhetoric like that, you’d make a great PR man/woman for any dictator. 

          • thevelvet teen | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

            That is a very distasteful thing to say. There is much you probably don’t know about who we are and where we come from.
            It is also incorrect in its entirety because I am not defending anybody only speaking of experience. Human beings who don’t have knowledge can only be guided in the right direction. I will say this has been the case of humanity all along because we are, in broader terms, still a fledgling society. I would never defend those who would steer us in the wrong direction, away from truth, love, and happiness. Those are the things I stand for and you should too.

          • E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm |

            What do you expect when you say, “If there is a powerful being that made these commandments, the truth about is he/she doesnt mind if people worship him or not,” when commandments 1-4 make it crystal clear that he/she damn sure does mind. A lot. Your explanation for this is that the god who formed the ten commandments didn’t really mean what they said…except when they did.

          • the velvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:17 am |

            nope, not at all what I am saying.
            completely wrong backwards you are. I’m looking at it from a different angle than you, one you arent able to see clear

          • E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 8:42 am |

            If I’m not seeing it from your angle, its because you can’t properly communicate it. Based on what you originally wrote, my assessment is spot on. You just can’t accept it. 

            According to your position that some of the commandments are truly important while others aren’t, one could conclude that the truth is he/she doesn’t really mind if people are good to each other or not, so long as they worship him/her exclusively.

          • that is very logical, can’t wait for the retort so you can smash them again 🙂

          • E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 11:01 am |

            It’s the classic mistake with any religion.

             I can’t remember who the quote comes from, but it says, “Nobody thinks [insert religious text here] means what it says. They always think IT says what THEY mean.”

          • the velvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm |

            I’ll write it down very clearly so that you can go back and see what I wrote was fine to begin with.
            God, Aliens, A person, Nothing at all, (so you know im open to anything because the truth is that no one knows the source of these commandments) &&whatever you want to call it, could not, be an egomaniac. From this particular standpoint, the idea is to control humanity through young civilization until they were collectively smart enough, & had enough history to look back on, to follow the rules without having to fear this so called ‘God’. Perhaps ‘God’ never wanted anyone to fear to begin with, but thats just not how things work sometimes. My most underlying point is that man is born evil, and by evil I mean ignorant and w/o knowledge. Not that people of the time we’re stupid, but certainly didn’t have the amount of information and ways of thinking @593be03849e74d7a69af6ad873c523c4:disqus  their disposal as we do today. I believe today is a very good time to be if we could stop fighting and realise where we are and what we can do with it.

            Now if ppl write this commandments down, say, highly religious people, and they say God wrote it, then they are just lying to support the spread of power, personal or collective power, throughout their regions. but maybe still same intention,
            “My ppl need to have rules, How do we make them follow these rules, forever? Ah! God, they always will listen to god.” We must look at every possibility and not drown out others with so called ‘logic’, which is a great thing but many time gets in the way of looking at the big picture.

          • the velvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm |

            sorry for the link to “An Idiot” profile, was ment to be an At symbol

          • E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

            “The idea is to control humanity.”
            “My people need to have rules. How do we make them them follow these rules forever? Ah! God. They will always listen to God.”

            In the midst of all your psychobabble mental gymnastics lies the essence of truth that your first post sought to dispute. It is all about the power to bend humanity to one’s will, whether that one is god, aliens, or a man.

            Congratulations, you have officially contradicted yourself. 

            By definition the god of any Abrahamic religion is a dictator. One could argue that it is necessary for people to, as you say, “through young civilization until they were collectively smart enough, & had enough history to look back on, to follow the rules without having to fear this so called ‘God’. 
            Any despot in human history could (and have) use this excuse to seize the reigns of absolute, unquestionable power.

            Hitler wasn’t so much concerned with being the absolute law of Nazi Germany, he just wanted his people to learn to follow the rules (set down by him.) Same with Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero, etc.

          • the velvet teen | Jun 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

            The fact is, people have listened to God for a very long time now. Dictator is man, man is questionable. God is unquestionable, so people will follow his rules for this long. Dictator seeks personal or national power. 10 commandments ask for ethics and kindness.

            But you say, by definition, Abrahamic god is dictator. Who’s definition, Yours? I thought I made it clear that we don’t know who wrote this stuff, it was all speculation. So you cannot use the term ‘Abrahamic God’ to tell me I contradicted myself, when I made it clear many times I wasn’t support one version of god over another. All you are trying to do is outdo me, when there was never a need to, not in my mind at least.

            God could be a democratic body, who decided on a plan and/or rules for us. We just don’t know.
            And if god is 1 being, dictating, if that is the case…well I’d rather have 1 gentle dictator than so many more grave-diggers without cause or moral. I am for my part looking at the big picture. Dictator or not, I can’t see it as a bad thing. What happened happened and couldn’t have happened in any other way.

          • From my experience, it is really difficult to get other people to think in broad timescales such as these unless they have stumbled across the thought-style all on their own. Despite this, its still good to try to explain it.

          • *Shakes head*.  I understood what the Teen meant quite well whether the way it was said was quite garbled or not.  Teen, I think that Wolf may be trolling you a little.

          • no, thats not it at all.  he doesn’t just need you to be good so society can progress.. it is about forming a relationship with a higher power to seek spiritual guidance in every decision you make in life that way you learn from your mistakes, you remain humble, and proceed to grow as an individual.. the point is not to be a selfish asshole that just gets along by simply following a set of laws.. that is bare minimum.  there is no discipline in that whatsoever.  the hard part is actually admitting to yourself that there may actually be something bigger than you are.  the *point* is humility.  thank you.

          • You talk of humility while claiming to know what ‘god’ wanted / meant when it (supposedly) dictated the bible to its prophets?

        • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

          I don’t think that recognizing the social utility of ethical codes and the processes from which they arise is incompatible with an experience of profound awe at the fact that a group of individuals manage to overcome their biological instincts for short-term gratification and personal advantage in the struggle for survival.

          In that sense, I think ethical codes very definitely are ‘divine’.  Just not in the sense of some grey-bearded man in the clouds jotting them down with a lightening bolt.

          I get your point about them being perverted and used for ironically selfish ends, too. That’s the prevalant dynamic right now, but I think the more altruistic alternative interpretation doesn’t get enough airing.

          • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 9, 2011 at 11:30 am |

            And as a P.S. to Hadrian:

            Some of your other responses on this article suggest to me that you may see fear and coersion as an alternative explanation for the principle underlying social orders, not some mysterious theistic cause.  Maybe that’s not precisely what you intended, but I think that’s what you were getting at.

            It just occurrs to me that Fear is a god, too.  The Greeks may have called him Phobos.  The Irish may have called her Samhain.  The Aztecs may have called him Tezcatlipoca.  But fear is another variety of sublime experience, just as much as love.

            The essence of theism, I say is the attempt to articulate sublime transcendence.  Some attempts are more cac-handed shambles than others, just like any other field of endeavor.  But to try to deny that self-described atheists are incapable of experiencing the sublime (and I don’t think you’re necessarily pushing that view), or that ALL theistic experiments are crude Pat Robertson cartoons seems a little wide of the mark.

            I don’t see anything particularly earth-shattering about recognizing the fact that self-described atheists and theists are using alternate vocabulary to describe functionally equivalent experiences.

      • PeterThePrinter | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm |

        I don’t see how atheism is an incredibly broad word, it is the absence of theism, plain and simple. If people wish to ascribe more meaning to the word then they are wrong. Atheism isn’t a belief system, no matter how much people may want it to be, we need words to retain clear and precise meanings to be able to communicate thats why its important to be clear on their definitions. If i say i’m an atheist meaning I don’t believe in gods, and you interpret that as something completely different then how are we able to communicate properly?

        • PeterThePrinter | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

          I Re-Read the main article again…. WHAT IS THIS $#!T

        • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 9, 2011 at 11:20 am |

          Savor the irony here!

          I make a statement to the effect that the experience of those who describe themselves as atheists has considerable variety.  You, not content with the formulations presented by other posters espousing other forms of atheism, feel the need to respond to me yourself: “No, we all feel EXACTLY the same.”

          I think the very fact that you were not satisfied with the others’ responses proves my point.

          If I were you, I would leave the simplistically reductive mis-explanations of philosophy and religion to fundies like Pat Robertson, et alia.  They’re much better at stoopid.

          But I do think there may be a valid point hidden in all the responses to my original post in the thread:  Self-described atheists are afraid of their thought system being co-opted by a rhetorical framework more usually associated with the fundamentalist right wing of Christianity.

          That’s a point of view I can understand, respect and maybe even agree with–but only at the political, and not philosophical level.  I’m aware that this article can be interpreted in any number of ways.  I just think that dull political meme warfare is the least interesting one.

          • PtP  did not say that the experiences of all atheists are the same.  Nor did s/he state that s/he was unsatisfied with the responses of other people.  S/he said that the *definition* of the word ‘atheism’ is not  very broad; and this is true.  ‘Atheism’ comes from the Greek ‘atheos’ which means ‘without god’.  The connotations, implications and applications of atheism may be incredibly far reaching indeed, but the definition of the actual word itself is not.
            You are right when you say that the experiences and ‘thought systems’  of atheists can be massively different, but PtP is correct too.  These are the very reasons that the word ‘atheism’ can ‘bring more heat than light’ to a conversation; if those in discussion do not take care to clarify exactly what they mean by such a word.
            What I dislike about this article is that the writer claims that the worship of anything other than deities or some ethical code of conduct basically leaves you without any ethical framework at all.  This may be true if what you worship is (note the implication of the Christian sins here) money or power, your own beauty or intellect.  However, the idea that being without god/s creates an absence of morality is completely ridiculous.

      • I guess I use a different dictionary.

        • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 9, 2011 at 11:13 am |

          Which was exactly my point.

          • Micho_rizo | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm |

            You’re wasting your time. Most of the posters on disinfo don’t really know the first thing about language and its use. Most people in general don’t and that’s why we have a bunch of conversations/discussions/arguments in this world that never get anywhere, because, as you point out, we’re all using different dictionaries, and, really, one dictionary isn’t “more right” than any other. This is obvious in the fact that they all completely missed Wallace’s point, which really had nothing at all to do with “atheism”. It was about “worship” of which, in the context of Wallace’s speech, atheism was merely a convenient example of.(Wallace, by the way, was far more intelligent and more learned on the use of language than any of the geeks on this website–having studied the philosophy of language as an undergrad and even writing about language and its usage in a pretty good article that was also published in “Consider the Lobster”. But he’s the idiot, understand….)

      • Ageofscience | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:23 am |

        Atheism is actually an incredibly specific term. It means a lack of belief in god or gods. Thats it. The word “atheist” being toss around carelessly has no bearing whatsoever on its actual meaning. Rather, it simply means that the definition has become maligned by popular misconception. 

        • emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 9:47 am |

          Certainly, atheism has a concise meaning but there are plenty of reasons that people use the word where it’s not the most appropriate choice.

          To draw from an example where I regularly misuse a word: I generally tell people that I’m a vegetarian.  That’s not explicitly true, but I prefer the misrepresentation to being drawn into explaining things to acquaintances.  It’s more appropriate to describe my diet as flexitarian.  I’ll eat meat under certain circumstances – if someone screws up my order at a restaurant I’ll eat it instead of throwing it away or I’ll eat meat under certain social circumstances.   

          So rather than explaining the grey area where my diet truly exists, I use a word where it doesn’t apply; it just gets into the right ballpark.  Likewise, people may use a word with respect to religious beliefs, sexual identification, or a number of other topics where large grey areas exist to get somewhere in the area of where they define themselves without being exact.    

          People do the same thing with numbers all of the time where there is no grey area to describe.  If someone tells you that it’s 12:00, that might mean +/- 5 minutes.  $2.00 might mean +/- 10 cents or more.

          I think the expectation that people will use words exactly as the Oxford English dictionary defines them is unreasonable even among the subset of people that are aware of the definitions or go to the trouble of looking them up.

          • Ageofscience | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

            Using a loosely defined “ballpark” term in common colloquial conversation is one thing, but when the conversation heads in a more technical direction the accuracy of the definitions must be treated with similar technical specification. Saying your a vegetarian, or an atheist, or anything for that matter, for simplicity, to your acquaintances is not the same thing as a public dialog that contributes to a discourse on a specific subject. 

            Consider that if you were to publish, publicly present, or otherwise offer academic information about vegetarianism using your colloquial definition your use of the word in question would be categorically incorrect. Consider if you were running a race and the judge clocked you in at ten minutes when it actually took you nine minutes and forty-five seconds. Consider trying to pay $2 for something in a store that actually costs $2.10. 

            Again, the common misuse of words has no bearing on the actual definitions of those words. 

            In cases of academic discourse it is of vital importance to be specific and clear about words and definitions. Failure to do so is intellectually lazy and dishonest. You are free to use or misuse words or choose any vernacular you like in your mundane goings on, but if you want to contribute to an academic conversation then you must adopt academic definitions.  

          • emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

            Perhaps current media has lowered my expectations.  I generally don’t expect most public discourse to adhere to academic standards.    

            In this particular example:

            This was taken from a graduation address, according to the referenced site (which I of course didn’t read before commenting).  I wouldn’t expect anything approaching academic standards in a graduation speech.  

            That said, for all of the hand-wringing on the comments here about DFW opening with an inaccurate definition of atheism, the speech isn’t really about atheism at all.  Ultimately, all he’s saying is to be aware of yourself and select a philosophy for your life, don’t just fall into the unconscious currents of the culture.  It’s been said better by others (I’m partial to William Irvine’s discussion in A Guide to the Good Life – the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy).   

          • Liam_McGonagle | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

            Sorry–got a bit sidetracked here.  I know you intended this one for the Emperor.  But I think I have a relevant observation.  Relevant to your recent post here and some of the other ones you directed to me and I didn’t answer.

            Observation:  “What is it about philosophy or religion that particularly lends itself to super-precise empirical definition?”

            I’d say, “Nothing”.  The whole exercise, necessary and inevitable as it is, will forever be a loose end.  Harold Camping’s pretty good at calculating the Date of Rapture.  And why shouldn’t he be?  He’s got experience now, the second time around.  But ordinary joes like you and me probably shouldn’t dare to tread in the Great Man’s footsteps.

            I think it’s completely fair to say philosophical and religious terms are inherently resistant to mechanistic measurement, and that recognizing the commonality of experience through the whole spectrum of subtly graded shades of expression is completely valid.

      • Dang Artman | Jun 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm |

        Actually, Agnostic means the belief that whether or whether not, there is a God, is itself unknowable.. not whether or not you have yourself decided if there is one..

  3. Anonymous | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm |

    I think the “Four Noble Truths” thing was a reference to Buddhism, right?

    I think normally Buddhism isn’t considered a deistic religion per se, but a system of thought.  Which renders it not necessarily exclusive with a simultaneous commitment to some theistic religion like Christianity or Islam.

    I suppose there are just as many directions you could take Buddhism towards as you could take any other religion or thought system.  But them Buddhists sure do have a powerful talent for designing rhetorical mind pretzels (i.e. ‘koans’).  The most famous one is probably:  “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

    My personal favorite is relevant to this article:  “If you meet the Buddha by the roadside, kill him.”  Which I take to be a warning against a slavish or overly literal devotion to dogma.

    Yup indeed, them Buddhists sure does have a powerful way with words . . .

  4. I agree with you.  There’s no such thing as an atheist.  We all worship someone or something.  But we better get it right.  Buddha won’t judge.  Allah won’t judge.  The only judge is Jesus Christ (Acts 17:29-31).  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

  5. Liam_McGonagle | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    I think the “Four Noble Truths” thing was a reference to Buddhism, right?

    I think normally Buddhism isn’t considered a deistic religion per se, but a system of thought.  Which renders it not necessarily exclusive with a simultaneous commitment to some theistic religion like Christianity or Islam.

    I suppose there are just as many directions you could take Buddhism towards as you could take any other religion or thought system.  But them Buddhists sure do have a powerful talent for designing rhetorical mind pretzels (i.e. ‘koans’).  The most famous one is probably:  “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

    My personal favorite is relevant to this article:  “If you meet the Buddha by the roadside, kill him.”  Which I take to be a warning against a slavish or overly literal devotion to dogma.

    Yup indeed, them Buddhists sure does have a powerful way with words . . .

  6. David Tiffany | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    I agree with you.  There’s no such thing as an atheist.  We all worship someone or something.  But we better get it right.  Buddha won’t judge.  Allah won’t judge.  The only judge is Jesus Christ (Acts 17:29-31).  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • Hi David.

      Would certainly appreciate your response to this forum post:  [url]http://rationaltheology.org/forum/index.php/topic,3.0.html[/url]

      “On The Deceptive Semantics of the Christian Usage of “God”
      And by my lights, the very best religion came from New England during the great awakening — with Thoreau and Emerson joined by folks like Theodore Parker.

    • Tuna Ghost | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:46 am |

      You are aware that Allah is the same god as Yahweh, correct?  That “Allah” is simply the word for God in a different language?  

  7. Therefore, let’s worship Christians. By this principle they will never self-consume and so their antics will always give us plenty of horrified laughs and zany thrills to sustain us.

  8. Therefore, let’s worship Christians. By this principle they will never self-consume and so their antics will always give us plenty of horrified laughs and zany thrills to sustain us.

  9. What in blazes did HE know?

  10. What in blazes did HE know?

    • E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

      He knew how to con his readers into thinking he was great and, as the link in my other comment states, how to introduce “stealth christianity” into the minds of those who would never except it openly.

  11. Matt7542 | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm |

    And, for that matter, “worshipping” doesn’t mean “really liking something, perhaps to an excessive degree”.

  12. Brinegart | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    So, we’re going to misconstrue the word Atheist a broader definition to make a group of people look like hypocrites?  Atheism: Non-comforming to the belief in a god.  Yes, we might all have beliefs or have some form of worship or belief, but Ill be damned to if you think that changes the definition.

    So tired of this drawn out argument.

  13. Brinegart | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm |

    So, we’re going to misconstrue the word Atheist a broader definition to make a group of people look like hypocrites?  Atheism: Non-comforming to the belief in a god.  Yes, we might all have beliefs or have some form of worship or belief, but Ill be damned to if you think that changes the definition.

    So tired of this drawn out argument.

    • emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 11:26 am |

      One would expect that an essayist would acquaint themselves with the actual dictionary meanings of words before writing an essay on the premise.  However, as this example shows, that expectation would be misplaced.

    • if you’re so tired of it why are you participating in a discussion of it, or even reading about it?  Clearly you are lying, you love this argument.

      • By *not* participating on these tedious, unending exercises in non-productive theorizing, I have witnessed the take-over of public discourse by neo-theologians and would-be intellectuals who have turned any sort of debate regarding religion v. science v. atheism ad nauseum into come-to-Jesus arguments with all who do not see Things as they do. Now that there is effectively naught *but* arguments in place of public discourse, it’s time for the Silent Intelligentsia to put y’all’s clumsy religiosity etc. in perspective. God is strictly a divide-and-conquer enterprise and I resent having It and sanctimony forced upon me.

  14. Anonymous | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    Maybe not in the sene of ascribing some supernatural authority to it, but possibly in the sense of an organizing principle for some aspect of your intellectual or ethical life.

    Atheism is an incredibly broad word anyhow, usually tossed about so carelessly that it adds more heat than light to any discussion it enters.  Quite often when people say that they are atheist, they really mean that they do not believe in organized corporate religious structures, or in an anthropomorphic God, or that they haven’t really made up their mind completely and are actually agnostic, or that they don’t believe that supernatural entities should be invoked in discussions of natural phenomena or social structure.  Et cetera, et cetera.  I’m sure I missed more than a few variations there.

    All of which are perfectly reasonable positions and should actually be thoughtfully engaged with by the religious believer.  Far from being a debasement of religion, as users of the pejorative phrase “Cafeteria Catholics” would have us believe, they actually represent an opportunity to enhance the religious experience.

    I look at it this way:  What fooking good would a car be to me if I never took it out for a spin now and again?  Is that how I show my estimation of the car’s worth?  By locking it in storage, away from the sun, where it never performs the service for which it was intended?

  15. Anonymous | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm |

    wor·ship/ˈwərSHip/
    Verb: Show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

    I can safely say, going by the definition of the word, that no- I DON’T worship anything.

  16. phendraana | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    wor·ship/ˈwərSHip/
    Verb: Show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

    I can safely say, going by the definition of the word, that no- I DON’T worship anything.

    • Micho_rizo | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm |

      That’s only because you’re not being honest with yourself.

      • … and you say this why?  Because you know Phendraana and the 8 others who ‘liked’ the comment s/he made so well?  Because you *know* the human race as a whole and as individuals so well?  Unless you are trolling, where did that statement come from?

  17. Hi David.

    Would certainly appreciate your response to this forum post:  [url]http://rationaltheology.org/forum/index.php/topic,3.0.html[/url]

    “On The Deceptive Semantics of the Christian Usage of “God”
    And by my lights, the very best religion came from New England during the great awakening — with Thoreau and Emerson joined by folks like Theodore Parker.

  18. E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

    David Foster Wallace and the word “great” should never occupy the same sentence. He was a second rate hack who would have done the world a great service if he hung himself before he ever put pen to paper (or his fingers to a keyboard).

    I could go on all day about what a fraud posing as a deep thinker he really was, but someone else got there first.
    http://exiledonline.com/david-foster-wallace-portrait-of-an-infinitely-limited-mind/ Enjoy.

  19. E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm |

    David Foster Wallace and the word “great” should never occupy the same sentence. He was a second rate hack who would have done the world a great service if he hung himself before he ever put pen to paper (or his fingers to a keyboard).

    I could go on all day about what a fraud posing as a deep thinker he really was, but someone else got there first.
    http://exiledonline.com/david-foster-wallace-portrait-of-an-infinitely-limited-mind/ Enjoy.

  20. Max Stirner | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm |

    I call bullshit. the very concept of ‘worship’
    only makes sense in an abrahamic context and many spiritualities have
    quite different relations to their central dieties. and likewise many
    atheisms have VERY different relations than what that word implies
    towards that which is important and dear to them.

  21. Max Stirner | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    I call bullshit. the very concept of ‘worship’
    only makes sense in an abrahamic context and many spiritualities have
    quite different relations to their central dieties. and likewise many
    atheisms have VERY different relations than what that word implies
    towards that which is important and dear to them.

    • but you see, most people have no conception of what other religions are like (even the abrahamic ones have totally different approaches amongst themselves) and just assume that every other religion deals with religiosity like they do (or in this case, atheism).

  22. jackedu317 | Jun 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm |

    “worship” actually is derived from the word “work-ship”.replace “worship” with “work” or “work for” and this makes more sense. nothing to do with theism or atheism. everyone works for something.

  23. jackedu317 | Jun 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm |

    “worship” actually is derived from the word “work-ship”.replace “worship” with “work” or “work for” and this makes more sense. nothing to do with theism or atheism. everyone works for something.

  24. Anonymous | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:02 pm |

    but you see, most people have no conception of what other religions are like (even the abrahamic ones have totally different approaches amongst themselves) and just assume that every other religion deals with religiosity like they do (or in this case, atheism).

  25. Truth Seeker | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm |

    I say that we are all atheists. I just happen to believe in one less god than you do.

  26. Truth Seeker | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm |

    I say that we are all atheists. I just happen to believe in one less god than you do.

    • Very true. Even those who go to church and follow it, read the scripture, try to understand it, are still outnumbered by the majority, shown by the actions of the church and what it sanctions, speaking with their mouth that there is a God when they are really taking advantage of the place given the church in the scheme of civilization. Which would extend across all groups I would say. Actions will always speak louder than words. Peace, war, harmony, destruction. Even in the microcosm, a persons actions will show their innermost desire, we are the same, which is why we are all in on it in some way or another…

  27. Then what the fuck do you think nihilism is? Dumbass authors.

  28. An Idiot | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm |

    Then what the fuck do you think nihilism is? Dumbass authors.

    • “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”—Nietzsche
      This clearly describes the dilemma of an atheist, especially the last sentence.  Even if you choose not to believe in any God whatsoever, you are still acknowledging your existence and choosing to believe it.  We are born with the fundamental idea of God in each and every one of us, whether you choose to acknowledge it or rebel against it is entirely up to you, but it is certainly a crossroads in each and every one of our lives.

      It also says quite a lot that the only articles on this site that get 75+ comments are related to God.  Everybody knows deep down that atheism is a lie and it goes against every aspect of your existence or else people would not be so ready to defend it, like an alcoholic or a crack or heroin junkie justifying their destructive habits.  Denial is very powerful.  And your God doesn’t have to be the image that has been burned in to your mind and that you so vehemently reject.  The funny thing about it is how we all think we are so original, such deep-thinkers, and non-conformists when we choose to label ourselves as atheists because more often than not, it is the perception that we are being controlled by something and we wish to think for ourselves.  Get over it, you’re not that special.

    • Micho_rizo | Jun 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

      Nihilists believe in the belief of nothing.

      It’s impossible to be a halfway functioning human and not have beliefs of any kind.

  29. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    ethical codes are not some divine gift, they are a necessary part of societal progress. without some form of ethical code to keep order no work would get done, we would see constant attack and reprisal, theft and murder, no work would get done, if you look at the 10  commandments they can all be explained as rules who’s goal is simply to keep the system working in an orderly manner, preventing constant family/clan warfare and keeping the laboring classes in their place, not some holy plan. no god is needed for such an adaptation.

  30. Lookingforlove_lost | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    What is the point when there are no explainations

  31. Lookingforlove_lost | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    What is the point when there are no explainations

  32. E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm |

    That’s true of six commandments. The other four are just driving the point home that “god” is the boss and everyone better remember it.

  33. E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:29 pm |

    He knew how to con his readers into thinking he was great and, as the link in my other comment states, how to introduce “stealth christianity” into the minds of those who would never except it openly.

  34. E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:29 pm |

    He knew how to con his readers into thinking he was great and, as the link in my other comment states, how to introduce “stealth christianity” into the minds of those who would never except it openly.

  35. E.B. Wolf | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:29 pm |

    He knew how to con his readers into thinking he was great and, as the link in my other comment states, how to introduce “stealth christianity” into the minds of those who would never except it openly.

  36. One word: Nihilism.

  37. herpderp | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm |

    One word: Nihilism.

  38. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm |

    he ain’t the boss of me

  39. I think this is what Oscar Wilde meant when he said “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

  40. Haystack | Jun 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    I think this is what Oscar Wilde meant when he said “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

  41. Anonymous | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:00 pm |

    So you espouse ethical codes, yet you pick and choose which you follow?

  42. the velvet teen | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    maybe the idea was with the 4/10 was that in order for the 6/10 to work, people need to know someone is watching. Really all that matters to ‘God’ are the 6 ethical commandments. If there is a powerful being that made these commandments, the truth about is he/she doesnt mind if people worship him or not, but really just needs them to be good to each other so society can progress.

  43. Refer to the move Visioneers w/ zack galfinahkus

  44. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    yes, if you don’t choose you are merely reacting out of fear

  45. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    yes, if you don’t choose you are merely reacting out of fear

  46. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    yes, if you don’t choose you are merely reacting out of fear

  47. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    yes, if you don’t choose you are merely reacting out of fear

  48. What I got from this article is that David Foster Wallace ended up feeling stupid, a fraud, and was always on the verge of being found out!

    I truly do not believe in a greater deity, god, or whatever. The entire concept that something like that might exist is absolutely ridiculous to me. By definition, I do not worship anything.

  49. RevChuck | Jun 8, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    What I got from this article is that David Foster Wallace ended up feeling stupid, a fraud, and was always on the verge of being found out!

    I truly do not believe in a greater deity, god, or whatever. The entire concept that something like that might exist is absolutely ridiculous to me. By definition, I do not worship anything.

  50. Anonymous | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm |

    not that I disagree, it is ultimately your choice to follow the codes set forth or not. I’m asking though to clarify your point and maybe to see if it needs to go a step further. Is it really then that society is not held together by a proper set of ethical law but a combination of proper law and fear?

    And if so, the question arises again, who are you to be without fear, if you feel that nothing would get done without it? The code does not allow for subjugates to self-select themselves out of the program, lest every junkie, dead-beat, lazy asshole or opportunist make a rational choice to dance to the beat of his own tune. those without the fear of god are damned…..so to speak

  51. PeterThePrinter | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:38 pm |

    I don’t see how atheism is an incredibly broad word, it is the absence of theism, plain and simple. If people wish to ascribe more meaning to the word then they are wrong. Atheism isn’t a belief system, no matter how much people may want it to be, we need words to retain clear and precise meanings to be able to communicate thats why its important to be clear on their definitions. If i say i’m an atheist meaning I don’t believe in gods, and you interpret that as something completely different then how are we able to communicate properly?

  52. A non-falsifiable statement (“you worship something”) is not very informative.

  53. A non-falsifiable statement (“you worship something”) is not very informative.

  54. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    just because I recognize the function does not mean I embrace it, my code is informed by my chosen faith but it will never be one of society at large

  55. Hadrian999 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    just because I recognize the function does not mean I embrace it, my code is informed by my chosen faith but it will never be one of society at large

  56. PeterThePrinter | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm |

    I Re-Read the main article again…. WHAT IS THIS $#!T

  57. PeterThePrinter | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm |

    I Re-Read the main article again…. WHAT IS THIS $#!T

  58. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:07 am |

    I don’t think that recognizing the social utility of ethical codes and the processes from which they arise is incompatible with an experience of profound awe at the fact that a group of individuals manage to overcome their biological instincts for short-term gratification and personal advantage in the struggle for survival.

    In that sense, I think ethical codes very definitely are ‘divine’.  Just not in the sense of some grey-bearded man in the clouds jotting them down with a lightening bolt.

  59. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:17 am |

    With rhetoric like that, you’d make a great PR man/woman for any dictator. 

  60. what a crock

  61. what a crock

  62. why does there have to be a point?

  63. “You worship *something*”, implying it can be anything

    then immediately limit it to a God-like spiritual thing…
    How nice to have contradiction only in the 2nd paragraph.

    Then going on about how it’s set in stone that worshiping certain things is bad for you.
    Are we supposed to be thankful these people are informing us that we don’t have a mind of our own?

  64. “You worship *something*”, implying it can be anything

    then immediately limit it to a God-like spiritual thing…
    How nice to have contradiction only in the 2nd paragraph.

    Then going on about how it’s set in stone that worshiping certain things is bad for you.
    Are we supposed to be thankful these people are informing us that we don’t have a mind of our own?

  65. thevelvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 1:45 am |

    That is a very distasteful thing to say. There is much you probably don’t know about who we are and where we come from.
    It is also incorrect in its entirety because I am not defending anybody only speaking of experience. Human beings who don’t have knowledge can only be guided in the right direction. I will say this has been the case of humanity all along because we are, in broader terms, still a fledgling society. I would never defend those who would steer us in the wrong direction, away from truth, love, and happiness. Those are the things I stand for and you should too.

  66. I guess I use a different dictionary.

  67. Linsang811 | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:15 am |

    This is a complete load of ignorant, stupid blitherblather. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god. The moron who wrote this article is twisting the word in to some pseudo-philosophical nonsense. 

  68. Linsang811 | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm |

    This is a complete load of ignorant, stupid blitherblather. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god. The moron who wrote this article is twisting the word in to some pseudo-philosophical nonsense. 

    • I think the point Wallace was *trying* to make—without an adequate comprehension of psychology—is that each of us still constructs a world view or reality-tunnel in our mind without realizing at least some of that world view is not based on empirical facts. You may have heard the saying that “even by claiming that god doesn’t exist, atheists are actually attesting to one’s existence.”

      That statement has a few levels of meaning. One is that our reality is largely created by communication and semantic models, and people still act on behalf of a “God” or “no-God” even if a literal translation of religious texts is clearly absurd and unscientific. The other level is that most atheists refuse to acknowledge that there are forces within them (genes, imprints, learned behaviors) as well as outside in the world or universe (for instance, out-of-body experiences or the possibility of a “collective unconscious”–i.e., “mystical” forces) that are operating without their influence, control, or full understanding.

      The point, as Husserl put it, is that “Every perception is a gamble.” Our view of existence consists of just as much “belief” as someone who believes in “God.”

      But I disagree with Wallace’s statement that we only get to choose *what* to worship. Once you become aware of the psychological mechanism, you can begin to re-program or deactivate it. You can choose your own reality.

  69. Jburton14 | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:21 am |

    This is exactly what my grandfather taught me.  Everyone has a god.  Whether it be cars, women, charity, music, joe pesci in george carlins case, a long lost role model or the common definition of faith, there is no such thing as a true atheist. Those were his exact words

  70. Jburton14 | Jun 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    This is exactly what my grandfather taught me.  Everyone has a god.  Whether it be cars, women, charity, music, joe pesci in george carlins case, a long lost role model or the common definition of faith, there is no such thing as a true atheist. Those were his exact words

  71. Religionists condemn atheists as shallow non-believers, however, the opposite is mostly true. What about Shakespeare, Homer, Virgil, Jean Paul Satre? Are they, and what they have to offer the world shallow? You don’t need fables, however, special, to believe in something special and magical

  72. Religionists condemn atheists as shallow non-believers, however, the opposite is mostly true. What about Shakespeare, Homer, Virgil, Jean Paul Satre? Are they, and what they have to offer the world shallow? You don’t need fables, however, special, to believe in something special and magical

    • I believe in God and I don’t have a religion.  It’s pretty shallow to assume a believer-in-God is a Christian or participates in any other religion.

  73. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:02 am |

    What do you expect when you say, “If there is a powerful being that made these commandments, the truth about is he/she doesnt mind if people worship him or not,” when commandments 1-4 make it crystal clear that he/she damn sure does mind. A lot. Your explanation for this is that the god who formed the ten commandments didn’t really mean what they said…except when they did.

  74. This is simply saying we, atheists, worship the identical way as religious people. We just don’t pray to god.

    I 100% agree with this. I worship physics and knowledge. It’s why I’m atheist because I worship these things.

  75. This is simply saying we, atheists, worship the identical way as religious people. We just don’t pray to god.

    I 100% agree with this. I worship physics and knowledge. It’s why I’m atheist because I worship these things.

  76. dantemetatronlevi666777 | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:59 am |

    Notre Dame, France, 1794…

     A careful distinction was always drawn between the rational respect of Reason and the veneration of an idol: “There is one thing that one must not tire telling people,” Momoro explained, “Liberty, reason, truth are only abstract beings. They are not gods, for properly speaking, they are part of ourselves.
    You’re just a man, not a God: The divine is God’s concern; the human, man’s. My concern is neither the divine nor the human, not the true, good, just, free, etc., but solely what is mine, and it is not a general one, but is unique, as I am unique. Nothing is more to me than myself!   Max Stirner.”I am God, and all other gods are my imagery. I gave birth to myself. I am millions of forms excreating; external; and nothing exists except through me; yet i am not them – they serve me.”Austin Osman Spare.Stop with your stupidity people…

  77. dantemetatronlevi666777 | Jun 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm |

    Notre Dame, France, 1794…

     A careful distinction was always drawn between the rational respect of Reason and the veneration of an idol: “There is one thing that one must not tire telling people,” Momoro explained, “Liberty, reason, truth are only abstract beings. They are not gods, for properly speaking, they are part of ourselves.
    You’re just a man, not a God: The divine is God’s concern; the human, man’s. My concern is neither the divine nor the human, not the true, good, just, free, etc., but solely what is mine, and it is not a general one, but is unique, as I am unique. Nothing is more to me than myself!   Max Stirner.”I am God, and all other gods are my imagery. I gave birth to myself. I am millions of forms excreating; external; and nothing exists except through me; yet i am not them – they serve me.”Austin Osman Spare.Stop with your stupidity people…

  78. Tuna Ghost | Jun 9, 2011 at 4:46 am |

    You are aware that Allah is the same god as Yahweh, correct?  That “Allah” is simply the word for God in a different language?  

  79. i don’t worship shit, never use never or always.

  80. i don’t worship shit, never use never or always.

  81. the velvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 6:17 am |

    nope, not at all what I am saying.
    completely wrong backwards you are. I’m looking at it from a different angle than you, one you arent able to see clear

  82. Ageofscience | Jun 9, 2011 at 6:23 am |

    Atheism is actually an incredibly specific term. It means a lack of belief in god or gods. Thats it. The word “atheist” being toss around carelessly has no bearing whatsoever on its actual meaning. Rather, it simply means that the definition has become maligned by popular misconception. 

  83. Simiantongue | Jun 9, 2011 at 6:39 am |

    “Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of
    adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no
    such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships.”

    Having trouble thinking outside the proverbial theistic box are we?  

    “Jean Piaget (1896–1980) claimed that young children are egocentric. This does not mean that they are selfish, but that they
    do not have the mental ability to understand that other people may have
    different opinions and beliefs from themselves.”

    The egocentrism in this article is apparent. The author worships, therefore everybody else must worship something also. Unable to understand that other people may have a different opinion. It’s strange because this type of reasoning is strongest in pre-operational stage of development, which is children before the age of 7. So I’m not likely going to sit here use my time refuting something a child is likely to come up with. Not that it’s beneath me. It’s just that obviously juvenile is obvious.

  84. Simiantongue | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:39 am |

    “Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of
    adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no
    such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships.”

    Having trouble thinking outside the proverbial theistic box are we?  

    “Jean Piaget (1896–1980) claimed that young children are egocentric. This does not mean that they are selfish, but that they
    do not have the mental ability to understand that other people may have
    different opinions and beliefs from themselves.”

    The egocentrism in this article is apparent. The author worships, therefore everybody else must worship something also. Unable to understand that other people may have a different opinion. It’s strange because this type of reasoning is strongest in pre-operational stage of development, which is children before the age of 7. So I’m not likely going to sit here use my time refuting something a child is likely to come up with. Not that it’s beneath me. It’s just that obviously juvenile is obvious.

  85. Something tells me that this person has warped their idea of what the word ‘Atheist’ means and represents.

  86. Stan11222 | Jun 9, 2011 at 7:06 am |

    Read Dr. Albert Ellis to cure yourself…or at least improve…..such self-defeating behavior. Believe me!

  87. Stan11222 | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:06 am |

    Read Dr. Albert Ellis to cure yourself…or at least improve…..such self-defeating behavior. Believe me!

  88. Wallace fails the acid test. There is a wide gap between offering praise and devotion an imaginary being in the sky or a magical/theoretical path to ultimate satisfaction…and simply accepting that the physical world of action and reaction/cause and effect is the world we live in and interact with each day. Worship connotes a very different treatment of ones perceived reality than atheistic non-belief in powerful sky people or magical forces.  

  89. Wallace fails the acid test. There is a wide gap between offering praise and devotion an imaginary being in the sky or a magical/theoretical path to ultimate satisfaction…and simply accepting that the physical world of action and reaction/cause and effect is the world we live in and interact with each day. Worship connotes a very different treatment of ones perceived reality than atheistic non-belief in powerful sky people or magical forces.  

  90. I guess Wallace never heard about zen buddhism ^^

  91. I guess Wallace never heard about zen buddhism ^^

  92. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 10:57 am |

    This is the sort of claptrap that I’ve heard for years from the church. It seems that the religious just can’t seem to comprehend the notion that many people simply don’t believe in any kind of higher power and don’t necessarily need to find any meaning to life.

    Wallace may have been a great and influential writer, however I suspect that this particular quotation relates more to him and his outlook than to anyone else.

  93. Dave_Plankton | Jun 9, 2011 at 6:57 am |

    This is the sort of claptrap that I’ve heard for years from the church. It seems that the religious just can’t seem to comprehend the notion that many people simply don’t believe in any kind of higher power and don’t necessarily need to find any meaning to life.

    Wallace may have been a great and influential writer, however I suspect that this particular quotation relates more to him and his outlook than to anyone else.

  94. mrtastycakes | Jun 9, 2011 at 11:31 am |

    Oh, the indignation that comes from the misrepresentation of your particular -ism. Welcome to the club, atheists.

  95. mrtastycakes | Jun 9, 2011 at 7:31 am |

    Oh, the indignation that comes from the misrepresentation of your particular -ism. Welcome to the club, atheists.

  96. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm |

    If I’m not seeing it from your angle, its because you can’t properly communicate it. Based on what you originally wrote, my assessment is spot on. You just can’t accept it. 

    According to your position that some of the commandments are truly important while others aren’t, one could conclude that the truth is he/she doesn’t really mind if people are good to each other or not, so long as they worship him/her exclusively.

  97. emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |

    Worship, used as a verb, has two relevant meanings according to the Oxford dictionary:

    show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites
    treat (someone or something) with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity

    So it does, in fact, pretty much mean “really liking something, perhaps to an excessive degree”.   

  98. In response to most of the comments on this article, I think that most are taking it too seriously.  The word “worship” just means to give worth to something..  The author probably should have not picked atheists as his example though.

  99. In response to most of the comments on this article, I think that most are taking it too seriously.  The word “worship” just means to give worth to something..  The author probably should have not picked atheists as his example though.

  100. In response to most of the comments on this article, I think that most are taking it too seriously.  The word “worship” just means to give worth to something..  The author probably should have not picked atheists as his example though.

  101. emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    Certainly, atheism has a concise meaning but there are plenty of reasons that people use the word where it’s not the most appropriate choice.

    To draw from an example where I regularly misuse a word: I generally tell people that I’m a vegetarian.  That’s not explicitly true, but I prefer the misrepresentation to being drawn into explaining things to acquaintances.  It’s more appropriate to describe my diet as flexitarian.  I’ll eat meat under certain circumstances – if someone screws up my order at a restaurant I’ll eat it instead of throwing it away or I’ll eat meat under certain social circumstances.   

    So rather than explaining the grey area where my diet truly exists, I use a word where it doesn’t apply; it just gets into the right ballpark.  Likewise, people may use a word with respect to religious beliefs, sexual identification, or a number of other topics where large grey areas exist to get somewhere in the area of where they define themselves without being exact.    

    People do the exact same thing with numbers all of the time where there is no grey area to describe.  If someone tells you that it’s 12:00, that might mean +/- 5 minutes.  $2.00 might mean +/- 10 cents.

    I think the expectation that people will use words exactly as the Oxford English dictionary defines them is unreasonable even among the subset of people that are aware of the definitions or go to the trouble of looking them up.

  102. that is very logical, can’t wait for the retort so you can smash them again 🙂

  103. I think the point Wallace was *trying* to make—without an adequate comprehension of psychology—is that each of us still constructs a world view or reality-tunnel in our mind without realizing at least some of that world view is not based on empirical facts. You may have heard the saying that “even by claiming that god doesn’t exist, atheists are actually attesting to one’s existence.”

    That statement has a few levels of meaning. One is that our reality is largely created by communication and semantic models, and people still act on behalf of a “God” or “no-God” even if a literal translation of religious texts is clearly absurd and unscientific. The other level is that most atheists refuse to acknowledge that there are forces within them (genes, imprints, learned behaviors) as well as outside in the world or universe (for instance, out-of-body experiences or the possibility of a “collective unconscious”–i.e., “mystical” forces) that are operating without their influence, control, or full understanding.

    The point, as Husserl put it, is that “Every perception is a gamble.” Our view of existence consists of just as much “belief” as someone who believes in “God.”

    But I disagree with Wallace’s statement that we only get to choose *what* to worship. Once you become aware of the psychological mechanism, you can begin to re-program or deactivate it. You can choose your own reality.

  104. Els Jacobus | Jun 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm |

    Nonsense!

  105. Els Jacobus | Jun 9, 2011 at 10:24 am |

    Nonsense!

  106. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |

    It’s the classic mistake with any religion.

     I can’t remember who the quote comes from, but it says, “Nobody thinks [insert religious text here] means what it says. They always think IT says what THEY mean.”

  107. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    Which was exactly my point.

  108. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |

    Savor the irony here!

    I make a statement to the effect that the experience of those who describe themselves as atheists has considerable variety.  You, not content with the formulations presented by other posters espousing other forms of atheism, feel the need to respond to me yourself: “No, we all feel EXACTLY the same.”

    I think the very fact that you were not satisfied with the others’ responses proves my point.

    If I were you, I would leave the simplistically reductive mis-explanations of philosophy and religion to fundies like Pat Robertson, et alia.  They’re much better at stoopid.

    But I do think there may be a valid point hidden in all the responses to my original post in the thread:  Self-described atheists are afraid of their thought system being co-opted by a rhetorical framework more usually associated with the fundamentalist right wing of Christianity.

    That’s a point of view I can understand, respect and maybe even agree with–but only at the political, and not philosophical level.  I’m aware that this article can be interpreted in any number of ways.  I just think that dull political meme warfare is the least interesting one.

  109. emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    One would expect that an essayist would acquaint themselves with the actual dictionary meanings of words before writing an essay on the premise.  However, as this example shows, that expectation would be misplaced.

  110. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm |

    And as a P.S. to Hadrian:

    Some of your other responses on this article suggest to me that you may see fear and coersion as an alternative explanation for the principle underlying social orders, not some mysterious theistic cause.  Maybe that’s not precisely what you intended, but I think that’s what you were getting at.

    It just occurrs to me that Fear is a god, too.  The Greeks may have called him Phobos.  The Irish may have called her Samhain.  The Aztecs may have called him Tezcatlipoca.  But fear is another variety of sublime experience, just as much as love.

    The essence of theism, I say is the attempt to articulate sublime transcendence.  Some attempts are more cac-handed shambles than others, just like any other field of endeavor.  But to try to deny that self-described atheists are incapable of experiencing the sublime (and I don’t think you’re necessarily pushing that view), or that ALL theistic experiments are crude Pat Robertson cartoons seems a little wide of the mark.

    I don’t see anything particularly earth-shattering about recognizing the fact that self-described atheists and theists are using alternate vocabulary to describe functionally equivalent experiences.

  111. I wonder what Wallace worshiped the moment he hanged himself.

  112. I wonder what Wallace worshiped the moment he hanged himself.

  113. the velvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm |

    I’ll write it down very clearly so that you can go back and see what I wrote was fine to begin with.
    God, Aliens, A person, Nothing at all, (so you know im open to anything because the truth is that no one knows the source of these commandments) &&whatever you want to call it, could not, be an egomaniac. From this particular standpoint, the idea is to control humanity through young civilization until they were collectively smart enough, & had enough history to look back on, to follow the rules without having to fear this so called ‘God’. Perhaps ‘God’ never wanted anyone to fear to begin with, but thats just not how things work sometimes. My most underlying point is that man is born evil, and by evil I mean ignorant and w/o knowledge. Not that people of the time we’re stupid, but certainly didn’t have the amount of information and ways of thinking @593be03849e74d7a69af6ad873c523c4:disqus  their disposal as we do today. I believe today is a very good time to be if we could stop fighting and realise where we are and what we can do with it.

    Now if ppl write this commandments down, say, highly religious people, and they say God wrote it, then they are just lying to support the spread of power, personal or collective power, throughout their regions. but maybe still same intention,
    “My ppl need to have rules, How do we make them follow these rules, forever? Ah! God, they always will listen to god.” We must look at every possibility and not drown out others with so called ‘logic’, which is a great thing but many time gets in the way of looking at the big picture.

  114. the velvet teen | Jun 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

    sorry for the link to “An Idiot” profile, was ment to be an At symbol

  115. justagirl | Jun 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm |

    mr. wallace apparently worshiped his own writing skills.

  116. justagirl | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    mr. wallace apparently worshiped his own writing skills.

  117. John Finch7 | Jun 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm |

    how many people get earen alive but the beliefe in God?  its just sumantics realy, i think most of us like playing devils advocate. 

  118. John Finch7 | Jun 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

    how many people get earen alive but the beliefe in God?  its just sumantics realy, i think most of us like playing devils advocate. 

  119. Ageofscience | Jun 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    Using a loosely defined “ballpark” term in common colloquial conversation is one thing, but when the conversation heads in a more technical direction the accuracy of the definitions must be treated with similar technical specification. Saying your a vegetarian, or an atheist, or anything for that matter, for simplicity, to your acquaintances is not the same thing as a public dialog that contributes to a discourse on a specific subject. 

    Consider that if you were to publish, publicly present, or otherwise offer academic information about vegetarianism using your colloquial definition your use of the word in question would be categorically incorrect. Consider if you were running a race and the judge clocked you in at ten minutes when it actually took you nine minutes and forty-five seconds. Consider trying to pay $2 for something in a store that actually costs $2.10. 

    Again, the common misuse of words has no bearing on the actual definitions of those words. 

    In cases of academic discourse it is of vital importance to be specific and clear about words and definitions. Failure to do so is intellectually lazy and dishonest. You are free to use or misuse words or choose any vernacular you like in your mundane goings on, but if you want to contribute to an academic conversation then you must adopt academic definitions.  

  120. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    “The idea is to control humanity.”
    “My people need to have rules. How do we make them them follow these rules forever? Ah! God. They will always listen to God.”

    In the midst of all your psychobabble mental gymnastics lies the essence of truth that your first post sought to dispute. It is all about the power to bend humanity to one’s will, whether that one is god, aliens, or a man.

    Congratulations, you have officially contradicted yourself. 

    By definition the god of any Abrahamic religion is a dictator. One could argue that it is necessary for people to, as you say, “through young civilization until they were collectively smart enough, & had enough history to look back on, to follow the rules without having to fear this so called ‘God’. 
    Any despot in human history could (and have) use this excuse to seize the reigns of absolute, unquestionable power.

    Hitler wasn’t so much concerned with being the absolute law of Nazi Germany, he just wanted his people to learn to follow the rules (set down by him.) Same with Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero, etc.

  121. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    “The idea is to control humanity.”
    “My people need to have rules. How do we make them them follow these rules forever? Ah! God. They will always listen to God.”

    In the midst of all your psychobabble mental gymnastics lies the essence of truth that your first post sought to dispute. It is all about the power to bend humanity to one’s will, whether that one is god, aliens, or a man.

    Congratulations, you have officially contradicted yourself. 

    By definition the god of any Abrahamic religion is a dictator. One could argue that it is necessary for people to, as you say, “through young civilization until they were collectively smart enough, & had enough history to look back on, to follow the rules without having to fear this so called ‘God’. 
    Any despot in human history could (and have) use this excuse to seize the reigns of absolute, unquestionable power.

    Hitler wasn’t so much concerned with being the absolute law of Nazi Germany, he just wanted his people to learn to follow the rules (set down by him.) Same with Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero, etc.

  122. E.B. Wolf | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    “The idea is to control humanity.”
    “My people need to have rules. How do we make them them follow these rules forever? Ah! God. They will always listen to God.”

    In the midst of all your psychobabble mental gymnastics lies the essence of truth that your first post sought to dispute. It is all about the power to bend humanity to one’s will, whether that one is god, aliens, or a man.

    Congratulations, you have officially contradicted yourself. 

    By definition the god of any Abrahamic religion is a dictator. One could argue that it is necessary for people to, as you say, “through young civilization until they were collectively smart enough, & had enough history to look back on, to follow the rules without having to fear this so called ‘God’. 
    Any despot in human history could (and have) use this excuse to seize the reigns of absolute, unquestionable power.

    Hitler wasn’t so much concerned with being the absolute law of Nazi Germany, he just wanted his people to learn to follow the rules (set down by him.) Same with Stalin, Pol Pot, Nero, etc.

  123. Rex Uranus | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm |

    Despite others’ comments, Atheism is a faith: it is NOT the absence of a belief in God (THAT is Agnosticism): it is the presence of a DISBELIEF in God.

    The man who says “I do not know, but I do not choose to believe or disbelieve” is the Agnostic; the man who says “I do not know, but I choose to believe” is the man of Faith; the man who says “I do not know, but I choose to disbelieve” is the Atheist.  Anyone who says “I know” is a charlatan.

    It is the Agnostic that says “God may or may not exist, but I am not choosing to subscribe to any belief”.  In contrast the man of Faith believes that God DOES exist, the Atheist believes that God DOES NOT exist…it’s actually a faith in an unprovable assertion, either way.  Atheism is as much a faith-based belief as, say, Islam – it is only the Agnostic who chooses not to take a position on faith.  

    Put another way, agnosticism is the only reasonable position, both the “believer” and the atheist subscribe to a belief that cannot be supported by pure reason alone.More to the point: Not everyone “worships” something, the author here is applying his/her prejudices and ideas about what “worship” is to others.  I could for example hold Human Freedom to be the highest value, but that would not necessarily mean that I engage in any activity or thought pattern one would normally recognize as “worship” in association with that value (or any other).

  124. Rex Uranus | Jun 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    Despite others’ comments, Atheism is a faith: it is NOT the absence of a belief in God (THAT is Agnosticism): it is the presence of a DISBELIEF in God.

    The man who says “I do not know, but I do not choose to believe or disbelieve” is the Agnostic; the man who says “I do not know, but I choose to believe” is the man of Faith; the man who says “I do not know, but I choose to disbelieve” is the Atheist.  Anyone who says “I know” is a charlatan.

    It is the Agnostic that says “God may or may not exist, but I am not choosing to subscribe to any belief”.  In contrast the man of Faith believes that God DOES exist, the Atheist believes that God DOES NOT exist…it’s actually a faith in an unprovable assertion, either way.  Atheism is as much a faith-based belief as, say, Islam – it is only the Agnostic who chooses not to take a position on faith.  

    Put another way, agnosticism is the only reasonable position, both the “believer” and the atheist subscribe to a belief that cannot be supported by pure reason alone.More to the point: Not everyone “worships” something, the author here is applying his/her prejudices and ideas about what “worship” is to others.  I could for example hold Human Freedom to be the highest value, but that would not necessarily mean that I engage in any activity or thought pattern one would normally recognize as “worship” in association with that value (or any other).

  125. emperorreagan | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    Perhaps current media has lowered my expectations.  I generally don’t expect most public discourse to adhere to academic standards.    

    In this particular example:

    This was taken from a graduation address, according to the referenced site (which I of course didn’t read before commenting).  I wouldn’t expect anything approaching academic standards in a graduation speech.  

    That said, for all of the hand-wringing on the comments here about DFW opening with an inaccurate definition of atheism, the speech isn’t really about atheism at all.  Ultimately, all he’s saying is to be aware of yourself and select a philosophy for your life, don’t just fall into the unconscious currents of the culture.  It’s been said better by others (I’m partial to William Irvine’s discussion in A Guide to the Good Life – the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy).   

  126. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm |

    Define the term “God” completely and utterly -and then I’ll tell you what I believe in. Until then I have no designation of faith or faithlessness. 

    Fuck the term atheist or any other God-damned term (and I do mean God damned) that pops out of your mental label-maker. About the only thing I’m sure of is that I exist, the rest of you -well, I have my doubts (lol)…

  127. GoodDoktorBad | Jun 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    Define the term “God” completely and utterly -and then I’ll tell you what I believe in. Until then I have no designation of faith or faithlessness. 

    Fuck the term atheist or any other God-damned term (and I do mean God damned) that pops out of your mental label-maker. About the only thing I’m sure of is that I exist, the rest of you -well, I have my doubts (lol)…

  128. if you’re so tired of it why are you participating in a discussion of it, or even reading about it?  Clearly you are lying, you love this argument.

  129. Anonymous | Jun 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm |

    Sorry–got a bit sidetracked here.  I know you intended this one for the Emperor.  But I think I have a relevant observation.  Relevant to your recent post here and some of the other ones you directed to me and I didn’t answer.

    Observation:  “What is it about philosophy or religion that particularly lends itself to super-precise empirical definition?”

    I’d say, “Nothing”.  The whole exercise, necessary and inevitable as it is, will forever be a loose end.  Harold Camping’s pretty good at calculating the Date of Rapture.  And why shouldn’t he be?  He’s got experience now, the second time around.  But ordinary joes like you and me probably shouldn’t dare to tread in the Great Man’s footsteps.

    I think it’s completely fair to say philosophical and religious terms are inherently resistant to mechanistic measurement, and that recognizing the commonality of experience through the whole spectrum of subtly graded shades of expression is completely valid.

  130. Atheism isn’t defined by a lack of worshiping something. It’s defined by a lack of belief in a god. Yes, most atheists don’t waste their time worshiping an imaginary super-creature whose wants are defined by a specific subset of men. Other than that, we most likely “worship” different things. For me, it’s the notion of transhumanism and the concept of technology elevating us all toward better lives and futures. My personal worship is in the curiosity and want of betterment that at least some of humanity still retains.

  131. Atheism isn’t defined by a lack of worshiping something. It’s defined by a lack of belief in a god. Yes, most atheists don’t waste their time worshiping an imaginary super-creature whose wants are defined by a specific subset of men. Other than that, we most likely “worship” different things. For me, it’s the notion of transhumanism and the concept of technology elevating us all toward better lives and futures. My personal worship is in the curiosity and want of betterment that at least some of humanity still retains.

  132. And worship of god will eat you alive, as well. How many people reduce themselves to powerlessness other than through prayer? How many people accept ignorance because they believe that it’s god’s will and not our place to question or try to understand it? How about how many people are loathe to even start to understand their own sexuality (rather less try to understand and accept that of others) because religion does its hardest to try and control all aspects of sexuality and shut off one’s own ability to make judgements on it?

  133. And worship of god will eat you alive, as well. How many people reduce themselves to powerlessness other than through prayer? How many people accept ignorance because they believe that it’s god’s will and not our place to question or try to understand it? How about how many people are loathe to even start to understand their own sexuality (rather less try to understand and accept that of others) because religion does its hardest to try and control all aspects of sexuality and shut off one’s own ability to make judgements on it?

    • So because you see religion as a political party this keeps you from believing in God?  Interesting.

  134. Very true. Even those who go to church and follow it, read the scripture, try to understand it, are still outnumbered by the majority, shown by the actions of the church and what it sanctions, speaking with their mouth that there is a God when they are really taking advantage of the place given the church in the scheme of civilization. Which would extend across all groups I would say. Actions will always speak louder than words. Peace, war, harmony, destruction. Even in the microcosm, a persons actions will show their innermost desire, we are the same, which is why we are all in on it in some way or another…

  135. Micho_rizo | Jun 9, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    You’re wasting your time. Most of the posters on disinfo don’t really know the first thing about language and its use. Most people in general don’t and that’s why we have a bunch of conversations/discussions/arguments in this world that never get anywhere, because, as you point out, we’re all using different dictionaries, and, really, one dictionary isn’t “more right” than any other. This is obvious in the fact that they all completely missed Wallace’s point, which really had nothing at all to do with “atheism”. It was about “worship” of which, in the context of Wallace’s speech, atheism was merely a convenient example of.(Wallace, by the way, was far more intelligent and more learned on the use of language than any of the geeks on this website–having studied the philosophy of language as an undergrad and even writing about language and its usage in a pretty good article that was also published in “Consider the Lobster”. But he’s the idiot, understand….)

  136. You know, I think you all are focusing WAY too much on the word atheism here, because the ideas portrayed here are actually pretty interesting.  Fine, the article may misuse the word to encompass all non-monotheistic belief systems, so take that error and roll with it. Correcting that small error you can really read into what he’s talking about.

    The article is all about our tiny minds, and a plea to accept our natural tendency to become obsessed with something. Anything. It depends highly on the person, and some can be obscure, but everyone has something that they focus on down to their core.

    While we’re messing around with terms, lets assume any god, or thing that can be worshipped, is simply a representation of the knowledge base of all related adventures and ideas related to a specific topic. Ex. the patron saint of Nascar would embody car construction, racing techniques, and drunken hics getting excited about explosions, and all the people and relations therein.

    Worship in these terms would be the desire to be “one with” this god, or in realistic terms, to gather as much experience, knowledge, and culture in relation to that particular idol.

    In these terms, even if they don’t admit it, or don’t care for the name, all the old gods still exist, and many new ones exist too. We still have eco-hippies worshiping Gaea, “Salt Life” enthusiasts worshiping Poseidon, farmers worshiping various fertility gods/goddesses(which Monsanto is trying to kill), Mac fan-boys worshiping Steve Jobs, physicists worshiping newton, and edison(The false gods… soon, Tesla will rise again)… etc. you get the point.

    The only thing i’d probably disagree with, is that you can only survive if you take the “all encompasing” god rather than any other. But this is a complex issue; I think there are definitely destructive objects of worship, but that does not mean there aren’t creative ones (I’d also say there are such things as good destructive things and bad creative things… but thats a whole other argument entirely…). Alternatively, a lot of destruction(and bad creation?) comes from these “all encompasing” gods… I’d expect our wee minds are too small to really conceptualize the “everything” like this, and it leads to confusion, miscommunication, and argument.

  137. Micho_rizo | Jun 9, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    That’s only because you’re not being honest with yourself.

  138. You know, I think you all are focusing WAY too much on the word atheism here, because the ideas portrayed here are actually pretty interesting.  Fine, the article may misuse the word to encompass all non-monotheistic belief systems, so take that error and roll with it. Correcting that small error you can really read into what he’s talking about.

    The article is all about our tiny minds, and a plea to accept our natural tendency to become obsessed with something. Anything. It depends highly on the person, and some can be obscure, but everyone has something that they focus on down to their core.

    While we’re messing around with terms, lets assume any god, or thing that can be worshipped, is simply a representation of the knowledge base of all related adventures and ideas related to a specific topic. Ex. the patron saint of Nascar would embody car construction, racing techniques, and drunken hics getting excited about explosions, and all the people and relations therein.

    Worship in these terms would be the desire to be “one with” this god, or in realistic terms, to gather as much experience, knowledge, and culture in relation to that particular idol.

    In these terms, even if they don’t admit it, or don’t care for the name, all the old gods still exist, and many new ones exist too. We still have eco-hippies worshiping Gaea, “Salt Life” enthusiasts worshiping Poseidon, farmers worshiping various fertility gods/goddesses(which Monsanto is trying to kill), Mac fan-boys worshiping Steve Jobs, physicists worshiping newton, and edison(The false gods… soon, Tesla will rise again)… etc. you get the point.

    The only thing i’d probably disagree with, is that you can only survive if you take the “all encompasing” god rather than any other. But this is a complex issue; I think there are definitely destructive objects of worship, but that does not mean there aren’t creative ones (I’d also say there are such things as good destructive things and bad creative things… but thats a whole other argument entirely…). Alternatively, a lot of destruction(and bad creation?) comes from these “all encompasing” gods… I’d expect our wee minds are too small to really conceptualize the “everything” like this, and it leads to confusion, miscommunication, and argument.

  139. Micho_rizo | Jun 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm |

    What I get from this thread is that many so-called Atheists are just as reactionary and fundamental and irrationally bitter as many of the so-called Theists….

  140. Micho_rizo | Jun 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    What I get from this thread is that many so-called Atheists are just as reactionary and fundamental and irrationally bitter as many of the so-called Theists….

  141. well, aren’t *you* a spiritual rebel?  

  142. no, thats not it at all.  he doesn’t just need you to be good so society can progress.. it is about forming a relationship with a higher power to seek spiritual guidance in every decision you make in life that way you learn from your mistakes, you remain humble, and proceed to grow as an individual.. the point is not to be a selfish asshole that just gets along by simply following a set of laws.. that is bare minimum.  there is no discipline in that whatsoever.  the hard part is actually admitting to yourself that there may actually be something bigger than you are.  the *point* is humility.  thank you.

  143. “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”—Nietzsche
    This clearly describes the dilemma of an atheist, especially the last sentence.  Even if you choose not to believe in any God whatsoever, you are still acknowledging your existence and choosing to believe it.  We are born with the fundamental idea of God in each and every one of us, whether you choose to acknowledge it or rebel against it is entirely up to you, but it is certainly a crossroads in each and every one of our lives.

    It also says quite a lot that the only articles on this site that get 75+ comments are related to God.  Everybody knows deep down that atheism is a lie and it goes against every aspect of your existence or else people would not be so ready to defend it, like an alcoholic or a crack or heroin junkie justifying their destructive habits.  Denial is very powerful.  And your God doesn’t have to be the image that has been burned in to your mind and that you so vehemently reject.  The funny thing about it is how we all think we are so original, such deep-thinkers, and non-conformists when we choose to label ourselves as atheists because more often than not, it is the perception that we are being controlled by something and we wish to think for ourselves.  Get over it, you’re not that special.

  144. I believe in God and I don’t have a religion.  It’s pretty shallow to assume a believer-in-God is a Christian or participates in any other religion.

  145. So because you see religion as a political party this keeps you from believing in God?  Interesting.

  146. metazoan039 | Jun 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    I don’t think being an atheist excludes worship.  Like all discussions involving personal opinions and subjects of intangibility, things quickly degenerate into semantics.  A-Theist:  not a theist.  Theism:  belief in the existence of a god or gods.  God:  a supernatural being, worshiped as controller of some part of the universe.
    As an a-theist, does that make me opposed to anyone elses belief system?  Absolutely not.  It simply means that, to me, in a world that is so intensely personal as to never, ever be objective, no person can tell any other what to think unless said person wants to be told.  I tend to find the terms “supernatural” and “god” useful only in determining the degree to which a person chooses to separate themselves from the sensible world.  Once again, our words fall very short in describing the ineffable

  147. metazoan039 | Jun 10, 2011 at 8:57 am |

    I don’t think being an atheist excludes worship.  Like all discussions involving personal opinions and subjects of intangibility, things quickly degenerate into semantics.  A-Theist:  not a theist.  Theism:  belief in the existence of a god or gods.  God:  a supernatural being, worshiped as controller of some part of the universe.
    As an a-theist, does that make me opposed to anyone elses belief system?  Absolutely not.  It simply means that, to me, in a world that is so intensely personal as to never, ever be objective, no person can tell any other what to think unless said person wants to be told.  I tend to find the terms “supernatural” and “god” useful only in determining the degree to which a person chooses to separate themselves from the sensible world.  Once again, our words fall very short in describing the ineffable

  148. Anarchy Wolf | Jun 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm |

    Well, humans have little instinctual behavior because of our earlier nomadic lifestyles and the evolution of creative problem solving, so we all create belief structures that govern how we interact with our environment and other people, creating what is essentially a mental picture and set of guidelines for how we interact with the world around us. Religions are the usual sources of such belief structures. Of course many through out our history have created what I call broken belief structures, which cause very destructive and damaging behaviors, good examples are religions that encourage the rape of the natural world for personal benefit(looking at you christ lovers)belief in human sacrifice and cannibalism, and others that cause rigidity that disallows the society to adapt to changes.

  149. Anarchy Pony | Jun 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm |

    Well, humans have little instinctual behavior because of our earlier nomadic lifestyles and the evolution of creative problem solving, so we all create belief structures that govern how we interact with our environment and other people, creating what is essentially a mental picture and set of guidelines for how we interact with the world around us. Religions are the usual sources of such belief structures. Of course many through out our history have created what I call broken belief structures, which cause very destructive and damaging behaviors, good examples are religions that encourage the rape of the natural world for personal benefit(looking at you christ lovers)belief in human sacrifice and cannibalism, and others that cause rigidity that disallows the society to adapt to changes.

  150. the velvet teen | Jun 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    The fact is, people have listened to God for a very long time now. Dictator is man, man is questionable. God is unquestionable, so people will follow his rules for this long. Dictator seeks personal or national power. 10 commandments ask for ethics and kindness.

    But you say, by definition, Abrahamic god is dictator. Who’s definition, Yours? I thought I made it clear that we don’t know who wrote this stuff, it was all speculation. So you cannot use the term ‘Abrahamic God’ to tell me I contradicted myself, when I made it clear many times I wasn’t support one version of god over another. All you are trying to do is outdo me, when there was never a need to, not in my mind at least.

    God could be a democratic body, who decided on a plan and/or rules for us. We just don’t know.
    And if god is 1 being, dictating, if that is the case…well I’d rather have 1 gentle dictator than so many more grave-diggers without cause or moral. I am for my part looking at the big picture. Dictator or not, I can’t see it as a bad thing. What happened happened and couldn’t have happened in any other way.

  151. Micho_rizo | Jun 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm |

    Nihilists believe in the belief of nothing.

    It’s impossible to be a halfway functioning human and not have beliefs of any kind.

  152. I’m an atheist and I do not worship anything. After checking the definition of worship I found that this article is very wrong, and is disproved in the fact that it does not apply to me (and surely many others). What proof does this author have that EVERYONE worships something? I respect things, adore others, but WORSHIP… that is the wrong term for it. This article is ill informed and begs the question. 

  153. I’m an atheist and I do not worship anything. After checking the definition of worship I found that this article is very wrong, and is disproved in the fact that it does not apply to me (and surely many others). What proof does this author have that EVERYONE worships something? I respect things, adore others, but WORSHIP… that is the wrong term for it. This article is ill informed and begs the question. 

  154. Anonymous | Jun 10, 2011 at 7:02 pm |

    I just wanted to go on record as official #100 of this thread.

    Hooray!  And we’re no nearer resolving any issue presented than we were at the beginning!  The philosophy chair at Harvard has a job for another year!

  155. Liam_McGonagle | Jun 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    I just wanted to go on record as official #100 of this thread.

    Hooray!  And we’re no nearer resolving any issue presented than we were at the beginning!  The philosophy chair at Harvard has a job for another year!

  156. Dang Artman | Jun 11, 2011 at 3:06 am |

    Actually, Agnostic means the belief that whether or whether not, there is a God, is itself unknowable.. not whether or not you have yourself decided if there is one..

  157. Tuna Ghost | Jun 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    Whatever, I wanted to be the “Potions” instructor anyway

  158. Echrystal | Jun 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    sorry but i find myself unable to think of anything that i worship.  i don’t even know what it means to worship.  at one time i tried it because it came so highly recommended.  but then i realized that i was worshipping my own ideas and sensations.  something is happening to me and it becomes impossible to do that kind of thing.  anyway worship is a strange word.

  159. Echrystal | Jun 13, 2011 at 9:07 am |

    sorry but i find myself unable to think of anything that i worship.  i don’t even know what it means to worship.  at one time i tried it because it came so highly recommended.  but then i realized that i was worshipping my own ideas and sensations.  something is happening to me and it becomes impossible to do that kind of thing.  anyway worship is a strange word.

  160. Redandsilver28 | Jun 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    I prefer to believe in the TRUTH then mindless fairy tales, dogma,
    and propaganda like Darwinian evolutionary precepts and expoundings
    upon, offshoots thereof.

    This goes for all organized religions too (judaism, islam,
    christianity) all are CRAP and were created by secret brotherhood
    societies many thousands of years ago as purely a means to control
    masses and their thoughts, behavior, also to actuate dualism betwixt
    them all, to incite dichotomies to further facilitate manipulative ends
    and foster myriad opportunism…A real spirituality exists, in a sense,
    make no question about it, but it is cosmological/astrotheological and
    vastly OLDER than all of these fabrications that we know…

    Christians = worship an alien

    Evolutionists = worship a MYTHICAL ape-man (chimp-human hybrid) and
    “MAGICAL” mutations with such flawed gaps in logic and chronology,
    sweeping leaps of sudden, drastic changes, etc.

    …..Life comes from GENETIC MANIPULATION…….case closed!!! Not God, either.

    God doesn’t make holograms (this 3rd dimension). God is literally DNA
    encoded within each of us and is responsible for the “SOUL”, which is
    multi-dimensional, harmonic/vibrational fractal vortex physics based and
    predicated……

    “Atheism” is another DUMB religion in every sense of the word!!!!

    It IS a tactile, materialist, myopically ego-centered BELIEF system
    based on belief in no God or gods in any sense of a possible delineation
    of such a manifest word, spirituality, nor metaphysics….

    Atheists believe that “everything came from nothing” and that everything is the result of random, chance mutations!!!! haha

    Everything is “accidental” and happened for no reason in “Atheist world” haha!!!

    Out of all the dumb religions…..atheism is the DUMBEST!
     

  161. Redandsilver28 | Jun 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm |

    I prefer to believe in the TRUTH then mindless fairy tales, dogma,
    and propaganda like Darwinian evolutionary precepts and expoundings
    upon, offshoots thereof.

    This goes for all organized religions too (judaism, islam,
    christianity) all are CRAP and were created by secret brotherhood
    societies many thousands of years ago as purely a means to control
    masses and their thoughts, behavior, also to actuate dualism betwixt
    them all, to incite dichotomies to further facilitate manipulative ends
    and foster myriad opportunism…A real spirituality exists, in a sense,
    make no question about it, but it is cosmological/astrotheological and
    vastly OLDER than all of these fabrications that we know…

    Christians = worship an alien

    Evolutionists = worship a MYTHICAL ape-man (chimp-human hybrid) and
    “MAGICAL” mutations with such flawed gaps in logic and chronology,
    sweeping leaps of sudden, drastic changes, etc.

    …..Life comes from GENETIC MANIPULATION…….case closed!!! Not God, either.

    God doesn’t make holograms (this 3rd dimension). God is literally DNA
    encoded within each of us and is responsible for the “SOUL”, which is
    multi-dimensional, harmonic/vibrational fractal vortex physics based and
    predicated……

    “Atheism” is another DUMB religion in every sense of the word!!!!

    It IS a tactile, materialist, myopically ego-centered BELIEF system
    based on belief in no God or gods in any sense of a possible delineation
    of such a manifest word, spirituality, nor metaphysics….

    Atheists believe that “everything came from nothing” and that everything is the result of random, chance mutations!!!! haha

    Everything is “accidental” and happened for no reason in “Atheist world” haha!!!

    Out of all the dumb religions…..atheism is the DUMBEST!
     

  162. From my experience, it is really difficult to get other people to think in broad timescales such as these unless they have stumbled across the thought-style all on their own. Despite this, its still good to try to explain it.

  163. By *not* participating on these tedious, unending exercises in non-productive theorizing, I have witnessed the take-over of public discourse by neo-theologians and would-be intellectuals who have turned any sort of debate regarding religion v. science v. atheism ad nauseum into come-to-Jesus arguments with all who do not see Things as they do. Now that there is effectively naught *but* arguments in place of public discourse, it’s time for the Silent Intelligentsia to put y’all’s clumsy religiosity etc. in perspective. God is strictly a divide-and-conquer enterprise and I resent having It and sanctimony forced upon me.

  164. By *not* participating on these tedious, unending exercises in non-productive theorizing, I have witnessed the take-over of public discourse by neo-theologians and would-be intellectuals who have turned any sort of debate regarding religion v. science v. atheism ad nauseum into come-to-Jesus arguments with all who do not see Things as they do. Now that there is effectively naught *but* arguments in place of public discourse, it’s time for the Silent Intelligentsia to put y’all’s clumsy religiosity etc. in perspective. God is strictly a divide-and-conquer enterprise and I resent having It and sanctimony forced upon me.

  165. PtP  did not say that the experiences of all atheists are the same.  Nor did s/he state that s/he was unsatisfied with the responses of other people.  S/he said that the *definition* of the word ‘atheism’ is not  very broad; and this is true.  ‘Atheism’ comes from the Greek ‘atheos’ which means ‘without god’.  The connotations, implications and applications of atheism may be incredibly far reaching indeed, but the definition of the actual word itself is not.
    You are right when you say that the experiences and ‘thought systems’  of atheists can be massively different, but PtP is correct too.  These are the very reasons that the word ‘atheism’ can ‘bring more heat than light’ to a conversation; if those in discussion do not take care to clarify exactly what they mean by such a word.
    What I dislike about this article is that the writer claims that the worship of anything other than deities and what have you basically leaves you without any ethical framework at all.  This may be true if what you worship is (note the implication of the Christian sins here) money or power, your own beauty or intellect.  However, the idea that being without god/s creates an absence of morality is completely ridiculous.

  166. Exactly.  This is what we call reason.

  167. *Shakes head*.  I understood what the Teen meant quite well whether the way it was said was quite garbled or not.  Teen, I think that Wolf may be trolling you a little.

  168. You talk of humility while claiming to know what ‘god’ wanted / meant when it (supposedly) dictated the bible to its prophets?

  169. … and you say this why?  Because you know Phendraana and the 8 others who ‘liked’ the comment s/he made so well?  Because you *know* the human race as a whole and as individuals so well?  Unless you are trolling, where did that statement come from?

  170. justagirl | Jun 21, 2011 at 12:16 am |

    that’s really why you come here…  HA HA HA!  (points finger).

  171. justagirl | Jun 21, 2011 at 12:17 am |

    ***nerd alert***    

  172. Tuna Ghost | Jun 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm |

    I saw a clip from the newest movie, its a scene where Dracula and The Mummy are in the Family Planning aisle in a Wal-Mart and the Mummy is crying

  173. justagirl | Jun 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

     ok.  i’m just saying it’s the nerds you need to watch out for.  *smile*  (pats bald head).

  174. I have said before: 
    “Democracy is the idol of the Atheist.” 
    “Voting is idolatry.”

     

  175. I have said before: 
    “Democracy is the idol of the Atheist.” 
    “Voting is idolatry.”

     

  176. You actually want the blame for having said that twice?

  177. The whole premise of the article doesn’t make much sense at all. There is a tremendous difference between a religious person worshipping a god or gods and an atheist strongly valuing a material thing. For one, the atheist doesn’t hold services every Sunday over an object, and co doesn’t pray to the object, either. The article, while being marginally philosophical, doesn’t consider the real definition of an atheist; the article is really an antagonization aimed at atheists who constantly have to defend their own disbelief to religious people.

    *For those who don’t know, “co” is a non-gender specific pronoun invented at Brown University to replace the more tedious “he/she, him/her” and the grammatically incorrect “they” while preventing the sometimes offensive connotations of “it.”

  178. The whole premise of the article doesn’t make much sense at all. There is a tremendous difference between a religious person worshipping a god or gods and an atheist strongly valuing a material thing. For one, the atheist doesn’t hold services every Sunday over an object, and co doesn’t pray to the object, either. The article, while being marginally philosophical, doesn’t consider the real definition of an atheist; the article is really an antagonization aimed at atheists who constantly have to defend their own disbelief to religious people.

    *For those who don’t know, “co” is a non-gender specific pronoun invented at Brown University to replace the more tedious “he/she, him/her” and the grammatically incorrect “they” while preventing the sometimes offensive connotations of “it.”

  179. does this work

  180. Kathryn Braithwaite | Sep 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    I like this

  181. Kathryn Braithwaite | Sep 21, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    Very interesting piece.Thank you

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