A Lapsed Atheist Repeatedly Gets It Wrong June 21, 2009

A Lapsed Atheist Repeatedly Gets It Wrong

This article from (conservative website) The American Thinker follows the standard “atheism-is-evil” formula: The author “Jenn Q. Public” suggests that atheists are arrogant (“Make no mistake: Atheists think they’re smarter than you”), suggests that atheists have “idols” of our own (like “patron saint” Bill Maher), and makes blanket statements about atheists while at the same time deriding atheists for supposedly doing the same thing to Christians (“You see, for liberal Atheists, the only thing worse than religion is the Religious Right, a term they use to encompass all Christian conservatives”).

You can read it for yourself, but let’s address some specific portions of the piece:

I grew up learning from my father that Atheism is rational, and therefore, religious belief is irrational; Atheism is defined by logic, religious faith by fantasy; and science is real while religion is make believe. Faith, I was taught, requires a willful stifling of reason.

The Torah, the Gospels, the Qur’an? All woefully inaccurate, laughably inconsistent fictions used to encourage belief in an illusion for the purpose of social control.

Religious beliefs do often fly in the face of logic and reason. It doesn’t make sense, for example, to say that simple coincidences are “miracles” from a god.

But I understand why people would want to be religious. It gives them hope, it gives them a sense of security, it gives them a sense of community. Those things are not irrational at all. I just don’t think they’re realistic.

That’s why religious people shouldn’t automatically be accused of stupidity. I don’t think many of them have thought through things like the literal truth of their holy book or the alternative explanations for why things happen in life. Many people just don’t care.

But Atheists aren’t content to leave religion as a mere object of ridicule. They want it cleansed from public life. And enlightened as they are, they’ve come up with quite the pretense for justifying the righteousness of their bigotry: they are defending the vision of our Founding Fathers from a dominionist conspiracy to establish Christianity as the state religion.

Most atheists (and national atheistic organizations) have no desire to “cleanse” religion from public life. Rather, we just don’t want faith getting any sort of special privilege from the government.

You want to have religious services? Fine. We won’t stop you.

You want to tell us why we should be religious? Fine, but we’ll answer back.

You want to push your Biblical beliefs into secular classrooms? Now, we have a fight on our hands.

There’s a reason the atheists that are in the public eye right now are more “aggressive” about their atheism — possibly more than they actually are in real life. Never before have atheists received this much attention and it’s long overdue. So they might as well make the most of it and try to jilt people out of the comfort of their faith — get them to consider another possibility.

Once atheism becomes more mainstream than it currently is, you won’t be hearing the same kind of voices.

You see, for liberal Atheists, the only thing worse than religion is the Religious Right, a term they use to encompass all Christian conservatives. And what better way to siphon fuel from the Religious Right than to convince Americans that the government is perpetually on the verge of becoming a theocracy?

Not every atheist is a liberal and not every Christian is part of the Religious Right. That group, however, is powerful and they do want to see several elements of their faith encoded in the law. Thankfully, there are many Christians who oppose that. I’m sure there are some conservative or fundamentalist Christians who don’t want to see that, but I have yet to meet one.

The article is disturbing enough to read… but if you want to go for the full scare, try reading the comments.

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  • phoenixphire24

    Wow, not only is that article ridiculous, but the comments have to contain nearly every religious logical fallacy and long refuted argument I have ever heard. Someone even went as far as to list all the people us atheists have supposedly killed (ie the old Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot argument). It’s sad that in this day and age, people still loathe atheists without even knowing anything about them.

  • Daniel

    Not every atheist is a liberal and not every Christian is part of the Religious Right.

    I seriously have no idea what ‘liberal’ means anymore, in the same sense that the word ‘conservative’ in a political context no longer means what it appears it should.

    What I do know is that the majority of US Atheist sites are quite vocally cheerleaders for the Democratic party. And in the few places where the bloggers themselves may attempt to be more neutral, the comments sections are rabid with Democrat apologists.

    I think this contributes to the impression that Atheists aren’t as serious about their non-belief as they are about advancing a so-called leftist agenda.

  • Ron in Houston

    To me, it’s a case of the extremes framing the debate. I think you’re right, MOST atheists are quite content to let religious people be. Similarly, MOST religious folks realize that atheists are pretty much just like them only they don’t believe in a God.

    However, it’s the extremes that seem to frame the debate. There are zealots on both sides that are way too ego identified with their belief systems (be they theistic or atheistic) who frame this in such a polarized fashion.

    Then again, you are the Friendly Atheist.

  • mikespeir

    Bill Maher? Saint? Ugh!

    I have to admit don’t think people like this “former atheist” are on the level. I just can’t see how.

  • The AT article is a mish-mash of equivocation and invective – but as you say, the comments are frightening. I suppose we must put up with such stuff as the price for having atheism on the conversational agenda.

    We have Dawkins to thank for the recent public visibility of atheism, though he’s nearly always maligned as a ‘militant’ atheist. Probably any atheist who wrote a massively successful book on the subject – and did it pretty much first – would have been described so.

  • I know it’s the “no true Scotsman” argument, but I severely doubt that this lapsed atheist was indeed once an atheist.

    “The Christians” seem to love to read that someone who was once a n(self proclaimed) atheist has now joined their flock, probably because numerical advantage is the only remaining argument they have left. Their self-assured smugness of “knowing” the creator of the universe sounds just like someone name-dropping to show off.

    Funny that Christians read totally un-like their holy book, and how their leader described how those should follow him? Contrast the hypocrites who worship in public with the vast mega-churches?

    I don’t want religion removed from society, but I sure want purely religious views and laws kept out of my life. And I don’t want the liars of religion telling us that they’re true.

  • AndrewR

    Probably a lost case, but I left a comment on there.

    Chilerkle Wrote:
    > The most bigoted Atheists I’ve ever encountered
    > are of the Liberal persuasion. Then again hate and
    > liberalism go together like peanut butter and
    > jelly!

    Funny you say that hate and liberalism go together only two weeks after conservative extremists murdered an abortion doctor and shot up a holocaust museum…

    From above, I forget who posted it, I’m sorry.

    “There is something out there bigger than us. I think it is God — and personally — I think it is the God of the Christian Bible. At any rate, there IS SOMEONE or SOMETHING out there. Atheism cannot logically or intellectually refute that.”

    Is everyone here unfamiliar with the concept of the burden of proof? Logically speaking, it’s customary to assume something does not exist until it is proven to. I can’t reasonably claim there is an invisible dragon in my garage and expect you to believe that claim until there is proof given that there isn’t. That’s completely backward.

    To Jenn Q Public, I’m sorry that you were raised in such a hate-filled environment, but it is wrong and intellectually dishonest to blame that on “Atheists” (and as someone pointed out above, it’s unfair to define someone else’s position and then attack that), as the bigotry and hate that I’ve seen among people of ALL faiths, creeds, ideologies, positions, worldviews is firm evidence that such hate is human nature. To say that atheists are hateful or that liberals are hateful is no better (nor any more true) than claiming that theists or conservatives are.

  • Justin jm

    The article is disturbing enough to read… but if you want to go for the full scare, try reading the comments.

    The commenters think we are arrogant, but they repeatedly brag about how they’re all that and a bag of potato chips. One dude listed his IQ number then said he wasn’t bragging. On another article comment thread, it’s even worse.

    Why is it that the people who can’t be reasoned with always think themselves to be the smartest?

  • Make no mistake: Atheists think they’re smarter than you

    Personally I have no problem with that in the majority of cases.

  • Boštjan

    So I published this anwser on the question that comes up all the time I dubt that they will publish it so I will put it here if some one would want to read it.

    Richard L. Kent, Esq. Wrote:
    > Atheism has but ONE commandment: “Do what thou
    > wilt is the whole of the Law.” And when people who
    > believe that get into power, other people die.
    > To wit:
    > Political/Religious Death Tolls Since 1917:
    > Atheistic Soviet Communism: 50,000,000 +-
    > (including 10,000,000 ww2 casualties vs. atheistic
    > Naziism)
    > Atheistic National Socialism: 48,000,000 +=
    > (including 10,000,000 Soviets; I’m splitting the
    > Soviet 20,000,000 total killed in ww2 evenly
    > between them)
    > Atheistic Maoist Communism:
    > 80,000,000-100,000,000 (including all deaths from
    > end of WW2 to present time, including Immediate
    > Revolutionary Period 1949-1953, Great Leap Forward
    > 1958, Great Cultural Revolution 1967-1970,
    > Democracy movement crushed 1989, etc)
    > Atheistic Cambodia under Pol Pot, 1974-1979:
    > 1,000,000 of 4,000,000 total
    > Atheistic Yugoslavia, including wars by
    > nationalist-socialist (under Slobo) Serbia
    > 1995-2000: 500,000
    > Other Atheistic Communist E. Europe, including
    > Albania, 1945-1990: 1,000,000
    > Atheistic North Vietnam, including post-occupation
    > period following 1975 occupation of S. Vietnam:
    > 500,000, plus 50,000 patriotic Americans killed
    > trying to keep the commies out
    > Atheistic North Korea: 2,000,000+-, plus 50,000
    > patriotic Americans killed trying to keep the
    > commies out
    > Numbers murdered in concentration camps in UK and
    > Great Britain under “Christian” governments,
    > 1917-2009:
    > 0
    > Numbers killed in wars that these (barely)
    > Christian nations needlessly started, 1917-2009:
    > hard to say. I’d put it at MAYBE 100,000. If
    > that.
    > Total killed by Atheists in death camps and/or
    > wars that they needlessly started: 203,000,000.
    > Plus. Minus.
    > Atheists should read those figures before babbling
    > about their moral superiority.
    > End of story.
    > Risen Christ forgive and protect us all.

    Oh i am so fed up with this argument.
    Just for the record. I was born in Yugoslavia and I don’t remeber that we were called Atheistic Yugoslavia, in fact it was called Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
    And those people in yougoslavia were not killed because they would be christans(slovenians, croats) or muslims(bosnias) or ortodx cristan(serbs)

    {at list until 1991 then all hell broke loose fundametalist like you people here start killing oposite religion orthodox were killing muslims, muslims were killing ortodx and christians from croatia were killing ortodox chatolic from serbia, like during the WW2, some were killing because nationalistic ideals, some were killing because they were fundametalist and were trying to clean their countrys of infidels. In the first group there were athists but in the second sorry there were just loonis like you}

    but because they were colaborating with german during the WW2 or because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those killings after the war were done in secrecy and they killed all people, that they got back from the border, withowt any trial. (think guantanamo) oh and by the way this colaborators were set up by curch not only in slovenia but all over the europe. Because my famliy is religious 2 of my grandmather brothers were in the ranks on the wrong side, so with colaborators domobranci, and they were killed after the war. From today prespective it is like talibans in middle east. They are supported by clergy(iman, ayatolah,…); they think they are in the battle for more than just ther country they are in the battle for god. Domobranci tought the same, only they were supported by bishops and vatican.

    From wikipedia:
    Members of the Domobranci and the police force promised that
    “I swear by almighty God that I will be loyal, brave and obedient to my superiors, that I will stand in common struggle with the German armed forces, stand under the command of the leader of Greater Germany, SS troops and police against bandits and communism and their allies; this duty I will carry out conscientiously for my Slovenian homeland as part of a free Europe. For this struggle I am also ready to sacrifice my life. So help me God!”

    There was one platon thah after the killings alweys said. Die partisan in the name of christ wonds.->this rimes in slovenain.
    look couple of them closly you will be surprised.

    So to get to the point, there is no point calling those countrys atheistic …
    That is like calling USA, christan/chatolic United states of america more than 1 000 000 people killd in last 5 years just in iraq.
    Where is the point in that. Just because your president is christan and your goverment too , that does not mean that those people in iraq died because some big christan idea. Or does it?

  • justanotherjones

    Does anyone want to let them know that Bill Maher actually professes to be agnostic and that Chris Matthews, a Catholic, professes to believe in the same god they do?

  • Richard Wade

    “Jenn Q. Public” sure sounds like a pseudonym. She, (assuming even the gender is correct) can snipe with impunity from the safety of her anonymity, and make or imply any claims she wants about her experience and qualifications, including the ever-popular and ever-dubious “I’m a former atheist, so I know what they’re all about, and my qualifications as a faith salesperson are now even more credible.” That claim has never impressed me. That would only impress naive believers, which is clearly the intended audience.

    Her post is just one more long-winded rant from a bigot, of which there is an inexhaustible supply. There they are, the same old canards, fallacious arguments and stereotypes. It’s like an old song that everybody knows from repetition. I don’t know why anyone bothers to re-write this stuff. Any one of these diatribes longer than 1,000 words will contain all the same things. Why not just pick one and copy and paste it whenever you want to revive your hate base? Better yet, put it to verse and music, and everyone can sing along:

    (to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic)

    Mine eyes have seen the arrogance of atheists abound
    They have written many books to try to pull us to the ground
    They show their hate for Christians with their bus ads all around
    But we will even the score!

    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    So God will love us more!

    They have no morals and they have no meaning in their heart
    They’re depressed, unpatriotic fools who think they’re oh so smart
    They secretly just hate the Lord and sin right from the start
    They’re rotten to the core!

    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    So God will love us more!

    They’re angry and conceited and they’re rude both night and day
    They want to ban religion from our lives in every way
    They’re all a bunch of misfits and they’re probably all gay
    So we have to fight this war!

    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    Gotta hate the goddamn atheists!
    So God will love us more!

  • Ron in Houston


    While I’ll agree that folks never do evil quite so joyfully as in the name of religion, I also know that inhumanity and cruelty are not dependent on faith or lack thereof.

  • Chris

    That was profoundly disturbing on a number of levels. Thanks for a few rough night, Hemant, though I suppose, as always, it’s better to know the truth than to be ignorant of it. Grr.

  • The ignorance in the comments section there is so overwhelming, it’s difficult to even contemplate addressing it.

    Kudos to the few brave souls who did attempt it.

    Personally, I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

  • It is usually those that doubt their own position that are the most vitriolic.

  • @justanotherjones

    They (he/she/whatever) actually made the point that Matthews is a catholic. And then argued against him as if he were one of their strawman atheists.

    Talk about FAIL…

  • georgie

    I am amazed at the reason this jen Q public gives for not being an atheist anymore. Because of people like Bill Maher? Is she shitting me (us) or what? How incredibly stupid.

  • People will often believe what they want and claim it is moral and true, even without evidence or evidence that would indicate their belief is not true.

    Christians believe in their version of God even though they have not one shred of evidence in support of their version of God. They believe all the other Gods are not real, even without evidence demonstrating they are not real. They want to believe in their own form of God.

    It is much like the Christians re-electing their Christians president George Bush, even after the lies that lead to war which killed/murdered untold numbers of humans, including Americans, children and babies. Instead of standing up against what is and was immoral in the eyes of their Jesus, they decided they wanted to believe it was moral and ok so they re-elected the idiot that gave us the war….of course, with their version of God backing it all.

    I get emails from Christians all the time. Recently, i received one that claims Obama was not a citizen (again) and they had proof….again. However, like the other scams mails going around, this one was also another scam…false. Again, these Christians want to believe Obama is not rightfully the president so they will pass lies around but it is what they want to believe.

    The same with their hate for immigrants. They want to believe all these terrible things, so they will spread the hate and lies. Yet, they will not for a second ask themselves, is this what Jesus would do. I get these kind of hate mails from Christians all the time….just like I did when George Bush wanted his war.

    They would tell me i should support the war and the president and I was un-american to speak out against george bush, a president. then, they would send me an email asking, “what will you say when you stand before Jesus”. Guess what? I would say, I was not one of those Claimed Christians that supported the war, the killing, the murder, the torture all based on lies. I was one of the agnostics that was against it.

    I don’t know, I am just getting tired of the idiots claiming morals and then supporting anything but those action which are moral…..

  • Elsa

    It’s really interesting that she was raised atheist and became Christian, the inverse of many of the atheists you see on the internet. I suppose for an atheist kid, Christianity would be the ultimate form of rebellion.

  • SarahH

    Make no mistake: Atheists think they’re smarter than you

    Maybe some do. But I’d say most atheists simply think that they hold a more correct position on one single issue – the existence of God. This does not make them “smarter” overall, it just means that they think they have a “smarter” intellectual position when it comes to truth claims about deities. Period.

  • Brooks

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that in this thread about supposed atheist immorality that there’s an ad at the top for anti-family entertainment companies (whatever those are)? I just wonder what a Christian would think if they first read that article and then saw the ad at the top of an atheist site. ^^;;

  • It’s really interesting that she was raised atheist and became Christian, the inverse of many of the atheists you see on the internet.

    I infer that she was raised by angry ex-Jewish father and a non-practicing mother (with active xtian relations), and that her religious journey is merely to agnostic tolerance rather than belief in a god of specific denomination.

    I had to re-read the article a couple of times before deciding that it was not actually too bad. The reader comments on the American Thinker [sic] are beyond the pale.

    There is a direct link to the comments and FA regulars are getting through, myself included. Rather than here or there though, I suggest posting on Jenn’s blog directly, where the conversation has a chance perhaps of being civil and two-sided.

  • Boštjan Says:

    June 21st, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Oh i am so fed up with this argument>>

    That’s because you cannot possibly answer it, atheist.

    Niezsche had you people pegged ab initio in the 1880s: an atheist who cannot possibly bear the absolutely logical conclusions of your own atheistm. You do not believe in God, but you rely on those who do to maintain a civil world where you don’t get raped and murdered in the street by those stronger than you are.

    Sociologically, the choice is not between God and Satan, but between God and Darwin. Do YOU want to be the small fish in the food chain? Didn’t think so. But without a God to set a moral order among men, that’s what we are: naked to the forces of the survival of the strongest and the fittest, and the reduction of the rest to either dinner table food, rape victim, or, at best, low man on a totem pole.

    Atheist morality is an oxymoron. With no God to judge, it is strength that defines us. Nothing more.

    In a world without God, Stalin and Hitler are the *best* we can expect. 1984 is a vacation. And the 200 million plus bloodied corpses murdered at the hands of the atheists are just the barest beginnings.

    I don’t say: go directly to Hell. I say, repent and believe the Good Hews so that you may avoid going to Hell.

    Christ save your soul. You can’t. Not even remotely.

    Richard L. Kent, Esq.

  • logical conclusions of your own atheistm> atheism.
    Good Hews > Good News.

    Preview is always your friend whether you believe in God or not.

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