Saturday, November 14, 2009

Atheism and the Internet

Let me preface this article by giving you the point of view from which it is written. I am 22 years old, and I am a Christian. If asked for a denomination, I'd cite my background as a Presbyterian and a Covenant, but say that I am non-denominational at the moment. I believe in God, and that he is still around. I believe in Evolution, as I do not think we have brains that we are not supposed to use. I believe that a good deal of the Bible is a metaphor, and taking it as literal historical fact will only lead to trouble. I believe in Jesus, and I believe that our responsibility as Christians is to try to be more like Christ. I dislike religious extremists, and I don't think "God told me to" is an excuse to commit atrocities. I have friends of quite a few different religions, including atheists, and I don't think that being a Christian says I can't be friends with them.

Alright, there's where I'm coming from. Here is today's rant.

There are a lot of very vocal atheists on the internet. I don't know that they're the majority, but they sure are loud. The atheism board on reddit has over 64,000 subscribers, and you'll run into vocal atheists no matter which parts of the internet you frequent, be they news sites, online games, forums and imageboards, etc. I'm not planning to start a theological debate here, but I would like to point out a few observations I have made in regards to the attitudes of some internet atheists.

Many atheists associate atheism with intelligence, as though only smart people can be atheists, or all atheists are smart. They speak as though being an atheist puts them in a select group of smart people who haven't been taken in by "The God Delusion." Often, they'll make sweeping statements about society as a whole, like "It's 2009 and we still have 'In God We Trust' on our money. Society has a long way to go."

Intelligence and Atheism are not mutually inclusive. Really, it's true. Stupid people can be found in any cross-section of individuals, regardless of creed.

Somehow, the words "Christian" and "Creationist" became synonymous to internet atheists. Again, the two are not mutually inclusive. I got as annoyed as any atheist when I heard about the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Teaching the Bible's creation story as literal truth is doing children a disservice. Teaching that one man and one woman were literally created fully formed, and populated the entire planet without inbreeding is silly. Evolution is widely accepted as scientific fact, and many Christians accept it as true as well.

Some internet atheists are the rudest and most offensive people I've come into contact with. On a few memorable occasions, when they found out I was a Christian, they immediately reached several conclusions (I am stupid and/or weak, I was tricked into believing from an early age, I am a Creationist, I am a hypocrite) and launched an attack on my beliefs. Now, I don't mind having my beliefs questioned. I did quite a bit of that myself, and if my beliefs didn't stand up to questioning, I wouldn't still have them. I do mind having my beliefs attacked, unprovoked, and being put on the defensive in an argument that I didn't start, or want to have in the first place.

For the constant cries of "don't force your religion on me," some of these internet atheists are sure obnoxious about forcing their beliefs on others. They raise a fuss about "Under God" in the pledge, about "In God We Trust", about "God Bless America". Christianity, Islam, and the rest of the world's religions, do not have a monopoly on ignorant, extremist points of view. Several atheists I have spoken to are of the opinion that religion as a whole, and the concept of a supreme being, are harmful to humanity, claiming that religion is nothing but a tool of social repression and control.

Essentially, almost all that ends up being posted on internet atheist hangouts are rage-inducing news stories about extremists, pedophiles, fundamentalists, things that make organized religion look bad. The comments on said stories and the other posts comprise one big, pointless circle-jerk of self-congratulating lines, boiling down to "Look how stupid, hypocritical, and backwards religious people are." They blame religion for the Westboro Baptist Church, for ignorance, for the pedophiles in the Catholic Church, for the Dark Ages, for hate crimes, but the problem isn't religion. The truth is, those things frustrate Christians just as much as atheists, moreso in fact. Every rational Christian out there is frustrated, embarrassed, and angry, not just because of the event itself, but because of the damage it does to the world's view of Christianity. For every atrocity, there are thousands upon thousands of good people trying to make the world a little nicer. But hey, that's not news.

Anyway, to wrap all of this up, I'd like to see a bit less aggression from the atheists of the internet. This article isn't going to change anything, but it's been on my mind lately, so there it is. Thanks for reading.


  1. First off, My position is as a vocal atheist.

    As far as 'christian' and 'creationist' go. I can shed some light on this for you. When you examine any faith belief, you find it is a belief without evidence, and often in spite of evidence. A faith belief defies logic. There are about a million different denominations of Christianity, they keep splitting off and changing. The one thing they have in common is no evidence and no philosophical or ethical reason to believe them. And I have heard likely every argument for religion and the existence of god. My personal belief is that people who believe in a god are doing themselves a disservice by not questioning their beliefs; or using bad logic to justify them.

    A major beef with religion is that it gets too much respect. You seem to claim when talking about the creation museum that the bible should be taught as metaphor. I have to honestly ask why? Why promote this book written by bronze age goat herders without giving it the same scrutiny as other books of the time? Teaching the bible as metaphor is finding connections where there aren't any. Like people claiming that there is scientific knowledge locked away in the bible. Utter nonsense.

    Now we get into the 'atheist are forcing their beliefs on others' bit. I would tell you that I don't know and use soft language here... But I'm not going to. The most common thing I seem to see about atheist oppressing christians are things that you mentioned. God bless America, one nation under god, in god we trust. I point out that raising a fuss about YOUR use of religious speech in a SECULAR country IS NOT an atheist forcing their belief on you. You're not being asked to accept a doctrine, or to teach something to your children... But we are.

    I am of the opinion that religion as a whole is harmful and a tool of control. I think when you examine what religion does and how it does it; you come to this conclusion.

    I actually discover that as an atheist, I know more about the bible than a lot of Christians. As an example, lets take the 10 commandments. Most people can name the social commandments, don't lie, don't steal, honor mom and dad. But they seem to miss the bullshit commandments like. Thou shal keep holy the sabbath. And the #1 commandments. First on the list is: Have no other gods before me. People actually want to put this up on public buildings paid for with taxpayer dollars in America. I have to object. Nowhere on that list are social equalities that we, as a society have come up with, on our own, with no divine help. Nowhere in the commandments is 'abolish slavery' or 'give women equal rights'

    Sam Harris brilliantly explains the problem with religious moderates. The problem is that religious moderates respect religion when it doesn't deserve respect, and inspire others to respect religion while distancing themselves from extremists. Oh no, suicide bombers are not Muslims, people who bomb abortion clinics are not christians. At the same time, that respect for religion has made it taboo for anyone to criticize these beliefs, until they lead to tragedy. I mock and ridicule religion, because it deserves nothing less.

  2. For the record, I do blame religion for ignorance; because it teaches you to be happy not knowing truth and blindly accepting answers. I blame religion for pedophiles in the Catholic church; for denying humans a basic fundamental instinct and driving them batshit insane from the denial. I blame religion for Fred Phelps and WBC; because it gives them a platform for preaching hate that comes with a build in level of respect from society. I do blame religion for the Dark Ages; For persecuting people to dared to think outside the box, killing intellectuals, fear mongering, making promises they can't keep, and trying to stifle progress to keep things that way. I do blame religion for hate crimes; why exactly should homosexuals be denied the right to marry?

    These things frustrate christians? Did those christians examine how those things came to be? Or did those chrstians work around the problem and deny their involvement? For every atrocity, there are thousands of people doing the right thing. It is amazing and beautiful the human capacity for compassion and empathy. People will crawl through a burning building if they even think that there might be someone inside. People are appalled and disgusted by cruelty to animals. This concept is called humanity; and it is not religious.

    To steal a Christopher Hitchens argument: Name for me a moral act that a person of faith can do that an infidel or non believer can not? And the coralary to this is: Name for me a wicked act that is performed because of religious conviction that otherwise a person would not do.

    I can not comply with your request for less aggression from atheists on the internet for the reasons stated above. I would like to point out though, this is about as aggressive as I get. I point out flaws in logic and question beliefs. I ask questions, I start conversations. I give respect where it is due and I deny respect were it is undeserved.

  3. I'm not suggesting teaching the Bible as historical fact or metaphor. I'm suggesting it be taught as literature. If we can learn from a sumerian myth like Gilgamesh, or an epic like The Odyssey, surely we can learn from the religious texts of the past. The problem is often that people find what they are looking for in the Bible, as with interpretation of anything. If you're looking for an excuse to hate gay people, or a justification of atrocities, looking for that in a several-thousand year old book is stupid.

    In relation to your arguments on forcing beliefs on others, I agree with several of your points. I agree with seperation of church and state. Theocracies have never turned out well, and a secular government stops a contry's leaders from saying "God told me to nuke them." I don't think that you are being asked to accept religion by having the word "God" on money or in the pledge. Having "In God We Trust" on our money doesn't stop some people from using it for bad shit. A kid saying "One Nation, Under God" does not make him anything more or less than he was before he said it. I direct your attention to one of your favorite comedians, George Carlin, as he comments on femenism, and it going too far (person-hole cover, etc).

    I think that " harmful and a tool of control" is a cynical point of view, even though I can site several examples of it.

    I will not deny that many "Christians" have never really thought about or studied their religion, and view it just as something that you do on Sunday's to get into heaven. There's a clip of Jay Leno going around and asking self-described christians simple Bible trivia, and the answers are embarassing. The thing is, there are no prerequisites for claiming to belong to a religion, be it Christianity, Islam, or even Atheism, so one crazy guy can reflect badly on any group. And yes, don't spend taxpayer dollars to put the Ten Commandments somewhere. Seperation of Church and State.

    I'm a "Religious Moderate" as far as I respect the freedom of religion in this country, with the stipulation that it does not infringe on the rights of others. I respect your right to be an Atheist, even if I think you're wrong. I just wish that you'd take it down a notch. It's kinda like...Atheist Fundamentalism.

  4. I know you blame religion for ignorance, but I blame stupid people. People can be ignorant regardless of whether religion is involved or not. I think blaming religion for pedophilia is ignorant, because there are non-religious pedophiles out there. Watch "To Catch a Predator." Blaming religion for hateful people is ignorant, because doing hateful things without religious emphasis has a solid history (lynching black people, etc). The dark ages? I'll give you that one. Whoops. Hate crimes? No. It's just ignorance.

    I'm not suggesting for a second that non-religious people are incapable of compassion. This is not, and never has been, a hate-mongering post against people who are not Christian. Faith does NOT automatically make you a better person. Never has, never will. To quote Batman, "It's not who I am underneath, but what I *do* that defines me."

    If a statement is true, It's converse is not necessarily true.

    I expected as much. Like I said, I never expected it to change anything.

  5. Okay, if you're going to teach the bible as literature, I am all in favor of that. In fact, I support the teaching of religion in public schools. I do. I want it taught in a new class added to the high school curriculum called philosophy. And don't just teach one, teach christianity, islam, the norse gods, zeus, greek gods, native american cultural gods. Teach them all with no favoritism. Teach the history of how they got where they are today and what they've done. Good and bad. But to make the jump from 'if we can learn things from Gilgamesh...' is not necessary. We didn't learn morality from Gilgamesh, there is again no reason to claim that we can OR SHOULD learn it from the Bible, Koran, or Dead Sea Scrolls.

    Justifying hatreds on an old book is stupid. Yet fringe religious zealots do it all the time, see my comment about gay marriage. The leading campaign contributor in California to vote gay marriage illegal was... The church. And that is NOT a fringe, that's ENOUGH people to win a popular vote and oppress a minority. This is not some obscure example of bigoted hatred, it's right here...

    We have several differences when it comes to 'one nation under god' and 'in god we trust' I find it odd and somewhat telling that you quote George here. He was an atheist.(and I miss him Q.Q) When pressed on his beliefs he said he doesn't believe in a god, but it would not surprise him if there was some order to things.

    As far as feminism, I think you missed the point entirely. A ladies man, or a man hole cover are social uses. These descriptions have a meaning beyond sexist language. That is what George was talking about. You think ladies man, it has a definition to it. It refer to behavior. One nation under god is recited in government funded schools in a secular nation with a separation of church and state. It has only the one meaning in this way, and that is as it's used. Here's an example: I say god damn it sometimes. When I say that, I'm not invoking god to come smite someone. It is a social use of the word god, not a literal use. Saying god in the pledge has only one meaning. It is not a social use of the word, as with a man hole cover, it is a literal pledge to god and the state. As a bonus fail, it spreads the misconception that we are a christian nation.

  6. My views on religion being -harmful and a tool of control- has changed a lot. I used to take a soft stance against religious moderates. I used to think it didn't hurt anything. Then I found out just how many people have batshit insane beliefs that they justify with it.

    Stephen Colbert interviewed a politician who wanted to put the 10 commandments on a court house. And he could only name 3 of the commandments. Don't lie, steal, murder. In my opinion, these Pascal's Wager christians are the worst. It's bad justification out of fear. Where your argument fails is in saying that any crazy can make a group look bad. While you're correct. I consider this a classification problem. I can basically say 'anyone can do anything because of bad reasons' and have the same argument. However, religion is not based in reality and fact. It is a huge gray area with people who might or might not do 'something' because of it. It's bad information that is unecessary, and people DO factor it into their decision making process. A little or a lot. GW Bush, talked to god, made very bad decisions. You want to tell me god didn't factor into his thinking?

  7. The phrase 'atheist fundamentalism' chaps my balls, okay? I'm giving this statement the big FU. And this is why: Atheism is a non belief. It's like non-racism, non-sexism. It's a word that only exists as a non word. Most atheists are really agnostic if you want to split hairs. Because to state, AS FACT there is no god, is something we do not know. But it's similar to a belief in unicorns, we can't know 100% that in some parallel universe there are unicorns, we just assume not because of the lack of evidence. You can't be a fundamental atheist. It's a religious misclassified.

    I DO blame religion for everything I stated above, and for stupid people. But lets be clear on this: I don't blame religion exclusively. But it damn sure isn't helping matters. Teaching people to accept without question. Promising things it can't deliver on. That's not to mention things like faith healing and preying on the innocent and ignorant.

    Blaming religion for pedophilia is not ignorant. It is true there are non-religious pedophiles, but it is also true that the church's abstinence program denies priests and people who commit these crimes a biologically programmed NEED for release. Do you think it just coincidence that this happens so often in these situations? Or do you think if these people were allowed to marry and have sex that that reduce the 'need' for sexual contact? I can't ignore that the situation and not logically come to that conclusion...

    Blaming religion for hateful people is not ignorant. To some extent doing hateful things is part of human nature. Religion doesn't do this exclusively, but religion damn sure doesn't help matters any. Say what you want about the bible, but look at the track record of genocide. Entire peoples are wiped out for not believing in the right god. (70k in 1 chro 21) Lynching black people? You do know the KKK claimed to be a christian organization?

    Hate crimes? yes, and I can cite specific examples: Lev 20:13 is cited a lot. (If a man lay with a man as woman...) Also, every act of called upon genocide by god has an undertone of 'they are inferior, they don't have god on their side' They dehumanize other people in places to make it easier to kill them! They don't believe in our god, they are sub human.

    There are other pearls in the book as well: Check Ex. 21:1-11 for selling your daughter into slavery. I consider that woman hate, or at least non equal treatment.

  8. It is true that these aren't used anymore. But it IS in the book, it IS used by fringes to justify awful things. While they might not stone gays to death... They might vote for marriage to be illegal in California. You see what I mean about the fringe affecting the majority and oppressing a minority?

    You personally don't claim to be better than anyone. This is true. I believe that. And I believe that the majority of christians also believe that. But your religion thinks different. It clearly thinks it's better. And your support for that religion, even as a moderate, lends power to the fringes.

    If it is what you do that defines you. Then it seems to me that you don't need a religion at all. You disagree with a majority of it, you are a moral thoughtful person. I think what you do, SHOULD define who you are underneath. Why try to hide it and say you have a belief, that you reject most of. That you have to read selectively. That you know contains errors and inconsistencies. That you have to make a logical leap from clear thinking to accept? It's fair to say, I don't why you would choose to do this.

    XD You can't bait me into a post like this, asking kindly that I step it down a notch. That I back off of beliefs that I feel passionate about... Then back down by saying that you didn't expect to change anything, you were just voicing frustration. You took a stance. I am attacking that stance (militant atheist style, baby!) You have to defend it or come to a conciseness with me.

  9. Hi, I agree with this post. All of this.

    Although I guess I 'dont count' since I'm still fairly (although quietly) "spiritual". I label myself agnostic, only cus I dont know if there's a God, but dont really see a reason there cant be.
    Can you actually prove a ghost -isnt- there? People in the Dark Ages would have thought the concept of a Skin Cell was about the same level of nutters. I guess I kind of see Science as a line. An incredibly useful one that does move us forward, but doesnt really ever have an ending until we stop existing.

    I'm a bit season 6 onward, Scully. Still like 'wtf, lets use our science hats...' but totally like 'yeah ok, there's shit that wants to beam me into a spaceship...'

  10. Bee Tee Dubs,
    If anything I feel like what you were trying to say here Mark was that it -seems- like the majority of athiests are an angry intolerant mob via the internet. Not just flat up you disagree with Atheism in general.

    Just pointing out how the quiet thoughtful Athiests (I've met them, they exist), who will have a polite discussion that might end in agreeing to dissagree get drowned out significantly.

    It ends up being a game of extremists... The scary vocal athiests are making the whole group look the same. Much like how scary Christian extremists tend to wash over the entirety of what good has come out of the system of Christianity.

    Also I think I'm just overly partial to the Narnia type of Christian morals delivery system... it's one of my favorite book series as a child. I had noooo idea all of the Jesusy allegory in it when I was little, all I saw was a thoughtful, creative, interesting set of books.

    To me, I never felt 'brainwashed' in the slightest, they aren't someone telling you what you should or shouldn't do. There were honest and obvious lessons, some that I agreed with, others I disagreed with. There to be processed and thought through. I think any child who reads those and ends up more careful of their own relations toward other humans has successfully learned something from those books.

    Much in the same way people read bible stories and go ' you know what, yeah, I need to start communicating better with my wife' (p.s. I dont know shit about actual Bible Stories for the most part, take that as you will) or some other basic level of self human improvement.

    Hell thats where all the good about Christianity comes from, that's where the 'respect' comes from. It was a focused and fairly lone (for a looong time) set of examples of why and how to be a decent human being. To make your time here improve the lives of others, etc. There's loaaaads of other literature or media out there today that has similar ponderings on human nature and how we should interact. Things that make for a more logical religious person.

    I just think counting the bible out as one of those sources is sort of silly...

    Also if you guys covered this, my bad... bit TL:DR... well I guess TL:RSOI (read some of it)

  11. "Blaming religion for pedophilia is not ignorant. It is true there are non-religious pedophiles, but it is also true that the church's abstinence program denies priests and people who commit these crimes a biologically programmed NEED for release."

    Sooo, where in that does it mean for them to be attracted to children and not people their own age? I still think its fucked up that they do supress an extremely natural human function... but I think its a bit of a stretch.
    Also, saying its because children are more susceptible to influence and innocent- not gonna fly with me.
    Ladies, especially if they think they are loved (or even lusted after), are 30,000 times more likely to jump into bed with a guy who's not allowed to do em than a kid is. They'd also might be theoretically more likely/just as likely to keep quiet about the matter cus adults have a high amount of shame, drama, etc etc.
    Though there's loads of psychological funkiness that goes along with child molestation and trust... so thats you know, sort of speculative.

  12. Can you actually prove a ghost -isnt- there?

    Ouch Ren. This logic HURTS ME! By this logic, we can't prove faeries aren't there, unicorns... The logic isn't sound just because lots of people will accept this argument with god. Yes, science has its limits and those limits are expanding all the time. It is a HUGE leap to go, science doesn't know... Therefor, we insert this entity that has and is itself an answer, without questioning it.

    I would argue that MOST of the lessons of Jesus are honest straight forward lessons. I would also argue that some are necessary and go without needing to be said. Others are born of fear or political interests. See my argument on the 10 commandments. We don't need them, they shouldn't be exonerated beyond what they are (stories in an old book)

    The brainwashed never know they are. Brainwashing is a societal 'normal' It's different for societies and cultures. Just because you've never felt brainwashed, doesn't mean it isn't so. I think about it the other way: Everyone is brainwashed.

    Sooo, where in that does it mean for them to be attracted to children and not people their own age?

    Children are easier targets. Easier to keep quiet, sometimes forever. Easier to manipulate, trusting, innocent. Also, and adult has to reciprocate that feeling; and a child is much more likely to respond favorably to an authority figure than an adult. This is not a stretch; this is psychology and the way the human mind works. We are animals with a complex social structure, and that structure is easily manipulated by little leftovers from our primitive past. Similar social interactions are seen all the time in primates. (Chimpanzees for example will take food of others based on social status/age/parents, etc) Another thing to consider is if these guys jump in bed with a girl: that isn't illegal and isn't as big of deal as a pedophile. Other than him losing his vows, it's a normal (though awkward) situation that isn't going to merit press coverage. Adults would actually be MORE likely to let slip because they're adults, and shame, and drama, and in the end harder to control. I'm sorry you don't like the argument, but it is solid.

  13. Well, here's something that stuck out at me.
    Steven said that religion teaches you to accept without question. This is false.
    (I'll only state the Christian version for sake of a short argument)
    St. Augustine said that if we do not examine our faith we believe nothing. It is in questioning that we find God. Being complacent is bad faith.
    God created a world we did not understand and gave us free will so we can learn. I believe that one day science will prove God, we just lack the technology.
    Society's current disbelief in God (any form)can be attributed to the "it's darkest just before dawn" saying.

  14. The great thing about hating God is that it lets you vent your rage against Daddy without feeling so guilty.

    "You won't tell me what to do!"

    btw, did you call your father today?

  15. @Tower

    Does it or does it not give answers to questions that it can not answer? Where you go when you die, for example. It's in questions of god that I found atheism. Not only do you have to ask questions, you have to answer them correctly. On another side note, if you believe that technology will one day prove god, I would be afraid. Lets not forget what god did to the tower of babel.

    There are other logical questions in your response that make me cringe. God created the world we didn't understand and gave us free will? Not buying that, or 'darkest before dawn'

    It's darkest around religion, it's faulty conclusions and bad logic. Begging the question, retarding the progression of science and society. I have no respect for it, and while I'm here, I'll make sure my position is known.


    I don't hate god anymore than you hate unicorns. I do have a hate for bad information, however, I direct that much more usefully than a hate for god. I celebrated Christmas yesterday with my family (and dad)

  16. @Fluffy


    Look, what I really dislike is extremism of any sort. I dislike right-wing extremeists who say that we should throw rocks at gay people. I dislike Muslum extremeists who like to fly planes into buildings.

    I also dislike it when people claim to have all the answers. I think it's ridiculous to think that we know all there is to know about the universe, the nature of life, of the mind, etc. We're finding out new things all the time, and that's great.

    Is scientific progress, however, the purpose of our existence? Is our raison d'etre to invent the flying car, or cure cancer? If so, science is nothing but the religion of the 21st century. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of technology, but searching for the meaning of life will not go away, no matter how much scientific progress we make.

    But that's too big for me. I'm not an inventor, or a scientist, and neither are you. For me, religion is about personal experience, not some great over-arching truth. And from my personal experience, I happen to believe there is a god. If you don't, that's ok. I don't have to agree with you, but I don't have to convert you either.

    Just...take it down a notch. I don't give a pair of dingo's kidneys what your religion, or lack of one, is. I'm just sick and tired of your militant anti-religion agenda that you never shut up about. If you want to be an atheist, that's fine. If you think I'm wrong for believing in God, that's fine. But what's not fine is leaping down my or others' throats with your condescending speeches about logic, science, and the evils of religion, any time religion comes up in conversation.

    Merry Christmas!

  17. There is searching for the meaning of life, which is an endeavor that I whole-heatedly support... and then there is the claim that we've found the meaning of life. Even if you don't view religion this was, Christianity does.

    I like science because it doesn't make unsubstantiated claims. I can't let you redefine science into a religion. IF an individual makes science the focus of their life, it is still not a religion because by definition, religion requires faith in the absence of evidence. Raelians are atheists. They believe that aliens created us, and do not believe in a god. The are bat-shit insane, kinda like Scientologists. You can make anything a religion by distancing it from reality and inserting bogus claims that play to psychology. When you do that, the thing you're talking about is no longer what it was. If you take science and start to worship it without question, you go against everything that that science was. The new thing is not science.

    As far as a personal experience of god, there is no counter argument to that. I don't believe in a god because I've never had that experience. For you to try to relay that to me is pointless.

    I often argue that atheism is the same as non-racism. It's a word without meaning. It exists because of religion (And here is where I would normally cite examples of religion=bad) I hate to play the victim here, but god damn it I'm fucking gonna. For the same reason I stand up for gay rights not being gay, and for the same reason I would like sharia law brought down and equal rights for women in areas of the middle east. Because it's wrong and not equal. A christian sign declaring that I go to hell can stand under free speech, but the atheist sign 'Don't believe in god? You're not alone' is taken down as offensive?

    Until the majority cuts that shit out, I'll be here. Loud as ever, with the intent of opening eyes. I trust the 'you' in the last paragraph is directed at militant atheists in general and not at me (but you almost got me) I'm letting that go XD

    I feel that I should point out that I will ridicule religion, if it deserves it, just like any other idea. I don't respect it because it's religion and will not give it a free pass. A bad idea is a bad idea. Period.

    Leaping down throats and being condescending. As much as I would like to be poetic and the nice guy all the time, there are times people will be offended, there are times when I will give you a speech if I think you need one. There are times in conversation when I point things out about religion. I think, these broad spectrum militant atheists could use some tact and grace at times. But it contrasts nicely with the 'Don't believe in god, go to hell!' billboard nicely.

    Merry Christmas! Mine was great.

  18. i finished karen armstrong's latest book, "the case for god," and have begun another entitled "the battle for god." armstrong believes in religious text through its capacity for human-conditional truth via myth. this is, i think, an interesting approach, but it runs into a large, unavoidable snag: the myths of beowulf or the iliad do not damn us to eternal suffering if we don't take them as models for absolute truth/reality, or apply them to our lives. the texts of the three major monotheistic religions, however, will. and the words of socrates, who may or may not have existed, were not founded upon his claim to godly status (and his assertion that he was the only way to "redemption").

    this is one of my major problems with religion. it's all really interesting consider -- especially the potential for developing new myths that will better suit our current viewpoints. maybe that's the thing we need most of all in the forms of written and visual art, though i have to wonder about modern society's willingness to embrace it. as armstrong more or less writes, "metaphor has become 'just' a symbol."