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I am a vocal skeptk and atheist.
And was accused of picking on xtians. I told him i pick on all religions but especially xtians NOT because they believe in g0d but because they continue to shovel their schite down my throat in terms of legislation and law and bigotry.
This is a great post and WE will never win the 'argument' because the religious have something we cannot battle....Intense blinding absolute FEAR!!! of everything but mostly about death and what they imagine comes after. We have no satisfactory (for them) answer to that fear so they will never give in to tolerance of us as we remind them of their delusion. If they had the courage to face their fear they would not be religious or at least not in the same way they are now.

Robert Madewell

Heads: You Lose, I win. Tails: I win, You Lose.

Stewart Peterson

Regarding who to go after - what about hitting liberal Christians from the right? The conservative Christians wouldn't object until they figured out what was going on (and even then might appreciate help in those few areas where atheists and conservative Christians do agree, like Islam), and the liberal Christians aren't used to arguing in favor of the existence of God with a conservative on the other side. "Fundamentalist" as a subset of "conservative" is so ingrained in the liberal psyche that a liberal Christian arguing with a conservative atheist would tie themselves in a knot.

Heck, it might even net a few conservatives. Those who have been raised to blindly obey don't really understand the basis of their belief system, and are (comparatively) easy pickings to convert - that's who the cults go after. The key, which cults use, is to present the message in a familiar cultural context (i.e., don't challenge the audience's assumptions). Somebody who has been raised to blindly obey rather than being taught *why* they should do something generally can't tell the difference between two such arguments. Now, getting there - that requires setting up a situation where the religious guys fail, an objective, practical situation of immediate, real-life importance to the audience (the so-called "loss of faith"). Obviously, that's situational and can't be done through an impersonal medium.

But - I'm sure you've thought of this before. I'm interested in why it wouldn't work, based on your experience.


Spot on. I have nothing more to add, but my support will be construed in a negative light, I am sure.

David Osorio

We, atheists have reason on our side. What they are doing is a fallacy (rare, isn't it?) called Straw Man.


There was another one recently that I saw in a post on Cuttlefish's blog: atheists get accused of having no morals, but when we put money towards public education and public outreach (like the FFRF's billboards), we get asked why we're not putting all our money and effort towards, say, earthquake relief in Haiti.

This is a game we obviously can't win - no matter what we do, apologists will ask why we're not doing something else. Happily, most atheist groups show no inclination to play it. We should ignore the religious concern trolls and keep doing what we're doing. The fact that they try so hard to dissuade us is itself evidence that we're on the right course.

Greta Christina
There was another one recently that I saw in a post on Cuttlefish's blog: atheists get accused of having no morals, but when we put money towards public education and public outreach (like the FFRF's billboards), we get asked why we're not putting all our money and effort towards, say, earthquake relief in Haiti.

And the corollary: If we donate to charity via atheist groups, we get accused of doing it just for the attention and cred. But if we donate to charity through regular, non-atheist organizations, we perpetuate the idea that atheists don't give to charity.

You're right, Ebon. No matter what we do, people will ask why we're not doing something else. But I also think you're right that we should just keep doing what we're doing... as it seems to be working.


This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/28/2010, at The Unreligious Right


There's an interesting argumentative fallacy, which is to treat the group on the other side as being an individual, who can be criticized on the basis of inconsistency. (Note that "our side" is a diverse group, so the different arguments "we" make need not all be consistent, but reflect "our" glorious diversity.)

You (the group of atheists) are certainly suffering from that fallacy, but you (the individual blogger) are also committing it. Certainly, as atheists criticize religious believers, you are going to receive a variety of different responses, and there is no way you can satisfy everyone. Get over it.

(Incidentally, I have made pretty much the identical comment to Lefties complaining about the Right, and to Righties complaining about the Left.)

My favorite take on the whole thing is a bumper sticker: "I don't know. And you don't either!"



John A.

What I believe the case here, is that the writer, and her fellow band of atheists are heavily misguided, and misunderstood of true Christians. Of course there will be bigots, and those are unfortunately the ones you hear of the most, because the media needs interesting stories to stay alive. This would be the equivalent of a Christian picking on all atheists because of the loud dumb people who yell a lot at protests, just at you see the Westboro Baptist Church and criticize them. Well guess what? So do we. If you ever speak to a true Christian, we will NEVER tell you that you are WRONG about evolution or what not. We truly believe that there is at i behind it all, but that is not to say that the Big Bang cannot have existed. After all, it could have been a higher being that created a the Big Bang or what not. Nothing comes from nothing. Something started it all. We simply believe that it is God. As for the "pedophile" comment, that is uncalled for. The percentage is actually quite low if you did your research correctly. Many people hype this up because they are mindless followers of the "cooler atheist and liberal crowd". I am definitely not wrong. Go into any high school, even a Catholic one. Of course not all, but many atheists consider themselves "smarter", especially in the high school environment. Of course many of them all end up picking some degree that is overstocked in this nation, or is easy to obtain. The few atheists that are sane DO NOT voice their opinion and say religion is wrong. They simply state why they believe in what they do, and move on. In all honesty, they are well respected. As for those who make unwarranted comments (just as how you see some Christians), they are obviously just adding fuel to fire. So before all believers get classified into one category, please, like I am, STRESS that only FEW are like that. It is dangerous to brand everybody into one category, as history has taught us. Before you say the Church was oppressive, remember that the Church was AGAINST slavery. Another popular argument is that God condemns gays. Perhaps this is true to the WBC, but to many, many true Christians, they are not! Everybody has a burden to carry. Gays should always be treated with respect that anybody would receieve. They have the same rights as we do. The only hardship is that they cannot get married to the same sex. Straights cannot, and neither can gays. Fair, no? To be born with something is acceptable, but it is how you live your life. If you truly believe that it is fair to "accomodate" because it is something that they were born with and cannot change, and therefore is not fair, consider the following. So let's say somebody aspires to be an athlete, is just genetically not capable to put on the right weight. It would be fair to accomodate them with steroids, because it is not fair that they are born with this and should be give equal chances and rights. Sure. If this is what you truly believe, then sure.


What I believe the case here, is that the writer, and her fellow band of atheists are heavily misguided, and misunderstood of true Christians.

You're not exactly helping your side... Just saying :-D

Frank Incense

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking post, Greta. And it's provoked this one in me. A believer using logical reasoning to prove the existence of God is like a lunatic using an ax to hew a statue out of fog. You can shout your rational arguments to the dogma believing crowd until you’re blue in the face and they'll always come on top, because they don't give a toss about competing on a level intellectual playing field. They're a bunch of parasites praying upon and taking an unfair advantage of science and the honesty (and thus the vulnerability) of the scientific method. Left to their own devices only with that silly ,,good book" of theirs to use as a source of knowledge, they'd still be afraid to travel straight ahead very far for fear of falling off the earth's edge.


Gee, Frank, you seem far too emotional about the subject to make a fair evaluation.


The only hardship is that they cannot get married to the same sex.

This "hardship" comes with the denial of more than 1000 rights associated with marraige, including hospital visitation, joint taxes and protection from domestic violence. You also forgot to mention that in many states an employer can fire me if they find out that my partner is the same sex. This is all because people like you assume Christian values as the basis for a pluralist society.


Good evening;
My post is for 'Frank Incense?' May I pose a problem for you?
Let us look at the whole idea this way if we might?
I believe in God, and you do not.
Fine, let's see what might happen.
First, if I live my life believing in God and you do not, and, God does not exist, then when you and I die, neither of us lose anything. Fine.
Let us wager, however, that if God does exist and you and I live our lives, you - the unbeliever, and I - a believer then:
I gain everything and you lose everything.
I don't like your odds. Good luck.
Thank you.



Posting the same thing in multiple threads is frowned upon here, especially when it's Pascal's Wager.


Apologize to "themann1086" - seemed like a good place to interject a layman's verse.

I have not read enough of the other threads to realize your point.

I will curb my energy and check my six in the future.

Thank you

Greta Christina

Maxx: The argument you're presenting here is commonly known as Pascal's Wager. And it's one of the worst arguments for religion around. Just a few of the things wrong with it:

1: It assumes that there's only one version of God, and only one religion. How do you decide which god to believe in? What if you believe in the Christian god, and it turns out when you die that the Muslims were right? You would go to hell simply for not believing in the right god. Without good evidence for one religion over another, there's no reason to think your wager on the Christian god is any more likely than my wager on no god at all.

2: It assumes that there is little or no cost to believing in God. This is plainly not true. In most religions, God doesn't just require that you believe in him. He requires that you behave in a certain way: abstain from some behaviors and participate in others (such as not eating shellfish, or not engaging in extramarital sex, or praying five times a day, or donating money to your religious institution). If you bet on God and were wrong, you've wasted a lot of time/ money/ potential pleasure that you didn't get to have. And the consequences of religious belief are, in my opinion, far more harmful than simply wasted time/ money/ potential pleasure. More on that:

The Armor of God, or, The Top One Reason Religion Is Harmful

3: It assumes that belief in God has a reasonable plausibility. If I told you that the universe was created by two enormous green space-borne lobsters named Esmerelda and Keith, and that you'll be torn in their pincers for all eternity after you die if you don't take a one-mile swim every Thursday... would you decide to believe, and to swim every Thursday, just because the consequences of not believing would be so dire? No -- because you have absolutely no good reason to think that Esmerelda and Keith exist. And I have absolutely no good reason to think that God exists, or that he'll punish people after we die for not believing in him. If you can't make a better case for God's existence than Pascal's wager, then I have no reason to take it seriously. And if you can make a better case for God's existence, then why would we need Pascal's wager?

4: The "belief" you're talking about is not sincere belief. Even if I accepted the logical validity of this wager, it still wouldn't work. I can't make myself "believe" that something is true just because it would be convenient to do so. If God is real, do you think he'd be fooled by people pretending to believe in him just so they won't burn in hell when they die?

Pascal's Wager is a move of desperation. It's one of the places religious belief goes when all other foundations have been shown to be built on sand, and it has no other arguments left. It's a non-argument.


Good evening;

I've read this. Fine - do tell us all - what God are you denying?

Pascal's wager is not a move of desperation - you've not comprehended what he was saying.

It's only a test - not a dogmatic

Pascal said that if the test is whether or not meaning has any sense of fulfillment - I have reached it.

His wager was only a test...

He was saying that if what I believe is correct - I have met my life's satisfaction in God.

Why does atheists say - that we must make our own meaning - any meaning we wish - except the God meaning? Who are the atheists to determine what each of us may use to make our own meaning?

Atheists say that religion is dangerous - but they never mention that during the 20th century - godless atheism murdered some 200 million people.

Maybe I don't like that.

I think Pascal had a point.

Just thinking...

Bruce Gorton


Actually Maxx, you aren't thinking, you are just parrotting talking points we could destroy in our sleep.

The 20th century on a per capita basis wasn't particularly bad, and the communists of the 20th century may have been terrible in comparison to democratic capitalist states, but they were a major improvement over the feudalist or in Cuba's case outright criminal, regimes that preceded them.

You can see this by looking at average lifespans - which I doubt you ever would considering that you view what amounts to an appeal to consequences and an advertisement of your own severe lack of integrity as a "good argument."

Pascal's wager is not just bad logic, but an insult.


" but they were a major improvement over the feudalist "

Bruce, while I don't agree with with Maxx on, well, anything, I think you're on pretty shaky ground here. The Czars may have been jerks but nowhere near on the order of Stalin, or even Lenin for that matter. Was Mao worse than the landlords and Nationalists? Hard to say. He did go out of his way to wreck China's traditional culture and was so ruthlessly anti-intellectual that China is still recovering in some ways from the cultural revolution. I mean, I'll cop that Mao, Stalin, etc were in fact atheists, but their primary ideology was state Communism, so I feel no need to claim them. Their crimes are not an atheist's to answer unless an atheist endorses their policies. It's not as if they were FIRST AND FOREMOST atheists, religion comes up very little in their speeches, writings, etc.


We shouldn't have to defend atheism as a moral philosophy, because it's not about morality, it's just a simple statement of lack of belief. Defending atheism's reputation from evil atheists would be like defending the reputation of pants from evil pants-wearing people.

If Mao and Stalin were popularly known as humanists or rationalists, then I'd be worried and thinking about choosing an alternative identifier for my own moral philosophy... but atheism by itself is morally neutral.


I'm wondering why there has to be a winner and a loser.

Bruce Gorton

Posted by: DA | December 27, 2010 at 05:39 AM

Stalin basically destroyed Russia's lead in genetic science and had a thing for killing off anyone who even considered disagreeing with him.

Plus the genocide of Holdomor and the various other manmade famines born of collectivisation.

He was absolutely terrible.

But I still maintain that the czars were worse - when you consider how lifespans improved so rapidly and dramatically under Stalin.

That isn't an endorsement of communism, but rather a condemnation of feudalism.

Fortunately we live in reasonably secular capitalist constitutional republics, which despite their flaws are generally better than any form of totalitarianism.

Kim Sweeney

I just read this for, like, the fifth time. Thank you so much for everything you write. I love reading it, and you help me think so much more clearly.

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