On Atheism

A useful way to think about faith and belief is to imagine a scale where at one end you have fanaticism and at the other end you have extreme skepticism. The Muslim wearing a suicide vest is down at the fanatic end, while H.L. Mencken was down at the other end with the extreme skeptics. Disbelief is not the opposite of belief. Skepticism is the opposite of belief. The believer is willing to accept, without evidence, the truth of some statement, while the skeptic is unwilling to accept statements without proof.

Atheists will argue that atheism is the opposite of religious belief, but that’s what is called a gratuitous assertion. The atheist believes there is no superior being. They have no proof of this as there can be no proof. In that regard, atheism is illogical as it is something that can never be proved. Christianity, in contrast, can be proved. Christ could show up and confirm the tenets of the faith. The same is true of Islam or Judaism. In other words, even though there is no proof now, there could be proof. That’s not possible with atheism.

My general impression has always been that atheists are a) mugging for attention, b) mostly opposed to Christianity in a subversive way and/or c) not well versed in religion or the role of religion. Bill Maher is a famous atheist because it makes him safely edgy. He gets to be controversial without any risk of controversy. A Penn Jillette, on the other hand, is just angry that his mother died and his prayers were not answered the way he wanted them answered. He’s also arguing from a position of ignorance. He’s just not that smart.

It’s why I don’t find atheists or atheism all that interesting. Most of it is just a pose from people who demand the right to say controversial things, but have nothing controversial to say. They are meta-rebels. These are people who talk about being rebellious and subversive, but never dare color outside the lines. Entertainers are fond of this style of edginess as it safely allows them to flatter their audience’s own egotistic need to see themselves as an avant-garde. Every modern TV comic falls into this category.

The other day I saw on twitter that Richard Dawkins went somewhere to insult Christians and was so proud of his efforts he was tweeting about it. Dawkins is more famous for being a public douche bag now, than he is for his book The Selfish Gene. I chalk this up mostly to the madness that results from trying to square the prevailing orthodoxy with the realities of biology. Dawkins wants to be a beloved public intellectual and an honest man of science. Instead he is an obnoxious provocateur and a public nuisance.

Dawkins claims to be a militant atheist, not just an anti-Christian bigot, but it’s hard to find any evidence to support his claims. He’s careful not to say bad things about Muslims, probably because he enjoys having his head attached to his neck. Similarly, he has been very careful not to upset the Jews. Christians, on the other hand, get no breaks and he seems to go out of his way to offend them. This is true of all atheists. Whether it is because Christians are a soft target or just anti-Christian animus is debatable.

The other day, someone asked me about this clip from the Joe Rogan Show that Cernovich was promoting. The point was to solicit an opinion from me on Cernovich. My reply was “I will not be shocked if one day we learn that Sam Harris has been strangling hookers and burying them in the desert.” I’ve never found Harris very interesting, so I never bothered to watch him. In that ten minute clip, I got the impression that Harris has a lot of demons. I was also reminded that atheist are almost always joyless dickheads.

I was also reminded that Vox Day used to give Sam Harris the business. I no longer remember the details, but I think a few of the alt-right people have taken shots at Harris, who in addition to being an atheist, is a hooting Progressive and an anti-Trumper. That’s a feature of atheism that goes unremarked. Most are Progressives and usually the hard thumping variety. They may not believe in God, but they are bubbling over with belief in the One True Faith. This suggests that maybe atheism is just another facet of Progressivism.

The Prog impulse to root around in the private lives of strangers, imposing their values on everyone, comes from public Protestantism. This is the general belief that societies are judged as a whole, so the faithful have a duty to root out sin and lift up sinners. In the same way, atheists seem to think that their sacred duty is to stamp out Christianity, as if it is a sin preventing mankind from reaching the singularity. It is excessive belief, manifesting as a hostility toward the more conventional expressions of belief.

To be clear, I’m not a believer. I’m down on the end of the scale with Mencken. I don’t know if the Christians are right about a God in heaven, but I don’t know they are wrong either. I don’t know. I can’t know. For all I know we could be a science experiment for some extra-dimensional species. That said, if religious faith brings you happiness, I’m happy for you and wish you the best with it, just as long as you don’t make a nuisance of yourself. In other words, indifference is my preferred position on your religiosity.

I do know I’d never want to live in a world ruled by atheists.

105 thoughts on “On Atheism

  1. There are two very different types of “atheism”:

    The first type are people who do not believe in God because they have no evidence that He exists. For them, and this is not sarcasm, they don’t believe in fairies for the same reason. Faith, the belief in something despite having no evidence, is simply not part of their experience. These are the people I think of as “real” atheists.

    The second type are people who make the positive assertion that there is no God. As you point out, they have no evidence to substantiate their assertion. They do, however, have a foaming at the mouth hatred of God.

    Interestingly, the first type are live and let live sorts who don’t discuss the issue because they don’t consider it possible to have a meaningful discussion over the existence of Someone when there is, by definition, no evidence possible.

    The second type are militant and obnoxious.

  2. As an agnostic, I have always viewed atheism and religion to be equally faith-based belief systems, because neither can prove their case. I strongly suspect atheists are correct, but I don’t KNOW.

    Too much of atheism is devoted to bashing Christianity, for no obvious reason. I remember discussing The God Delusion with an atheist family member, and her conclusion was the same as mine: That Dawkins overstated his case, and that the book was mostly an anti-Christian rant.

    I do disagree with one premise from the article: That believers in a Supreme Being could prove their case when their Apocalypse arrives, but atheists cannot prove their position. Obviously, if Jesus or Mohammad or whoever shows up at the End of Days the atheists will be proven wrong. But if they don’t, then Occam’s Razor pretty much says the atheists were correct.

  3. I am not as well read on this topic as most of you, the following has guided me to believing in God:

    1. Not sure if there is God or not but in the long run it is safer and costs nothing to believe than to not believe (Not sure who said this). Similarly, I’d rather believe in God and be proven right than not believe in God and be proven wrong.

    2. Once science can explain what existed before the big bang, I might start to believe them.

    3. If you don’t have a set of values (like the 10 commandments) then how do you decide what is right and wrong?

    4. I’d rather live my life believing that there is a God and there is an after life then not. I sleep better at night. Since none of us really know which is really true, then at least I go to sleep every night content.

    5. Religion is not what you say or do when you in church, rather what you say and do every moment of every day.

  4. Zman, you are making the common error of saying that atheism is a belief that cannot be proven. Atheism is the absence of a belief.

    In logic, people who make an assertion have the burden of proof. If you propose the existence of a magic person in the sky, the burden is on you to provide evidence.

    The absence of belief in magical people does not require proof.

    • You are making the common error of repeating your cult’s chants without having read my post. I covered this. Your cult is based entirely on the assertion that there is no god. Like all members of a cult, you have zero interest in examining this assumption. Rather, you instinctively try to shift the focus onto a straw man you can defeat. It’s why atheists always try to talk about the beliefs of Christians. It’s also why almost all atheists are Progressives.

  5. There’s a fundamental problem with your argument — the claim that “The atheist believes there is no god.” Wrong. The correct statement is, “The atheist lacks any belief in a god.”

    I understand the confusion, as there’s some debate on this even within he atheist community. But essentially, you have the strong atheist, and the weak atheist: strong atheists are those who positively assert that there is no god; weak atheists are those who simply state that they do not believe in any god.

    A person who believes in a god — any god whatsoever — is a theist. A person who lacks any belief in a god is an atheist. It seems rather ludicrous to claim that someone who lacks any belief whatsoever in a god is nevertheless not an atheist.

    Even people such as Dawkins have acknowledged that it is logically impossible to prove that god does not exist. However, that DOES NOT MAKE IT illogical or irrational not to believe in a god. In fact, you yourself do this every single day. There are NUMEROUS claims made by others, which is it IMPOSSIBLE for you to prove are untrue. A simple but obvious example is Santa Claus. Let’s say that I make the claim that Santa is real, but that he has magic powers that make it impossible for us to find him or prove him using scientific tools.

    Using YOUR argument, I would have to say that since it IS possible to prove Santa DOES exist (just produce a real Santa with demonstrable magical powers), but IMPOSSIBLE to prove that he DOESN’T exist. And THEREFORE, people who DO believe in Santa are being reasonable, but those who state that they do not think Santa exists are being unreasonable and illogical.

    I could go on and on and on and on, there are an almost INFINITE range of such claims…things that OTHER people claim are true (such as claims that they are in mental contact with aliens), which it is impossible for you to prove are NOT true, yet which you nonetheless will have NO DIFFICULTY whatsoever in dismissing as untrue.

    It always amazes me how people elevate claims about the existence of god to some sort of special status, immune to the same criticism that we would use in regards to claims about Santa, or of telepathic communication with aliens.

    As to the rest, it is pretty much indicative of a general lack of knowledge of atheism in general. You mention extremism in your opening, but fail to recognize that the atheists you cite are actually the more EXTREME voice within atheism, and absolutely DO NOT represent the vast majority of atheists.

    Myself, and a great many other atheists I know, have no problem at all with those who choose to believe in god, so long as A) those beliefs are not forced on others,and B) those beliefs do not cause harm to others. I’m 100% that they’re WRONG…but then, there MUST BE things that I myself am convinced are right, that I’ll later discover are wrong (that is the nature of life, and particularly of scientific inquiry). It’s not my job to make sure that everyone is “right”, or that everyone thinks like I do (what a boring world THAT would be.

    Finally, I will also address your claim that “skepticism is the opposite of belief”. You are actually playing with semantics here, since the topic when discussing atheism is RELIGIOUS BELIEF, not just “belief” in general. And my counter to your claim would be that I will state that there ARE skeptics out there who also hold religious beliefs. If skepticism is the opposite of religious belief, this is obviously logically impossible.

    The only OTHER possibility is that ANYONE who believes in god CANNOT be called a skeptic. Which takes rather a greater degree of hubris than THIS particular atheist would ever attempt to muster.

    • Believer here. Good, internally consistent, well thought out comment. God gave us reason for a reason.

    • fundamental problem with your argument is it is complete bullshit. Moving the goal posts is not an argument. It’s sophistry. When the irrationality of “atheism” is pointed out, you guys shift the definition to agnosticism. When that gets examined, you shift back to atheism. It’s a well known game that fools no one any more.

      It’s the same bullshit you get from libertarians, who now have 85 definitions of “libertarian” so they can endlessly play the no true Scotsman card over and over.

  6. would it help at all to say that while i myself am not a believer, i also don’t believe a world with more not believers would necessarily be a good thing?

    the reason atheists go mostly after christianity is because you can’t attack what you don’t know. christianity is the religion most familiar to most atheists. the fact that atheists go after christianity is proof positive that christianity is the most tolerant religion. whether that is good or bad, i”ll leave to you….

    i do tend to like dawkins but can understand how people can get annoyed with his preachiness.

    and i hate to split hairs but i i think instead of “The atheist believes there is no superior being.” would be more accurately stated as “The atheist does not believe there is a superior being”. the onus of proof lies on those who claim the belief not those who don’t. but here i go getting preachy…

    suffice it to say increased atheism has not made america better. the new religions of race, gender, socialism, equalism, environmentalism, et cetera that have filled the void where traditional belief once resided have proven far more corrosive to the institutions that hold a society together.

  7. Pingback: Atheism is not that great I believe | IowaDawg: Posting Only What I Like

  8. This is an excellent set of observations. But as an ex-agnostic whose concerns overlap yours, I also find them frustrating. The reason the Progs win and have been winning? People like you who are intelligent and appear to have some common sense can not be bothered with the all important question of is Christianity, the religion of Western Civilization, true? Is there some meat on the bones? Meh, I’m too dumb, leave it to someone else. Umm…okay.

    Because prayer might help save Western Civilization if it’s true. Going to church might help if Christianity has *any* truth at all.

    The actual happiness, reproductive habits, and political inclinations of regular Church goers in the West is all well documented. It’s the direction you want. But “meh”, if makes you happy? Really?

    It might be that atheists on are Christianity like rabid dogs because it’s true..not false. So what then do I make of your indifference. How serious are you about Western Civilization if Christianity is merely a disposable toy to you? *shrug*

  9. I gave up on Harris when he was on Dan Carlin show and his anti Trump stand. He has gone on about the need for a world government and until then the need for the US to take the lead in being the world’s policeman.

    Don’t get me wrong I like that he speak out against Islam. I think that where he has it wrong is that for a society and mainly a western society like the US it is almost impossible to fight the growth of Islam, and at the same time be pushing for more progressive laws, ideas (world government, ending drug war, gay marriage.. ect) insulting and punishing Christians and Christianity (also making laws like forcing christian to bake gay cakes).

    Being anti Trump was the worst thing he has done publicly so far though. He wants the USA to be both fighting Islam, stopping the growth in the west of Islam (and religion in general), and being the world policeman. He should of been 100% for Trump over Hillary. Hillary was only corrupt and getting money from the Saudi (and China) but her position on things would of increase Islam in the West and around the World. I don’t think he would want to be an atheist in a society ruled under Islam. Some of her goals in the election that should of turn someone like Harris, wanting to bring more Syrians refugee into the US (increasing Islam in the US), wanting to start a fight with Russia and/or Syrian government (pro ISIS), ban websites such as Breitbart (anti free speech, probably would of led to banning anti Islam post).

    Zman what do you think?

    • Yes, exactly. That’s why as much as I enjoy Z Man’s Blog, there’s nothing down the agnostic path either. Either we grapple with the truths of Christianity and find a way to believe or we indifference ourselves into oblivion. Noting that atheists are unpleasant is great start but it’s hardly helpful in the long run if that’s as far it goes.

  10. I have one small disagreement on your definition of what a believer is. It was reason and belief that made me believe in God. Not the lack of rationality but the other side of the same coin.

    • One should expect less trust from people who believe in the fall of man and variations of original sin. Without these one could easily grow up believing in the natural goodness of people.

  11. I’m a skeptic. The big bang theory seems to imply just as huge a leap of faith as a God. I tend toward evolutionism (despite rather thin evidence) rather than the only other alternative, creationism seems to require a God laughably interested in humanity.

  12. Uh oh. I think that the Prog-estant Atheists are being… cultivated. By the scriptwriters.

    Much as the genocidal psychotic, John Calvin, and his Protestant armies were cultivated to war on the Roman Church.

    He was the Christian Mohammed, and his Puritan pirate descendants kept the slave trade going. Auction ports in the north, colonies in the south, two wars of sucession to protect that trade in North America.

    His predecessor, the largely fictional Arab Mohammed, was the figurehead of two vassal mercenary armies made to war on the Eastern and Western Roman Christian empires. After 300 years, the factions united as Islam. A slave empire.

    I suspect- am certain- they were cultivated by the same scriptwriters. They did this twice in Babylon, in Egypt, Persia, Canaan, Mittania, and stirred up Rome and Philistia while robbing them, controlling the slave trade.

    They also did this in the Revolutionary age- England, France, America, Poland, Russia.
    World War 1. World War 2.
    The Russian Soviet. The Chinese Soviet.
    Socialist movements in Latin America, Africa, Asia- and the quiet March into America. The rise of China to replace the USSR. Now, Globalism.

    We’ve wondered at the reach of the anti-Christian Left. If they were atheists- truly against monotheism- Islamic barbarity wouldn’t stand a chance.

    I think the war on Roman Christian civilization is still on.
    Turkey will become a full member of NATO, and the coming EU Army will be Muslim overseers.

    Our angry atheists?
    Cultivated. Mainstreamed by the culture powers, shown as ascendant and gaining in numbers. More volunteers for the Overseer class. Ya wanta join the losers, punk?

  13. So which came first, the caterpillar or the butterfly? I was an atheist for an awful long time, but I find evolution to be utterly inadequate as an answer to the complexity of organisms and life in general. Behe’s book has a bit about the chemical reactions that occur within the eye to convert photon reception into an electrochemical signal. I have a bit of knowledge about control systems, but this is just mind bogglingly complicated. A random process cannot account for what we see around us. The numbers just do not add up. And while I’m at it, how did the sexes evolve in parallel – how could the exact same (or at least compatible) mutations occur at the same time down the millenia in male and female organisms?
    As a former Dawkins aficionado (as a teenager), I have found that reading the classical Christian apologists, such as CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, as well as William Lane Craig, Ed Feser etc., give you a very different take on life in general. If you are going to remain an atheist, you should at least familiarise yourself with the arguments for God before rejecting them, and you owe it to yourself (and dare I say your immortal soul :-)) to consider the very best arguments in favour of God. Dawkins is a poor scientist and an even worse philosopher.

  14. Having little or no exposure to religion growing up it is a non-issue for me. However living in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood surrounded by Roman Catholics it was amazing to see the dedication and Faith they placed in their religion.

    Tapped into a higher power many years ago and this never seemed to bother my friends or neighbors

    Atheists on the other hand are that “in your face” type and their company gets old quick. When they find out you don’t belong to a organized religion it’s the full court press trying to convince you there is no God.

    I’ll take the Catholics over the atheists any day.

  15. Angry because their questions aren’t being answered, because the “answers” are a different dialect. “It’s Greek to me!”

    People to whom God is a natural seem crazy, seeing nothing, speaking in gibberish, and therefore dangerous. How can I trust what this lunatic says?

    Note how differing religions- including Leftism- feel the same way. Outraged.
    Because emotive speech signals position and loyalty, not neutral information.
    Emotion is how primates order their groups, including emotive sound signals.
    Our hoots, calls, and displays.

    Here’s how to translate:
    Dear atheists-
    God is social probability modeling.

    Believers’ perceptions are built around a core- that there is Someone In Charge.

    Nonbelievers see process.
    They don’t see even the need for Someone to be in charge.

    These are conflicting operating systems.
    A believer can’t imagine ‘random’, any argument without a primary Cause sounds illogical to him. It doesn’t a damm bit of sense. He can see and sense the Hand at work.

    Same with atheists. “What hand?!” they cry.

    Conflicting operating systems.
    Social animals run social models- possiblity and probability models- constantly. Even in their sleep. That ghost audience is always in the back of ones mind, coulda woulda shoulda.

    Our first models are usually our parents, and siblings.
    For most, it’s entirely natural to learn that Daddy is in charge- he loves you, he will punish you, he has Reasons.

    We learn this deep core before we can talk.
    For most, that first lesson never fades.

    A social probability model allows us to predict what those around us might do.
    We got smart having to calculate the many members of our troop. We developed pattern recognition, and enjoy exercising it.

    As primates, we defer to the alpha male; he remains in thought and story as a flagpole around which the rest of us may sort ourselves by rank, role, and loyalties

    Other groups have different ‘operating systems’- different expectations, predictions, behaviors, and standards.
    Based on the models they have learned.

    Simply put, I say:
    Daddy model- monotheist conservatives
    — Father knows best, intact families

    Sibling model- Leftists
    –“my brothers and sisters will help me bring down daddy”, non-intact families

    Extended family- polytheism
    — Non Semitic=monotheist culture (most of the world)

    No model- atheist or agnostic
    –Also a natural, frequent variation

    Child molestation- Muslims
    Mafia- Democrats, Bush Republicans

  16. Evangelical atheists are annoying in the extreme. The ones who don’t talk about it unless asked – and there are plenty of those – are fine.

  17. I can’t know.

    True that. That all knowledge is anthropomorphic is, to me, an incontrovertible truth. Where knowledge ends understanding begins – knowledge ‘leads’ to understanding but a leap is made at the terminus. Its in that leap that faith arises. If you want to understand the argument for/against existence of a ‘superior’ being you must first understand epistemology. Its rare to encounter such an approach whether from people of faith or skeptics or so-called atheists. I present the simple formula that of course G_d doesn’t exist….He’s eternal. (S. Kierkegaard, who was not only a Christian existentialist but a pastor, too.)

  18. When I gave up belief, I spent some time looking for a community and fell in with a lot of other atheists. They were largely welcoming, until my conservative political views were revealed; then I was immediately shunned. Most all the atheists I encountered were hard-Left, which was not a deal-breaker, but what really repulsed me was their gleeful willingness to embrace government-run totalitarian policies: In their Brave New Atheist World, parental rights would be denied, all art and entertainment would only support the atheist narrative, and hive-thinking would be the default state.
    It did not take long before I realized I had replaced one religion with another. I immediately left the atheist community forever.
    Apparently, there are a lot of hidden requirements to maintain your atheist membership in good standing. This is strange, because I had always assumed the only real membership requirement was a lack of belief (or actively not-believing) in God.
    I still consider myself an atheist, but only in the sense that I have no belief in God. I don’t seek out or talk to other atheists, and I mostly keep my lack of belief to myself (unless asked politely). Frankly, whatever floats your boat is cool with me, just (like Zman said) don’t be annoying about it.

  19. I automatically associate “Christian” with “The Westboro Baptist Church”, The Inquisition, IRA bombings, Salem Witch hunts, the misery caused by the poverty created by the construction of medieval churches, the “blue” laws that closed almost everything on Sunday in 1950’s Ohio, etc… I don’t see much difference between sharia law and medieval Christian law. I am much more of a skeptic than and atheist. B U T I am definitely in the fight against post-modernism.

  20. Z-man, Been reading you for a while now but this is the first time I’m commenting. I agree with most of the points you make above except one. I don’t think either side of the proposition could ever bee proven. The non-existence of god can’t be proven for obvious reasons, but I don’t beleive the existence of god can be proven either. Maybe this is just because I’m a sci-fi fan, but Ive thought about it and come to the conclusion that even if Jesus (or Mohammad, or Ra, or whomever) came down from the clouds while a celestial band played how would we be able to prove it wasn’t simply some form of highly advanced alien tech, a shared hallucination or simply something programmed into the ancestor simulation that we currently exist in (Not saying we do actually live in an ancestor simulation but if we did there would be no way to prove or disprove that either)? As such my view has always been that the question of religion lies outside of the scope of rational thought and as such neither belief, non-belief, or skepticism can be seen as superior to either of the others. Just my two cents.

    • Apparently, there are still people who insist the earth is flat. When I use the word “proof” I’m limiting it to the set of people capable of comprehending the evidence. That’s not everyone and maybe not even a majority.

  21. Zman: “I do know I’d never want to live in a world ruled by atheists
    Then be thankful we live in a world/western civilization that was ruled by White, Male, Anglo-Saxon, Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christians. Because anything that matters most in our growth as a species flows through these sources.

  22. Evangelical atheism is pretty infantile. I felt that way even when I was an atheist. Ever tried telling a buddy that his girlfriend is no good for him, is sure to cheat on him, and his relationship is doomed? How’d that work out? He’ll either find out in his own good time or he won’t; the only question is, is he gonna punch you in the face in the process.

    • There’s a good argument in favor of the idea that proselytizing stems from doubt. If I believe my cat was sent to me by God to guide me to Heaven, why would I invest any time trying to convince strangers that my cat was divine? Now, if my cat is also telling me that I can a duty to encourage others to accept the cat as a miracle, then maybe I I have a reason to proselytize, but again, why would I care if you accept it? I’ve met my duty to the cat simply by bringing you to the cat so you can see for yourself.

      It’s not a flawless argument, but my sense is that proselytizing atheists are looking for validation because they are riddled with self-doubt. I feel the same way about the door knockers handing out copies of the Watchtower. Like I said, I’m not much of a believer, but I don’t care about your religiosity nor do I care what you think of mine.

      • Agreed. When I was about 15, I thought it was clever to say “I’m an atheist because of Science and Logic.” Then I read some history, and learned that would entail “I am better at Science than Newton, and better at Logic than Aquinas.” So, no – the best I could do was agnosticism. As for the duty to proselytize, well, that’s one of the many many (many many many) areas I fall short. I’m simply not qualified. If you asked me, specifically, what makes me, specifically, a believer, I’d tell you… but it’s so specific to me that there’s no general lesson to be drawn. So, yeah, I don’t much care what anyone else’s beliefs (or unbeliefs) are; I’ve got enough problems sorting out my own to tackle yours.

      • This is absolutely false! Everyone over the age of 40 knows that felines are actually military messengers from the future. Ahnuld let the cat out of the bag in one of his 1980s time travel movies when he traveled from the future to the present and tried to speak machine language to a cat in the then current period.

      • Oddly enough, My cat (actually adopted by my son from the barn) has taught me far more about hell than heaven.

    • Infantile indeed. On a local freeway we have some of those signs designating “sponsorship” of the freeway. And one of them is from some group called Atheists United. I rather doubt that this sign is prompted a single person to investigate atheism as a way of life. Just more silly virtue signaling.

  23. I don’t there were any atheists in foxholes in the Ardennes in late December, 1944 and early January of 1945.

  24. I ceased being superstitious when I was about 13. Belief in a Super Being did not ring true. 55 years have passed. It still doesn’t ring true. Arguing about religion is a waste of time. Not a soul (couldn’t help it, I was raised in the South) outside my family knows my opinion on this matter. Voted for Reagan twice, voted for Trump. The American wing of the Caliphate should be shipped back to the Hell Hole of the Middle East. Z, I agree with most things you write about. Lumping Free Thinkers with SJW’s and blood sucking, non productive, progressive totalitarians is, quite frankly, fuzzy thinking. There are idiots, posers and blowhards of every persuasion. A bit more precision my friend. Very best regards to you.

    • If you consider what the term “free thinker”has meant in the past, it probably doesn’t do justice to yourself to use it in self-description. I have an atheist friend who is one of the few people I correspond with. Despite his atheism he and I agree on almost everything. Weird. I don’t think there is a category for people like him and you. Asking for more precision in this is rather fruitless.

  25. Your point about public Protestantism is a huge insight.

    Overall, militant atheists protest too much.
    Their arguments generally expose a raging misanthropy, reframed as anger at God.

    The former is not socially acceptable, bordering on sociopathy …and genocidal when enforced under communism.
    The latter can at least have an intellectual or rebellious sheen.

  26. thezman said: “Airlines are an interesting sub-species of business that you cannot compare to other industries. I know a lot about the economics of air travel. In the US, it is better to think of it in the same way the Soviets thought about concrete production or the Chinese think of steel production.”

    This deserves it’s own post! Please elaborate fully.

  27. Jordan B Peterson got into this the other day on the Rubin Report. Essentially, Christianity lays the groundwork for all of the assumptions at play in interpersonal relationships in the West. If you hate western culture, if you think it’s unfair, you have to remove the Christian underpinnings first. Otherwise, people will still hold certain beliefs about society and justice that are antithetical to the progressive/Marxist system. As Peterson puts it, even if a Westerner doesn’t actively believe in God, they are still a Christian. He mentions Harris (paraphrasing) “He says he isn’t a Christian. No? Well you’re acting it out anyway.”

    • That Tenth Commandment is really a pesky one for the Progs. How are they supposed to create an envy-based society if you don’t covet your neighbors’ stuff?

  28. I was officially done with (((atheism))) when i saw kosher food being served at one atheism convention, which is itself contradictory, conventions and books on atheism. Official atheism is de-facto an anti Christian movement.

  29. “My general impression has always been that atheists are a) mugging for attention, b) mostly opposed to Christianity in a subversive way and/or c) not well versed in religion or the role of religion.”

    I had a classmate in med school who did the research and found out that no religious studies major who had applied for our state med school had ever been turned down. He then went on to cynically double major in religious studies and biology and was duly accepted. I do not know what he said in his interviews, but it could not have been anything close to what he told his classmates. He was agressively atheist and apparently had a huge cache of pornography tapes that he would show to classmates at parties. Never saw him date a girl. One clue that I wasn’t worldly enough to pick up on at the time was his nearly constant referencing of The Wizard of Oz. He failed National Boards part one, sort of belying the notion that these folks are smart, and had to retake it and redo some classes. I think he still graduated with us. Ended up being an ID specialist who works mainly with AIDS “victims”. Jewish, of course.

  30. ” I can’t know”
    In recent years I’ve been primarily agnostic, but always felt like i was copping out. Then i came across the true position of the agnostic – it’s not just that you don’t know, it’s beyond your capabilities to even understand the question.
    This solves my issue when i listen to atheists whose absolute certainty annoys the hell out of me. And the inability to conceive of the supreme being is regarded in some philosophical circles as proof that there is a supreme being.
    Besides, read some physics – we live in a really strange place where the existence of a deity wouldn’t surprise me much.

  31. As a largely lifelong student and practitioner of Zen, I suppose I can be classified as an atheist, but NOT a “materialist” in the sense of believing the only “reality” is that which we perceive while encapsulated in flesh, that when the flesh capsule dies, that’s all there is. No, I don’t believe that for a moment. Neither, however, do I believe there is a self-conscious, volitional super-entity who (anthropomorphizing) created everything and everyone and keeps tabs on us all.

    Other people’s beliefs are their own affair as far as I’m concerned, so long as they don’t try to jam them down my throat I pay lip service to Catholicism, given the nature of the community in which I live and the fervent belief held by my dtr-in-law, and if asked will briefly explain my own metaphysical beliefs, but happily I’m seldom asked.

      • tpd, an atheist is a person who lacks belief in a god, esp. the god(s) of classical theism. Montefrio qualifies, given his own professed lack of belief, and to reject that is to insist, in effect, that he is lying.

        Like millions in Asia and elsewhere, Montefrio doubts the popular assumption that (i) the God hypothesis and (ii) materialism must be contradictories (where one must be true and the other, false). Instead, we suspect that these two positions are contraries, like hot and cold. In other words, both can be false.

        I think that we need to explain the origins and perpetuation of the popular assumption (in Western civ, anyway) that (i) and (ii) must be contradictories. It leads to confusion, division, and disorder. It’s also unclear why any person should believe that (i), if correct, is a good reason to beseech the mysterious being, to celebrate its willpower, and so on.

        If God exists, then surely its life is subject to immutable laws. For instance, the god could not make nihilism true. God can’t change the fact that || + ||| = |||||. If the god is immortal, this fact, too, would be a aspect of a law of existence which is superior to the god. If the god has any willpower, there are rules for how its will works, and these rules could not have been decreed by the god itself. Many people who believe in God insist that God exists necessarily. In other words, they say that God’s existence is mandated by some impersonal law of existence for which the god deserves no credit.

        So whether or not God exists, a little reflection ought to lead us to believe in a law which is greater. Still further, if we believe in God, we ought to remember that God is supposed to be omniscient, in which case God knows his place of absolute inferiority to the law.

        • You have your god in a box of your own making. I hope for your sake you can keep him comfortable.

        • Allan ;
          Doc gave you a good short answer. Here is a longer one.

          Despite really liking your first name ;-), you are falling into a classic error in Theology/Philosophy that’s been around since antiquity. It is attempting to use language (a finite and incomplete system) as the ultimate reality when in fact it only functions as a useful approximation to explain aspects of reality. When new aspects of reality are discovered, new words are created to describe them. It seems so natural that it is easy to forget that that specific part of reality existed before we made up the word for it. “Quarks” are an example (if they are really real).

          If your premise is correct, namely that language _is_ reality, then one can play word games pitting one attribute of God against another in language. A humerous ‘reductio ad absurdum’ example goes something like, “If God is really all powerful, how come He can’t make a rock so big He cant’t lift it anymore_?”.

          Since God is infinite and language is not, this is futile exercise if not a dreaded ‘category error’ (I was never exactly sure what that meant). IOW, one might _think_ they’ve put God in a box by symbolic manipulation and therefore He can’t be ‘real’. But they are fooling only themselves. He either does or doesn’t exist and each of us must choose path to follow.

        • The Bible says that with God, all things are possible. This is pretty much the Christian definition of omnipotence, which seems to be what you are arguing against. I will steal from C.S. Lewis heavily here: You state that God can’t make nihilism true, so therefore, there is a power beyond God, or an object that His power cannot alter. But what you are really doing is claiming that having both ends of a mutually exclusive proposition is impossible (it is, intrinsically), and therefore a limitation of power to God. This does not follow logically. Intrinsically impossible things or events are not actually things or events, but non-entities. This doesn’t imply any law or check on power, it is really just dividing by zero. As Lewis puts it, “nonsense remains nonsense, even when we speak it about God”.

  32. Just discovered this relevant quote today:

    “Epictetus the Stoic in the Second Century made the same pithy observation about Epicurus and the Hedonist of the Academics whom the Stoic soundly criticized.”

    “Man, why do you trouble yourself about us? Why do you keep awake for us? Why do you light your lamp? Why do you rise early? Why do you write so many books, that no one of us may be deceived about the gods and believe that they take care of men; or that no one may suppose the nature of good to be other than pleasure?

    “For if this is so, lie down and sleep, and lead the life of a worm, of which you judged yourself worthy: eat and drink, and enjoy women, and ease yourself, and snore.

    “And what is it to you, how the rest shall think about these things, whether right or wrong? For what have we to do with you?


  33. Harris is publicly anti-Islam, though, so maybe he can get a little credit for that?
    Plus he’s really into martial arts and carries a pistol everywhere, so he’s not a pussy.
    But I didn’t really like his book “Spirituality without God” (or something like that) because he kept denying that there’s a self while saying “I” a lot.

  34. Eric Hoffer described the true atheist as the gentle cynic who likely didn’t care very much about that subject and didn’t live for the need to be right anyway, but only the need to discover truths. The Prog atheists, which is most of them, are a highly religious bunch. They live their religion every day and keep a sharp eye out for apostates. They have more rules than a pious Catholic, plus sacraments, indulgences, and inquisitions all their own. They seem however not to have acquired the habits of confession or contrition. Although I have never to my knowledge changed the mind of an evangelical Christian about his religious beliefs I have never failed to have a respectful and thoughtful exchange of ideas either. With a Prog that has never been so.

  35. I know one thing. The idea that we were created out of pond scum festering for billions of years is less believable than the fact that someone (God) built us. Just look at the human body, it’s a self healing machine with specific organs that do specific things. Look at the earth. It’s a self healing nuclear reactor. You think these things just happened on their own?

    • There’s a fallacy to that thinking. If God is all powerful, then he logically can create a universe in which people result from evolution.

      • Sure, but look at the human body. Look at the separate organs. Look at the way things are tied together. It’s a lot like a building where you have plumbing, roof, sewerage, mechanicals, electrical, smell, sight, a server that runs everything, etc. I have trouble believing that just happened on its own.

  36. “For all I know we could be a science experiment for some extra-dimensional species.”

    Back in the 1940’s or early ’50’s, the science fiction writer Nelson Bond wrote a story a story,”The Cunning of the Beast”, based on this premise. In it a scientist named Yawa Eloem is complaining to his fellow scientists about the problems he was having with his experiment (a thinly disguised rewrite of Adam & Eve in Genesis).

    Some have speculated whether we are living in a matrix of some kind, with super-intelligences running things behind the scenes. To me it looks suspiciously like a traditional argument for the existence of God (or gods).

    • Agreed. Just to re-state what ought be obvious: If there’s a physical, material matrix, it came from somewhere – someONE created/built it from outside of itself. Else a matrix that can make itself from nothing and then create us is just an obtuse re-definition of the God of the Bible

      Likewise, if any universe is a simulation, then it’s running on some processor outside that universe and someONE wrote that code, else it’s just another obtuse redefinition of God in more ‘sciency’ sounding terms: Designed to ‘tickle the ear’ as St Paul says.

      As for strict materialism being literally true, this discussion alone is a refutation since it is being carried on through non-material as as material means.

  37. In my younger years, way back when, I used to argue about the existence or not of God with anyone with nothing better to do. I called myself an atheist back then, but even at that time, I used to say that ultimately, how do we really know, and maybe Epicurus was right in thinking that the gods live in some sort of ethereal realm of bliss far from the rough and tumble of our world, about which they don’t give a damn.

    Over time, I got over that and became embarrassed by the obnoxious behavior of professional atheists. I eventually realized it was a category error. Atheists actively know that there is no God (which in the west is usually an extreme form of leftist rejection of the Christian basis of existing society), whereas in my mind, I find the positive tenets of existing religions unconvincing, but I can’t really know that there isn’t any deity out there someplace. So I guess I’m a hardcore agnostic.

    These days, as long as people agree to leave me alone in my beliefs, I’m perfectly happy to leave them to theirs. And as for the leftist hostility to Christianity, the religious folks of the past were my folks, and I’m tired of the contemporary need to denigrate them for any perceived deviation from current leftist dogma.

    I can’t say as I fucking love science, for that matter. I’m happy enough to give it the benefit of the doubt, since people seem to be pretty successful in using it to allow me to fly from one place to another in aluminum cylinders, which is pretty cool when you think of it. On the other hand, I recall with amusement commenting once to the students in my class that I don’t believe in quarks and neutrinos and stuff like that. When this statement met with disbelief, I said, “Have you ever seen one?” I think they thought I was nuts.

    If God wants to show himself to me, I’ll be glad to make his acquaintance. In the meanwhile, I’ll go about my business, and he can go about his.

    • I could never get the metaphysics behind dimensional analysis. How is it that when you see a particular unit on one side of an equation divided by a number having that same unit that the unit simply disappears? I ended up having to simply accept that it works whether it makes sense or not and go from there. There is as much faith involved in chemistry and physics as there is in religion. People for the most part simply don’t realize this, but take it for granted. They just learn what the priests tell them.

      • I largely agree that there is some faith required in science, but not to the same degree or of the same kind as in religion (or atheism, for that matter). There are parts of chemistry that seem to require some faith – but those fall out of observables at the quantum level and are taught conceptually for the sake of simplicity. Physics then rests solely on mathematics. If you trust mathematical rigor, you trust physics (this isn’t to say that it’s impossible to get the math wrong or to accidentally come up with equations that seem to work empirically but are not ultimately correct). Ultimately, the key point of faith in science is whether there is an all-encompassing physical set of laws that govern the universe and that they can be united in a Theory of Everything. You may never be able to fully prove it, but you can disprove it. In religion, you have to have absolute faith of the existence of a deity, which is a completely untestable hypothesis. This isn’t to knock religion – religion and science are simply orthogonal entities.

        • So how does dividing a milligram of sodium by a milligram of sodium equal zero? Outside of referring to mathematical abstraction there is no rational answer to this. Sure, it works when the rule is applied, but this isn’t theoretical reason, only practical reason. Accepting that it will work consistently for you is a matter of absolute faith. This faith allows a system to be built around this basic tenet. At various points one finds that a few of the dogmas built upon it don’t quite match up with experience and the dogmas need modification, but the basic tenet remains.
          Both science and religion are explanations of things, whether material, or otherwise. Some of it depends on how you define material. They both have a basic metaphysic. A good read is The Metaphysics of Modern Science by E A Burtt. We discover what we look for, not what we don’t.

          • Dividing a milligram of sodium by a milligram of sodium would equal 1… Units are mathematical entities. They simply cancel like numbers do. If you want to argue that mathematics is built on faith, that’s fine but there’s a massive qualitative difference between the type of faith required to cancel units and the type of faith required to believe in a deity. Thanks for the reading tip, I might look into it.

          • I was wondering when someone would notice that. After I wrote the comment I noticed the supposed error, but after thinking about it decided not to change it and Instead watch to see if anyone noticed. Having it come to one instead of zero makes no difference when you think about it, in fact zero makes more sense. Sodium disappears from the equation seemingly by magic. It isn’t the math that has to be taken on faith, it is the application of it to real things.

    • ” God wants to show himself to me, I’ll be glad to make his acquaintance. In the meanwhile, I’ll go about my business, and he can go about his.”

      You’re an agnostic as you stated, not atheist which is fine. 🙂 But if you ever met God, you’d wet your pants. That’s the problem. So many moderns have not imagined what that encounter would be like. It will be tinged with fear, from beginning to end. That’s why almost every angel in the Bible starts with “Be not afraid”.

      Tbh, I tend to think modern society is crumbling in part because of the Mad Magazine indifference and lack of imagination to this question.

  38. It helps to understand the roots of all religious practices (and the associated belief systems). They are very ancient and have persisted continuously to the present time for the simple reason that they “work” in the sense that they aid the memetic process of passing wisdom from generation-to-generation. The task of imprinting our young with useful knowledge and behaviors not easy. It requires repetitive messaging combined with simultaneous stimulation of multiple brain centers (e.g. rituals). Only then can the brain wiring be effectively modified.

    What we call religion is simply the formalization of the practices that succeeded after much trial and error. And faith is the technique that overcomes the objection to the unknown, and a great deal was unknown about the world during the hunter-gatherer days.

    Bottom line. It’s still actually rational to practice religion as a means of passing on wisdom (because it still works when we don’t fuck it up).

    • Well said. I was just thinking yesterday how much value the teachings in the new testament have in individual and group behavior regardless of their source. At the same time, I have wondered whether the success of Islam has much to do with the constant daily rituals and the simple sense of belonging they may inspire. I believe that on a population wide basis people latch on to simple ideas and the “everybody is doing it” multiple times per day stuff allows a lot of people to participate regardless of their actual beliefs.

      • Some belief sets are useful; others not. It is not an accident that the most extreme and least useful (to the practitioner) versions of Islam are practised in rich oil nations, or by benefit farmers in the West (or international aid farmers such as in Gaza). In Islamic societies with reasonably sophisticated economies, such as Turkey, leading your life according to rules set out by tribesmen a thousand year ago will not make you successful in society.

    • Dagnab it! Some angry person downvoting many worthy comments. Most of ’em. I like Dawkins , for instance, but don’t like his Prog model- and many here have noted what rude boors public atheists are.

      Been counter-upvoting.
      I wish atheists hadn’t gone all revival tent on us. Next they’ll go full Puritan.

      I continue to apologise to you for my own.
      Maybe I’m a Moderate Atheist?

      Hey buddy! Stop making us look bad!
      Learn to translate!

    • Yes, a deep well of experience.
      Portable, waterproof, and communicable.
      Nested information not stored in flesh like DNA, stories are a leap beyond.
      We don’t have to relearn everything from day one. Our group parallel processing is a radical advance.

  39. My question for atheists: If none of this God talk, etc., means anything, why are you so freakin angry about it all the time_?

    • They are closer to gaining belief or conversion than the indifferent ones. Their display of anger shows a struggle.
      As in love, the opposite is not hate it’s indifference.

      • Sorry, but no.
        You cannot answer their questions, yet claim to have answers.

        Your question is, “Why did the Father put me here?”
        Their question is, “How does It work?”

        Both are wrong, both are right.
        Both intuit that there is much, much more- but cannot say what, exactly, iT is.

        There is a component that both miss in their estimates.
        The nonphysical component that we sense but whose mechanisms we have not yet described.

        You could call it “spiritual”- it is not- and the feral abilities we have but have not exploited because no accurate description is avaiiable.

        (Well, until now. Yours truly stumbled across it, like an ignorant beggar on a beach kicking Pandora’s buried chest.)

        Regardless of what some Baptist said in 1952, some 200 atheist soldiers were finally asked if they prayed in the foxhole. To a man, they said, “pray to what?”

        Sorry- you mean well, to share a great gift- but no atheist wants to end up on the courthouse steps with snakes in both hands!

          • And to Al- of course they’re angry.
            What makes perfect sense to you is alien gibberish to them. They can’t speak your language.

            You think them blind, and they think you’re crazy.

    • In some cases it’s bad childhood experiences. In others it’s just normal people enjoy being angry. And probably some self-righteousness thrown in.

  40. Proof? Miracle of the sun in Fatima? That was witnessed by 70,000, the majority faithful Believers, but a large minority who were ther to document a miracle would not occur, but it did.
    How about Our lady of Guadalupe?
    How about many incidents of the host having human flesh DNA?
    There are many more supernatural events performed in the name of Christianity out there.
    God has put proof out there in many places if you choose to look.

    • Even the most isolated primitives, in a mountain forest or island atoll, have the same terms used in every language and culture.

      Gods, ghosts. Heaven, hells. Angels, demons, spirits. Miracles. Knowing.

      And what is the big-brain answer?
      “They all just made it up.”

      You mean that every people made the same mistakes, the exact same mistakes, over and over again, all over the world, for ten thousand years?!

      And that means they’re all stupid, and you, Mr. Big-Brain, are the first smart person ever born?

      Hard. Man, that must’ve been hard, figuring that one out.

      • “You”, figuratively, not ‘you’ as in TuNeCedeMalis!

        As an atheist who supports believers- all one must do is learn to translate, so I speak their language- I think public decency is most important.

        Often I’m a bit blunt, but don’t mean to offend. I too tire, greatly, of the rancor.

        The good thing about Christians is that they think a lot about the important things. And work hard at them.

      • Whose to say God of the Bible didn’t influence and visit other cultures? So if they have words, why not?
        Certainly most people in a faith believes they have a tru faith, but the difference with Catholics is that we point to documented supernatural events.
        How can you shrug off the events of Our Lady of Fatima? Have you researched it? Our Lady of Lordes? Joan of Arc? Our Lady of Akita? The list is long, some 20th century.
        What I am saying is that Christ came down to show the doubting Thomases and do ties to do so.
        But let me put a different way to consider. God simply asks for you to believe and follow his way, and he will reward you with heaven. By not believing you risk eternity and worse.
        God gave man free will, this is why Lucifer rebelled and set into motion original sin and the ultimate choice we all face.

        Also consider how one man, who preached for less than 3 years, never lead a protest, performed miracles, was brutally killed and his most faithful followers were so scared they denied knowin him immediately – how this one man changed and impacted the world more than any other one man. His group of followers, scattered in the wind changed the mightiest nation in the world from pagen to Christain 400 years later? Some would consider that miraculous.

  41. My position is much like yours — not a believer but see no need to be a proselytizing atheist.

    I am driven especially mad by professing atheists who talk about a “duty to the environment” or how man is “nature’s mind”. Duty to what or whom if it’s a godless universe?

    Give me almost any traditional believer rather than someone with that cheap spirituality.

    • Since it’s the same social instinct- perhaps someday they could be harnessed as a team.
      Unfortunately, proselytizing is also a social instinct… good grief, so tired of the anger.
      Such a waste. All for show.

  42. Yes, I went to a Richard Dawkins lecture in Christchurch once. He is an obnoxious raver, and puts people off his interesting writing on molecular biology. He is also a globalist and proposed after Brexit that the votes of the people should be subjected to a rerun.
    He thought this should overturn Britains venture into Nationhood.

    • I disagree. They are the most religious people I know.

      They have faith in big government and socialism – in spite of history. They worship at the alter of climate change despite the complete lack of evidence. Everything the believe is made up nonsense, but they buy into it with mindless fanaticism.

      Progs are such absolute fanatics, they truly believe that anyone who opposes them is evil and should be silenced and destroyed by any means. They would be far less dangerous to themselves and the world if they channeled this religious energy into a harmless religion such as Christianity or Buddhism.

  43. I prefer to call my attitude “affectionate indifference”, and include atheists in that.

    Yes, they are shrill and obnoxious, but no more so than vegans, leftists, con-men, evangelical Christians of various flavors and gold bugs.

    But who cares? We’re all hairless monkeys with a taste for gin, bad women (or bad boys) and trouble. Especially trouble.

    Ever seen the internet video of 3 monkeys sitting peacefully in the sun, having browsed the jungle fruit? One of them simply cannot stand the peacefully quiet boredom and repeatedly pokes and aggravates his neighbor monkey until the riot is on. That’s us, that’s Dawkins, and Z, that’s you.

    • Fred, indeed, it is all of us, but on this blog, nobody personifies that monkey better than karl hungus.

        • karl, can’t you take a compliment?

          Let’s put it this way, you are this blog’s Brad Marchand.

          • But everyone wants him on their team, Bard Marchand that is 🙂
            Yes, even the Habs !

          • sirlancelot – If you are a regular here, don’t you think my analogy has some merit?

            Yes, we exchange barbs, but, where the compliment applies is that karl is a smart guy, just like brad marchand is one helluva hockey player.

  44. Stefan Molyneux – still an atheist – probably agrees on most of your points

    Penn Gilette had a pivot point (one of the few reasons I occasionally listen to Glenn Beck). He bought a Kreskin psychic powers kit, then while looking up juggling at the library, magic (conjuring and mentalism) was next so he read and found out it was all a hoax. And some bits of “science”. So he became a hard skeptic at a young age.

    As to Dawkins and the quesiton, the problem is that the experiment is constrained so cannot be successful. Consider someone deaf from birth that doesn’t believe music exists (not sound, nor that some might be pleasant which can be shown or argued, but why do people sit in concerts for hours?). What if the only method to perceive something spiritual requires the human brain and only happens internally – like enjoying music? That cannot happen in a lab.

    But they will believe in black holes, neutron stars, and various astrophysic objects and phenomena – or quantum micro world versions that cannot be viewed or perceived but are some kind of construct from human thought. They will say I demand too much to require going in a space ship to actually see and measure in detail a pulsar to see what it is before I will call it a “neutron star”. But will turn around and say they demand far more personally verifiable evidence for anything psychic, spiritual, mystical, or involving God.

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