Our New Home

We have a new home, come join us at WeAreSMRT (We Are Skeptical Minds & Rational Thinkers)

The Forum

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unless, of course, the Rapture comes.

Maybe then -- with all the Christians gone to their reward and the rest of us left behind folks doing battle with the Antichrist -- maybe then we'll have an openly Atheist US president. Even then, not fucking likely. I imagine it would be a long shot to have an Atheist county supervisor even here in Portland.

There's an article at Slate today on the likelihood of other minorities making it to the highest office in the land. Here's the money quote:



When the lion lies down with the lamb, when the president is a Republican Muslim and the Democratic speaker of the House is a vegan Mormon lesbian, when the secretary of defense is a Jain pacifist from the Green Party, they will all agree on one thing: atheists need not apply. A 2007 Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president. (By contrast, only 43 percent wouldn't vote for a homosexual, and only 24 percent wouldn't vote for a Mormon.) As Ronald Lindsay, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, told me in an e-mail: "Atheism spells political death in this country."



Or am I being too optimistic?

39 comments:

  1. I wonder why people dislike atheism so much?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It wasn't too long ago that the notion of a black president was unthinkable.

    Things have changed a lot since those dark days. Of course, the black community had to fight for this change. They had to fight damned hard, and they're still not done. The gays, despite a few key victories, are nowhere near the acceptance they should have, especially with Prop 8 in California dealing them a crippling blow.

    I don't imagine that atheists will have to fight that hard to have their lack of beliefs respected, but we're certainly not going to have anything handed to us. In fact, it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. MrFreeThinker sez:

    I wonder why people dislike atheism so much?

    Perhaps you could enlighten us.

    ReplyDelete
  4. McCarthyism. Equating atheism with Communism and being un-American. In other words stupidity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. People dislike atheism so much because it challenges faith.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would personally say that I dislike atheism because I associate it with nihilism and moral subjectivism so much. It doesn't necessarily have to follow but it often does.
    I meant least a Mormon or Muslim has some kind of objective basis to make moral decisions by and believes there is some sort of intrinsic value and purpose to life.It's hard for an atheist to come up with those things

    ReplyDelete
  7. "I would personally say that I dislike atheism because I associate it with nihilism and moral subjectivism so much."

    Ah, so things which have nothing to do with atheism, which is nothing more than lack of belief in a god. Good to know.

    A follower of the Necrocomnicon also has an objective basis to make moral decisions by (save us from the torture) and believes there is some sort of intrinsic value and purpose to life (slaves for the Great Ones).

    Does that make them better than atheists?

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Ah, so things which have nothing to do with atheism, which is nothing more than lack of belief in a god. Good to know."
    Did you notice how I qualified my statement?
    "It doesn't necessarily have to follow BUT IT OFTEN DOES."


    "A follower of the Necrocomnicon also has an objective basis to make moral decisions by (save us from the torture) and believes there is some sort of intrinsic value and purpose to life (slaves for the Great Ones).

    Does that make them better than atheists?"
    Yes.
    I don't think their basis for morality is any good though.
    And I would also be inclined to lean toward someone whose worldview is similar to mine (like a Muslim)

    ReplyDelete
  9. mrfreethinker,
    how does following a text make anyone better than evaluating a text and improving on it through empathy, conscience and communication, or discarding a flawed text and forming a better philosophy?

    You say nihilism and moral subjectivism often follow from atheism. Now, we know that you use a different understanding of what is subjective and objective than most of us here do. Is an intersubjective framework of ethics better than a purely subjective one? Can we ever be certain that we have a completely objective worldview? Is a self-assurance of certainty subjective? Does an objective worldview work for everyone, and if it doesn't, why is it objective?

    ReplyDelete
  10. forgot to add,
    how many nihilists do you know?

    This is the definition of nihilism:
    1. total rejection of established laws and institutions.
    2. anarchy, terrorism, or other revolutionary activity.
    3. total and absolute destructiveness, esp. toward the world at large and including oneself: the power-mad nihilism that marked Hitler's last years.
    4. Philosophy.
    a. an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth.
    b. nothingness or nonexistence.
    5. (sometimes initial capital letter) the principles of a Russian revolutionary group, active in the latter half of the 19th century, holding that existing social and political institutions must be destroyed in order to clear the way for a new state of society and employing extreme measures, including terrorism and assassination.
    6. annihilation of the self, or the individual consciousness, esp. as an aspect of mystical experience.

    Here is the relevant definition of 'objective', from the same source:
    5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
    6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
    7. being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective ).
    8. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.

    ReplyDelete
  11. expatmatt,
    I'm sorry, I hope you recover soon. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was using the philosophical meaning of nihilism - namely
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism
    "Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical position that argues that existence is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Nihilists generally assert that objective morality does not exist, and that no action is logically preferable to any other in regard to the moral value of one action over another. Nihilists who argue that there is no objective morality may claim that existence has no intrinsic higher meaning or goal. They may also claim that there is no reasonable proof or argument for the existence of a higher ruler or creator, or posit that even if higher rulers or creators exist, humanity has no moral obligation to worship them."

    ReplyDelete
  13. mrfreethinker,
    ok, thanks. The definition you provide describes a non-utilitarian concept. The apparent break from humanism occurs when the nihilist starts acting out that worldview in a destructive or self-destructive way, and I remember having met one atheist who apparently was seriously into that. The hundreds of other atheists I've 'met' (online) would not have. The same thing can happen from a religious worldview.

    I'd love to see scmike debate a practicing nihilist (if that nihilist chooses to not kill himself for some strange reason ;) ). Of course, the nihilist would probably say that since there is no meaning anyway, it doesn't matter if he stays alive long enough to finish the debate, which would probably take a few decades.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wait a minute, put on the brakes for a second and let's get out to buy a Coke or something.

    Let's re-examine the theist (or really, fundamentalist Christian, assertion that they have an objective moral standard.

    Bull.

    What objective standard? The Bible? Not hardly. Are the 10 Commandments really objective? No. They're a set of rules, most of which deal with God asserting his insecurity and neediness, that are still subjective in their interpretation.

    Thou Shalt Not Steal. Fine. Groovy. So tell me, does the Bible also tell us objectively exactly what stealing is, so that in every situation there can be no debate about whether or not a theft has taken place? You'd think that Thou Shalt Not Kill is pretty clear, but Christians have found a lot of wiggle room in that one, from justifying the slaughter of thousands of non-believers to confirming others in absolute pacifism.

    I tend to think that a moral guide like the Eightfold Path provides a perfectly good ethical system by which to live. Trying to live up to precepts, rather than following rules, forces one to consider the morality of every action.

    So I say Fail to the notion that without the Bible and the Christian sky daddy we're all raping and pillaging barbarians. I'm not, nor is anyone else here so far as I know. All moral standards are subjective, but that doesn't mean that the concept of moral standards is a meaningless one.

    ReplyDelete
  15. MrFreeThinker said...
    "I wonder why people dislike atheism so much?"

    I am so happy to find that you refer to non-theists as actual people, and thank you.

    MFT,
    The answer to your question is this:

    Most people are part of a group, or tribe. Out of that tribe come people who allow themselves to be led by the powers that be, and there are those that question authority. Authority must always be challenged.

    You just happen to be interfacing with a group who understands that only where there is doubt can there be freedom.

    As to the topic, nine years ago I wrote that I would never see a black man or a woman elected as President of this country, and absolutely not a self proclaimed atheist.
    I got busted on that prediction!

    You have not yet learned the difference between politcal values and conservative values.

    But back to your question:
    "I wonder why people dislike atheism so much?"

    Because they are different. You see, certain fundy Xtians band together and oppose science and thechnology. They represent the Popes of old who understood they were losing control of their minions because "the sinners" were starting to find merit in the findings of Galelio, et al.

    MFT,

    Humans are slowly but steadily relying on our Emotional Intelligence to tease out the best morals and ethics we consider important. We do look at ancient writings as well as contemporary prose, and everything in between to get clues of our future.

    We are trying to leave behind our seagull mentality. Seagulls peck to pieces any of their own species that exhibit any individualist traits.

    MFT,
    I find you rather engaging, yet very small minded to anything other than that ancient book of myths that you love to use as you guide.

    It's OK. A lot of other really ignorant people do it and that is just your tribe. Hunker down in ancient beliefs. It is no surprise that you do noy understaqnd science or modern siciology.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I typed so fast that please excuse me for slaughteing the spelling, & et.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Personally, as for why I think people dislike atheism so much: it's because they were told, by an authority figure, to dislike atheism.

    If I had a nickel for ever person I've talked to who has no frackin' clue how to actually talk with an atheist, I'd put Bill Gates to shame. People who don't like atheists, I've found, are people who have no idea what an atheist is, beyond what they've been told by a trusted authority figure (such as their parents, or a pastor/priest).

    For anyone who hasn't already done this, google for stories where an atheist debates with a muslim scholar. They are the most "WTF?" stories I've ever read, but the people telling the stories don't care. It's simply an issue of, "well, a scholar told me this story, therefore it must be true, therefore atheists really think and act this way."

    Until that changes in large amounts, I think we'll still see people disliking atheists based not on actual experiences with atheists, but on what I call "the imaginary atheist". Hell, you see Ray describe variants of this fantasy individual often. This is the character who hates God, who says there is no God, who doesn't want to face God, who wants to live in his sin, who can be easily converted by the right piece of scripture, who hates all christians, etc, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nohm,
    Truer words were never spoken.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  19. As an aside, here's an example of one of those "an atheist debates with a muslim scholar".

    http://islam4me.wordpress.com/2008/02/26/answers-to-atheists/

    Please read that and ask yourself... does that description match ANY atheist you know?

    It doesn't bother me that people don't like atheists.

    It bothers me that people have no idea what an atheist actually is, or how to talk productively with one on the issue of theism.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ack, that last sentence should have been:

    It bothers me that people have no idea what an atheist actually is, how to talk productively with one on the issue of theism, and that these people have no desire to learn.

    Let me clarify:

    I'm not bothered that a theist believes in a god.

    I'm bothered when a theist gives me something like Pascal's Wager, and doesn't care:

    1. that the argument has a long history behind it

    2. that there are counter-arguments to it

    3. why an atheist would not find it persuasive

    ReplyDelete
  21. Nihilism has four different aspects political, epistemlogical, ethical, and existential

    political nihilism: advocates the destruction of all existing political, social, and religious orders for future improvement

    epistemological nihilism: which denies the possibility of knowledge and truth

    ethical nihilism: or moral nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values. Instead, good and evil are nebulous, and values addressing such are the product of nothing more than social and emotive pressures.

    existential nihilism: is the notion that life has no intrinsic meaning or value

    Nihilists can also hold the belief that nothing can be known or communicated.

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/n/nihilism.htm

    ReplyDelete
  22. @ Free

    Here's a little something to consider.

    I take it that you are asserting that following the bible leads to an objective morality?

    The only trouble is following the bible neer has led to an objective morality in the past.

    Why is that?

    Devout born again christians in the American south felt completely justified biblically in owning slaves.

    Christians in Europe in the middle ages felt completely justified biblically in burning heretics and witches.

    Christians during the reformation feltcompletely justified biblically in killing other christians who did not share their beliefs.

    Why didn't following the bible lead these people to the same objective morality?

    Can you justify your stancew through quoting scripture? So could they.

    Can you claim the guidance of the holy spirit? So could they.

    Can you claim that the traditions of christianity support your interpretation? So could they.

    So where is this objective morality that is supposed to spring from following the bible and why is it that everyone seems to have a different conception of it?

    After all if the biblical morality is objective everyone's interpretation should be at least similar, if not identical.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think atheism is disliked for one reason: Christianity has been demonizing atheists almost since its conception.

    There is no other "school of thought" that more effectively nullifies Christianity's claims than does atheism. Ignoring the criticism from people who aren't interested in labelling themselves as Jew or Muslim or even atheist, you simply can't dismiss (on logical grounds) someone who says "I don't believe in that".

    (Especially when "that" equates to an invoisible all-loving all-powerful all-Scary being that controls everything we do while letting us screw our lives up).

    Christianity is to blame for the bad rap atheists get. Maybe if they'd have spent more time practicing the love that they've preached, there wouldn't be a stigma associated with a lack of belief

    ReplyDelete
  24. MFT wrote {EDIT: At} least a Mormon or Muslim has some kind of objective basis to make moral decisions by and believes there is some sort of intrinsic value and purpose to life.It's hard for an atheist to come up with those things

    That objective basis is often inconsistent; eg. murder is right in some situations and wrong in others.

    With all of the really wacky stuff ignored (ie. thou shall not eat pork, suffer not a witch to live, etc), theist morality looks fairly subjective as well.

    ---

    I hear a lot of people who criticize atheists for their subjective morality (or even lack of it), but I have yet to find one that can show, reasonably, why Biblical morality is better without appealing to faith

    ReplyDelete
  25. MFT,

    ".....a Mormon or Muslim has some kind of objective basis to make moral decisions by and believes there is some sort of intrinsic value and purpose to life.It's hard for an atheist to come up with those things."

    So even believing in a God that you say does not exist is objective?

    Someone grab my head and stop it from spinning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Look...

    MFT, you are perfectly free to believe as you want. I say that with as much respect and sincerity as I can muster; I don't care if you're Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha'i, atheist, agnostic, Branch Davidian or whatever - empirical proof is not a prerequisite for belief.

    What I have a REAL problem with is this: believers often appeal to logic in such a way that presupposes the validity of their faith. As an example:

    1) The Bible is the infallible word of God

    2) The Bible says Jesus existed

    3) Therefore, Jesus existed

    ---

    You and other believers (as I've read in these blogs) do this over and over and over and over and over. If you simply want to believe and not have it be subject to logic and reason, that's fine. But please, let us know, and we'll stop trying to hold you to your statements logically.

    You can not dismiss the validity of logic / reason one the one hand (ie. I know God exists), but then use that dismissal as a basis for a logical argument (ie. A, B and C all happened as the Bible says therefore it's been proven that God exists).

    It's retardedly maddening. Stop wearing Logic and Reason as an overcoat; you either value what it has to say, or you discount it as being valid.

    It can't be both.

    ReplyDelete
  27. whateverman,
    Maybe if they'd have spent more time practicing the love that they've preached, there wouldn't be a stigma associated with a lack of belief.

    If they'd done that, we'd probably be worshipping Wodan, Jupiter and Isis now - Christianity became strong the moment superstitious soldiers won their first battle and Christianity gained religious protection for political reasons. And we'd have a history of wars between the Temple of Jupiter and the Reformed Temple of Jupiter.

    ReplyDelete
  28. That's probably a very good point, Felix. Love and fluffy bunnies never won religious wars...

    ReplyDelete
  29. You have to admit that the atheists on media play a role. I mean , whe you guys have people like Dawkins and Harris representing your viewpoint on the media

    ReplyDelete
  30. ... and then there's people like Bill Donahue and Jack Van Impe and Pastor Hagee on the other side, right?

    ReplyDelete
  31. You think that someone like Dawkins is partially responsible for the general dislike of atheists in this country?

    Wrong.

    It's a fact that atheists were reviled long before mass media came about. I mean, cmon, seriously. Christianity has been demonizing that group for much longer than I've been alive.

    If your point is that "people don't like Dawkins", I've got nothing to argue with. You ignore reality, however, if you pretend that the amount of Christian "propaganda" doesn't massively overwhelm atheism propaganda in this country.

    Freedom of religion, for some reason, doesn't seem to translate well to freedom from religion. Theists are to blame for this.

    ReplyDelete
  32. [It's a fact that atheists were reviled long before mass media came about. I mean, cmon, seriously. Christianity has been demonizing that group for much longer than I've been alive.]
    Could you give an example of his demonisation? I don't think I've ever seen any atheist demonisation but I still dislike atheism (well the philosophy not its adherents).

    ReplyDelete
  33. @ Free

    You wrote "Could you give an example of [atheist] demonisation?"

    Ask and ye shall receive.

    "Should we put Atheists in concentration camps?

    USA was found on Judeo-Chrisitan values with Christians as the fore fathers

    All these atheist liberals are destroying this country and are the reason why the USA is in the shape it is in

    Do you think we need to rise up and take this country back, I think god would forgives us if we did something about the Atheists, he knows they are sent to us by satan and they are less then humans in the eyes of the lord

    I believe everyone has the ability to be saved except the atheists, do you think we should do something about them."

    From JesusChrist69, IMDB

    ReplyDelete
  34. What's that you say? That's only one? Ah not so I'm afraid.

    "I saw on TV once that 99% of people who claim to be an atheist, can not pass a lie detector test when asked, "Do you believe in God?"

    From Glory, RaptureReady

    ReplyDelete
  35. Here's another. From the topic: [Atheists? Are they truly happy?]

    "They're not miserable, they enjoy their hatred of 90% of the world's population because they're religious. That's why atheists, having nothing to defend in their "lack of beliefs" and really should care less about religion if they really lacked beliefs about God, attack the religious, because they "hate" some of the religious idiots, they "hate" our history, they "hate" our morals, they "hate" our Bible, they "hate" our ideals, they "hate" our God, they "hate" our opinions, they "hate" our conversions, they "hate" our skepticism of their ideas...

    ...It's not that they're unhappy, it's just that hating makes them happy - if it didn't, they wouldn't be attacking the religious so faithfully, because - why would they do it if it made them unhappy? The atheist argues against religion because he or she feels they have a righteous anger against religion and the religious. Quite simply, because they "hate".

    And we're supposed to be the bigots. *puts on flame resistent armor* - anyone ready to prove my point?"

    From OperaPhantom91, Gametrailers

    ReplyDelete
  36. Here's another.

    "Would it be wrong for me to fire an Atheist?
    I found out one of my employees doesn't believe in God. I'm trying to run a Christian business. I feel as though people who want to take God out of our country don't deserve anything good from me. Obviously I'll make up a lame reason to fire them so they can't sue me.

    I want employees with morals.
    4 minutes ago

    My business is not faith-based. I run a restaurant."

    From Un Taro, Yahoo Answers

    ReplyDelete
  37. Here's another.

    "Atheists know all about failing. It's virtually impossible to enter the Atheist association unless you're a life's failure. A club for failures, LOL"

    From highflyertoo2, Youtube

    ReplyDelete
  38. @ free

    I think that proves the point about demonisation. If you'd like some more quotes I can supply a few hundred more if you'd like some additional sickening reading material.

    My absolute favourite was one fundie christian who wrote "when an atheist dies does anyone cry?"

    ReplyDelete

Unlike Ray we don't censor our comments, so as long as it's on topic and not spam, fire away.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.