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Max Clearance

Look out! It's angry Greta!

I just love it when you kick ass and take names like this in your writing.


Uh.. yeah... I'm so sweet and mild... *rolls eyes*


Now schedule a reading or something so your groupies can throw themselves at you!

the chaplain

Damn, you're gorgeous when you're angry.

Theists who say they are trying to "advise" us are being duplicitous. They don't want to listen to us, dialog with us, or recognize us, and they sure as hell don't want their kids doing any of those things. You called it right, they want us to shut the fuck up. Well, that's just not going to happen. There are times for calm, reasoned discourse and there are times for rants. What there is never time for, is shutting up.


Agree, agree, agree and like, like, like. I have bigger balls than that pathetic motherfucker. Having a vagina I can wholeheartedly assure you I am not sweet, docile, emotional or soft. I'm a loud and raving bitch and goddamn happy about it.


You go, girl!


You are just too cool, Greta. I simply don't understand how it is possible that one of those celebrities you fantasize about has not sought you out in order to proposition you already.

Tom Shamma

You're my hero.


I find this discussion fascinating and am trying to read as much of it as I can. Please tell me if I've missed any response articles:

Greta, Pandagon, Pharyngula, Skepchick, skepticforum, friendly atheist, butterflies and wheels, world of weird things, the secular soccermom

Also I've made a quick google of Prothero: is a little hard to (want to) follow. He seems to appreciate emotional appeals and dislike rational arguments. There is some evidence he would like us better if we handled snakes. I think a large part of what he is doing is attention seeking.

Sean the Blogonaut

I am cncerned that a greater number of Atheists I read are failing to make the distinction that you have with regard to diplomacy and confrontation etc., and starting to parrot the "Angry Dawkins" meme. You post is the closest I have read so far to what I would like to express about the issue. Thanks Greta.


I notice the title of the article is "Atheists need a different voice". I have to wonder if this is a deliberate reference to Carol Gilligan's "In a Different Voice", which is perhaps one of the most stereotypical gender essentialist works ever pawned off as "feminist". For the last 20 years, every time I see some screed about women (supposedly) avoiding science education and careers because of the "male/reductionst/objective" culture of the sciences, chances are, I'll see Carol Gilligan quoted or name-dropped somewhere.


Great post. I was so hoping you'd address this, and you did a great one.

I was smiling and getting teary at the same time*.

Also glad you linked back to "Good Cop, Bad Cop" - that one had an impact on me back when you wrote it.

*(yes, yes, this male atheist gets teary and emotional and such. I'm the one the kids tend to come to if they're injured too, because I'm the gentler one. Stereotypes suck.)



That was a great blog... One of your best. I remember an earlier blog mentioning something about groupies?


I particularly like Amanda Marcotte's mention of Julia Sweeney, and the fact that Sweeney gets quite a few jabs at her Catholic upbringing in during her performance of "Letting go of God".

Think about it! If it were Dawkins saying those things about Catholicism, he'd be a militant strident firebrand hate-spewing bigot, but since it is being said by a middle-aged mother who is pretty, smiles a lot and has a high-pitched voice, its all funny and nice.

Not that she isn't funny or nice, of course, but the double standard is being aplied diligently by Prothero and others like him.


Hah, I used to have a t-shirt with the LSCTS logo on it! I get very tired of theists, and atheists who don't want any reponsiblity, telling me I need to SIT DOWN and be a good little atheist and evidently good litle woman. Screw that. I will be out there telling it like it is, as often and as directly as I can. I have no interest in letting any more theists continue to spread their lies and hypocrisy any further. You're damn right I'm rocking the boat.

Evil Paul

Greta, that was cool. I'd hate to be the theist who runs into you in a dark alley...
Seriously, these people got to stop believing their own BS. You want to believe you can fly? Go ahead! Just don't jump out the window, you'll go splat. You want to believe that all girl atheists are just silly heads and if you put them in charge you'll be on easy street? No problem! Just don't try to make it happen, you'll lose an eye.
And I got to echo Sean and Valhar2000: What's this deal with calling Dawkins 'angry?' I've read a couple of his books and seen some videos of him on YouTube and he's always come across as very polite and courteous at all times. He won't take any bullshit, but he'll shoot down your arguments like a gentleman. Hitchens is an asshole, sure. But again, I've read his book and seen him speak and he's a polite asshole. In fact, come to think of it, I've never seen any of the big name atheists really lose their shit. Certainly not like Rush, Bill and Glenn do on a daily basis.
Julia Sweeney gives a beautifully warm and light-hearted performance, true, but she's openly mocking religion! Every religion! Not just Catholics, all of them! If she got put in charge (hell, if there was an 'in charge' to put her in) the god-botherers would never no what hit them.
There'd be lots of warm-hearted laughter though...

Jack Rawlinson

Excellent; I was hoping you'd get around to kicking Prothero's arse about this one, Greta. When I first read the piece a few days ago my first reaction was to go tear him a new one for being such a dishonest and patronising dick but then I stayed my typing fingers and thought, "You know what? I think Mr Prothero needs to hear this message from women. And I have a strong feeling that he's going to."

Yours is about the fourth justifiably angry response I've seen from an atheist woman so far. I only hope Prothero is seeing them too.

Ophelia Benson

Why, I don't know what you mean, Greta. I'm an atheist, and a woman, and I'm just the nicest sweetest cuddly bunny you could ever hope to meet. Honest!


"Suck my dick."

Wait, how does that work...? ;)

Great post, Greta. Keep kickin' a**.


That was the most brilliantly intelligent and appropriate furiously profane rant that I've ever read. ;)

Seriously, if Prothero really thinks atheist women are more meek and mild-mannered than the men, I can name more than a few I'd turn him over to and see how he likes it. Greta is more than capable of kicking ass and taking names, as she's demonstrated so well here. Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has an acid tongue worthy of Dorothy Parker. Sarah Braasch, who guest-posts at my blog, takes no prisoners when she's attacking injustice (wait till her next post goes up). And Ayaan Hirsi Ali has outraged Muslims sufficiently that they routinely call for her death (granted that's not necessarily difficult these days, but still).

In fact, come to think of it, I agree that our movement should have more women in charge. But not for the reasons Prothero thinks - but because we could even more effectively lay waste to wicked superstition!

Kiwi Dave

I guess he wants the good old days of Madylyn Murray O'Hair.


Does the atheist movement need more women? Absolutely. Will this make the movement less confrontational? Fuck that shit. Women have even *more* reasons to be angry with religion than men do, what with so much of it being patriarchal BS.

I am also confused about the 'Angry Dawkins' thing. I even have atheist friends - admittedly of the 'faith in faith' kind Dawkins talks about in "The God Delusion" - who go off on rants about how OMG MEAN he is. He's always seemed so polite and reasonable to me.


I wish I could be so coherent when I'm spitting mad. This believer says: You Rock!


Agreed with so much of the above.

I wanted to bring out the Dawkins/Sweeney contrast a bit more: Greta and commenters above are entirely correct that Dawkins has this absurd reputation for being harsh and mean and whatever, when in fact he's scrupulously polite. I suppose some of the problem is that some of the nastier things he's written are the most immediately obvious, such as the very title of The God Delusion. (Dawkins makes it clear inside the book that he doesn't mean "delusion" as in mental illness, but of course the critics in question aren't interested in opening the book or dealing with such subtleties.)

Regarding Sweeney, though, I think the "she's so nice" idea is an indication that she's just better at disguising her sledgehammer than most of us are. There's no question that Letting Go of God is full of fabulous and strong challenges to religious dogma--but somehow she manages to come off as sympathetic, caring, and respectful. Even when she's blasting the hell out of religious belief.

Seems to me that Sweeney is playing Prothero, and indeed playing the multitude of arrogant (and frequently sexist) theists and apatheists he represents. Oh, sure, she's content to let you think she's demure and cute and nice--leaving you to wonder who blew up the foundations of your smugly held faith.

Okay, I just have a crush on Julia Sweeney, don't mind me....

Ron Krumpos

Non-Theists vs. Atheists

Confucianism (unlike Taoism), much of Buddhism and most of the Samkhya of Hinduism are non-theistic: they simply omit the concept of God. Many atheists, however, seem intent on attacking the idea of God.

Ultimate reality is what is is, whether we think, believe or desire otherwise. If there is a God, not believing does not change that. If there is no God, then believing will not make it so. Mystics seek what Meister Eckhart called “God beyond God,” i.e. the universal reality which underlies our conceptualizing and imagining. I was personally introduced to mysticism by a Nobel physicist who said “God is man’s greatest creation." In my e-book on comparative mysticism is a chapter "To the non-religious." You do not have to be religious or believe in God to be a mystic. And you do not have to be a man. Some of the most prominent mystics have been - and are - women.

Mystics seek what Meister Eckhart called “God beyond God,” i.e. the universal reality which underlies our conceptualizing and imagining.

A.k.a. yet more supernatural explanations which are either totally divorced from the evidence or so vague as to be meaningless.

Ron, we are "intent on attacking the idea of God" because it's based on a reasoning method that's counter-productive, a reasoning method that is also used by supernatural/mystical explanations in general.

Ron Krumpos

You can only apply reason to the 5% of the Universe we are aware of. Dark matter is 25%, and dark energy about 70%, of the critical density of this Universe. The unknown still far exceeds the known.

In healthy, ordinary living it is best to concentrate on what you believe in and ignore much of the rest. I only object when someone tells me that I must follow their religion as the only true way.

Greta Christina

Ron: Why should we not apply reason to that which we don't know? How else do you expect us to eventually know it? Applying reason and evidence to that which we don't know has exposed us to our greatest and most surprising understandings of the universe.

To "concentrate on what you believe in and ignore much of the rest" sounds very much to me like deliberately closing one's mind to new possibilities. Why on earth would you advocate doing that?

Ron Krumpos


I complimented you here:

Unfortunately, I left off the h in http:// which the next commenter noticed ("Dude?" No one calls me dude).

Ron Krumpos


Albert Einstein wrote “...most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty - which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form - this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”

You can get a better understanding of what I mean by reading pages 17-18 (Mystic viewpoints) and 82-83 (Contemporary views) of my e-book at although my URL alone will probably turn you off.

Many religious people don't like mystics nor do most atheists. Too bad for them.

Greta Christina

Ron, what exactly do you mean by the mystical? If you mean any sort of non-physical entity or substance that affects the physical world... then, well, it's not a matter of disliking mystics so much as it's a matter of thinking they're mistaken.

If you have any good, solid, rigorously- gathered, carefully- tested, replicated evidence that a non-physical world exists, I'd be happy to reconsider my position. If you don't, then mysticism falls into the same realm as religion as far as I'm concerned, and I have pretty much all the same objections to both. Mysticism is not a special snowflake, and does not get a special snowflake exemption.

Ron Krumpos

I don't know about the snowflake analogy. There are some "flakes" who are trying to "snow" people about their being a mystic. There are frauds in every aspect of life.

Thoughts are not physical, nor are emotions. The essence which underlies all of existence is only partly manifested in matter and consciousness. If you want to experience mystical give up your ego and individuality for a day. They are not physical.

Greta Christina

Actually, Ron, there is an overwhelming body of rigorously gathered, carefully tested evidence showing that thoughts and emotions are physical. They are biological products of the brain, and they do not exist independently of it. We can see this using magnetic resonance imagery, for instance: different parts of the brain light up during different kinds of perceptions and thoughts. And physical changes in the brain produce changes in thoughts and emotions -- sometimes to the point of rendering a person's personality and character completely unrecognizable. The sciences of neurology and neuropsychology are very much in their infancy, and we don't yet understand very well what consciousness is -- but every piece of good evidence we have strongly suggests that, whatever it is, it is a product of the physical brain.

Now, if you have some good, rigorously gathered, carefully tested, double-blinded, peer-reviewed, replicated evidence suggesting that there is an immaterial component to thoughts and emotions and consciousness as well, I'm certainly open to seeing it. But if you don't, then all you have is your assertion and personal belief that it isn't. And that's not very convincing.

Oh, and I think you may have misunderstood what I meant by "special snowflake." If you're not familiar with the phrase, I suggest you Google it.

Ron Krumpos


Sorry, I'm 70 years old and don't always keep up. I looked up "snowflake" on Maybe the first definition; not the second or third.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Nobel physicist, in 1959 invited me to the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory. He introduced me to mysticism and the universality of the Universe. Swami Nikhilananda, founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center in New York, spent many hours in 1960 privately teaching me that mystical awareness is beyond philosophy or religion. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, then V.P. of India and later President, met with me in Lucknow and Delhi in 1962 and taught that we can be active in this world without being of this world.

Other true mystics who I have met and learned from include a professor of philosophy in Kyoto, a Zen abbot and a Cistercian monk on Lantau, a Quaker missionary in Victoria, Hong Kong, a Therevada monk at Nakhon Pathom, a Hindu priest on Bali, a Vajrayana abbot in Kathmandu, a sadhu in Lucknow, a Sufi shaykh in Teheran, a professor of political science (and shaykh) in Cairo, a member of the Knesset, a professor of history and a Greek Orthodox monk in Jersusalem, a retired police inspector in Copenhagen, an Anglican bishop in Bath, and the chairman of an American global bank.

It took me five years to write my e-book. It was reviewed by 20 religious leaders and scholars across the U.S. before publishing it on the Internet. If you want more personal information, look at


Ron, come on man, we didn't ask for your life history!

[ Sorry, I've always wanted to say that. :-) ]

We asked for direct evidence. Please don't just direct us to your book for evidence, or drop names and dates; we've got no reason yet to think that it would be worth the time and effort to follow up on all that stuff.

To persuade us that you're on to something, can you give a quick one-paragraph summary of what high-quality, objective evidence you have for the non-physical nature of thoughts and emotions?


And, "special snowflake" means "something that is unique and requires special handling".

Also, watch out, Urban Dictionary is not a useful source of information. its standards are as bad what people who hate Wikipedia think Wikipedia's standards are.

Ron Krumpos

You asked for objective evidence...for the non-physical nature of thoughts and emotions?

I could reference the books on psychology and neurology listed in my bibliography (and on my bookshelf), but simply respond "common sense."

Let's just agree to disagree. My book was written for people with an interest in mysticism, not to convince those who do not. I wish you the best.

Greta Christina

Ron: Lots of other people who share your opinion is not evidence. Many hours spent listening to other people who share your opinion is not evidence. Writing a book about your opinion is not evidence. Other people who share your opinion reading and reviewing your book is not evidence.

And common sense is definitely not evidence. Common sense told us for centuries that the sun orbited the earth. Common sense was wrong. Our instincts and intuitions and common sense are important -- but they are also demonstrably flawed, subject to a whole constellation of biases and cognitive errors. If we care whether the things we believe are true, we need to be willing to check our instincts and intuitions and common sense with rigorously gathered, carefully tested, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed, replicated evidence about how reality actually operates.

That kind of evidence is exactly what atheists and materialists can provide supporting our conclusion that consciousness is a biological product of the brain. It's what we're asking you for in support of your conclusion that consciousness has an immaterial component. And it's what you don't seem to have.

It is disingenuous at best for you to say that you're not interested in convincing anyone. You came into this blog trying to convince us of your position. You tried to get people to read your book; you tried to convince us to give up our ego and individuality for a day to experience the mystical, which you have concluded is not physical.

That's fine -- I am in favor of the marketplace of ideas, and I think it's great when people try to persuade other people that their ideas are right. That's how we get exposed to new ideas, and change our minds about old ones. But repeating your opinion over and over again, without one scrap of good evidence to support it, is not an argument. It's just noise. To do that -- and then, when challenged simply to provide some evidence for your position, to say "I'm not trying to convince anyone" and "Let's just agree to disagree," basically means that you're conceding, and aren't willing to admit it. It means, "I want to think that I'm right, and to convince other people that I'm right -- but I'm not that interested in whether my opinions have any connection with reality. I'm more attached to my opinion than I am to understanding the universe as it really is."

Ron Krumpos


I was going to bow out gracefully, but your reply seemed more like an attack.

Before expressing your opinions, do you always have "rigorously gathered, carefully tested, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed, replicated evidence about how reality actually operates?" That's a hell of a way to live.

I've experienced ultimate reality, as have millions of other people (of the billions on Earth). Have you? In college I was a master at sarcasm, but gave it up in favor of compromise. It makes living much easier and more pleasant, both for me and others.

Doug From Dougland


I have to commend you on your excellent dodge of the points greta and everybody else on this post except you have addressed. You don't want to know what is and isn't real objectively because it's hard!!!! Right...

For someone who's experienced "ultimate reality" you don't seem to do a very good job separating opinions about reality from what reality actually is. Everybody has a right to their own opinion, but to keep holding onto those opinions (especially opinions about the way the world works) they have to stand up to scrutiny. The only way an opinion can withstand scrutiny is by having facts (not other opinions, not crowds, not warm and fuzzy feelings, but facts) to back them up. As I've seen, you have been asked repeatedly to supply the facts that support your opinion. It is hardly an attack upon you to ask for such evidence for a (you have to admit) fairly outlandish belief.

The only reason you could have for not supplying the facts (the rigorously gathered, controlled, and replicable facts) about your assertion about how reality works is that you don't have them. I encourage you to go out and find them.

Greta Christina

Ron: Do I always have rigorously gathered, carefully tested, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed, replicated evidence about how reality actually operates before I express an opinion about reality? No. Of course not.

But when I express an opinion that isn't backed up by good, rigorously gathered etc. evidence, and someone else expresses a contradicting opinion that is backed up by good evidence, I endeavor to at least consider the possibility that I might be mistaken. And I endeavor to not back up my opinion with the argument from popularity, or with other arguments that I know are founded in logical or cognitive errors.

As for you and millions of other people experiencing ultimate reality: Your personal subjective experience is not evidence. (More on that: Why "I Feel It In My Heart" Is a Terrible Argument for God. The arguments apply equally well to mysticism as they do to God.) And again, lots of other people sharing your opinion is not evidence.

There is, I say again, an overwhelming body of rigorously gathered, carefully tested, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed, replicated evidence strongly pointing to the conclusion that, whatever consciousness is, it is a biological product of the human brain. If you have any evidence that meets these standards pointing to the conclusion that it is something other than that, I would be interested in seeing it. If you don't, then you might want to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken.

Ron Krumpos

Maybe Prothero was right about atheists, at least on this site. I was attempting to compromise. Apparently, it must be your way or the highway.

I prefer the high way (no, not heaven, that's a fiction). It's strange. In my book I tried to get readers to give up idealized concepts of mysticism to deal with what is. You believe that you already know what is within the limits of current science. That's quite restrictive. As to matter and energy, science is still mostly in the dark.

In my research, I've read 50 books on psychology, psychiatry, biology, neurology, physics, and astronomy. An experienced scientist acknowledges that they do not have all the answers. Neither do I.

Greta Christina
I was attempting to compromise. Apparently, it must be your way or the highway.

What compromise do you suggest? Either consciousness has a supernatural component, or it doesn't. This isn't about compromising on a subjective difference of opinion. This is about trying to understand reality. And reality doesn't compromise. As you yourself said: Ultimate reality is what is is, whether we think, believe or desire otherwise.

And the fact that you've read a lot of books about science is not evidence that your opinion is correct. Nor is the fact that science does not have all the answers. No, science does not have all the answers -- but it has a lot of answers. More to the point: Science is a method for sorting out answers that are likely to be true from answers that aren't, based on techniques for carefully gathering and analyzing evidence that are designed to filter out known biases and cognitive errors as much as is humanly possible. If you want to argue that the current scientific understanding is mistaken and your opinion is correct, it's not enough to simply say, "Science doesn't know everything." You have to actually provide some good, hard, rigorously gathered, etc. evidence supporting your position.

We have now asked you for this evidence over half a dozen times. At this point, I have to assume that you don't have any. Unless you do, why should we seriously consider your opinion? Given the overwhelming body of good evidence supporting the conclusion that consciousness is a biological product of the physical brain, and the complete lack of good evidence suggesting that it has a supernatural component, why should we conclude otherwise? We are open to the possibility that we might he mistaken -- but we're not just going to take your word for it.

Ron Krumpos

No, don't take my word for it. Take the words of Heisenberg, Schroedinger. deBroglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli, and Eddington in "Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Greatest Physicists" or the writings of other scientists that I have read. Goodbye folks.

Greta Christina

And I will repeat my refrain: Some scientists agreeing with your opinion is not evidence. And the words of some scientists cherry-picked out of context by people who share your opinion is definitely not evidence.


Ahh, "quantum". If it's not a physicist talking when you hear that word, check your wallet and your brain. Hell, even if it is a physicist. We're not all-knowing, nor are we all scrupulous...


Hey, I've slept with a physicist, and I'm pretty sure he used to the word "quantum" to get me into bed.


Ron, all we've been asking for is a summary of the content itself, the evidence or explanation that you find convincing.

Just dropping lots of names and book titles without any explanation of what those people or books say, or even why they're relevant to the specific issue at hand, is guaranteed to make us suspicious that you're bluffing with a bad hand. Can you see where we're coming from here?



Hmm, that gives me an idea. Thanks!



It's cute how you align atheism with knowing and/or caring and/or arguing what's "true"; especially when the whole point of atheism is doubt and "I don't know".

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