An Atheist for President?

As a means of improving the political fortunes of American Nonbelief , permit me to make a helpful suggestion: I … Continued

As a means of improving the political fortunes of American Nonbelief , permit me to make a helpful suggestion: I propose that the godless of our great nation nominate their own candidate for a 2008 presidential run.

Will the candidate who represents the Party of Nonbelief win? Of course not. In all likelihood, he or she probably won’t even make the ballot in most places (Democrats–who would rather be Tasered than Nadered in a battleground state–will wage war to keep an atheist presidential contender off the slate in, let’s say, Ohio or Pennsylvania).

No, no, no. This is not about winning or losing. This is about figuring out who nonbelievers are. This is about learning where they are. This is about building a grass-roots political infrastructure. This is about training cadres of young operatives in the mixed-martial arts combat that is an American presidential campaign. And most of all, this is about gaining acquaintance with deep-pocketed non-theists who will be bankrolling day-to-day operations for years to come.

Think of it this way: this might very well be the first campaign in history where the kids holding the clipboards and collecting names and addresses will be more important than the candidate delivering the stump speech. Nonbelievers need to discover themselves. If I know my co-irreligionists well enough, then these are some of the discoveries that they are poised to make:

Nonbelief: ‘tis a manly ship. The number of men who gravitate to atheism and agnosticism, specifically white men, is wont to leave one slack-jawed. I do not know a single conscientious nonbeliever who is not concerned (or embarrassed) by this state of affairs. An effective leader will exert great energy to welcome and recruit women, African-Americans, Latinos, and so many others to the movement.

Little tents. The flora and fauna of contemporary nonbelief is astonishingly variegated. There are the Big Science Secularists (who sometimes have a creepily cocksure, pre-postmodern, faith in the possibilities of reason). There are the Refugees who are escaping dysfunctional Fundamentalist homes. There are the Church-State Lifers who would rather immolate themselves than endure another breach of the Wall of Separation. There are The Philosopher Kings who are in it for intellectual thrills and who might be reading anything from Ayn Rand to Heidegger to the Death of God Theologians. There are The Lone Rangers who see “Stop” signs as infringements on their personal civil liberties and will ferociously resist being wrangled by any institution, organization, campaign, etc. There is a small–too small, I think–Gay contingent. There is The Lunatic Fringe composed of those who–speaking in secular tongues–equate all Evangelical Christians with the Taliban. And lots of others too. In previous posts, I have intimated that non-believing secularists need to make common cause with believing secularists. Before that occurs the groups mentioned above must be positioned, by force if necessary, under a big tent.

Community versus virtual community. The single greatest thing that could happen to nonbelievers would be to have their laptops and Blackberries confiscated (preferably, for purposes of strengthening group solidarity, by James Dobson). In order to correspond with one another they would have to congregate regularly, look one another in the eye, and hash out the always unpleasant, but ultimately life-affirming (or so they say) business of living as a real human community.

With this said let me suggest a few potential candidates who could represent the Party of Nonbelief:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Probably would also rather be Tasered than take on a mission such as the one I am proposing. But the talented chief executive of New York City has precisely the political savvy (and connections) that nearly all of the micro-organizations associated with nonbelief in the United States lack. He may or may not be a nonbeliever. But he certainly knows how to get things done.

Sam Harris: Best selling author who has tremendous appeal among the younger generation of nonbelieving secularists. Could be teamed with vice-presidential running mate Christopher Hitchens. Security costs might be prohibitive during their October swing through the Red States.

Congressman Peter Stark (D-California): The only member of the House or Senate to publicly proclaim his atheism. If 1/535th of the Congress is atheist in a country of 300 million then–let me do the math–it would suggest that: a) there are only 560,747.66 non-theists in the USA, or, b) non-theists lack proportional political representation. In any case, they would be wise to field candidates in a dozen or so congressional races over the next few years in the hopes of giving Representative Stark a few like-minded colleagues.

Carla Bruni: Italian-French supermodel turned successful singer. Her lack of American citizenship could, admittedly, pose a constitutional hurdle. Has never expressed much of an interest in our politics either. On the plus side, produces some of the most intellectually satisfying pop music I have ever heard (might I recommend her Quelqu’un M’a Dit and the recent No Promises). Her lyrics taste like that bitter, dark roast that is French aesthetic laïcité: death, love, sex, excess, more sex. Need I remind American secularists: Les Français sont nos maîtres.

Tom Flynn: Well respected editor of the secular humanist magazine Free Inquiry. Has had to read and edit the deranged ramblings of every nonbeliever under the sun (including the present writer). Trained at a Jesuit university, he is intellectually and morally equipped to think seriously and pragmatically about the future of nonbelief.

Salman Rushdie: An artist of substance with undeniable street credibility among nonbelievers far and wide. Would produce better Op-Ed pieces than any other candidate in the race.

Camille Paglia: Would help feminize the manly ship. Would purge the Lunatic Fringe through sheer force of ridicule. “Although I’m an atheist who believes only in great nature,” wrote Ms. Paglia, “I recognize the spiritual richness and grandeur of the Roman Catholicism in which I was raised. And I despise anyone who insults the sustaining values and symbol system of so many millions of people of different races around the world.” My sentiments exactly. Though permit me the partisan substitution of “Judaism” for “Roman Catholicism.”

Write-in candidates are welcome.

By Jacques Berlinerblau | 
September 20, 2007; 7:37 AM ET


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  • James Buchanan

    In a shootout between Mitt Romney and an Atheist Democrat, I’d still put money on Romney.Various factions of believers are ultimately like a squabbling, dysfunctional family. They’ll bicker and snipe at one another, but against an outside threat, they’ll close ranks with their own before accepting an “outsider” over them.”Better the devil you know…”

  • K

    The evangelicals would vote for a muslim before they would vote for an atheist. evangelicals and sharia-oriented muslims, they have a much greater understanding of each other than either do of atheists. For them it’s not a battle of “if”, but rather a battle of implementation.with atheists these religious types have to start dealing with “if” … and they’re just not going to go down that path.Remember what George the First said:Q: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.Do you think his decision that we aren’t citizens arises from his own mental illness, or is he merely echoing the sentiment of all these believers?

  • Dennis Owen

    Why not trying to write this article while not using the those words meant to stir the long-embedded prejudices of the reader? ‘the godless’, as in ‘the godless hordes’ that ransacked Rome, that was the Soviet Union, the American Indians, etc. What do you mean with the comment “There is a small–too small, I think–Gay contingent.”? Are you saying that the gays that are members of organized religion should be kicked out because they are going to hell no matter what? Explain, please. I know you were trying to be smug and cute with your editorial, but it failed miserably.

  • Ben Armfield

    God bless you Jacques. Count me in.

  • Aaron, Bat Yam

    Why is an atheist the chair of “Jewish Civilization” at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University???Why would Jewish Civilization not be part of the Sociology or History department??? Why the Foreign Service dept??? Or the Religion DeparmentAnd what in tarnation is Jewish Civilization? As a jew who lives in the “jewish state” of Israel – I can’t figure out what one studies in “Jewish Civilization” ???

  • Eric

    The problem with this idea is that the only thing that would unite all these people is their non-belief, something, that, honestly, has little bearing on how a President would make policy while in office. Wouldn’t it be more important to put time and effort into a campaign for someone who shared your views on the war in Iraq, or health care, or education, or taxes – things the President actually has control over?

  • buttercup

    I agree that the non-believers of our country need to “find” each other. We need to unite and prove to those in power that atheism is not the greatest threat to our country. We are intelligent, caring, often active members of our communities who are made out to be the evil downfall of our society.

  • Ben Armfield

    God bless you, Jacques. Count me in.

  • Mooms

    Oh, I disagree with both the above comments. Too often, the spokespeople for the goodless are waaaaay to serious and scary. They spend too much time sneering at believers, too little questioning their own approach. We can afford to take ourselves with a grain of salt. I particularly love the description of the “little tents.” Hey, I know all those people!

  • JoeSchmoe

    Unbeleif is fundamentally another religious point of view. If religion should not matter in politics, wouldn’t any atheists who vote for an atheist candidate because he or she is an atheict be hypocrites?

  • Moose

    “There is a small–too small, I think–Gay contingent.”What does sexual orientation have to do with any of this? Why wouldn’t gay men or lesbians be included in any of the other categories? Just because one is attracted to the same sex doesn’t mean one is automatically an atheist. The rejection of homosexuals by many mainstream religions does help push them in that direction, but it by no means guarantees that result.

  • Anonymous

    this is a great topic for discussion. Non-belief, atheism, secularism – whatever word is used to describe this group – has been kept out of the conversation too long. We probably feel the way Christians did around the time of the Scopes trial. Well, Christianity made a comeback in the second half of the 20th C., and I think the world is ready to hear that there are many good people who simply do not believe in god. The pendulum should swing the other way.Great points about increasing the size of the tent – not enough diversity. Thanks for a great topic.

  • Marcolo Bethea

    I have to agree with you. I believe non-believers should get together and show how American behavior completely disregards the separation of church and state. This country was founded on freedom of religious belief and yet we are innundated with it in every form to the extent that one is considered abmormal or anarchistic if one does not believe in god. This started with the atheist movement and has stagnated. It needs to be revived.lets take a look at this protestant run society and see that being affiliated with a religion does not make a better person…at least not here nor in any historical reference. Perhaps if we take that out of the equation we can look at the real aspect of the problem.

  • addicted

    The reason Jacques includes a different category based on sexual orientation is because gay people are discriminated against by pretty much every religion on the planet, and so it is quite likely that a lot of them would gravitate towards atheism.

  • Anonymous

    godless? I prefer god-free!

  • Will

    Mr. Berlinerblau presents some interesting points in his essay, but many writers seem skeptical that atheists have anything in common. Beyond being incorrect, I think the 2000 election has shown us this does not really matter. Evangelical Christians are all over the place in their social and political views, and really only agree on a few points: homosexuality and abortion (and some don’t even agree with that–they just don’t like atheists). Likewise, atheists share some common ground: a general distaste for religion in politics and a generally libertarian tilt (do what you want, but don’t let your actions harm others). This being the case, one can spell out a compelling political platform: no government funding for faith-based organizations, no religion based restraints (on abortion, booze and cars sold on Sunday, on right to die issues), equality for everyone (including gay marriage), and a respect for science in creating federal policy. This platform may even have appeal beyond atheists and secularists–it may appeal to a fair number from the “the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.” Now we just need a rational, attractive candidate who won’t scare the pants off Red-state voters–a secular John Edwards, perhaps.

  • Anonymous

    One of your mistakes is that secularists would vote for president soley on the basis of a candidate’s non-religion. That’s what you guys do!

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Professor Berlinerblau,Your essay is an attempt at parody or self-parody, is it not?Why do you insist on mixing up religious non-belief with politics?The mixing of religion and politics has been deadly in recent years. The mixing of non-religion and politics would be just as bad.I’m an “unbeliever” by the world’s standards. I prefer to not confine myself within a label or definition, but, when forced to, I call myself an agnostic with strong Buddhist sympathies.But I take my politics straight: a liberal Democrat who realizes fully just how awful the Democratic Party is.I have no desire to import my agnosticism into my politics. Why in God’s [!] name would I want to?Like most “nonbelievers”, and many believers, I just want to be free of preachers, bible-thumpers,The battle to be free of these pests is best waged issue-by-issue and person-by-person.Creating a political party of “nonbelivers” would only inflame and strengthen the religious nasties.Supporting the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a more effective way of doing battle and waging the war for sanity.

  • patient

    Mr. Berlinerblau would do well to begin with the statement made in the Bill Moyers’ series on PBS “Faith & Reason”. Martin Amis is quoted as saying: “”The opposite of religious belief is not secularism or atheism. It’s the independence of mind — where you do your thinking alone.”Personally, I have no interest in the top down“ “mixed-martial arts combat that is anThat America has a majority that chooses to be motivated by the fear of punishment or the joy of some undefined bliss in the afterlife is indicative of the failure of our institutions to educate the citizenry. Hence, our goal should be a bottom-up education of what constitutes life and living rather than a materialistic addiction to consumption and/or a praying for the day when one awakes in the life after death.

  • patient

    Martin Amis is quoted as saying: “”The opposite of religious belief is not secularism or

  • Chip

    Patrick writes, “I would rather be governed by men who live accountably to a higher power that is omnicient rather than a person who lives only by what they are able to get away with. Just a thought.”Funny, because I’d much rather be governed by men who live accountably to the people they share the planet with and not to some unknowable vague notion of a “higher power” that’s so easily morphed into whatever suits a particular selfish agenda.

  • Mr Mark

    As much as I’d like to see what Christopher Hitchens would do as VP, he’s ineligible for the office as he isn’t a native-born American. Same with a couple of others you mention.I can’t think of a single non-believer who would vote non-belief as a single issue in a campaign. Most of us accept candidates who profess faith at some level as we realize that faith is a mile wide and an inch deep in this country. The believers who scare us are the nutty Rs who wear their faith on their sleeves, think the world is 6,000 years old, don’t believe in science and think god is whispering in their ear on every subject from which war to start to which door to use to exit the podium (and in bush’s case, god seems to have no clue as to which door is open for exiting the podium or which war to start!).Most atheists accept the fact that the “believing” candidates are great at compartmentalizing their faith. While they may express their faith quite often, most don’t really depend on the invisible sky god to make the important calls…unless you’re bush, of course, who has pretty much proved how disastrous it is to have a faith/fantasy-based CiC.The American people seem to have no problem with candidates who hear voices, because 80% of the American people imagine they’re hearing those same voices. For a candidate to announce that “there are no voices” is political suicide these days. But as most of the civilized world moves away from the opiate of religion, the USA will eventually catch up. Like the low-paid worker who is only a paycheck away from economic ruin, the USA is just a paycheck away from religion falling into disrepute and ruin.I imagine that the process of the USA becoming a largely religious-free zone will be a much more organic process than the one imagined by Dr Berlinerblau. Indeed, non-belief imposed politically by a movement would be as distasteful to most atheists as is its opposite. One need not push a tsunami forward. It gains its power under its own steam. In the case of non-belief, the undersea earthquakes of religious intolerance have already incited the ripples that will eventually become the tidal wave of reason.Religion’s days are numbered. It’s just a question of whether or not civilization will survive religion’s devastations to see reason prevail.

  • Arminius

    Mr Mark, you said:”As much as I’d like to see what Christopher Hitchens would do as VP, he’s ineligible for the office as he isn’t a native-born American. Same with a couple of others you mention.”Not so. Only the President must be a native-born American. Hitchens is eligible for VP. So is the current gov of California.

  • Daniel

    One of the earlier posters said”The evangelicals would vote for a muslim before they would vote for an atheist”Oh no they wouldn’t! That shows how much that perons knows.The in-fighting among the varying Christian sects is truely awesome and mind-numbing. That is why our founding-fathers put up the separation of church and state; the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the 30 years war (the Geman civil war between Catholics and Protestants) was just 128 years before our Declaration of Independence, and pretty fresh in their minds. I do not think we have much to fear about the establishment of a theocracy any time soon, although religous hatred and violence is always smoldering, just below the surface.

  • jay s

    As has already been pointed out, atheists are not a unified political group. I know atheists who are liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. If an atheistic candidate happened to share my political philosophy, I would vote for him, but I’d vote against him if he didn’t.I’ve also said before I’d rather not see atheists get too organized. Organization can lead to rigid ideology, and that’s what most freethinkers don’t want. We should be independent thinkers, unified only in our naturalistic perspective.

  • Fernado

    I guess you forgot Richard Dawkins…Carl Sagan could have been a pretty good candidate too

  • B-Man

    Atheists need to create a recognizable national movement *if for no other reason* than to demonstrate that America is not 100% a land of superstitious religious cults.Right now, Atheist’s (relative) silence cedes all intellectual and political territory in this country to Christians by default.

  • Chip

    B-man, you wrote “Atheists need to create a recognizable national movement *if for no other reason* than to demonstrate that America is not 100% a land of superstitious religious cults.Right now, Atheist’s (relative) silence cedes all intellectual and political territory in this country to Christians by default.”I agree completely with your second statement, but disagree strongly with your first. We don’t need a national movement. We just need closet atheists to stand up for who they are and stop being invisible to their family, friends, and neighbors. I believe the vast majority of atheists are very tolerant of people of faith because we all know many of them personally. The same isn’t true in reverse. A good analog would be the plight of gays in the United States. I don’t believe it’s their activism that’s most responsible for their increased acceptance. In fact that probably works against them as much as for them. What’s changed their fortunes is that over the past 50 years so many have simply stood up and said “Hi mom, guess what…”I find any and all calls for atheists to organize and become a movement extremely distasteful. Why build a religion around not being religious? What we need is for people who strongly believe in the separation of church and state, no matter their individual belief systems, to work hard to stop the increasing incursion of faith into politics and governance. We need a movement built around inclusion, not exclusion.

  • DuckPhup

    “… the American version of representative government assures that such qualities as intellect and ethics as might equip a man to lead a powerful nation responsibly are precisely the qualities that would prevent him from subjecting himself to the debasing performances of vote begging and delegate swapping. It is a truism of American politics that no man who can win elections deserves to.” ~Trevanian, “Shibumi”If polls are correct, then it can be assumed that there are around 53 ‘unbelievers’ (sane people) in congress. If the 40 or so studies, done over the past 80 years, which show an unmistakeable NEGATIVE correlation between intelligence and religiosity are correct, then it would probably be safe to assume that there are considerably MORE than 53 ‘unbelievers’ (sane people) in congress. In both cases, though, they would be DISHONEST atheists… LYING about their (lack of) religious belief… so I don’t rightly know that I would want to consider that a ‘good’ thing. I think I’d rather take all the Congressmen at their word, with respect to their religious affiliations, and accept that there is really only ONE atheist in congress. At least, that provides some explanatory power to the idea that religion may account (in part) for why this august body is so dysfunctional.The simple facts are these… about 98% of the most intelligent, most gifted, most rational, most capable people in this country are atheists. So… the electorate’s aversion to atheists is disqualifying from leadership roles, the very people whose qualities offer the very best hope for the future of this nation… and for the world.

  • MCVotaw

    In my experience, while reason is certainly lily-white, it isn’t “manly” – I see just as many women who know better than to believe superstitions, knowing what we do today.

  • B-Man

    Chip,Your point is taken, and standing up and simply stating your non-belief in vengeful deities is a very good start. However, I would say that gays have much more of a “community” than Atheists have, and that community has worked to the benefit of gay people in this country. At some point, Atheists (or secularists) will need to cohere in some manner, or else be destined to wandering around the political and intellectual desert as lonely individuals.

  • Andy

    It’s been very interesting reading all of these comments. I could certainly be wrong here, but I wonder if some of you aren’t taking Mr. Berlinerblau’s proposal and reasoning a little too seriously. I’m not sure he’s truly advocating for a new, honest-to-reality Party of Non-Believers that would become a rallying movement for the god-free (I like that one!) with the intent of changing the hearts and minds of religious Americans. The reason for introducing such a candidate would be the exact same reason that Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Bill Richardson, etc. have run or are running. They know they’re not going to even get the nomination, but they’re participating in the process to get their issues out there and make sure they’re part of the national discussion. This is all the “movement” needed for non-believers to “come out of the closet.” It’s that kind of water-cooler discussion about the candidates that can allow people to say “well, I’m not a person of faith either, but…” Granted, the formation of any political campaign will look like a national movement. And once something like that takes shape, it’s hard to dismantle it. But still, I don’t think it’s a bad idea.As per the “too small” gay contingent of atheists, I have to say I agree. While my sexuality has nothing to do with my disbelief, I do believe there are a number of correlations that should have us in higher numbers. While trying not to generalize *too* much, the percentage of gays and lesbians that go on to higher education is somewhat higher than the general population. In addition, the taboos against homosexuality are religious based, and so every gay person has to go through some reasoning process to reconcile their belief system with their sexuality. On a somewhat light-hearted note, there may be a very simple reason why there aren’t as many gay atheists: It’s hard enough to say “hey Mom, I have to tell you something…” once. Maybe Mom just can’t bear one more heartbreak.

  • numi

    I think it was Groucho who said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” From long personal experience (since about age 14), I can say, with certainty, that atheists/freethinkers/agnostics aren’t ‘joiners’. There is a strong anti-authoritarian streak in all of us. Which only makes sense as we have had to resist the endless ‘god barrage’ inflicted by our schizophrenic Capitalist/Christian culture in order to come to our own conclusions. Not easy, but still we managed.Besides, I wouldn’t trust an atheist politician any more than I would a Republicanite or Democrat politician. How can you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.I look forward to the day when the next step in human evolution, the loss of the gullibility gene, is complete.Margaret Sanger had it right: No gods – no masters.

  • Eric Rosenquist

    I see a problem with nominating a nonbeliever for president. It will create more criticism of atheists, namely, as being hypocritical. That is, Christian Republicans and Democrats may point out that secularists (a term many equate with atheists) pride American democracy as being free from a theocracy (or, in the least any combination of church ans state). Now, Christians will feel that a secularist basing his or her choice of president solely on religious grounds is antithetical to his or her core political beliefs. It may be important to point out, however, that an atheist wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected president strictly for the fact that he or she is an atheist. This may be a sign that many people want a wall placed between church and state, but at the same time they want a person who shares their religious beliefs. Of course, many think that religion and government should be intermingled.With all this said, I believe that nominating a nonbeliever for president is a good idea. For the reasons listed (demographics,etc.) by Dr. Berlinerblau the effort may be worthwhile. After all, nonbelievers must combat the religious beliefs of our government officials that are affecting many people (scientists, patients who could benefit from stem-cell research, etc.). A “healthy dose of reason” is much needed and, who knows, maybe reason will be publicized through this effort.My main concern is ‘How do we nominate a nonbeliever?’ and ‘Where do we vote … a secular website (maybe American Atheists)?’ Personally, my three choices for president are Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Michael Shermer. All three are great speakers. Christopher Hitchens, in my opinion, resembles a politician best and his quips are ingenious. Frankly, I would be willing to nominate an array of nonbelievers.

  • Eric Rosenquist

    I see a problem with nominating a nonbeliever for president. It will create more criticism of atheists, namely, as being hypocritical. That is, Christian Republicans and Democrats may point out that secularists (a term many equate with ‘atheists’) pride American democracy as being free from a theocracy (or, in the least any combination of church ans state). Now, Christians will feel that a secularist basing his or her choice of president solely on religious grounds is antithetical to his or her core political beliefs. It may be important to point out, however, that an atheist wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected president strictly for the fact that he or she is an atheist. This may be a sign that many people want a wall placed between church and state, but at the same time they want a person who shares their religious beliefs. Of course, many think that religion and government should be intermingled.With all this said, I believe that nominating a nonbeliever for president is a good idea. For the reasons listed (demographics,etc.) by Dr. Berlinerblau the effort may be worthwhile. After all, nonbelievers must combat the religious beliefs of our government officials that are affecting many people (scientists, patients who could benefit from stem-cell research, etc.). A “healthy dose of reason” is much needed and, who knows, maybe reason will be publicized through this effort.My main concern is ‘How do we nominate a nonbeliever?’ and ‘Where do we vote … a secular website (maybe American Atheists)?’ Personally, my three choices for president are Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Michael Shermer. All three are great speakers. Christopher Hitchens, in my opinion, resembles a politician best and his quips are ingenious. Frankly, I would be willing to nominate an array of nonbelievers.

  • Chip

    Andy, I’ve found through the years that it’s not difficult to let the people around me know that I’m an atheist. Any time religion is a topic of conversation it provides a perfect opportunity to mention my atheism in passing. There’s never been a shortage of times when people around me are discussing topics that touch on religion and churches. I’m glad that the likes of Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens are making atheism more visible, but most people I know have known of my atheism long before their books became popular topics of conversation. We need to stop making excuses for people who remain silent, and suggesting that we should organize and field an atheist presidential candidate just to give people a reason to “come out” is doing exactly that – making excuses for why they haven’t done it already.

  • skimble

    Am I taking Berlinerblau the wrong way? Is this a desperate attempt to be cute? What’s with the Tasering and Camille Paglia jokes? I don’t see the value of the whole exercise — it doesn’t work as comedy or as commentary.I eagerly await his post entitled “An Adult for President?”

  • Michael in VA

    K – when and where did George the Monkey say this:”Remember what George the First said:Q: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”Can I sue him for trying to limit my rights? Damn… I thought he was nutso before…

  • Anonymous

    I definitely think there should be a nominee who publicly declares his or her atheism, but I do not see the need for an Atheist party.

  • Marc

    I must say as an atheist, I would love the chance to support an atheist candidate. However, for me at least, the purpose of voting has changed for me. I would gladly donate to an athist candidate, even sport the bumper stickers and other paraphenalia. However, I must vote against the republicans in 08. I have been waiting 3 years and counting for the chance to vote against the talibaptists and I know others who have as well. I voted for who I thought was right in Florida in 2000 – I will never vote for what is right again. From now on I will vote against those who I know are wrong.

  • Marc

    I must say as an atheist, I would love the chance to support an atheist candidate. However, for me at least, the purpose of voting has changed for me. I would gladly donate to an athist candidate, even sport the bumper stickers and other paraphenalia. However, I must vote against the republicans in 08. I have been waiting 3 years and counting for the chance to vote against the talibaptists and I know others who have as well. I voted for who I thought was right in Florida in 2000 – I will never vote for what is right again. From now on I will vote against those who I know are wrong.

  • Patrick

    Jack sure can make distinctions between his believers and non-believers. Jack must have a faith meter to measure the faithful.I see Christians are still worried about who will vote for their Christian Politicians. Ashamed that this author labels various ethnic groups as having more Christian religion than others. Quite a telling note of this authors own prejudices.I am more concerned with a person content and character than their religous or non-religious beliefs.

  • Chip

    Michael in VA, that quote is from Bush Sr. and he said it at a campaign stop in Chicago when he was running for president. It was in response to a question from a reporter representing American Atheists (I think). Can you imagine if a candidate said that about any other minority? All hell would have broken lose. I don’t think it received any mention in the mainstream press at all at the time. The “one nation under god” idiocy makes me spitting mad. It’ll be a happy day when that disgusting bit of institutionalized bigotry is removed from the pledge of allegiance.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    There is a news item on today’s WAPO aboout the upcoming CBS Programme “Kid Nation”. The WAPO columnist who writes the report admonishes CBS: Grow Up!I made the comment below, and decided that it was even more appropriate for this blog.My comment is : AMERICA and atheists, grow up!” At the dawn of religion, all the knowledge of a particular community fitted into a spiritual framework, based largely on religious values and ideas. The spiritual framework itself had to be within the grasp of the simplest member of the community, even if its parables and images conveyed no more than the vaguest hint as to their underlying values and ideas. But if he himself is to live by these values, the average man has to be convinced that the spiritual framework embraces the entire wisdom of his society. For ‘believing’ does not to him mean ‘taking for granted,’ but rather ‘trusting in the guidance’ of accepted values. That is why society is in such danger whenever fresh knowledge threatens to explode the old spiritual forms. The complete separation of knowledge and faith can at best be an emergency measure, afford some temporary relief. In western culture, for instance, we may well reach the point in the not too distant future where the parables and images of the old religions will have lost their persuasive force even for the average person; when that happens, I am afraid that all the old ethics will collapse like a house of cards and that unimaginable horrors will be perpetrated. In brief, I cannot really endorse Planck’s philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.”

  • re

    In response to “As has already been pointed out, atheists are not a unified political group. I know atheists who are liberals, conservatives, and libertarian…” I would have to say thatno true conservative is an atheist. Many of the true conservative values and motivations are biblical and thus to follow those tenants and not believe in God would be a best hypocritical.By the way, you all should find God, its a good life and your missing out.

  • re

    In response to “As has already been pointed out, atheists are not a unified political group. I know atheists who are liberals, conservatives, and libertarian…” I would have to say that no true conservative is an atheist. Many of the true conservative values and motivations are biblical and thus to follow those tenants and not believe in God would be at best hypocritical.By the way, you all should find God, its a good life and your missing out.

  • re

    In response to “As has already been pointed out, atheists are not a unified political group. I know atheists who are liberals, conservatives, and libertarian…” I would have to say that no true conservative is an atheist. Many of the true conservative values and motivations are biblical and thus to follow those tenants and not believe in God would be at best hypocritical.By the way, you all should find God, its a good life and your missing out.

  • Chip

    Mohamed, RE “The spiritual framework itself had to be within the grasp of the simplest member of the community… [snip] the average man has to be convinced that the spiritual framework embraces the entire wisdom of his society”Thanks for the laugh, and for finding a single quote that so elegantly and perfectly illustrates what’s so terribly wrong about religion as a framework for knowledge and wisdom. It’s forever stuck appealing to the lowest common denominator, which makes progress not only impossible, but anathema. The author of that quote, in believing that loss of belief in simplistic ancient parables will give rise to the collapse of ethics, demonstrates how he is forever held prisoner by them and the cowering fear they instill. Ultimately, that’s their only real source of power.

  • Eric Rosenquist

    A candidate who encourages rational thinking without being bound by his or her religious beliefs would make the best presidential candidate. Many people may say that me must not make vote based on a candidates religious beliefs. This is wrong. A person’s religious belifs have an effect on their decisions, whether these decisions are political or otherwise. We have seen the effect of religion in our culture and in the world. The current president, through his faith-based initiative, has torn down the wall separating church and state, violating the Establishment Clause. IN 2005, $2.1 billion was given to faith-based organizations. Bush has also limited stem-cell research for theological reasons. Thus, a candidate’s religious beliefs do matter since they guide a person to his or her actions. It isn’t so much imperative that a person who labels himself or herself an atheist become a candidate. It is a person who uses natural, rather than supernatural or dogmatic, reasons to come upon his or her conclusions.

  • jay s

    “I would have to say that no true conservative is an atheist. Many of the true conservative values and motivations are biblical and thus to follow those tenants and not believe in God would be at best hypocritical.”Well, you can take that up with a conservative atheist if you like. I know a few conservatives who are atheists, but they probably don’t fit your narrow (Christian) definition.Are you saying that someone cannot be a self-described conservative if they are not Christian? Who made Christianity the benchmark for conservatism?

  • Gerry

    Chip, thanks for your answer to this overbearing “primitiveling” Mohamed. He quotes a lot of things, mostly from the past, which he doesn’t understand himself.No scientist of today with any residue of self-esteem posits any “nothing”. That was formerly, when Mohamed’s Manichaean world was still intact. There still are even some flat earth believers around…And the two initial statements (“Monster!!! SCREAM! GOD!!! YES!”) together with the unctuous style really makes for a good laugh and can even be used as an almost humorous, but still strong argument for the necessity of atheism as mental hygiene.Would anybody endorse such a paper?

  • The Moderate

    Who cares? Jefferson was a Deist, Roosevelt was a liberal secularist, and a nominal Episcopalian. That is a sect with bishops who don’t believe in God. So what’s the big Whoop?

  • Chip

    Mohamed, I’d like to respectfully point out that if you want someone to give an attentive and reasoned analysis to your essay, calling them Frankenstein and non-human isn’t really the best foot to start out on. If that serves as a thesis statement for what’s to follow, I can tell you from the start that I’m really not interested in what you have to say. But, since I’m a sporting type, I’ll offer you a few comments on the incomplete essay posted above.First off, I’d always rather have a rational discussion than engage in a duel of copy/paste skills. In your two posts thus far I can tell that you’re quite practiced in the art. I’m far more interested in off the cuff opinions. I prefer them fresh rather than from a can.In the very first paragraph of your essay you use a quote from Dawkins regarding Carl Sagan. I hope you’re aware that he’s speaking metaphorically, not literally. I can’t really tell. He’s talking about how there’s sufficient mystery and wonder in the material universe to inspire awe, wonder, and humility, without having to imagine a supernatural realm beyond it, or having to pretend to know all the answers when we actually know very little. Having said that, believing those mysteries are within our future capacity to solve doesn’t diminish the sense of wonder. I’d posit that it provides a proper context, which isn’t one of worship, but of motivation to keep learning. I’d be interested in hearing a more detailed definition of what you mean by “informed worship.” It isn’t clear. Unless you’re also speaking in a broadly metaphorical sense, I think the word worship has no place in it. Mysteries are meant to be solved, not groveled before.On your musings about “nothing” – The idea that nothing can’t exist without a consciousness to conceive it is (and there’s simply no way to be kind about it) profoundly and deeply silly. It’s the “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it…” question. It’s solipsism taken to the level of the absurd. To be fair, given the content of your two posts thus far, it’s possible that your argument isn’t a statement that god must exist, but rather that belief in god is a justifiable framework for viewing reality, whether or not it’s true. I wouldn’t agree, but again there’s simply not enough information there to tell. However, I’m guessing your aim is the former and not the latter. If so, it would seem you’re engaging in a classic “god of the gaps” argument, whether for or against is unclear. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s also the logical fallacy known as the “argument from ignorance” which is to assert that a lack of proof that a certain statement is false provides evidence that it’s true. I hope your essay doesn’t boil down to simply an assertion that since there can’t be “nothing” there must be god. That would be an awful lot of effort to make such a simple logical error. Having not seen the whole thing I’ll reserve judgment. I can’t say I’m terribly optimistic.You might be interested in a couple of chapters from Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith” where he discusses non-religious “mysticism” through meditation and similar exercise, with some musing about neuroscience. I found it a bit lacking, personally, but I think it would offer you some interesting counterpoint to where I think you’re going with your argument.Not related to your thesis, but simply the way it’s written, I’d strongly suggest fleshing out your argument a lot more so that the reader has a clearer sense of where you’re going. It’s rather convoluted currently, and the first two sections don’t really do a good job of fulfilling the intentions you’ve noted for them in your introduction. They create threads that it’s not clear you’ll eventually tie up. For instance, “Does that mean there is nothing in the vacuum?” The answer to which is, of course, no, even with only an elementary understanding of cosmology. You leave the reader with the impression that you’re not sure of the answer yourself, or that you think a materialist/scientific view has nothing more to add as far as an answer to that question goes, or maybe you’re only speaking philosophically, but that’s not clear either. That doesn’t inspire much faith in the reader that you’re not just setting up straw men. Finally, whether or not I agree with any of your thesis, and odds are I don’t, kudos to you for making a serious effort to elucidate your views. That’s more than most people do and I think it’s a commendable exercise. Thanks for sharing it.Sincerely,

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CHIP,Thank you very much for a moderate, tempered argument, which is, this time, quite a far cry from your previous post including phrases like : ‘thanks for the laugh’, ‘simplistic ancient parables’, ‘It’s forever stuck appealing to the lowest common denominator’ (which, you might now want to deny it, harked back to my quote of the profoundly humane qualification that Wolfgang Pauli used to refer to our less-fortunate brethren of the human race).About the rest of your arguments, I shall make just two observations. First, you no doubt know the debate about “known unknown, unkown unknowns, knowable, unknowable, decidable, computable” etc. The elucidation of all these concepts, plus the formidable task defining consciousness, which bring together the cutting-edge expertise of researchers in mathematics, physics, evolutionary biology, artifical intelligence, neroscience etc. Second point: you no doubt have read D’Amasio’s “Descartes’ Error”. You also know about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Schroedinger’s Cat. Now, very sketchily, Heisenberg’s argument is that to observe a particle we fire an electron at it, and however infinitisemally, the moment that electron hits the particle it changes its direction of movement as well as its position. So, there results, from the mere presence of an observer, a fundamental uncertainty in knowing both the position and the direction of movement of a particle. That is at the physical level. Now, at the neurosicentific level, consciousness involves the firing of neurones in our brain and the pattern of these firings along synapses. Neurones can be fired at the initiation of both physical/sensual or extra-sensual/extrasensory stimuli. There occurs hardwiring of particular patterns of transmission of the path of these neurons only gradually, probably in a Pavlovian conditioning framework. My hypothesis, that I am still working on is that there is an equivalence (homomorphism, isomorphism, I don’t know) between Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle in physics and the process of this hardwiring in the brain. This hypothesis is yet to be investigated, first by ‘thought experiments’ then in the lab. But the ideas I am kicking around are abundantly covered in the literature, in the area of neuroscience, notably in Walter J. Freeman’s book “How the Brain Makes Up Its Mind”. That’s all I claim. There is much that we don’t know. I am NOT saying that the anthropomorphic God of the Quran or the Bible, as conceived by many people (but, even then, it is arguable whether most people conceive of God as a physical entity, even in Christianity where you have the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit), actually exists. I am saying that it is arrogant to claim being absolutely right that God does not exist. I am also saying that it is very rude to qualify our fellow human beings as superstitious primitives hell-bent on dragging us all down to the ‘lowest common denominator’ just becausewe lack the patience to stop our race for ‘progress’ and consider the possibility that the average man’s ‘faith’ does not mean ‘taking for granted,’ but rather ‘trusting in the guidance’ of accepted values”. Sincerely and best regards.

  • yoyo

    Mohamed MalleckPhew! So many words…..I think you just proved the existence of Santa Claus. He must exist because if he doesn’t that means there’s a space full of nothing where Santa should be,and as nothing doesn’t exist,there must be a Santa Claus.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    YOYO,In French, they say: “Il n’y a pire sourd que celui qui ne veut entendre”.But, meanwhile, I am waiting for CHIP’s response.

  • Chip

    Mohamed, thanks for the further clarification. It’s definitely an interesting theory. There are some hints to that direction in the portion of essay you posted, but I found your last post a far more interesting and understandable read. I’m glad to know that what you posted was only scratching the surface of what you intend to cover.You’re operating under a false assumption, however, which is that atheism, in its most common form, is an absolute argument that god does not exist. It’s a stereotype that paints all atheists as holding the most extreme position, which is one that isn’t logically supportable. In my experience, the vast majority of atheists simply don’t believe because there isn’t sufficient reason provided by the evidence to do so. Part of the confusion is caused by the rise in popularity of asserting that agnosticism is a different position than atheism, since it sounds more palatable to believers and atheism carries such a stigma. It can be a completely separate position, but most atheists are also agnostics. I leave open the possibility that a god, or something like it, might exist. I find the possibility simply too remote to claim to have no opinion on the matter. My opinion is that there isn’t such a thing. That doesn’t mean I assert to know that my position is correct. It’s simply an assertion that I think it likely and see no reason to pretend it’s equally likely that it’s incorrect. Now if you want to get all metaphysical by asking “what is god?” and play somewhat fast and loose with semantics so that whatever ultimately caused creation could be labeled god, that to me is just an exercise in rationalizing an existing irrational assertion (god) and taking a leap that isn’t currently justified by what we know. I wondered if that was what you were getting at with the Dawkins quote.I think most atheists are like me… people who are perfectly comfortable with “I don’t know” because it’s really the only reasonable answer, and feel no compulsion to create a god of the gaps or pander to those who do. I’ve always felt that people who claim to be agnostic as if it were mutually exclusive from atheism are pandering. To say that we should be just as open minded about the possibility of god as we are about there being zero evidence to suggest one isn’t a logically sound position. If it were, they’d have to claim the same thing about anything that meets that same standard of evidence. So if I claim that there are tango dancing invisible zebras living in my nostrils, they’d have to justify why they’re not agnostic about that claim. You can see how fast that position can get unbearably silly.As for my previous post where I called those ancient parables simplistic and the argument you quoted as laughable, I meant that, though I could have worded it more gently. I do see now more of where you were coming from, but if you feel we need imperfect parables that dolts can understand in order for them to remain ethical, I’d say you’re far more cynical about humanity than I am.

  • Janet

    I appreciate the humor of this article, and unfortunately what you say is all too true.I second a Harris/Hitchens ticket; it would make the campaign less serious, and hopefully poke holes in all the pious candidates.

  • Janet

    Dennis Kuchinich’s wife represents a fresh, if a bit naive, voice in this whole conversation. She has a degree in religion, and talks about what the religions have ultimately in common, and seems to be seeking a way to bring people of different faiths or no faith together. You can watch her here or google her name:

  • E Favorite

    Numi: “I can say, with certainty, that atheists/freethinkers/agnostics aren’t ‘joiners’. There is a strong anti-authoritarian streak in all of us.”What, have you done a poll? You can say that with certainty about all the atheists you know, but you don’t know all the atheists out there. Some of us are joiners, and some of us need the support of others to come out.CHIP – I admire your natural ability to be up front about your lack of belief. It’s not so natural for some people. And while the idea in this essay is silly, there are sensible ways we can help each other come out and maybe people like you can help them along.

  • numi

    efavorite:Gee, You’re soooo right. I haven’t polled every atheist in the universe. On the other hand, If atheists were joiners the article wouldn’t have been writen in the first place and membeship in atheist orgs wouldn’t be so pitifully small.Split your hais elsewhere chump.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CHIP.Thanks so very much for your post. It is very helpful.Your fourth paragraph is where the crux of the matter lies. The Heisenberg (you said Dawkins? But, for the time being, let’s leave it at that. Two final points. First, no I am not cynical about humanity nor idealistic/naive: I am realistic/pragmatic. Second, Stevec has a few excellent poinys to make, and I am sure that he has read Steven J. Brams, whose two books I would recommend: (1) Superior Beings: If They Exist, How Would We Know? (note that he does not talk of God, but beings with a higher intelligence than us who would have to design a language to communicate with us or us with them, a very practical endeavour that Carl Sagan started to address in the 1970’s in the Journal of Mathematical Logic, if I recall well); and (2)Paradoxes in Politics, which addresses the question of how atheists can accede to power while also fulfilling a goal that they would cherish — optimizing collective choice somehow defined as an aggregate of individual choice.Thanks again. Oh! I have not yet checked the link provided by Stevec.

  • Mike Ham

    I applaud your concept, but your list of possible candidates should only include those who respect our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Michael Bloomberg does not and in his efforts to “get things done” he lies, distorts, bullies, makes threats and or simply pays money to get his way. Our rights and freedoms are already being trampled by the current administration. Mike Bloomberg is a very smart person, as most self made billionaires are, but he has, in my opinion, very little personal integrity.

  • SimonSaid

    Non-believers — find each other.

  • Anonymous

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who put the country before God?

  • Bangalee Babu

    And I guess the WP paid this writer a hefty sum for writing this piece of garbage.Let me repeat that, a piece of garbage!And he’s a professor at a leading school in the USA.I pity his students and the school.Pathetic!

  • Nemo

    I would nominate former NFL star Patrick Tillman, but, unfortunately, he was killed in our latest religious war.

  • RogerGoldleader

    How interesting that those who deny there is any god at all are still stuck with using religious terminology to describe themselves (e.g., atheist, irreligionist, non-theist, etc.). But of course we should elect such people, because they are omniscient! If they know with absolute certainty there is no god, and can prove it, why then they know everything and they are of course the best people to run the government.Or is their position that there is no god simply a belief, and they have faith that their belief is true?

  • BA Bob

    Would not “voting for one of our own” be just like what we non-believers criticize in the actions of groups like the Moral Majority and evangelicals who try to interject their own faith into codified government? Why should a candidate’s belief or non-belief in supernatural things be our sole basis for supporting them? I for one want good government and policy. If I can get them from an atheist or get them from a church-goer doesn’t matter to me. Only when the politician puts their personal faith into political action does it bother me. Not every religious politician does this, so why dismiss them as unworthy?Anyway, this article, with its list of suggested candidates, was silly.

  • Gregory St.James Mundy

    Let us remember why our fathers of this great country stated SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. I am a strong believer that one should not vote for a statesman due to his religion but for what he can do for the people of the state. Who cares if he is Jewish,Christian,Muslim or Atheist. If he cares about the well being of man, health care, education, peace over war, why should his religious belief matters. The reason the country is in such a mess now is due to the religious right who was tricked.

  • Issa Gallego

    AS a person raised in a Gaelic and Spanish family. The name Gallego is both. The rigourous indoctrination became painful to live with. I fired the Catholic Church. It was a strange feeling but did it to survive.It was a loss of leaving the familiarity of a family. BUT discovered my own spiritality which it did not include a god or religious ideology. It took a while to do but discovered wonderful sense of peace. The big weight of guilt and shame and planned prejudice was off my back.I pose this question… knowing that we all die. There is no heaven or god. How would you structure your life?The moment I shed the crap of the religion I began living every minute and to the best of my ability and as if the next Second of time was my last.The day I dumped my xian theism was the day I began to Live and Human and and Valuing my life.Issa.

  • Former Christian

    Jacques wrote a very thought-provoking article and one in which I agree with. Right now, I still attend church regularly, play guitar in the contemporary choir and give substantial money to the church.Why? Well, the church provides a very convenient means of giving back to the community. They have already set up the infrastructure to support local food banks, homeless shelters and raise a lot of money toward other worthy causes that I support. They even support Habitat for Humanity — where my middle son and I volunteer once a month.When talking with fellow church goers — and since I’m in the belt buckle of the bible belt that represents most of the people in my town — I am pretty open about my non-belief.But, and here’s the point I think Jacques was making; there aren’t organizations of non-believers that are structured to support the community like churches are. There are probably many reasons for this, but the bottom line is that if you believe that you were lucky enough to be born in this country and this environment, where you can be both free and successful, then you might want to extend a helping hand to other people. Churches provide an easy way to do that.So this longer than necessary post is trying to say that I would find an organization composed of nonbelievers or better yet, “people of reason”, those that want evidence to back up their beliefs, as a good thing. Certainly it will help by giving voice to the few of us who are out in the wilderness of reason surrounded by myth. I would think Sam Harris would make a great candidate — he’s reasonable, thoughtful and an excellent communicator.

  • RingoRango

    Roger, I don’t believe in the tooth fairy. But since I cannot prove there is no such thing, should I then believe in her? Should I treat adults who believe in her as credible?Calling atheism a religion is like saying not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  • James Sherry

    Like so many commentators who really have nothing constructive or thoughtful to say, Berlinerblau resorts to ridicule in his treatment of atheists. I can understand his dilemma: how does one say anything constructive about a negative? Atheism = godlessness, by definition. Many of us who believe that the lives of human beings are, subject to all the societal, biological, familial, and randomly occurring influences of our world, shaped and determined by our own behavior, consider that supernatural beings, malevolent or benevolent, are not relevant. Many of us accept the notion that some force of some kind created our universe; we simply don’t subscribe to the illogical jump from creator to Creator. I don’t see that as a negative. It takes an extremely positive outlook to live life according to the Golden Rule without believing in a Great Supervisor who’s going to punish those who don’t.So take your ridicule and focus it on those who use their belief in God to belittle and murder those who don’t believe as they do, Mr. Commentator. As an alternative, you might want to try to find some way of expressing yourself in a manner that indicates some thoughtfulness on your part.

  • liz

    The reality is that we already have enough godless politicians. Those who are godly in name only, self profess relgious types, but in reality are anything but.

  • Mike T

    A party of non-believers would just be another institution I would lack faith in.

  • Richard

    I have no interest in the religion of a president – only his competence – I would love James Dobson to be president if he was good at it. Here’s the thing about this athiest – I’m actually not very interested in religion, in fact, I’m profoundly bored by it. As far as I am concerned the differences between a Toyota Corolla and a Nissan Micra are more interesting and important than the difference between christianity, athiesm, judaism, islam, etc. etc. It is an amazingly liberating experience to be free of religion and all the “profound dilemmas” it generates – you should try it Jacques…

  • Sophie McGlumphy

    I’m all for it. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the idiots in this country buy into the god thing because they are too stupid to be able to accept the fact that our existence is due to a series of random events. They need a way to explain the unexplainable.

  • Dave

    I agree, Mr. Blau, why won’t those pesky infidels just become viciously tribal so we can all draw lines in the sand and destroy each other?

  • Steve P.

    ANOTHER atheist with the headlining lead editorial in the “On Faith” section? Didn’t I just read similar claptrap recently or do my senses fail me? Why, if I didn’t know any better, I would say that a liberal secularist rag like our beloved Washinton Post is pushing an agenda. What? No. It can’t be. Such a reputable news source wouldn’t do that. Would they?

  • Steve P.

    ANOTHER atheist with the headlining lead editorial in the “On Faith” section? Didn’t I just read similar claptrap recently or do my senses fail me? Why, if I didn’t know any better, I would say that a liberal secularist rag like our beloved Washinton Post is pushing an agenda. What? No. It can’t be. Such a reputable news source wouldn’t do that. Would they?

  • Freestinker

    Steve P.,The WaPo is certainly pushing an agenda … to increase readership with controversy. And you took the bait!

  • Robert

    This may possibly be the biggest waste of anyones time to read in literary history. thanks

  • Looken

    Absolutely not posts here. Figures.

  • Freestinker

    Sophie,Our existence is explained by the theory of evolution. And according to explanation our existence is not based merely on a series of random events. While chance is certainly an important component, evolution is much more elegant than mere chance.

  • Freestinker

    Sophie,Our existence is explained by the theory of evolution. And according to this explanation, our existence is not based merely on a series of random events. While chance is certainly an important component, human evolution is much more elegant than mere chance.

  • Freestinker

    Liz writes:”The reality is that we already have enough godless politicians. Those who are godly in name only, self profess relgious types, but in reality are anything but.”True, so wouldn’t you have more respect for a polititian that admits his/her godlessness from the outset?

  • David F

    There are a couple of issues an athiest candidate would have to address:I could go on, but we’ll call this a good start.Regards,David F

  • Nerd

    Organized religion is really just an extension of culture and we all know how people try desperately to retain their own culture. Religious people becomes problematic, when they compete with each other as to which relgion is superior, or which relgion is the “right” religion. The thing is, people of common background cling together. It’s a tribal thing. Atheist groups are also tribal. So, i don’t support the philosophy that a “getting together” of atheists solves the fundamental problems of religion or politics. Tribalism, though advantageous in early human populations, is now the afront to rational, secular discourse. Overcome our tribal nature, or at least keep it in the confines tosports arenas, should be the primary goal of society. Elect a humanist, one who understands human nature for what it is. I say elect a scientist, a pragmatist, someone who uses empirical evidence to draw conclusions. If God exists or not, only through science will we ultimately find out.

  • Phil

    I’m not sure I understand the point of this. There are no religions (that I know of) who are putting up a political canidate for their followers to vote for. Sure, we know that Clinton is Methodist, Obama is a member of the UCC, Guiliani is Catholic and Romney is Mormon, but surely I’m not expected to vote for Guiliani just because he and I happen to share the same religion. In fact, plenty of Catholics question Guiliani’s Catholic credentials, given that he is remarried and supports abortion rights. Plenty of Catholics questioned Kerry for the same reasons.Sure, atheists are underrepresented in U.S. politics. That is the nature of the first past the post system, but it is also based on the fact that there are billions of other things to vote for besides beliefs. Shouldn’t people who believe in separation of church and state consider what a potential candidate will do for his/her country, and not whether or not he/she shares the same religious beliefs?

  • Marilyn LaCourt

    Bill Mahr gets my vote.

  • 1

    Why would a person who has freed their self from the unchosen obligation of religion, turn around and bind their self into the unchosen obligation of the state?We are born into a family we don’t choose, a religion we don’t choose, a nation we don’t choose, a set of teachers whom we don’t choose. Once free of the religion we didn’t choose, let’s try the family next.And if you can’t change the members of your family, with whom you actually have influence, who may be financially dependent on you, who may have other dependencies on you, why would you think you could change the state?

  • Sherm Gallay

    How rediculous. Most of our presidents, including the current one are athiests. They all utter the pro forma “I beleive in god” babble but their is nothing in their public performance that reveals any driving force but their own ego and their own rectitude.During the cold war, a prime test of presidencial capacity was the willingness, if all diplomacy failed, to engage in total nuclear war with the Soviet Union, i.e. destroy the world as we know it. Any candidate that hinted in the most obscure way that he might not pull the armageddon trigger would be laughed off the ballot, just like a professed athiest would. Jimmy Carter was probably the most professed of the group, but he never indicated he might not pull the trigger.Maybe it would be helpful to us athiests if a true believer scholar would explain how George Bush’s professed faith influences his actions. Is “shock and awe” imbedded in his religious beliefs? Or is his devotion to the welfare of the rich and powerful something he believes Jesus would approve of?We’ve had enough of these closet athiests. It might take a professed athiest to lead us to the kingdom of love and caring that Jesus had in mind.Sherm

  • Paul Edgerton

    Quality of a presidential candidate should be

  • Pastor Ted

    We already have a non-believer in the White House. His actions alone prove that Bush is not a Christian, he just plays one on TV.

  • John J. Rood

    So anyone who is not “concerned (or embarrassed)” by the fact that most (?) atheists are white males is not “conscientious”, right? There couldn’t possibly be a cultural explanation for this fact could there? Particularly given that we are talking about an age old set of beliefs for which it might require (unconscious, cultural) preparation to arrive at the truth. And those “Big Science Secularists”? Any chance some of them might not be creepy? Or any of them who might not be cocksure of their ideas? I thought scientific rationalists were supposed to be smart people. In today’s world we don’t have to respect the rational search for truth, right? On the other hand, it is an interesting question whether modern software actually depends on the insights of men like (deceased) German mathematician David Hilbert.

  • LuneKeltkar

    WTF?I tried to read this article, and I *did* process the words, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what argument this guy advances. He needs to go back to freshman comp and learn the basics of communication. Assuming, of course, that communication is his aim.Lune

  • Ricardo

    I actually resist being labeled an “atheist”….is there a word for people who don’t believe in Peter Pan…Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy??….point made

  • In God We Rust

    Yeah, right. When Hell freezes over.

  • Chip

    Mohamed, I meant the quote from Dawkins about Sagan (The link you posted returns a page not found error). You’re obviously much better read than I am. I’ve read very little philosophy or non-fiction. I’m mostly a science fiction addict. I am familiar with a lot of philosophical and scientific theory, but my knowledge is general and not especially deep. My opinions are my own and the result of my own ponderings. I’m glad that I engaged you in conversation because you seem far more open minded and interesting than your opener of “atheists grow up!” suggested. Thank you for an enjoyable exchange.E Favorite, I suspect the reason I’m so comfortable about my atheism and being open about it is that I arrived at it very early in life. I also have a personality that’s always made me feel like an outsider to begin with so I’ve never been particularly concerned with fitting in. Most people are either indifferent or find it interesting. The times people have reacted really negatively to it have been very few, even among religious people. It’s always amusing when you tell someone and they act surprised that you haven’t tried to eat their children. One of the most interesting and respectful discussions I’ve ever had about my atheism was with my parent’s Methodist minister. She didn’t try to change my mind in any way. She was just interested in how I saw things. The more experiences like that you have, the easier it gets to be open and honest. Just be who you are and don’t let anyone make you feel that you have to do it in secret so as not to offend anyone. They’re the people who most need to be offended. If they can’t accept you for who you are and what you think, why should you care what they think?Ringorango, re “Calling atheism a religion is like saying not collecting stamps is a hobby.”What a great line!

  • Anonymous

    One person caught on – the term godless means that you don’t possess God – which already assumes God exists – however, god free – which means free from God also assumes God exists – the best you can do is say you don’t believe in God because all our language tends to assume that God exists – then again you can always deny that you exist – or that other people exist because that can’t absolutely been demonstrated without both sides making a small act of faith – alas if you accept that others exist – on what basis do not make that acceptance – sense perception – and then you are subject to all sorts of religious arguments – its truly a quandry.

  • mike f

    I’d like to suggest that we reframe the issue by getting away from the question of who believes in which or what kind of god. Let’s say that we believe in democracy. Democracy has been around as long as most religions, has a nice non-violent humanist kind of value to it, and is the most hopeful thing I can think of for the human race.A candidate who proclaims that democracy, human rights, and constitutional government are more central to his or her values than religious dogma is going to get my vote and probably even my respect.

  • CapSponge

    The important thought behind this piece is not about specifically bringing nonbelief into the political debate, but rather about contrasting the role religious belief currently plays. I agree that the resulting discussion will play out well as it turns attention to the disproportionate influence religion plays in what should be a rational exercise in candidate selection. Rejecting the assertion that religion somehow makes one a “better person” (prison statistics to not uphold support such a hypothesis), would it not be helpful to focus attention on an irrational electoral behavior that rewards candidates for illustrating aspects of their lives that have little relevance to the position, assuming the illustration is even honest to begin with?

  • Anonymous

    Joe Stalin was an atheist – he was quite proud of it – how many atheists are proud to count themselves with Joe?

  • jim falzarano

    I may live long enough to see a woman president. Or a black president. Or a gay president. Or a black gay president. Or a black lesbian president. Or even a single president. But there is one thing I will never see: an atheist president.

  • CapSponge

    Yes, and Hitler was a Christion. By the way, Stalin was all set to go off to seminary prior to joining the revolution. Your assertion has not meaning.

  • Mandragola

    Hey,

  • John Locke

    How about the Treaty of Tripoli Trinity Party?

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-life (it’s a civil rights issue), pro-traditional marriage (it’s a civilizational thing); pro war on terror including Iraq. I’m also an atheist. I’d probably vote for a candidate that Dr. Dobson supported. We are definitely a diverse lot! (BTW, Hitchens’ antiterror message would probably do well in the Red States.)

  • Chip

    Mohamed, I think you’re really enjoy this interview with Richard Dawkins. It’s very much in the spirit of your thinking:

  • Serhat Ozbay

    I’m an atheist and I wouldn’t vote for any of those candidates whose names were mentioned in the article. Why? Because politics is all about political competency as opposed to what is in an evangelical’s head.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CHIP.I also enjoyed very much exchanging thoughts with you. You are certainly a very decent person.The edge you have over those who try to make you feel embarrassed for being atheist is that you are honest to yourself, but then REALLY honest. And, at 60, I can assure you that there are not too many people in the world like you, because to be honest to oneself, one must be braver than others who are ready to face their most cynical enemy.Enjoy life, be very very proud of yourself. If I may make a wish it is that, besides all the best that I wish for you in life, allow me to wish you to one day become a ‘believer/agnostic/atheist’-cum-spiritual person in every way as admirable as Carl Sagan is.As soon as I finish typing this, I shall read the Dawkins paper you provide in your link. In case you are still interested in the Heidegger paper, just go to edge.org and follow the trail from there (IF you are still interested, of course).So long, and, again, all the very best in life.

  • M. Stratas

    A president who does not wear his/her religion like a banner would be a welcome change. Bush simply ruined whatever American principles we used to hold dear. Using Jesus and God as a political shield is obnoxious and blasphemous, and yet, the America electorate allowed itself to be blinded by the Evengelicals. I hope the next US president will be an enlightened human being, steeped in democratic ideals, well-read, well-reasoned and no braggadoccio.

  • Brian White

    Why would non-theists ever form a cohesive political group? Political groups exist to promote political ideas, not religious or philosophical ideas. Non-theists are exactly as viable a political group as fans of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer are. I have strong political opinions that are likely not shared by most atheists – meaning to advance them I must be in the political party pushing those ideas, not in the Atheist Party, or the Buffy Fanclub Party, or the Computer Programmer Party, or the People Who Love Dogs Party, or any other nonsensical party composed of people with a common interest/belief but not common political ideals.

  • Paul S. Boudreau

    I think that this idea, though novel, is inherently flawed. One of the key groups that you have identified here is the militant secularists who believe that belief should play no part in our political process. If, as a secularist, I am unwilling to allow a believer’s faith to influence my vote (and in fact am willing to fight for the fact that it should not influence my vote) then why should a candidate’s lack of belief hold any more water as a political differentiator? As non-believers and agnostics (a crucial part of the non-alligned community which has been largely ignored in this article) is it in our best interests to essentially create a new, anti-religious form of evangelicism to represent our views? Should we codify them into some sort of un-holy book, to be followed as a manual to how to live a faith free life. I believe that, as non-believers, we have made what amounts to something of an informed choice to either turn away from, or question, organized religion’s traditional organizational hold on the individual, and its paramount place in both past society and politics today. If we are to fight for a more secular world we will need to allow other to come to their own, individual conclusions about faith and respect their decisions, much as we expect them to do the same for ours. The world will not change in a day, and starting our own religion (even if it is a cult of non-believers) will not speed it up any.Cheers,PSB

  • Jane

    RingoRango wrote: I follow the logic of your argument, but something still nags at me as a follower of Jesus(who would vote for an atheist as long as s/he supported issues I support, including leaving Roe v. Wade alone and support for the rights of gays and lesbians to be joined in civil union). On many atheist message boards I visit, I find atheists to be much more civil in their dialogue with one another…much more so than my brothers and sisters in Christ. However, I think this comment (particularly the last question) reflects that atheism is in danger of becoming a narrow-minded and judgmental belief system, where those on “the inside” are correct and those on “the outside” are worthy of nothing but disrespect or outright contempt. I’m guessing no atheists would not want to become that which he/she condemns.

  • Buddhabreath

    Thank you Jaques. You make many good points, but let me take issue with one aspect: I certainly DO equate fundamentalist evangelical Christians with the Taliban. This does not make me part of the “lunatic fringe”. On the contrary it indicates that I am well-educated, well-read and have the ability to do the analysis and synthesis using the available information. Both of these groups are extreme in their positions, are in favor of theocratic states and view non-believers as apostate or infidels who will burn in hell. Under this irrational belief, it is easy to justify inhumanity towards non-believers as we have seen so many times in history. You could not be more mistaken Jaques: please, let’s call a spade a spade and have the courage of our convictions. The religious extremists in our own country have proved a far bigger threat to our constitution and bill of rights than Al Qaeda could ever be.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous:One person caught on – the term fairyless means that you don’t possess fairies- which already assumes fairies exist – however, fairy free – which means free from fairies also assumes fairies exists – the best you can do is say you don’t believe in faities because all our language tends to assume that fairies exist – then again you can always deny that you exist – or that other people exist because that can’t absolutely been demonstrated without both sides making a small act of faith – alas if you accept that others exist – on what basis do not make that acceptance – sense perception – and then you are subject to all sorts of religious arguments – its truly a quandry.

  • Non-Believer Number 3 Billion

    This article is nothing more than a sarcastic attempt to belittle non-believers. Jacques misses the whole point of non-belief, which is that we prefer to be left alone. Non-believers would no more join an atheist party than a church, unlike the believers, who flock together like frightened birds. Jacques Berlinerblau is a jerk. It is people like him who make religion such a poisonous ideology.

  • Brian White

    JANE wrote:The fact of the matter is that everyone believes that they are right. If I didn’t believe atheism was right and every other explanation was wrong, I wouldn’t be an atheist. If you didn’t believe in Christ and believe every other explanation was wrong, you wouldn’t be a Christian.Civil conversations are a must for discussion of touchy subjects like religion. At the same time, you shouldn’t be afraid to state what your beliefs are, and to state them as true. I’ve seen, and been guilty of myself, the contempt towards believers that you describe. I avoid it now as it’s entirely unproductive. Something that you as a Christian are probably unaware of is the amount of scorn heaped on atheists by – in this country – Christians on a constant basis. I can’t even count the number of times in conversations with Christians I’ve been told that since I don’t believe in God I must therefore have no morals. It’s unproductive on both sides of course, but it is definitely not an atheist only issue.

  • john

    I think Mr. Berlinerblau’s list leaves a lot to be desired. Atheist’s are not a bunch of rabid kooks. I would venture to say that most of us are indistinguishable from our fellow citizens, except that we spend our Sunday mornings more productively.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Paul S. Boudreau wrote:This is the classical position of atheists. However, the “new atheism” of Dawkins and Harris is doing exactly what you say we don’t need to do: promoting an evangelical approach to atheism. And why not? Dawkins came up with the concept of memes, the idea that ideas spread based not on whether they’re good ideas or bad ideas, but based simply on whether they spread well. The evangelical nature of fundamentalist Christianity is a huge factor in the growth of that ideology. The traditional lack of evangelism in atheism is a large factor in it not growing. So he’s trying to change that. Or, maybe he’s just tired of putting up with the BS, I don’t know :)By the way… how many atheists out there would join an atheist church? It might be neat to go and hear ‘sermons’ on new science, philosophical ideas, ethical discussions of new medical technology, etc. and have a place to meet and interact with other atheists besides the computer.

  • Brian White

    James Sherry said:Not really. It requires only enlightened self-interest, or a basic understanding of games theory.

  • Larry Hayes

    Thanks for your interesting take on the range of nonbelievers. As an agnostic, I have no hope whatsoever for making this a secular society. I prefer to work with liberal theists to affect grassroots reform. Even with such politically acceptable allies, such reform for peace and justice remains a slow, even daunting challenge. To separate myself from these folk and to ally myself with other nonbelievers seems a futile way to champion social change.

  • Larry Hayes

    Thanks for your interesting take on the range of nonbelievers. As an agnostic, I have no hope whatsoever for making this a secular society. I prefer to work with liberal theists to affect grassroots reform. Even with such politically acceptable allies, such reform for peace and justice remains a slow, even daunting challenge. To separate myself from these folk and to ally myself with other nonbelievers seems a futile way to champion social change.

  • Mr Mark

    Jane writes:”However, I think this comment (particularly the last question) reflects that atheism is in danger of becoming a narrow-minded and judgmental belief system, where those on “the inside” are correct and those on “the outside” are worthy of nothing but disrespect or outright contempt.”Jane, I have nothing but respect for YOU and any other believer. You are entitled to your beliefs.What I hold in contempt are the Bronze-Age beliefs that you believe. Respect for your right to believe what you wish doesn’t mean I have to respect the things you believe. In other words, I don’t need to believe that there is a shred of truth to what you believe to respect your right to believe it. You can respect a child’s right to believe in Santa without believing in Santa yourself, and – if asked by the child – you’re under no obligation to say that you also believe in Santa.So it goes with religion and other unproven/unprovable fantasies.

  • Fred

    There is some idiot around who suggests: “Stalin was an atheist, so atheists are like Stalin”.How dumb can you get? No limits downward:The sky is blue. My shirt is blue. Therefore my shirt is the sky.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CAREY,How criminal of you!This is the Brights’ website.the-brights@the-brights.netI‘ll lodge a complaint with the ICC against you! For mass-murdering the pure souls of Brights.

  • Clay

    Provocative post. The comments from both the faith based and evidence based communities prove that this idea has some merit. First though, I think we must be refuse to use the word athiest. This is a label created and defined by the faithful and it brings with it thousands of years worth of baggage. The distinction needs to be made between those who believe in things un-proved and un-provable and those who believe in evidence.That said, the right candidate who drew his or her values from and made decisions based on reality rather than the supernatural could open the eyes of those who never questioned propositions like “god is the source of morality”. This could show the faithful that those who require evidence before belief are not evil Satanists, quite the opposite.

  • Bill G. Aldridge

    Berlinerblau makes the same fundamental error as others writing about people like me. The error is in the label, “non-believer.” It is not that we believe or do not believe. It is that we understand the underlying forces of nature to which religious people attribute more understandable symbols: deities. Of course we believe, and we believe strongly, in the forces of nature that determine what happens in the world and in the universe, and certainly in how people and groups behave, even though many of these powerful forces are not yet well understood. But to assign deities to forces of nature, and then beg help from them is silly, primitive nonsense. So cut out the piety and arrogance of a majority of profoundly ignorant people. You sound like you are leading the group during centuries past, where the vast majority laughed at and ridiculed those who thought the earth was not flat. The majority has never been right about anything! Every change for the better; every idea, invention, creations, etc., has come from the minority—usually the minority of one.

  • Chip

    Clay rights, “I think we must be refuse to use the word athiest. This is a label created and defined by the faithful and it brings with it thousands of years worth of baggage.”I couldn’t disagree more. It’s a perfectly fine word that describes who we are – people who are not theists. We shouldn’t have to keep coming up with new words just because old ones inspire bigotry. That’s what I find so incredibly annoying about the “brights.” It’s simply cowardice to try to obfuscate who we are under clever new labels. Now if people were suggesting we call ourselves heathens or heretics then you’d have a point. We’re atheists. Deal with it.

  • Jane

    Quick response to Brian White and Mr Mark: Thanks for your replies and for interacting on this subject.I should have been more clear: RingoRango’s comment that I found most troublesome was “Should I treat adults who believe in [the tooth fairy] as credible?” In the context of his post, I interpreted his rhetorical question to mean, by extension, “Should I treat adults who believe in God (or people who are followers of other religions) as credible?” To me, the issue here points to how we treat each other. My intent was not to suggest that we all agree, or that we shouldn’t state our opinions with deep conviction. I absolutely believe we should, and Mr Mark, I appreciate your post stating this idea. But I was troubled by the feeling that I was being written off as an adult human being on the basis of my beliefs (“should I treat adults who believe in something which I do not believe in as credible?”), which is precisely how my atheist friends are frequently made to feel by many Christians. Bill, I deeply regret that you have been made the subject of scorn and simplistic assumptions by Christians. I do my best to have productive discussion about belief with anyone I encounter in ways that affirm their supreme worth as persons, and it saddens me that, as you mention, many people experience otherwise. I am hopeful (and yes, prayerful) that we can someday soon see a day when the world learns how to disagree agreeably, and to walk away from conversations with respect for the other person. That said, I’m also waiting to get flamed by a brother or sister in Christ who thinks it’s impossible for me to be a pro-choice, pro-civil union Christian. 😉 Sigh.

  • bill downey

    Since it is improbable that a religious nonbeliever would be elected president of the the US, how about a recently dead nonbeliver such as Kurt Vonnegut as an honorary president? I think we can safely say that he read a book or two in his lifetime. Also, he was a veteran. He’d get my vote.

  • Chip

    Er, that should have said “Clay writes…” Sheesh. Time for coffee.

  • Robert B.

    As a theist, I can say without equivocation that I could support an avowed atheist for president, if I believed that his policies were right for the country. However, I would have serious concerns about voting for an anti-theist for president…

  • Robert B.

    As a theist, I can say without equivocation that I could support an avowed atheist for president, if I believed that his policies were right for the country. However, I would have serious concerns about voting for an anti-theist for president…

  • E Favorite

    Chip – thanks for the good words on being an “out” atheist. As a recent atheist, it involves me telling people of the switch. I really don’t mind it, but also don’t like steering the whole conversation to “what happened?”I realize it could be a very useful conversation for all – just one I don’t always choose to have

  • ugo bertocci

    Mr. Berlinerblau’s proposal of setting up an anti-Hezbollah (I don’t know Arabic, but I have been told that Hezbollah means “party of God”) has all the charm of a preliminary step for ethnic-cleansing us. Perhaps inspired by the recent Iraq strategy of arming the Sunnites, he thinks that we atheists should move (or be driven) to specific neighborhoods in the Washington suburbs, where we could be defended by our militias. I recognize the facetious tone of his proposal, but can he understand that this is the exact opposite of what us secularists, atheists or otherwise, want in American politics? I might secretly like congressman Stark a little more because he does not meditate on the Saddharmapundarika before deciding what is best for Social Security or agricultural subsidies, but I still will judge his decisions on these subjects according to my ideas (call them prejudices, if you like), not on religious grounds. In other words, the idea of forming a political party based on religious beliefs is the exact opposite of what we advocate. There is an ominous side to his attempt to be funny.

  • gary

    what about the anti-christ. that will speed things up for you unbelievers.

  • E Favorite

    Gary: “what about the anti-christ. that will speed things up for you unbelievers.”It sure is time to speed things up. we’ve been waiting ovr 2,000 years for him, according to the Bible – as long as for Christ’s second coming.Maybe if all believing Christians started praying it would help. Then Jesus’s thundering army would come out of the clouds and cast us unbelievers into a burning pit for eternity.

  • gary

    e-favorite. i apologize. i couldn’t wish what i believe is going to happen on anyone. just a spur of the moment smart-aleck remark.

  • gary

    e-favorite. i apologize. i couldn’t wish what i believe is going to happen on anyone. just a spur of the moment smart-aleck remark.

  • Ringo Rango

    Jane, you’re right, my last bit about credibility of believers (or their lack thereof) was harsh. I would modify it by saying that religious people can be as credible, rational, intelligent, etc as anyone on the planet, but for my money, their credibility dissipates when they use their religious beliefs in an argument for decision making that involves other people’s lives (at least outside their own family).For example, if someone wants to argue with me against gay marriage, fine, but as soon as they start using the beliefs of their religion as the reason why laws should be written a particular way, then their argument has lost credibility.

  • tp. mullin

    Thank you so much for a truly fair & balanced piece . As a kind , honest educated Atheist it’s nice to see the truth now and again . sincerly , T.P. Muiilin

  • tp. mullin

    Thank you so much for a truly fair & balanced piece . As a kind , honest , educated Atheist it’s nice to see some truth in print. It’s strange how it’s always onewho is of religion killing another , due to their thought of superiority & correctnes , hmmmmmm ? remember Hitler was of religion , hmmmm again . just so much hipocrisy in this world , shared with greed . sincerly , T.P. Mullin (member of American Atheists)

  • tp. mullin

    Thank you so much for a truly fair & balanced piece . As a kind , honest , educated Atheist it’s nice to see some truth in print. It’s strange how it’s always onewho is of religion killing another , due to their thought of superiority & correctnes , hmmmmmm ? remember Hitler was of religion , hmmmm again . just so much hipocrisy in this world , shared with greed . sincerly , T.P. Mullin (member of American Atheists)

  • tp. mullin

    Thank you so much for a truly fair & balanced piece . As a kind , honest , educated Atheist it’s nice to see some truth in print. It’s strange how it’s always onewho is of religion killing another , due to their thought of superiority & correctnes , hmmmmmm ? remember Hitler was of religion , hmmmm again . just so much hipocrisy in this world , shared with greed . sincerly , T.P. Mullin (member of American Atheists)

  • tp. mullin

    Thank you so much for a truly fair & balanced piece . As a kind , honest , educated Atheist it’s nice to see some truth in print. It’s strange how it’s always onewho is of religion killing another , due to their thought of superiority & correctnes , hmmmmmm ? remember Hitler was of religion , hmmmm again . just so much hipocrisy in this world , shared with greed . sincerly , T.P. Mullin (member of American Atheists)

  • Mammyjam

    Ha! Fabulous! I always find myself discussing, with other athiest friends, how we are all too individualistic to band together for any great “coming out” effort. Although, I think some of the new books are making us braver, if not more communal, too. I love the Paglia comments. She’s one of my faves, along with Dawkins, Umberto Eco, and Chomsky. Don’t laugh. I’m just really jazzed about stuff.

  • Mr Mark

    E Fav writes:”It sure is time to speed things up. we’ve been waiting ovr 2,000 years for him, according to the Bible – as long as for Christ’s second coming.Maybe if all believing Christians started praying it would help. “I don’t think so. After all, Jesus himself said that his second coming would happen before his generation passed away. That meant he should have returned by 100CE at the latest.I think it’s time to give up on Jesus’ return, just as we’ve given up on Houdini sending us a signal from the other side.

  • cody mccall

    It’s not that important to me that the next president be an official ‘atheist’; I don’t care what his or her personal religious beliefs are–as long as I am not continually bludgeoned over the head with them.

  • E Favorite

    Gary – I appreciate your apology. Please consider checking out this link to a PBS program on interpreting the book of revelation

  • Jane

    Ringo Rango wrote: I totally agree with you. Very well said. Thanks for talking–

  • Anonymous

    I read the article again and again but could not find the hiding name of Mr. Jacques Berlinerblau in the list, who might be the best candidate to contest the post for the Presidency to change the world within four years which Bush & Associates could not do in eight years of their rule despite pouring billions and putting 7000 soldiers at altar in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • mnjam

    Not funny. If Atheism is a religion (and it is), then this is just as offensive as snide remarks about Judaism, Christianity or Islam.

  • Richard Aberdeen

    The problem with the whole foolish notion of atheism is, there is no evidence to base such a useless mythology upon. Where is there any evidence that there is no God? Or, where is there any evidence that anything has ever designed itself from the top down?All known evidence and all known human experience indicates that all known reality equals designer and likewise, all known evidence and all known human experience indicates that everything somewhere up the chain, is a product of design. Where is the paper clip, thumb tack or piece of bubble gum that was not designed? And likewise, where is the pyramid of Egypt or the great wall of China, that appeared on it’s own over a long period of historical time, without the input of designers and builders? And likewise, where is the evidence that the universe is not a product of design and, why would anyone propose such a moronic idea? It used to be, that in order for someone to be a voice of “science” and “reason”, one had to have a platform based on evidence. Then along came Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, and turned modern “science” into something even more narrow-minded and baseless than conservative fundamentalism ever hoped to be. Quite obviously, two peas, growing from the same corrupt pod of superstitious stupidity.

  • brian borrett

    consider genesis where it says ” god made man in his own image”, then consider,” man made god in his own image”, if god exists then how did god come to exist, there is only one candidate for the creation of god and that is man, god is one of mans great inventions and came about the same way that apollo venus and odin over the years millions of people go through the same cycle of being taught as children by believers and then passing the same to their children, the myth continues

  • ep thorn

    It’s sort of like trying to unite libretarians… and about as difficult as herding cats. Non-theists are too darned independent.

  • Dan Good

    For those who read these articles, not too many I suspect, remember this: you cannot be a non-believer unless there are believers to believe against. So non-believers are in a luxurious position of being able to destroy what others build which is what the Karl-Rove types are about. It’s a lot easier to be in opposition as the past seven years have shown. What are non-believers fighting against? I think it is this: People “believe” because they need a way to explain the inexplainable (death mainly, but also evil). God is a good way to explain the unexplainable and it has the advantage of providing some comfort. Also, while you cannot “prove” a belief, you cannot disprove it either. Believers are not necessarily motivated by any kind of “intervention” on the part of God. So perhaps the place to start, for non-believers, is to understand what believers are all about. And the same goes for believers. One thing everyone should agree on: keep religion (and non-religion) out of the public sphere of politics. It’s a private matter for those who need it.

  • Richard J. Papp

    Don’t forget the queer vote! There has to be a symbiotic bonding between queers and athiests that is too obvious to overlook.

  • Gerry

    Richard Papp and Richard Aberdeen,Einstein said: “There are only two thing which are infinite. The universe and stupidity. And I am not so sure about the universe.” Did god create a snowflake or a hurricane? Or did they come into existence by explainable natural laws?Is atheism a religion? Of course it is! Every belief is a religion!!!I, personally, am a faithful believer in the Holy Reformed Church of the non-rabbit-breeders. I am also a heretic and apostate, since I left the false religion of the non-pigeon-breeders, whose priests now harass and even threaten to kill me.

  • Mariano Patalinjug

    As an expert on believers and non-believers, you must know that non-believers (atheists if you will) comprise no more than 14% of the US’s total estimated population of 300 million presently.That’s an absolute number of some 42 million non-believers.How could you then challenge non-believers to put up their own candidate for President of these United States some 86 percent of whom are believers?You must think that some if not most non-believers are that stupid.They are definitely not. They know that a non-believer candidate for President has absolutely no chance at all.And that explains why non-believers choose instead to be secularists as far as exercising their right to vote as Americans is concerned.

  • Gerry

    If you want an atheist for President, you need to drop all present Democratic candidates, and most Republicans as well.

  • Greg Weis

    Let’s use the next national election, not to do everything we can to keep militant-theist-Republicans from retaining power. No, “this is not about winning or losing”; this is about gathering information, about “figurting out who the nonbelievers are.”

  • Greg Weis

    Let’s use the next national election, not to do everything we can to keep militant-theist-Republicans from retaining power. No, “this is not about winning or losing”; this is about gathering information, about “figuring out who the nonbelievers are.”

  • swatkins

    Make art, not God!

  • Michael

    This is truly an article on bull crap. The author who claims to be “an unbeliever” probably doesn’t even know the definition of religion. It comes from the Latin root meaning “to connect”.

  • Zack

    I gotta give Ol’ Jacques zero credit for flailing at ghosts. Everybody ‘cept the Blind Zealots knows that atheists, unlike theists, walk alone. They don’t belong to the Unthinking Herd. No, atheists actually came to their beliefs using critical thinking and not some Irrational Dogma promulgated by some whacko who went without water in the desert for too many weeks. Jacques, you are a Bonehead. Just one of many, sadly. But, hey, stop staring at the shadows on the cave wall. Just turn around slowly. See that light behind you? Stand up. Go walk into the light. Sunshine is the best disninfectant.

  • charles t. sherwin

    Who would the “non-believer” turn to in time of crisis…the sun? The Earth? I’ve never met an atheist…what do “they” say when their finger is smashed with a hammer…sundamit? No, these fools just need attention, and “postings” by the media, and we should ignore them.

  • E Favorite

    Richard Aberdeen – I don’t think this comes across very well: “Then along came Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, and turned modern “science” into something even more narrow-minded and baseless than conservative fundamentalism ever hoped to be. Quite obviously, two peas, growing from the same corrupt pod of superstitious stupidity.” If you want to be more convincing, and not sound desperate, I suggest a more sophisticated approach, but I don’t have any specific advice as to what that would be.Charles Sherwin: “I’ve never met an atheist…what do “they” say when their finger is smashed with a hammer…sundamit? No, these fools just need attention, and “postings” by the media, and we should ignore them.” Ditto, plus when a Christian says “Godammit” when they smash their finger, are they calling on the Lord to damn the hammer? Does your religion sanction this use of the Lord’s name?

  • Gerry

    Charles T.you really have finally convinced all of us formerly evil atheists to believe in God! I was always looking for an appropriate breakthrough. Your argument is as smashing as your hammer on your finger!Dear fellow atheists, here we have the final faith-finding technique in case we want to be accepted to eternal life! Smash your finger (a life crisis) and scream “goddammit”!

  • Chip

    Charles Sherwin, “Who would the “non-believer” turn to in time of crisis…the sun? The Earth?”How’s god doing on getting those levees in New Orleans rebuilt? Have the faithful been able to pray them into existence yet? If you contract a disease do you plan to get on bended knee as your only treatment, or will you avail yourself of the skill and ingenuity of a human doctor and the medical sciences? I can’t see that your god has accomplished much of anything since he waved his magic wand for seven days way back when. So, who would an atheist turn to in time of crisis? To themselves, and to other people. Now kindly go pray me up a sandwich. I’m hungry.

  • George

    CTSherwin, Are you ok? In a crisis? Was that a cry for help? Maybe you are just stupid or ignorant or immoral or a combination thereof.FYI – Atheists turn to themselves when in a crisis and also others that are capable of helping – they are a rather self-sufficient group.Why would they turn to the Sun or the Earth? Atheists do not believe in a deity of any kind.FYI – When Atheists smash their fingers with a hammer, they holler out, “F–K the stupid,ignorant,immoral religious nut jobs!”.Who do religious nut jobs call to in a crisis? Seems a lot of prayers, especially those beseeching aid, get about as much attention … well, as the victims of Katrina.

  • E Favorite

    George, you say: “Atheists turn to themselves when in a crisis and also others that are capable of helping….”Right – so do most religious people, I think. They use their common sense and experience, consult their trusted friends and family. They pay experts trained to help with their problems – and of course they pray too.What troubles me is that often, after their difficult situation resolves itself, God gets most or all of the credit.

  • mhr

    In the 1930’s and the decades that followed many Americans were very taken with an atheist political leader whose name was Josef Stalin. Americans admired his atheism and his fervent belief in equality and social justice. They liked what he had done in Russia, killing religious people by the thousand and destroying their churches. Power henceforth would belong to the poeple, the proletariat. But before that time came Stalin and his ilk would govern in the name of the proletariat. Soviet intelligence recruited hundreds of Americans who served Stalin’s interests, including stealing for him the secrets of the US atom bomb. Millions died at Stalin’s hands. No thanks. Religion at least puts some brakes on the monomaniacal totalitarian tendencies of men who are quite capable of becoming Stalin and Mao and Castro and Pol Pot and Hoxha and a host of others. Where there is no God, men will act like one. That is human nature.

  • Mr Mark

    MHR writes:”Religion at least puts some brakes on the monomaniacal totalitarian tendencies of men who are quite capable of becoming Stalin and Mao and Castro and Pol Pot and Hoxha and a host of others.”Let’s not forget the Catholic, Hitler, shall we, or the many religious leaders who have slaughtered in the name of gentle Jesus over the centuries.”Where there is no God, men will act like one. That is human nature.”Well, there is no god, so your point is off the mark. What you mean is, “where there is no BELIEF in god and no FEAR OF eternal torture” men may act less evil. Yes – the invisible babysitter/disciplinarian/eternal torture master can scare SOME people into being less cruel – the sheeple, the unthinking, the intellectually vacuous. But do you really think that belief in the eternal torturer would have made a pubic hair’s worth of difference to the rogues gallery you posted above, especially to any who believed in the Xian god and his “get out of jail card” of repenting and turning to Jesus for forgiveness of any and all sins? C’mon. You don’t give their evil credit! After all, Stalin was seminarian and Hitler was a Catholic who never renounced his faith. If fear of eternal punishment was a deterrent to über-scale evil, then surely such fear would have stopped Stalin & Hitler dead in their tracks.By citing the religiously raised Stalin you defeat your own argument.

  • G.C.

    Pope: Sunday Worship a “Necessity” For AllPope Benedict XVI says your life depends upon worshiping on Sunday. “Sine dominico non possumus!” “Without Sunday [worship] we cannot live!” Pope Benedict xvi declared during a mass on September 9 at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Speaking on the final day of his three-day visit to Austria, the German pope voiced a strong call for Christians to revive Sunday keeping as an all-important religious practice. “Give the soul its Sunday, give Sunday its soul,” he chanted before a rain-soaked crowd of 40,000. Benedict said that Sunday, which he stated has its origin as “the day of the dawning of creation,” was “also the church’s weekly feast of creation.” Warning against the evils of allowing Sunday to become just a part of the weekend, the pope said people needed to have a spiritual focus during the first day of the week, or else leisure time would just become wasted time. Sunday worship, he warned, was not just a “precept” to be casually adhered to, but a “necessity” for all people. In the opening greeting, the archbishop of Vienna said a movement in Austria had been initiated to protect “Sunday from tendencies to empty [it] of its meaning.” In Austria, most businesses are restricted from operating on Sunday. However, some business groups are pressuring the government to be allowed to open, a move Roman Catholic groups vehemently oppose. During Benedict’s trip to Austria, he called for Europe to look to its Christian roots, to trust in God and to defend traditional values. The pope has been very vocal about Europe’s Christian-or Catholic-roots, and is pushing to have them included in the European Constitution. Although laws concerning Sunday worship are currently determined by individual nations, look for the European Union to eventually gain jurisdiction over the work week-which is one big reason the Catholic Church is so intimately involved with the evolution of the EU. For more on the Catholic Church and Europe, read “The Pope Trumpets Sunday” by the Trumpet’s editor in chief. .——————- “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come (the return of Christ), except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exaltheth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4″If protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church.”–Albert Smith, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, replying for the cardinal in a letter of Feb. 10, 1920. Does the Papacy acknowledge changing the seventh-day Sabbath? It does. The Catechismus Romanus was commanded by the Council of Trent and published by the Vatican Press, by order of Pope Pius V, in 1566. This catechism for the priests says: “It pleased the church of God, that the religious celebration of the Sabbath day should be transferred to ‘the Lord’s day.’–Catechism of the Council of Trent (Donovan’s translation, 1867), part 3, chap. 4, p. 345. The same, in slightly different wording is in the McHugh and Callan translation (1937 ed.), p. 402. “Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holydays? “Answer: By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church.”–Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine (1833 approbation), p. 58. (Same statement in Manual of Christian Doctrine, ed. by Daniel Ferris {1916 ed.}, p. 67.) “Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? “Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism (3d ed.), p. 174. “The Catholic Church,…by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”–The Catholic Mirror, official organ of Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893. “Question: Is Saturday the 7th day according to the Bible & the Ten Commandments? Answer: I answer yes. “Question: Is Sunday the first day of the week & did the Church change the 7th day–Saturday–for Sunday, the 1st day: Answer: “I answer yes.” “Question: Did Christ change the day? Answer: I answer no! Faithfully yours, “J. Card. Gibbons”–Gibbons autograph letter.Receiving the mark of the beast or the seal of God in the mind or the hand is not a literal “mark” to be put on our foreheads or our hand but it is our consent to whom we will obey. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey? Romans 6:16Eternal life and eternal death lay before us and a choice each of us will make…our Creator says “choose life.”From this article We get a picture of the goals of the Catholic Church worldwide, and why they are insistent in the U.S. about harboring illegal aliens and promoting the breaking of our nation’s immigration laws. The facts are that most of these illegal aliens come from predominantly Catholic countries. If our elected officials and the Catholic church get their way regarding amnesty for millions of illegal aliens (even if they have to sneak them in in the back of Mexican trucks via NAFTA Superhighway, that have invaded our country with the aiding and abetting of both our government and the Catholic church, the church plans on using the Catholic vote to do the same in our country as what they have proposed for the European nations and that is to have the state enforce their dogma. And the government will get the cheap labor force they want for commerce and globalizaiton…World Government & World Church…it’s taking shape. History is repeating itself and the church wants all the power and control over mankind she once had.Notice what Pope Benedict XVI states: “Your life depends upon worshiping on Sunday.” Picture of things to come? Prophecy states it will.The battle is over who we will worship by whom we choose to believe and obey as we see in the last warning message to mankind in Revelation 14:6-12. Will we as God’s created beings choose to worship the One and Only True Creator God in His Truth or a False System in it’s lies created by a being that fell from his station in heaven because he wanted to be worshipped as God…we are free to choose, one is life, the other death. After everyone has made their choice as to who will receive their worship by who they choose to obey…probation will end, the plagues will fall, and Christ will return. Still doubt it? Read the article again, it’s happening just the way our God and Creator revealed to us it would happen, it is impossible for Him to lie. He cares, that’s why He stayed involved, that’s why He revealed the future to us so that when these things begin to transpire as He said they would you would believe and would accept His plan of salvation and prepare yourself. Believe God, your sin debt is paid, make better choices and follow the instruction for better living He has revealed to us…it is peace and joy and health, pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be in you (we must ask, that gives permission because God and His power will not come in to you if you do not invite), and forgive…forgive others, this is a command from God, it you want Him to forgive you, you must forgive (they are only people too); forgive anything you have against God (He knows ALL things and all things will be revealed in it’s time) and forgive yourselves for whatever. Be clean, because He has made us clean from sin and guilt. And DON’T be fooled….Walk with God in His way…no other way will be recognized by Him. “BUT IN VAIN (futile, to no purpose or to no benefit) DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.” (Matthew 15:9)

  • Mr Mark

    As if one needed more proof that the Pope was an idiot.

  • Mr Mark

    Sorry about that last post. It should have read:”As if one needed more proof that the Pope is a dangerous idiot.”

  • yoyo

    Like someone said on another thread,a PHD in theology is like a PHD in astrology,or palmistry.overcomes intelligence and education.

  • E Favorite

    Pope Benedict: “Sunday worship, he warned, was not just a “precept” to be casually adhered to, but a “necessity” for all people.”E Favorite: “Sunday worship is not just the last way for priests to regularly influence the faithful, but a “necessity” for the church to stay in business.”

  • yoyo

    MichaelLatin “religio” originally meant “obligation,bond”.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear E Fav -As an atheist, I must admit that I would hate to see the religious giving up their Sunday morning worship. I do my heavy shopping at the grocery store, Target etc. on Sunday mornings because the lines at the cashier are practically nonexistent. The thought of my “bahn frei” being littered with the bodies of the believers stocking up on Budweiser or some other swill for their Sunday football viewing (football is America’s true religion) is quite depressing. 🙂

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    YOYO,Stop insulting other people when it is patently obvious that it is YOU the idiot.Of course you cannot relate to people, at least not to people with an IQ higher than 70.Remember your advising Chip not to correspond — or ‘connect’ [religare] with me? Find out from him if, perchance, the excahnge might have been rewarding.

  • God

    Yawn, neither, funny nor insightful nor thought provoking. This country will only be headed in the right direction if atheists take the reigns of power from the religiously deluded. George W. Bush leads our country at the ‘behest” of God. If true, time to impeach God and George W. Yes atheists are perplexed that an overwhelming majority of the country believes in imaginary friends ala Gods. Do the bigoted and small-minded citizens of the US keep atheists in the closet, yes they do. Do atheists commit all sorts of depraved and sinful acts, sadly no. We simply do good acts not for fear of eternal damnation but get this, for the good of humanity. If you want to spend you life adulating some fictitious entity, fine but spare the arrogance that you and your various God(s) imbue you with some sanctimonious higher plane of morality. There is but one truth, this is the life that we have, make the best of it for you and those who follow.

  • Gerry

    Personally I think there are many more people who actually have a scientific or natural world view than the statistics suggest. I have talked to a lot of church-goers of different denominations, who, at best, follow “Pascal’s wager” (meaning “since you never know, you take the mathematically better chance for the possibility of eternal heaven or hell”), and, when really asked downright if they believe the bible stories, actually answer “no”.The difficult and maybe unanswerable question of the origin of the universe, and the question of a biblical God, based on the innate human urge for superstition (unknown effect must have a supernatural explanation) are two completely different subjects, which religions unfortunately have stirred together into a single soup. One can easily be an honest agnostic, even a person who believes in some “purpose” or “direction” in evolution, and at the same time consider the bible stories as utmost rubbish.Honest atheists should pursue this line – shed their fear and come out of the closet! People are afraid of all the other people who are afraid! Let’s face it: The emperor IS naked!

  • Chip

    Mohamed, I’m not the referee. I think Gerry makes excellent points. My experience is the same as his. My own parents would definitely fall into the Pascal’s wager category, by their own admission. They like church for the sense of community and as a kind of social club with the added bonus that maybe they might be given a get out of death free card. I share the opinion that a very large percentage of believers are just like them. I think you’re too quick to take offense when people express their honest opinions. Not all of them are flattering to the faithful. Would you rather have them stated honestly or have them candy coated? You seem to go to great lengths to reconcile the idea of god with current science, and your appreciation for the traditions of religious faith seem more about their utility than their truth. You might be far beyond Pascal’s wager in your own reasoning, but are your motivations really all that different?

  • RED

    There is a place for non-belivers of every strip to hang their hat on Sundays: Unitarian Universalism. If you show up one Sunday its a good bet you may be sitting next to atheist, agnostic, pagan, modified Christian, ultra reformed Jew, Buddist, used-to-be-Muslim and every strip of belief and non belief in between. Why such a group? Because UU’s are known for NOT having a check off list of beliefs in order to belong. Unlike other religions where if there are 100 people in church they SHOULD/MUST subscribe to one belief. The 100 unitarians will have 100 different beliefs. So there is a religion for the nonbeliever..really. And we are big on voting!

  • Gerry

    Anonymous (why?),I have been quite intensively, years ago, into game theory (Nobel prize winner Manfred Eigen: “Das Spiel”, How the laws of nature govern chance” certainly not a religionist!) but you apparently not, because Game Theory is completely “godless” and usually used by honest scientists as a persuasive trump argument in favor of evolution. A shot in the foot, trying to impress people throwing around names.How assuring for me that you don’t intend to kill me, at least to save me from suicide, really a wonderful Christian trait (Rachel Corrie).Pascal’s wager still dominates the religiosity of a lot of people I know. End of statement. (Parrot? An insult, nothing more: You can be sure that I would never ever parrot you!) Excellent point, Chip: Religion is often just discussed for its usefulness, which can be debated for better or worse, but not for its validity.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    GERRY,The answer to your ‘why?’ — in the process of copy and paste of the two quotes from you and GOD, I forgot to click my name in (notice that it is my full real name andfull address!).Rachel Corrie suicide? You accomplice of Israeli murderers! When the tank was moving-in on the dissident in Tiananmen and the dissenter stood in front ofit, the Chinese did not run him over. But then, when the Chinese had discovered gunpowder, they used it only to make merry. Until ‘whites’ came to China and decided “Hey! We can use this stuff to blow people up and bomb them back to the stone age!”One Alfred Nobel would thus make about as much money as Bush, the Enron ‘smartest guys in the room’, Halliburton, or Blackwater Bosses and mercenaries are making and have made. He would later establish a knowledge-advancement prize to clear his conscience about the perversion of a Chinese merry-making product towards destructive ends, but would exclude Mathematicians from his scheme because his wife had run away with a Mathematician!Ah, well. Nature has such ways to get back at us.P.S. By the way, you might like to read the NYT article in the link attached (but I know that you will not).

  • postxian

    As if I’d vote for a candidate just because he/she is an atheist.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CHIPI am an Economist plus a Mathematician (studies at doctoral level — what in Canada they call ABD — all but dissertation). Both disciplines are heavily into Game Theory and what in the time of John Stuart Mill was known as Moral Science. Both are rigorous in ways few would even have dreamt of — like mathematically defining a morally justifies and quantified theory of the “toleration of intolerance”, like how you would communicate with a being endowed with a superior intelligence but does not have the same frame of reference as you do, like what is ‘nothing’ in an absolute sense.What I insist on is the issue of morality — Blaise Pascal had worked on probability and chance and it is not surprising that he defined his wager as he did. Also, there is a difference between price and value, and that properly taking the measure of that difference is the first step towards a coherent discussion of morality.All this seems to escape Gerry.The motivation of any Economist, as essential to him as the air he breathes, is the maximization of the ‘utility’ of the largest number while safeguarding at least the ‘basic needs’ of the least fortunate. That’s why my discipline was once known as Moral Science. And science it has always been — great rigour! Some theological classics have similar rigour — e.g. the Catholic Peter Abelard’s work alongside the Muslim Ibn Sina. But yes, even agnostics like Carl Sagan are superbly rigorous and humane.

  • Gerry

    Mohamed,I happen to be neither an Israeli, not even an American nor an accomplice nor, as far as I can remember, a murderer. But thanks anyway to save me from violent death, suicide or otherwise.Your free associative thinking is impressive and entertaining. I was only referring to Manfred Eigen, who wrote an interesting book about games, algorithms etc., which at the time was quite appropriate as an accompanying or commenting theory to the fascinating Mandelbrot fractal figures, if you know what I mean. As a musician, I have quite some respect for numbers (frequency and other time games, if you wish).Nobel’s prize doesn’t refer to dynamite anymore, even if dynamite is still quite in use, as well by Bush’s mercenaries as by those hopeful (72 virgins, wow!) soul and religion saviors. Nobel’s dynamite doesn’t blow up the attributed non-material value of the prize (there even is a peace price!). I muddled through the NYT article you recommended and learned a few things, although I was not much enlightened as to the direction of the whole soliloquy. But, as Lichtenberg said, if a head and a book collide and it makes a hollow sound, you never know exactly where it came from.Yours truly,murderous parrot.

  • Scott Bruneau

    Nice thing about an Atheist president IS that he or she would not go to war because the voices of the imaginary friend named “god” told them to go to war. An Atheist president would preside over a country that has a constitution in which State and Religion are SEPARATE by the Constitution and NOT have some biased religious agenda to push on the American people OR the World. An Atheist president would lead with LOGIC and REASONING and NOT the BIGOTRY of your average Theistic leader. An Atheist president would NOT be ANTI Religion because religion is a Right of the people, a Freedom. And yes I AM an Atheist and DO believe that. An Atheist president would save a lot of wasted breath, time and energy by NOT making egocentric speeches to show god is more on HIS side than someone elses. An Atheist president would be PRO HUMANITY and NOT just US against THEM. There would be no anti Muslim agenda or anti jew or anti christian ….there would would be an ALL INCLUSIVE agenda without looking down a nose at those that do NOT believe as She the president does. An Atheist president would NOT sanction abortion as so many may think. We Atheists believe in a right to a woman to choose BUT HAVE A BELIEF IN LIFE for all. We would not kill the unborn or have camps to exterminate anyone as some may think 😉 Unlike Jacque, I think an Atheist president would NOT write long nasty diatribes against Atheists and be full of so much hate and venom. I believe an Atheist president would be a WORLD leader of COMPASSION FOR ALL and rise ABOVE the bull—- fear and hate that separates so many with their religious schisms and prejudices. Amen 😉 Peace to all – theists and Atheists alike.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    GERRY,You’re not just a parrot repeating ‘Pascal’s wager’ without knowing much about Pascal. You don’t only condone the murder of Rachel Corrie by the Isreali soldiers who ran a tank on her. You are what your writings reveal you to be. What more can I say?

  • Chip

    Mohamed, interesting post, and I’m glad we’ve swung back around to the question of morality because you reminded me of something I meant to say yesterday but didn’t get around to – namely, why I think religion is a truly awful thing to use as the main method of propagating ethics and morals. The golden rule is a timeless and classic bit of wisdom which is really the root of humanism. It requires only empathy and it’s so simple that anyone can understand it. If religion confined itself to that simple maxim then I’d be of the same opinion you are as to religion’s ethical utility. But that’s not the case. The morality espoused by religious dogma, by and large, is a bait and switch. It’s intended to make people feel moral, not be moral. It creates a false morality of conformity and tribalism, as if belonging to a particular tribe somehow imparts a moral and ethical superiority over people who belong to a different tribe. In that sense it isn’t really meant to keep people ethical. It’s meant to keep them loyal. It’s meant to allow the easy justification of violence against different tribes while circumventing people’s natural sense of empathy. It’s the same as nationalism. Just look at how many Americans are convinced that everything the United States does is the pinnacle of morality and freedom and rightness, without them giving any critical thought to how those actions affect other people. That’s what happens when people equate morality with group membership.I believe that most people are basically good and are innately repelled by violence and conflict. Religion creats a means to get around that by equating loyalty to tribe with goodness. Ethics and morality that aren’t based on rational self-interest, empathy, and common sense, are easily subverted. People can be convinced to do atrocious thing, to be intolerant, to be self-righteous, in the name of tribal power and selfish agendas that have nothing at all to do with goodness, morality, or ethical behavior to the benefit of humanity as a whole. Just look at the Abrahamic god of the Old Testament. He was a vindictive, cruel, petty, jealous, and capricious tyrant, yet people have had the “god is love” mantra drilled into their heads so incessantly throughout their lives that they don’t see the contradiction. The god described in the Old Testament is almost the polar opposite of love. Orwellian doublespeak has been in use since long before Orwell coined the term. Religion had it mastered thousands of years ago. To sum up, I agree with you that religious dogma is all about utility, but I disagree strongly on what that utility is. It’s not meant to benefit people. It’s meant to benefit tribes.

  • Gerry

    Mohamed,now come on: Can’t you understand the slightest ironical touch in a post? Do you really think I condone the terrible murder of this girl? Or of anybody else? How do you conclude I don’t know anything about Pascal only because I refer to his wager and to the fact that I know people along this line of religious arguments?What enraged you so? The fact that I ridicule the 72 virgins story? The fact that a (quite successful) musician talks about fractals? That I find your thinking associative at times (Nobel prize is an attributed value, independent of the invention of dynamite.)Getting back to serious arguments:Another question, of course, since you mention my stupidity and ignorance of all the things that escape me (Pascal, Abelard, J.S. Mill’s harm theory etc.): The truth discussions WITHIN a fixed believe system cannot prove the truth of the system, as you as a mathematician knowing Kurt Goedel must be well aware of. Bible (or any other scriptural) quotations therefore never can be used to prove the validity (truth) of a religious system. Abelard, e.g., argued WITHIN the Christian religion, therefore has no bearing on my stance toward religion.I don’t think it is very helpful in a discussion to underestimate the intelligence and integrity of your discussion partner.

  • Gerry

    Chip,I agree with your post. Religion can, in the best case scenario, be used as a means to guarantee useful behavior and as a social bond. In the worst case scenario, which we have seen in history and which we witness every day, it can be used for any imaginable atrocity. Both scenarios can show the moral (human) value or lack thereof as to the “application” of a religion, but are unfit to prove or disprove the “truth” of a religion.The “tertium comparationis” between religious and non-religion-based crimes (Stalin e.g.) is the authoritarian source of action. I just re-read the famous Milgram experiment, you remember, where 75 % of completely normal College students were brought to torture (at least that is what they were made to believe) fellow students under the authority of a “valuable” scientific experiment and its professors. (Statistically, most of these students must have been religious.) As long as they acknowledged this authority, they increased electro shocks (faked) incredible pain to the “victims”. When this authority was jeopardized (e.g. by a contradicting, neutralizing authority), they refused to obey.Therefore I maintain that I am a moral person BECAUSE of my atheism, and that is what I find in you and other non-biased, free-thinking humans here and elsewhere. And I hope Mohamed will return to his normal blood pressure and communication level.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    GERRY,Fair enough. I am in complete agreement with your latest post.You’re right that what got me upset was the too often repeated shibboleths about Muslims’ beliefs. An especially identifiable group of Muslims are, these days, being subjected to aggression whose underlying currents and causal realtionships were laid out when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. There are long cycles at play. So, I do find myself solidaire of these people as aggrieved people (maybe for about 70%, but also for about 30% because they are co-religionists). So, when you claimed your deep humanism, I thought that you would understand. I am indifferent when people who organise unruly demonstrations over cartoons are treated as being misguided, when those who kill over such things are treated as dangerous and ignorant murderers, when those who promote suicide bombing indiscriminately targeting groups that may include civilians as terrorists, but, when all this is happening and , even if ironical reference is made to misrepresentations of an already-aggrieved people’s religion, I feel very sore. Then I get upset at claims of humanism coming from those who are so insensitive.But your explanations are clear and sincere.All the best.

  • Chip

    Gerry, thanks. I am familiar with the Milgrim experiment, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever directly connected it with religious systems. Thanks for giving me one of those light bulb over the head moments.It seems to me that religious systems boil down to a few fairly simple common components. I use the term religious systems somewhat loosely, because this is just as true of groups as large as nations down to groups as small as mafia families.You have a leadership who claims to have a direct line to the “higher authority,” either literally (as with messianic leaders), figuratively (where the higher authority is a particular ideological, tribal, or racial/ethnic identity), or both. Next you have a faux moral system where a few common sense truisms are intermingled with far more dubious claims that equate morality with group/ideological fealty.Then you have a dehumanizing of members of competing tribes, ideologies, races, and so on which is cemented by an indoctrinated persecution complex intended to create fear of the “others,” and equate them with the opposites of the faux moral system. Non-believers become heretics, liberal become commies, war opponents become traitors. All of which points to how easily led people become when their sense of self and their relationship to others is wrapped up in their tribal identity.Then you have ritual and symbols designed to both reinforce the group identity and the link between the pseudo-moral system and group identity, like worship, ritual prayer, ceremonies, pledges of allegiance, rites of passage, flags, crosses, and so on. Put those all together and apply them on a population and what you get are loyal drones ready to do the bidding of the tribe or nation without much critical thought and who’ll feel good about doing it. They’ll be able to do incredibly immoral things while feeling that doing them obediently makes them more moral.I’m not sure I believe that people are smart enough to have designed religious systems (in which I include nationalism) with these things in mind, but I think it’s inarguable that this is how they’ve come to be applied. It’s also why I have no love of them and believe that humanity must work towards dismantling them, and must teach our children a morality and ethical system based on rationalism, critical thinking, and humanism, and individualism.All of the above is probably overly simplistic but it’s the way I see things, and so as not to have strayed way way off topic, it’s also why I don’t want to see politics where atheists attempt to field an atheist candidate simply because he/she is an atheist. That isn’t progress. It’s just the same old song and dance.

  • almaden

    What in the world is “Jewish Civilization” and how does Jocko teach it at the high-faluting Walsh School? Should there be separate classes for “Baptist Civilization” or “Presbyterian Civilization”? Or “Godless Civilization”? Or “Jehovah Witnesses’ Civilization”?

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    CHIP,I think that I remember vaguely having read of the Milgram experiment. I have yet to check it out in Wiki or one of the many books I have on psychology or behavioural science.I wonder whther you or Gerry have tried BOTH of the tests on the philosophersnet website (philosophersnet.com) regarding self-administered tests and experiments on “Do It Yourself Deity” and “Taboo’.It’s worth a try! When you have the time. Right now, for me, a Muslim-borderline-agnostic, I just finished breaking my fast and reading my prayers.As you said Chip, the only ‘virtue’, from your point of view, that I claim for myself, is that I am a very much open- minded person always ready to challenge established authority on robustly-evidenced new ‘values’/appraoches/ways of doin things/achieving optimal social welfare.

  • gulliver

    Where do agnostics fit in? Or are we considered to be lacking the guts to take a position either as a believer or an atheist? As an agnostic, my response to any such accusation is “How the hell should I know?”

  • anony

    there are also those who wish there was a god, and have no problem with the idea of a god but who just think there is far too much evil in the world (or at least far too much evil for any god that they would want to worship). of course they mostly believe in evolution and science, but for them it is not darwin but hume who slammed the door.

  • anony

    there are also those who wish there was a god, and have no problem with the idea of a god, but who just think there is far too much evil in the world (or at least far too much evil for any god that they would want to worship). of course they mostly believe in evolution and science, but for them it hume and not darwin who really put the icing on the cake.

  • anony

    there are also those who wish there was a god, and have no problem with the idea of a god, but who just think there is far too much evil in the world (or at least far too much evil for any god that they would want to worship). of course they mostly believe in evolution and science, but for them it hume and not darwin who really put the icing on the cake.

  • hume

    there are also those who wish there was a god, and have no problem with the idea of a god but who just think there is far too much evil in the world (or at least far too much evil for any god that they would want to worship). of course they mostly believe in evolution and science, but for them it is not darwin but hume who slammed the door.

  • gulliver

    Too many comments submitted by gulliver (gulliver@pa.net) in too short a time? That’s interesting because that was the first and only comment I have ever submitted on this site. And, I guess, the last one.

  • E Favorite

    Gilliver, you ask, “Where do agnostics fit in?”Have you read Dawkins’ “God delusion”?He discusses the Agnostic/Atheist scale, saying no-one can know definitely that there is not a god, but one can be way up the scale in doubting it, based on the vast lack of evidence.He considers himself (I think) an 8 on a 9 point scale, and thus calls himslef an atheist.I know someone who described himself as an agnostic since the age of ten, who after reading Dawkins, calls himself an atheist.

  • Chip

    Gulliver, re “As an agnostic, my response to any such accusation is ‘How the hell should I know?'”That would make you not a theist, otherwise known as an atheist.

  • EllenG

    ‘godless’?Do you, sir, believe in God? Believe that s/he exists for the entire universe? If so, how can those who do not have faith be ‘godless?’

  • Gerry

    I don’t believe in god. Nor do I believe in the flying spaghetti monster. “Spaghetti-monster-less” does not posit the existence of a SpM, nor does the word “godless” posit the existence of a god.We have had this illogical and futile discussion before. Repetition does not advance it.

  • R.S.Newark

    Aren’t all democrats already atheists? If not why not?

  • Lloyd Sullivan

    Lemme see, we’re all committed atheists here, and yet we should acknowledge the “spiritual richness and grandeur of Roman Catholicism” (Judiasm? Anything else? How about Rastafarianism?) Sorry. The so-called richness and grandeur of organized (or un-organized) religions of any persuasion are the ties that bind the faithful in a unified vision of that which never was, and never will be, making it all the more difficult to establish what really is. To move beyond religion (and we’re way overdue) we have to replace our deities with a sound philosophy of life that concerns itself with the here and now rather than the hereafter. “Do onto others,” for example, would be a viable beginning. You’d enlist Camille Paglia to help us? I think Gloria Steinem had a better idea: “We don’t care what Camille Paglia thinks….”And for good reason.

  • blueair

    Who cares whether the Presidential nominee is an atheist ?

  • Nissim Levy

    In a country with only two political parties (pretty much like an airplane with two right wings) a person may vote for the “lesser of two evils” before wasting his/her vote in a statistical pool not to mention the “Electoral College” system, neglecting the Popular Vote during elections.

  • E Favorite

    Mohamed – I believe you’re comparing apples with oranges. Gerry thanks Chip for “…a wonderful PSYCHOLOGICAL SUMMARY [caps added] of how all these religions came about and how their system is constructed” -not a detailed, multi-volume survey of world religions such as that done by the Durants.

  • Alek Dabo

    It is so refreshing to read about the rise of the non-believers. Unfortunately, this is only derision. To create a rational structure to substitute to the irrationality of religions sounds too much like the famous revolutionary cry “It is forbidden to forbide”.

  • bkp

    I believe the graph of religious belief compared to intelligence is U-shaped. You who that blast people’s belief in God as stupid fail to look to your right, where all the God-loving geniuses look down at you with pity, a bit of anxiety, an perhaps little optimism. God can either be taken on faith, or its majesty can be discovered through an intense journey of observation, inward reflection, and intellectual reasoning. I really wish you people with marginally above-average brains, but limited intellectual capacity would please leave the rest of us alone. This God-bashing fetish seems to be a bit of paranoia about generally being mediocre.

  • KB

    Many non-theists are simply people who have never confronted the meaning of their existence, i.e., have never felt or have ignored pangs of existential doubt. Thinking about such weighty topics is inconvenient, and they don’t see how wrestling with these issues will improve the quality of their present lives. They are perfectly content to push the need to address their mortality and the possibility of an afterlife far into the future. They should not be lumped in with non-theists who have considered the possibility of God and who have rejected it after serious reflection. They would rather obsess over fantasy football than over the meaning of life. They are non-believers as a result of indifference and inertia.

  • Fran

    Our politicians are already all atheists! The pope will not even talk to anyone in the Bush administration. He knows what’s going on.I cannot understand how anyone who is in favor of thw war in Iraq, or who promotes the suffering of American children, can possibly declare a belief in the Christian God.It seems like literally anyone can stand up and call themselves a Good Christian, and everyone else just accepts that. Nobody pushes back, because ALL Christians are hypocrites and nobody wants to drag up that ugly subject.

  • Chip

    Gerry, thanks. I was only aware of Hannah Arrendt’s “Origins of Tatalitarianism” which is quoted quite a bit in Michelle Goldberg’s “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” (which definitely reinforced my views) and made me want to seek out Arendt’s work. Her book on Eichmann sounds even more fascinating. Thanks for the reminder.Mohamed, I haven’t read Will and Ariel Durant’s work. Sounds very interesting. As I mentioned earlier I’m not particularly well read. Along similar lines though I have read all four volumes of Joseph Campbell’s “The Masks of God,” which is an exhaustive survey of world mythologies with special emphasis on how they cross-pollinate and merge as various civilizations come into contact with one another. It influenced me greatly, especially the final volume which posits that highly creative people tend to create their own mythologies instead of just accepting those handed down by their particular culture. Aside from being an amazing summary of world mythology, it also had a message that resonated greatly. Around the same time I read the last volume of Campbell’s series I also read James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Both were pivotal for me. I had previously known I was an atheist but those books helped me to understand why. I hadn’t put much thought into it before that time in my life.BKP, that’s quite a high opinion of yourself you have there. Your mention of the U shaped curve made me think of ant lion pits with religion laying in wait at the bottom. I think the sensible thing to do is walk around them.

  • Dr.R.P.

    The problem with getting involved in a nonbeliever’s presidential bid would be with “outing” yourself. I for one would not do that, since it would most likely mean a severe change in lifestyle for me and my family. I am sure my kids would no longer be allowed to play with many of their current friends. (I couldn’t care less about people hating me, but I want them to have a relatively normal childhood) Let’s face it, the US is so religiously conservative that on a popularity scale, nonbelievers are below crack whores. Fortunatly for us, we LOOK just like everyone else, so it is easy for us to hide.Its not really all that bad. I am frequently entertained reading columns like this where “flat earthers” argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.Mr. Berlinerblau, you are telling nonbelievers nothing we don’t already know about taking religion seriously. We take it very seriously. We see the spectacular waste of resources and lives because of it everyday. And deep down we know that there is nothing we can do about it.

  • Chip

    DR.R.P., while I sympathize with your reasons for remaining in hiding, I do hope you realize that by not standing up and being counted you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

  • E Favorite

    Dr RP – Ditto what Chip said. Also – I suggest sticking your toes in the water and seeing what happens. I’m not sure just what that would mean in your situation, but I do think that peeking out from behind the curtains occasionally is better than staying in constant hiding. Untested fears are almost always worse than reality.OK – here’s a concrete idea – the next time you’re in a situation where people have their heads bowed in prayer, don’t do it. Just keep your head up and your eyes open. Supposedly, no one will notice, as they will be deep in prayer (or feigning it), but at least you’ll be true to yourself and you just might spy another non-believer in the process.

  • E Favorite

    Chip and others – are you going to the Atheist Alliance International convention in Washington (actually, Arlington) later this week? If so – how about adding your “on faith” handle to your nametag? I will do the same if I know others will be there.

  • Dr.R.P.

    You seem to think I am working from some untested fear. I have already tried your suggestions with poor results. Sorry Guys, I have found in my life that people are quite a bit worse than you give them credit for.I may be part of your problem, but I have things worked out for myself just fine. Thanks.

  • E Favorite

    Dr RP: “I have already tried your suggestions with poor results.” Bummer. You really tried not praying when others were? What happened? Did anyone notice? I thought it was a good idea – potentially a great way for closet atheists to meet – much better than in public bathrooms. And if an undercover Christian agent caught you looking around during prayer, you could maintain your cover by saying YOU were an undercover agent too.

  • Chip

    Dr. to me it’s just about the principle of it. I can’t stay hidden and keep my opinions to myself no matter what the consequences are. Other people don’t have the right to intimidate me into silence or into pretending to be something I’m not. I’m willing to bear the cost of not bowing down. If I had children I don’t think that would change my stance, because “let the majority force you to keep your mouth shut” isn’t the example I’d want to set, or the lesson I’d want them to take. I think I’d be much happier in the long run, and they’d be much better people if “stand up straight in the face of adversity” was the lesson I imparted.E Fav, I didn’t know about that conference until you posted about it a couple of days ago, so I’ll have to miss out.

  • E Favorite

    Chip – disappointing – but there may still be room at the thurs night fund raiser check the AAI website – gotta run

  • boredbythisdebate

    Why why why can’t religion just stay OUT of political discussions? I don’t give a damn if political figures get out of bed on Sundays to go to church, keep kosher, pray to Mecca. It is none of my damn business. What I care about is whether they want to fix the health care system, deal with the schism between the haves and the have nots, fix our environmental policies, and how they’re going to do it all. The government doesn’t belong in our bedrooms and religion doesn’t belong in our political debates.

  • Dr. R.P.

    Chip, I would hope that if you had kids, you would be unselfish enough to keep your mouth shut when the subject of religion came up around their friends parents. Having kids is partly about sacrifice. As far as praying is concerned, I don’t go to church, and don’t pretend to pray at weddings or funerals (the only religious oriented ceremonies I attend), and don’t pay much attention to what other people are doing either.I may be a bit older that you (I am typically 20 years older than the parents of my kids friends/classmates), so have worked my system out over many years. Not about to change something that works great for me.When my kids grow up, I’ll probably give people all kinds a grief about what I believe. I have kept silent about religion with my kids also, so they can decide for themselves when their brains are fully developed (I am not raising them to be card carrying unbelievers). I do try to help them along by explaining how we understand the Universe works at the right times.Funny story. I was at a catholic wedding one time and my 5 year old son happened to say something to the priest before the ceremony. The priest came back with a “well, Jesus says…” (those guys just can’t turn it off) and my son replied “Jesus? Who’s that?”. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.Interesting though that all this was not really any kind of an issue with me until the current president was elected.

  • Chip

    Dr, I don’t go looking for excuses to bring up my atheism, but when I’m asking directly about what I believe, or what church I attend, or similar questions, I answer honestly. That wouldn’t change if I had kids. I agree about letting your kids make up their minds for themselves. I think indoctrination is wrong, from either direction. My biggest concern about closet atheists is that we all like to complain that we aren’t represented and that we’re mischaracterized and demonized by believers, but a disturbingly large percentage are like you, and by not standing up and being visible they act as enablers to those things. It’s easier for people to marginalize people they don’t know personally. It’s much harder when that really great and helpful neighbor is there to destroy the stereotype. While I wouldn’t want to indoctrinate my kids I would definitely want them to know all kinds of people so that when they were older they’d hopefully have learned to judge people by their character and not their belief systems or skin color or country of origin or what have you. I think your kids are missing out on perhaps the most valuable lesson you have to teach them – that they’re under no obligation to conform or pretend to conform to other people’s shallow preconceptions. How can you teach them to be true to themselves if you’re not?

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Dr RP -I’m 53 and have two relatively young kids (10 & 14). While I don’t make it a point to advertise my atheism, I do engage people when THEY float the religious balloon. I live in the Bible-thumping CA central valley, and it comes up more often than one would care. If some well-meaning soccer mom says that she’s “praying for me,” I say, “thanks for the thought, I appreciate it even though I don’t believe in prayer myself.”My kids have discussions with their friends at school. I haven’t seen them losing friends over their lack of religious indoctrination. Neither do they get grief for not toeing the line on the religious belief du jour. You’d be surprised at how accommodating religious types can be if you say things politely and with a smile.

  • Dr.R.P.

    Chip and Mark,All you have proven is that you are not me,My kids are learning all they need to get along in life thankyou. You seem to be just as judgemental as the flat-earthers. This is exactly why I stay away from athiest organizations (I really hate that term, but you seem to want to use it) as well as religious ones.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Dr RP -Thanks for the response.I’m not trying to convert anyone or to even admonish one to come out as an atheist. Like you, I am simply relating my experience. The only reason I bothered to comment was because from your post, I imagined that we’re roughly the same age. I wanted to relate my experience that being “20 years older” than most of the parents at my kids school isn’t a reason (in my case) to hide my atheism. Your experience is different. That’s life.

  • E Favorite

    Dr RP – sounds like your kids aren’t getting religious “training” – if that’s the case, then it’s bound to show up with other kids, the way it did with the shocked priest. Seems like people will figure your family isn’t religious, even if you don’t say anything.

  • K

    Have you ever had a woman ask you if the dress she’s wearing makes her look fat?If you’re both going to a party or some social event of some kind and she’s keep you from leaving, the answer is No, of course not.If you can see that she’s actually suffering from low self-esteem, and for you to answer “Yes, it does make you look fat”, it would just crush her, the answer is of course, no.White lies I suppose. How are you going to tell her that it does make her look fat if it is the truth?Another option is the Al Bundy option, who said: Ladies, it isn’t the dress that makes you look fat, it’s the fat that makes you look fat.Now it’s true, we don’t have large armies of ladies in fattening dresses strapping bombs to themselves, or blowing up abortion clinics, or voting your favorite vice into a life sentence … so it seems safe to give them these little white lies.I think we need to use the Al Bundy method on the believers though.

  • E Favorite

    Dr RP – – people expressing ideas that are different from yours is just the nature of a discussion board like this. I’m very interested in hearing your point of view and experience and hope you stick around a while.No pressure to join anything or to change your mind about anything.

  • Gerry

    Chip, Dr. RP, E-fav,I might add my observation from the European perspective: Here it does not require any courage to out yourself as an atheist, should the question arise (probably with the exception of Muslims within the group). People aren’t even interested. I had a vivid semi-public discussion about original sin with a member of our Rotary Club, a high protestant office holder. He acknowledged my points without accepting them of course, and we still are friends with completely different opinions.An hour ago one of the biggest German radio stations (Deutschlandfunk) broadcasted an enthused feature about Christopher Hitchens’ new book, translated into German. Here, it is just another book.It seems to me, that in the US there are strong differences in this respect, depending on the surrounding. In principle, of course, I think the more people out themselves the better for the cause. On the other hand, I cannot ask anybody to be courageous and swim against a given mainstream. I can only be courageous myself and serve as an example.

  • lbw

    Dr RP

  • Chip

    Dr, I’d just like to see the United States become a country where people like you don’t feel that you have to hide who and what you are. That won’t ever happen until enough people stand up and sacrifice a bit of comfort for the sake of those who’ll come after them. If later in life your kids become atheists do you want them to have to hide as you have? How about your grandkids? Nothing will ever change until somewhere along the way people start standing up. I don’t think that’s being judgmental. I think it’s being a realist.

  • Dr.R.P.

    Sorry if I came across as ticked in that last note. With regard to the religious training of my kids (or lack thereof), I have found that people in general assume I and my kids are christian; I let them believe what they want (they do that quite well with their “faith”, so why not take advantage of it?). My kids don’t seem to get into religious discussions with other kids (except for the occational “so and so said I was going to hell because..” from them. I just tell them that so and so doesn’t know what he’s is talking about, so don’t worry about it. They DO get a firm understanding of how the world works from me (at least how we think it works) which is far more important than the angels on the head of a pin discussion).My science background has taught me not to bother with questions that don’t have answers, and I try to emphasize that with the kids. Also, I don’t believe in debating this with people because it IS a form a delusion; it’s not up to me to rock someone elses boat ( and I wouldn’t debate a little kid on the existence of the Easter Bunny either.).

  • E Favorite

    Dr RP – Glad to see you’re continuing the conversation.I’m not sure what you mean (but would like to know) when you say ” I have found that people in general assume I and my kids are christian; I let them believe what they want (they do that quite well with their “faith”, so why not take advantage of it?).” Specifically, “take advantage” of what?Also, sounds like you think that mentioning your lack of belief, (even, let’s say, in the context of the discussion) would result in a debate that you’d like to avoid. Is that right?Regarding the easter bunny, it’s a little different, I think, because, unlike religion, this is a belief that you know the child is going to give up.One other thing, I’m just curious, is your non-belief something you’ve discussed much, in whatever context, with family or friends?Thanks

  • Juan Bernal

    Yes, Mr. Berlinerblau is a funny guy! I’m a non-believer, but have felt for a long time that the business of espousing atheism is a strange business indeed. Sometimes I listen to my fellow secularists, those who preach atheism, and think that they are as much engaged in a fantasy as were the Marxist students of the 60’s and 70’s, who thought they saw a proletarian revolution building in the USA. But Berlinerblau is being satirical, isn’t he?

  • yoyo

    As an atheist I’m impressed with the All it takes for religion to take over the world,

  • Russell

    Ron Reagon Jr. !!!

  • Nissim Levy

    Thank you YOYO!!!!!!!!

  • Dr. R.P.

    E FAVORITE, by “take advantage of it” , I mean that christians don’t usually go up to other christians and ask “so exactly what do you believe?” If they assume you are christian, they also assume you believe in the same things they believe in, and don’t bother to bring it up. That is what I take advnatage of. As for discussing this stuff, I used to discuss it quite a bit im my college days, and realized that discussions with (what I like to call) flat earthers are really pointless. You don’t learn anything from them (I was raised catholic, so know all I need to know about the bible, etc..) and they don’t want to learn anything from you. So I save myself the frustration these days and avoid it.I can’t talk about this with my family; they are in general all flat earthers too (not my wife and kids, I mean all the others), and I would prefer to get along with them. I am mature enough to leave it be (but am shaking my head on the inside quite a bit). I do have a couple of friend that know the truth. They either understand or at least know they are not going to win any debates with me. Fummy, my anti evolutionary friends STILL use that tired old “but how could an eyeball have evolved from a random process…” arguement. I feel like numbering the 10 or so bebunked arguements they use and just hold up a card with a “5” on it when that one comes up.And personally, I don’t see any difference between a kid’s belief in the Easter Bunny and and adult believing in gods. It is just acceptance of what you have been told all your life. You don’t question, you don’t grow.

  • jay s

    YOYO: “All it takes for religion to take over the world,Yes, well said. The quickest way to groupthink and “acceptable” prejudice is to never hear an opposing opinion. Just by reminding the theist that his/her worldview is not shared by every neighbor, co-worker, or relative is enough for me. It worked and continues to work for gays, it can work for atheists/agnostics.

  • E Favorite

    Jay S: “It worked and continues to work for gays, it can work for atheists/agnostics.”And for women and Blacks too. Gays are like atheists in that they can often “pass” – but women and Blacks – well, they were supposed to “know their place.”DR R.P. – So taking advantage of it means passing for Christian so they won’t bother you with more questions. I do a lot of that at family occasions. I was Christian until about 2 years ago – a lazy Christian. I didn’t care much about it, except for the music and ritual, but still believed, at a low, unthinking level.Spurred on by Chip, I recently showed a little leg at a family occasion. The result – no comment. No one said anything. Without going into detail, I said (in context) “I don’t believe in God.” I said it twice – the second time, to be sure they heard me. No reaction. I think it stunned them into silence — but otherwise, they treated me just the same. In another conversation about getting signs from deceased family members, one former in-law commented that he was a “skeptic,” so we got to talking. Then later, as a bunch of us (including the skeptic, with a few drinks in him,) were singing hymns in lovely harmony, he pointed at me, saying “atheist!” atheist!” I laughed and said “A song is a song.” A new family friend crooning next to me edged away and was somewhat distant after that. Quite an interesting experiment. I’m so glad, in that case, that I didn’t just blend in as usual. But it did take a lot of guts. Mainly, I didn’t want to spoil a pleasant occasion and bring attention to myself when the focus was meant to be elsewehere. I needn’t have worried.Hi, ARMINIUS – I suggest you give the atheists a break (or some Christian compassion). When they say you’re deluded, they probably just mean about the God thing.

  • Gerry

    E-fav,congrats! Usually people overestimate the danger coming from the others when showing some gut! (The courage is no less for that! Respect!)I can easily picture a constellation within a group of people where everybody is an atheist in their heart, but everybody is so afraid of the others equally afraid members of that group that the balance of fake belief is maintained, until, of course, one member outs himself.It is the classical Anderson syndrome: The emperor has no clothes on!

  • Ehkzu

    What is an atheist?How about if we start calling religious people “antiempiricists?” Or “realityphobes?” I’m not seriously proposing that, because it would be as unfair as it is for religious people to call those who aren’t atheists. Personally I define people as interesting or not, as jerks or OK people–stuff like that. Now those terms are actually useful.

  • Dr.R.P.

    Hey EHKZU, I am with you. This is a case of a name for something that does not exist. And I agree that the work ‘atheist’ has become so derogatory that I prefer not to use it.But I still like my term “flat earthers” for those realityphobes that you mention.Oh, and you may not want to use the term ‘antiflatulist’ ; someone might get mixed up and think you are against passing gas ;)E FAVORITE, there have been occasions where I am asked about what I believe (the last time was at an organisational meeting when my son was interested in cub scouts ). I found that “none of your business” works great! It’s not clear what people think I am after that, and it doesn’t really matter to me as long as the drop the subject.

  • Colin T.Nicholas

    YOYOI think you nailed it in very few words,we have to interrupt the groupthink by constantly letting others know where we stand.If we say nothing,others may get the impression that atheists don’t exist.E FavoriteI admire your openess and courage to be who you are,despite the fallout.I suspect that there are more atheists than we think,because they dont all come out of the closet. Especially politicians.

  • Chip

    E Fav, that’s great! So glad to hear that you took that step. It must have felt very liberating. Congrats.

  • Gerry

    EHKZU,I agree completely. In some former post, I mentioned that our brains are not wired for negatives. If you ask someone to BY NO MEANS imagine a pink elephant – yes, that is exactly what happens!Thus, a-theist or non-believer, even a-gnostic, however logical it may be, somehow posits what it wants to get rid of.For us, I think (not very original, but to the point) humanist is what we are. For the other side, your “realityphobe” for religionists seems to hit it on the head!

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Dr RP -Re: the term atheist.As much as I don’t like being defined through a negative term, I think that atheists are stuck with the term. We’d be better off working to give the word a positive connotation, rather than looking for a new word to define ourselves (like the god-awful term “Brights”!). I prefer to call myself an anti-theist, a la C Hitchens. I prefer to call the faith-based community the fantasy-based community. Does it matter? Only to me. To everyone else, I’m an atheist and believers are…whatever.

  • E Favorite

    Ekzhu and Dr RP – I’m all for finding better names that say what we are, but am also for sanitizing the word “atheist” so it loses its former evil connotation. For believers, I like “Supers” (short for supernatural) – it’s Dan Dennett’s idea. It points out the main important difference, I think, between the religious and non-religious. I haven’t heard anyone use it in conversation yet. Maybe I’ll start. I’ve heard Bill Maher use “rationalists” for non-believers. Descriptive, but not catchy. Too many syllables.Dr RP – saying “none of your business” is pretty gutsy, I think – definitely would put some people off and make them wonder if you’re a non-believer. So, it looks like you’re not staying under cover as much as I thought.

  • E Favorite

    To all – thanks for the support in coming out. It has been liberating. I’m very out among friends – and even some business associates, but this was the first attempt with family.

  • Chip

    There will always be a great many people who strongly dislike anyone who doesn’t adhere to their religious belief, and who will attach negative connotations to whatever word is popularly used to describe them. If we keep trying to find new words every time that happens then we’ll have to come up with a new one every year. There’s nothing wrong with the word atheist and people should stop trying to pretend they can dodge the bigotry of others through semantics. It’s disingenuous. It does nothing but dilute the language and divide us into ever smaller camps. It’s that kind of thinking that’s precisely why atheists continue to allow our lives and freedoms to be defined by others.

  • ehkzu

    re: the issue of what you say when people ask “What are you?” or “What do you believe?” I struggled with this for many years. In high school I remember telling one parent of a friend that I was an agnostic, and he informed me that I was stupid. Basically, most people have a few boxes for categorizing you, along with some sub-boxes. As in relgious–Protestant–Episocopalian–low church, orI’ve found that “empiricist” fits no existing boxes in most minds. Sorry it’s got four syllables, but that’s only one more than “atheist,” after all. And it does give you a few seconds opportunity for a Teaching Moment. In my experience people generally ask “What’s that?” when I say I’m an empiricist. (They won’t say that if you say “atheist.”) Here’s a typical dialog:Me: It means I get my beliefs from what I observe–from facts and experiments.Thee: Does that mean you’re an atheist?Me: What’s that?Thee: You know what I mean.Me: People often disagree about what even common words mean. Please–tell me what you mean by that word. (I keep it polite–“Rude” and “Teaching Moment”: are incompatible moments)Thee: Someone who denies the existence of God.Me: Excuse me, I didn’t understand something you said. What do you mean by ‘God’?” Thee: You know what I mean.Me: Honest to Pete, I don’t. I used to think I did, but I’ve realized that I really don’t. People have tried to describe it to me, but you might as well try to describe the word “green” to Stevie Wonder. And I can’t answer a question I don’t understand. Suppose I asked you “Do you believe in Glick?” What would you say?—————————There’s nothing to be gained by getting into a tiff with religious people. A moment of catharthis, maybe. But I think it’s more satisfying in the long run if you can pry their minds open a tad. And that’s better for empiricists/humanists as a group The problem I have with “humanist” is that to the religious right that just means “secular humanist,” for which they have a definition already in their minds, and it’s not a nice one. Plus I’m not sure I’m a humanist. I prefer being a human to being any other kind of being I know, but to a religious person “humanist” sounds suspiciously like “self-worshipper.” Plus I have respect for ecosystems, and I’m sure there are intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe–I’d like a term that’s less narrow, even if religious people didn’t already think they knew what it means. “Empiricist” is fundamental. It describes how rational people acquire knowledge. You can become a humanist via empiricism, but it’s lower in the stack. And “bright” and suchlike are just silly. I’m not going to use an existing term that I have to redefine. The prophet Muhammed said “Speak to each in accordance with their understanding.” That’s what I try to do.

  • Chip

    “‘Speak to each in accordance with their understanding.’ That’s what I try to do.”No, if you did you wouldn’t have to explain what you mean by “empiricist.” Atheist they understand. No wonder atheists remain such a marginalized minority. We’re all a bunch of mealy-mouthed cowards (no offense EHKZU).

  • C.T.Nicholas

    EHKZUGreat post.But why not say “I’m not religious”

  • E Favorite

    I guess what I “am” in terms of a philosophical outlook, is a humanist. However, what I am in terms of religion, is an atheist,or any variation thereof – non-theist, non-believer — because I “am” non-religious.I wonder how some religious people would define themselves in terms of philosophical outlook.

  • jay s

    I prefer describing myself as a naturalist. Most think that means I like to wander in the woods and identify birds and trees (which I do), but I point out there is also a philosophy of naturalism. Atheism is just a byproduct of philosophical naturalism, it is not the cornerstone. Calling yourself an atheist is like saying “I’m an a-conservative.” It only describes what you are not or what you don’t believe, but doesn’t describe what your philosophy is. It’s like an Episcopalian saying: I’m a gentile.Secular humanist is okay also. I despise the term “bright”.

  • Chip

    Do any of you know any atheists that aren’t naturalists, empiricists, humanists, and agnostic? I don’t. Personally I see people who shun the word atheist even though they are one as akin pointing to their fellow atheists and saying “I’m not with those people.” You could just carry around a little card with the word “atheist” printed on it and when someone asks you what religion you are you can point behind the questioner and yell “Holy crap, is that a Yeti?!” and hold up the card while they’re not looking.

  • yoyo

    Read a great book recently called ‘Doubt;a History’,

  • Anonymous

    Bertrand Russell Fear,the Foundation of ReligionReligion is based,I think,primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes.Why I Am Not A Christian..page22

  • E Favorite

    I’m feeling good, having worked out for myself that atheist is the most accurate description of my position on RELIGION, while not completely describing my philosophical stance. I think it would be good for religious people of various types, to think about what their philosophical stance is. I’m intensely interested in hearing about it – wondering how much their religion would enter into it. “Doubt” doesn’t do it for me, anymore than “agnostic” does. It mainly sounds good to believers. It implies continued seeking and questioning, instead of having carefully considered the evidence and finding it quite lacking. I doubt religion the way I doubt my car will run without gas.

  • E Favorite

    Yoyo – regarding the term “normal” – I like it, except that it implies that non-atheists are abnormal. They won’t go for it, and I can understand why. Many of them are normal, in my view, except in their belief in the supernatural – which is a small part of their lives.That’s why I like Dennett’s “Super” for believers. It’s accurate and sounds positive, while making it very clear that being a Super means believing in things for which there is no evidence.

  • Gerry

    Chip,allow me to disagree with you on this point, that an atheist who mulls about the semantics of this expression is demeaning his fellow atheists. I have never shunned the word “atheist” as applying to me, I use it all the times, and still I feel that negative expressions carry negative connotations, regardless of their perfect logic.We probably arrive at calling ourselves “atheists” in the long run, accepting the originally pejorative expression and turning it into a positive term.In England already in the late 19th century, German products had to carry the epithet “made in Germany” to keep Britons from buying them. Soon, the epithet turned to be a recommendation, since the products were good.

  • E Favorite

    Gerry – and I will disagree a bit with you. Atheism might not have started out as a negative term, meaning, as it does, the absence of something. (A-gnosticism isn’t inherently bad; nor is a-pathy, etc.). Let’s say, the term atheism became negative because the absence of theism is considered bad by theists, who are the majority in our culture.

  • Gerry

    E Favorite,possibly I “feel” this “a” a bit too strong (the greek “alpha privativum”), more than others, maybe also from my German upbringing. A word, besides its semantic “field”, also has a completely non-semantic, subconsciously processed “sound”, stemming from its social use, and I remember from my youth that it simply didn’t sound well, the same that also happens to names. (Nobody in his clear senses would give his son the name “Adolf”, although there are many Adolfs of the highest moral rank in German cultural history.)Of course you are right, the epithet “atheist” actually only refers to a certain part of a human mind. As long as the majority of people thinks that too, it is alright, no harm done. But when the total social “value” of a person is described by such a word (the same could be said for the word “communist”, remember McCarthy!), it may become a matter if not of life and death, at least of mobbing and acceptance, as has been described by quite a few posters here.I think, as I said in my last post, that we will finally settle with “atheist” for lack of a better common description of our world view. Let’s hope more socially high-ranking persons will just say “I am an atheist”, then the word will change its hue.

  • Chip

    Like E Fav said, I feel that atheist is the most succinct and accurate term, and I also feel that the best way to combat bigotry and stigma is to face it head on, not by doing an end-around with semantics. Atheism doesn’t describe my philosophy or the methodology of my reasoning, and if someone asks me why I’m an atheist I’m happy to elaborate, but when simply asked what my religious belief is, if I say that I’m an agnostic, or an empiricist, or a naturalist then I haven’t actually answered their question. This really is one of my biggest pet peeves, mostly caused by the sad state of affairs created by self-described agnostics who honestly believe that it’s an entirely separate intellectual position from atheism, when in reality they hold exactly the same position as the majority of atheists and are themselves atheists. I think that’s tragic, when we’re already such a minority, to be divided even further by misuse and misunderstanding of language, often directly motivated by a desire to avoid the stigma attached to the word atheist. Avoiding it doesn’t do anything to address it. I want the stigma, because I want to fight against it.People are free to describe themselves however they wish. It isn’t my place to tell anyone how they should do it. I just wish people would think about the bigger picture and the long term consequences of their choices, on all of us, not just for themselves.

  • E Favorite

    Gerry: “Let’s hope more socially high-ranking persons will just say “I am an atheist”, then the word will change its hue.”Yep – and we can start with ourselves. I may try saying I’m an aTHEist – that is, emphasizing the second syllable – and see what happens. It’s the same word, but doesn’t sound so bad, I bet. Worth a try, even though a bit contrived. Right now, I think Atheist sounds like “against God,” rather than non-God. For instance, it’s OK to say, “I’m not at all religious,” or “I don’t have a religion” but not “I’m an atheist” which is pretty much the same thing. In fact, the latter is the more assertive statement. I also do not think, as I said earlier, that atheism fully describes the philosophy or “worldview” of people who don’t believe in gods. Atheism is just about religion. Here’s something else I might try (and encourage others to try, as well). when asked about my religion, I’ll say something like: “Regarding religion, I’m an aTHEist. In terms of worldview, I’m a humanist. How about you?” It would be interesting to see how religious people respond to my statement and how/if they make a distinction for themselves between religion and worldview or philosophy.

  • yoyo

    E Favorite

  • jay s

    “I also do not think, as I said earlier, that atheism fully describes the philosophy or “worldview” of people who don’t believe in gods. Atheism is just about religion.”Except when one’s religion does not include a god or gods, such as certain forms of Buddhism. Or those wacky Raelians.

  • Ehkzu

    As far as I can tell the only participants in this thread are religion-free folk, arguing about what to call ourselves. This means we’re not talking with religious people here. Which is fine, except that people in general tend to only talk with people they already agree with. And we’re not going to get ourselves a country where any of us could be even elected dogcatcher unless we get out and engage constructively with the religious majority. And as Socrates proved several millenia ago, the best way to do that is to be approachable without letting the other side fall into their comfortable categories. Often the best way to do that is by querying them about their own beliefs. Without laughing or even cocking one eyebrow (I’d so love to be able to do that). Socrates never attacked or lorded it over his interlocutors. He just expressed confusion about their beliefs, finding the internal inconsistencies to drive his slender wedges into.Remember, people love to talk about themselves. We can exploit that. And leave them with a more favorable impression of we empiricists/secular humanists/atheists/Bob worshippers…

  • E Favorite

    EHKZU: “As far as I can tell the only participants in this thread are religion-free folk, arguing about what to call ourselves.”We’re the only ones LEFT at this point. Stick around on other threads and you’ll see plenty of believer/atheist dialogue.(I like your ideas,btw)

  • Tom Kraus

    You seem to be impressed with yourself for stating the obvious. Of course we atheists are out numbered in this country. Your religious brethren have done a wonderful job of supressing free thought and an even better job of perpetuating the fear that is the cornerstone of ALL religions. I would submit to you that there are many, many more of us than you realize. What you are failing to realize is that it is often painful for us to antagonize believers, because we count among them many (if not most) of the people we love. We, unlike the religious, are not so quick to persecute those who do not think as we do. I would say that this gives non-believers the high ground, wouldn’t you?

  • Tom K

    You seem to be impressed with yourself for stating the obvious. Of course we atheists are out numbered in this country. Your religious brethren have done a wonderful job of supressing free thought and an even better job of perpetuating the fear that is the cornerstone of ALL religions. I would submit to you that there are many, many more of us than you realize. What you are failing to realize is that it is often painful for us to antagonize believers, because we count among them many (if not most) of the people we love. We, unlike the religious, are not so quick to persecute those who do not think as we do. I would say that this gives non-believers the high ground, wouldn’t you?

  • Toto

    Hey – how about Ralph Nader? I think he might be an atheist. And then there would be only one spoiler in the race on the left, and we can hope that the evangelicals stay home so it won’t be a complete disaster.Seriously, this idea needs to be deep sixed. You’re better off voting for an atheist on American Idol than for president.

  • brian

    man made god in his own image not the other way round god is another of mans inventions stop teaching little kids there is a god and you stop the cycle religeon relys on gullible little children for its existance

  • Advocate

    What about Richard Dawkins and Jon Stewart?

  • Walter Druker

    How about Warren Buffet as Mike Bloomberg’s running mate for VP. That would tie the Republicans in knots. How could they go against their Billionaire Idols?

  • Bud

    Evangelicals would vote for a black, muslum, lesbian woman before they dared to even consider voting for an atheist. Oh, the horror [giggle].

  • BRANDON

    At loggerheads

  • ISABELLA

    Vicious circle

  • Brin

    Hello, nice site 🙂

  • Brin

    Hello, nice site 🙂

  • jay baker

    Brian trust+ My name is Jay Baker, a young man from Coeurd’Alene, ID. I’ve been asking people for a great many of years to find the many unique inhierante, maybee inate qualitys about each other. Without the referencen of indoctrinated theology. I may still be an erratic 26 years of age, but I understand it to be an american kinship to not souly judge the quality of a spirt based only on the great religious bodys. I’ve been in a serious quest for the majority of my life to establish my own spirtual identity. Then after much, discovery, joy, homage, struggle or communion. I’ve come too notice that part of the american instituition is to be aforded the privalage of exploring all of gods heeping toy chest, and sometimes to even role around in it for a while tell you have had your own every pleasure dilightfully accomedated. In my opinion no matter what your relious orrientation, we all still have at least the littlest contribution to Gods spirtual playground of a treasure cheast. And when I encountier such people that have never recognized any ends or dementions to that new world saveings account, I celebrate in thare innocent visits to the lovely human condition of haveing thair affections recongnized. Athiests if that is how you would like to discriminate. Are as much an americian vote as anybody else, Let them reserve the, proportions of that metephorical tikic to the public office. My self, hope people will find the relitives of an enjoyable eternity with out just the redundent intimidations of side taken.

  • Dave

    M. Berlinerblau:If this is a parody of the stupidity and hypocrisy of the new wave of militant atheists, then I’m laughing along with you.If not, I hope writing the article helped to assuage your spiritual insecurities. Harris and the rest of the atheists of the northeastern academy are wrestling disparately for a voice in the public sphere, but I find them just as repulsive and the Christian right.