Creating the Target August 15, 2010

Creating the Target

David Hayward offers this visual of the sort of alienation seen in the Christian world:

What does someone have to say to become the red dot in the atheist world?

(via nakedpastor)


Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • rbray18

    “i believe in homeopathy” may work,and maybe in a few circles expressing dislike in certain
    big name atheists,like pz,or pat condell.just depends on where ya say it and how though the how most likely has less to do then the where.

  • VXbinaca

    I’ve found that my experiences of outing myself to Christians, as painful as it was a few times dealing with their isolation, isn’t as bad as a lot of gays have it.

    May not like ’em sometimes but they do get my sympathy on that front ’cause I know what it’s like a little.

    Semi-Related to ‘targets’: this most awesome video arrived in my YouTube feed today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOYQ_jLyS_0

  • Rajesh Shenoy

    “I think there IS something like a Higher Power.”

  • Twewi

    “I’ve just donated millions of dollars to Catholic schools.”

    😛

  • It takes MORE faith to be an atheist.

  • td

    “Religion is not harmful.”

  • Jim H

    I think there’s only one thing: “I hate [group X] for who they are,” where X is one of {gay, straight, black, white, etc.}, or even christian.

  • billybobbibb

    “Prayer actually works” 😉

  • qwertyuiop

    “I believe in aliens/UFOs/ghosts.”
    “I’m against vaccines.”
    “I believe 9/11 was an inside job.”

    Just a few things 🙂

  • “Religion and science are not incompatible. Non-Overlapping Magisteria and all.”

  • Saying that you are agnostic.

  • Jordan

    “I’m an atheist but…”

  • qwertyuiop

    “Evolution is false.”

  • “I love watching Fox News.”

    “I’m pro-life.”

    “I voted for Bush, twice.”

    “I am homeschooling my children.”

    “I believe in god, but I call it ____.” (nature, science, etc…)

    Or if you…

    Go to church, even if it’s a UU congregation.

    Label and generalize any group of people.

  • Lauren

    “Evolution is just a theory”

  • “Hi, I’m a scientologist.”

  • Hugh Kramer

    What does someone have to say to become the red dot in the atheist world?

    “Could I interest you in one of our company’s new personal insurance policies?”

    OK, well that one works in everybody’s world.
    🙂

  • Nigel Patel

    When I first started running in Atheist circles I discovered that I have a serious attitude problem with Libertarians.
    Wanting not to sound narrow minded, I refrained from bad mouthing Libertarians even though I’m sure most of them, Atheist or otherwise, voted for Dubya.

  • NateDawg

    “Stalin is the Jesus of Atheism”

  • Citizen Z

    “I’m a Libertarian.”

  • Hitch

    “Atheists don’t deserve to be citizens of this country.”

  • Sarah

    What on earth does homeschooling have to do with being alienated from the atheist community? Talk about ironic generalizing of a group of people! I *am* homeschooling my children, I’ve done so for well over a decade. In fact, we’re a part of a secular homeschooling group predominantly comprised of atheist families. We live in a VERY religious infused part of the midwest, and like it or not-there is an inordinate amount of religious pressure in the schools, public and private.

    Don’t lump homeschoolers into one group. Religious homeschoolers do not speak for me, any more than religious public schoolers speak for everyone else.

  • Caley ‘PolyLan’ Phillips

    (Overheard by someone at a CFI-Michigan meetup for the movie: “creation”)
    “I am an atheist who believes in reincarnation”
    The reaction of bafflement from the table was interesting. (and understandable)

  • John

    Haha Caley – I was at a CFI event and someone told me they voted for McCain because Obama was a Muslim! I guess some people don’t understand the “inquiry” part in the name.

  • Justin

    “I didn’t vaccinate my kids. Western medicine is a giant scam.”

  • Narvi

    “I raped a child.” Sounds alienating to me!

  • Guest

    Plain and simple:
    I’m a Christian.

  • evilspud500

    “I have diarreah”

  • jose

    I think Dawkins is wrong on X.

    With X being anything Dawkins ever said.

  • L. Foster

    “I honestly believe that Obama was born outside this country.”

  • Citizen Z

    Plain and simple:
    I’m a Christian.

    If you’re Christian you’re not an atheist. My impression was the drawing is representing relationships within the group, as opposed to relationships of the group to those outside the group. (It may be increasingly uncommon, but there are still homosexuals who consider themselves Christian, and there are still Christians who think you can be both homosexual and Christian – though they still treat them as second-class citizens.)

  • popvox

    “I’m pro-life.”

    Yeah, I’ll vouch for that one.

  • Daniel

    “I don’t believe in God, but I have seen a ghost.”

  • The people who mention libertarianism seem to not know what being a libertarian means. People like Glenn Beck claim to be libertarians, but they don’t hold many of the same ideals that the libertarian party hold.

    I consider myself a left-libertarian, which means I believe in the legalization of any victim-less crime, the removal of government from much of our daily lives, and the protection of life and freedom, as well as defending the U.S. Constitution.

    People like Glenn Beck are NOT libertarians, despite what they claim.

    Anyway, back on topic, something like, “I’m an atheist, but I think ghosts/flying saucers/psychics may be real,” would be grounds for ostracization. 😉

  • Andrew Morgan

    I’ve found that pretty much any expression of right-ward politics works well.

  • Deiloh

    Palin for 2012

  • Lisa C.

    “I farted.”

  • “George W. Bush wasn’t that bad…”

  • Anonymoose

    “I had sex with my dog.

    …I loved it.”

  • jose

    Yet Another Atheist, I just came back from the link you provided. How is abolishing social security and unemployment benefits “left”?

  • I wish I had a link that explained left-libertarian ideals. They slightly differ from the classical libertarian ideals. Left-libertarians believe in keeping social security and unemployment. Just like conservative-libertarians don’t like gay marriage and abortion.

    To be fair, it’s not like the site says to abolish Social Security and let everyone fend for themselves. It suggests we then “transition to a private voluntary system”. Not that I personally agree with abolishing Social Security, but I just wanted to make that clear.

    Also, when I say I’m left-libertarian, it doesn’t mean I agree with every single ideal libertarians believe in. It’s just the party that most closely matches my own personal political beliefs.

  • College Student Atheist

    Thanks, Sarah, for calling out Leilani on that. I was raised a secular homeschooler, in a community where more of the homeschooled kids are atheists than the public schoolers. In the couple of times I tried public school (there is also a Catholic private school in my town, so these weren’t even the most religious kids) I was continually pressured by the people around me, mainly teachers but also the kids; everyone’s popularity depended on who they went to church with, all the choirs constantly sung religious music and when I objected nobody understood what my problem was, etc. When I was homeschooled, my community was filled with acceptance, even for the families who were not atheists but just wanted to let their kids think for themselves. I know this was a exceptional community–not as much as I used to think, though. My boyfriend from college was homeschooled for religious reasons, and still turned out atheist, despite coming from a much bigger community where almost all the other homeschoolers he knew were also deeply fundamentalist. Homeschooling, like many other life choices, is complex. It obviously didn’t help the other people my boyfriend knew, but it isn’t either a totally positive concept (despite my experience and Sarah’s) or a negative one (despite the experience of those others in my boyfriend’s community who are still trapped by illogical beliefs). It is definitely a misunderstood concept, stereotyped by almost all media (Mean Girls… good grief).

  • Puzzled

    Well, considering that many orthodox Marxists opposed SS… The leftist case against such programs is that they increase dependence on the government (FDR himself said that a major benefit of SS was that it enabled him to eventually have a majority of the population unable to vote against his ideas) and that through regulatory capture, they always come to benefit big business. That’s precisely why so much of the left opposed the 100 Days, and called FDR a conservative – the whole point of the New Deal was to “save capitalism from itself” – i.e. save the system of corporate exploitation from its well-deserved destruction.

    What makes an atheist a target in the ‘free-thinking’ community? Having the audacity to come out against any government program, knowing economics, mentioning what Saint Abraham actually did and said…

  • Most of the atheists here seem eager to ostracize their fellow atheists for speaking the “forbidden thoughts,” but isn’t that the thing that makes the Christians assholes, their rejection of the gays among them. I guess saying that “atheists can be assholes,” would make you such a target.

    P.S. Atheists can be assholes.

  • Rob

    “I’m not 100% certain that there isn’t a god”

    “A lot of the christians I know are actually pretty nice people” (I grew up in a pretty tolerant upper midwest college town, this comment tends to shock a lot of atheists in the south)

    Also pointing out that a lot of atheist and freethought groups tend to gang up on christianity while giving other religions a free pass. Or bringing up how the two best romantic relationships I’ve had in my life have been with a devout catholic girl and a conservative fundie pastor’s daughter.

  • muggle

    jose and daniel beat me to it, speaking from experience:

    Dare to say Dawkins ever acts like a pompous ass (he does), dare to say he’s ever extreme (he sometimes is), dare to say he’s flat out wrong on any issue, and it’s like criticizing the pope in a group of devout, pious Catholics.

    Say there might possibly be some natural phenoma to explain what’s commonly labelled “ghosts” you’ll never draw breath to explain further that you don’t think that if there is they’re not lost, wandering souls or that all sightings claimed are legit or none can be written off as halucination. If you dare say that science hasn’t studied it enough, someone will jump down your throat claiming yes they have and point to CFI which is ridiculous since they are about as unbiased as the Institute for Creation Research.

  • Sarah,
    I have no problem with people who homeschool their children and I was not generalizing. How you choose to educate your children is up to you. What I am saying is that I have found, in Atheist circles, when someone says that they homeschool, they become like the red dot. I found that out the hard way when looking into homeschooling my two little girls. If you have never felt like the ‘red dot’ when telling other Atheists that you homeschool, I think you are lucky.

    I wasn’t attacking you, I was giving an example based on my own experience… gosh.

  • Wyrm

    Anarchists, even anti-capitalist anarchos, are generally more opposed to social security than Marxists. I’ve certainly seen some strident Marxist defenses of Social security. One can believe that capitalism is unworkable and even that some sort of socialist revolution is needed, while still supporting certain government activities under capitalism.

    I’ve generally seen the term left-libertarian used for anti-capitalist anarchists.

  • ecorona

    “I shop at Target because of their belief that political contributions should benefit those who despise the LGBTQ population, including, but not limited to, elimination of civil rights and marriage rights for gays and lesbians, and individual citizens committing moral acts of violence against non-heterosexuals.”

    Boycott Target and Best Buy!

  • Neon Genesis

    How about that girl who got rejected by that atheist organization for saying she was a communist?

  • patientia

    “I’m a vegan.”

  • Atheists aren’t a group, we’re just people who lack the same thing in common. I don’t believe that there is an equivalent. Actually I don’t believe that all Christian groups would treat gay people like pariahs in this way.

  • “There is no evidence to support the atheist belief system.”

  • A Portlander

    “Belief without evidence is bollocks, but mythic metaphor and celebratory/reverent ritual are culturally healthy and personally fulfilling.”

  • VXbinaca

    @Citizen Z

    “I’m a Libertarian.”

    I’m a Libertarian. And an Atheist.

    @Hoverfrog

    Atheists aren’t a group, we’re just people who lack the same thing in common. I don’t believe that there is an equivalent. Actually I don’t believe that all Christian groups would treat gay people like pariahs in this way.

    Yup, he gets it.

  • David

    I’ve noticed saying something along the lines of “I feel that, occasionally, Christopher Hitchens/PZ Meyers/[Insert Figure Here] can at times be slightly too rabid in their words or actions” tends to work pretty well.

    Otherwise – what @Hoverfrog said.

  • Dylan

    I must say, it looks like a boobie.

  • Aj

    Well that was an invitation for delusional people with persecution complexes and paranoia.

    Rob,

    You’re describing the majority of atheists, those that aren’t 100% sure that there isn’t a god. If anything it would be the other way around. A person who says they are 100% sure might get alienated by atheists for being irrational. Theists may like an irrational atheist that fits their false perceptions of atheists.

    Muggle,

    The scenario is usually that people flat out lie about what Dawkins said. This gets refuted by facts. The person ignores the facts, still lies about what Dawkins said, and then people think the liar is stupid or a jerk. For instance, when people claim that Dawkins recommends children being taken away by authorities if parents raise them in a religion. That’s an outrageous lie told by ignorant fools. You wouldn’t have maliciously and falsely accused Dawkins of anything like that? It’s a mistake to think that this is about claiming Dawkins is wrong, and not about people lying about someone who campaigns for secularism and rationality, trying the poison the well.

  • Dan W

    It really depends on the particular group of atheists. I don’t think there are any phrases an atheist could say that would make them the red dot to all other atheists. Just like there are some Christians who are okay with gay people.

  • jose

    “We came from apes/monkeys”.

    – Oh no, we totally didn’t! We share a common ancestor with them! (so what? we share a common ancestor with pineapples too. That’s not the point. The point is your grand-grand-…-grand-grand-parents were a pair of fuckin monkeys.)
    – Well yeah we did come from apes but you shouldn’t say it because it’s strategically bad! (accurate, honest science is the strategy I like)
    – We shouldn’t say it because it leads to stupid questions! (so correct the false assumption built into the stupid question and everything’ll be fine)
    – People will think you mean modern apes! (so correct people who think that. Anyway, when I say “Spanish people come from Romans and Indoeuropeans” I don’t mean people living in Rome and Anatolia today)
    – …and so on.

  • Daniel

    Anytime I’ve said that I have no morals, and don’t believe in morals, atheists tend to get really butthurt.

    I think one guy said it right above me…I’m too lazy to quote him, but atheism isn’t a group, its just people who lack the same thing in common.

    I’m constantly pissed off by people who try to turn atheism into a religion. Humanists in particular rub me the wrong way.

    Oh yeah, and Sagan? Pale blue dot my hairy ass. Its like looking at a diamond next to a landfill filled with shit and saying “hurrr durr durr! This diamond is so insignificant compared to this giant pile of shit!” Yeah, the earth is small, but mars is shit, pluto is shit, venus is shit, earth is the only planet in the earth worth anything. Thanks Sagan, but I’ll keep my self-esteem, thank you very much.

    Its like, if someone is an atheist, people assume they have to be humanist, liberal democrat, anti-gun, pro-choice, anti-war, pro-environment and have exemplary moral character, and they have to love science and be 100% close minded against anything supernatural, and be extremely skeptical of anything new, while rabidly advocating old scientific principles as fact(dogma). Everybody is too busy sucking Dawkin’s wrinkly cock to even LOOK at punctuated equilibrium.

    Look, intelligent design brings up dozens if not HUNDREDS of problems. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell of me ever believing in intelligent design.

    That doesn’t mean evolution is how I got here. I accept evolution because its the only explanation we have. I am NOT satisfied with it, and, deep down, I don’t believe its how we got here, at least not in the way I’ve been taught.

    It has a lot of problems too, like:

    Why do women and animals have clitorises? When we first started out, our ancestors raped anyway, so what advantage did clitorises have anyway? Dick pleasure is all you really need. I mean, the males are going to impregnate the females during their whole fertility regardless of how she feels about it(modern human women are the exception), so why clitorises? I can see how they’d be advantageous, but not so much so that clitoris-equipped animals will fare so much better than non-clitoris equipped animals that NO women don’t have clitorises(with the exception of circumcised women)

    It doesn’t make sense to me. Like I said, I accept evolution, but I’m not satisfied with it. Its like driving around a 20 year old rodent-infested car with 2 dozen holes in it, or a 15 year old car with no air conditioner and no power steering.

    Yeah, I’ll take the 15 year old car because its less shitty than the other one, but I won’t be happy with it. As soon as I get the chance, I’ll jump on a modern car.

    So anyway…..in the words of Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that”.

  • Ursulamajor

    The clitoris thing? We are all female as fetuses until the hormones start their job. The male’s “nub” grows into a penis. The female’s stays small. It’s the same organ. No clitoris, no penis.

  • AxeGrrl

    Daniel, just because you can’t see that there could be a reason for clitorises doesn’t mean that there isn’t a reason.

    I mean, you understand that, right?

    It’s the same argument from ignorance that anti-homosexual peeps peddle from time to time ~ “it obviously has no evolutionary purpose” And you know this how exactly?

  • Noble Caboose

    It’s interesting to see how some people answered this question from the point of view of the red dot, and some people from the point of view of the black dots. To some people the question was, “What have you said that has made you feel alienated by other atheists?” while to others it was, “What would we (atheists) alienate someone for saying?”
    I think these groups may have a lot to learn from one another.

  • Noble Caboose

    Oh by the way, Daniel? I think you found a very effective way to make yourself into a red dot.

    Rudeness, check.
    Vulgarity, check.
    Gross misunderstanding of evolutionary science, check.
    Misogyny, check.
    BINGO!!

  • GSW

    @Daniel, Caley et.al.

    Reincarnation, which postulates the existence of a ‘ghost’ form, has nothing to do with either a god-person or with worshipping.

    As an atheist, even if it were scientifically proved – beyond a shadow of doubt – that there was a god, creator or not, there is no way I would worship it or accept that a priest can ‘translate’ its words/orders/laws.

    However, by these same standards, I am not willing to automatically believe or disbelieve people who think they may get another chance on this or another planet next time around.

    (At least they are not conning you into paying for their elaborate cathedrals, mosques, temples, clothes, luxurious lifestyle, etc. Neither are they telling you that their god demands that you obey them, even to the point of allowing them to mistreat children.)

    Belief in ghosts or reincarnation is more like believing in winning the lottery one day, as long as it does not interfere with your life, what is the harm. Of course, Astrology is another matter entirely 😉

  • A Portlander

    @GSW

    “. . . people who think they may get another chance on this or another planet . . . are not conning you into paying for their elaborate cathedrals, mosques, temples, clothes, luxurious lifestyle, etc. Neither are they telling you that their god demands that you obey them, even to the point of allowing them to mistreat children.”

    Nope. Sorry.

  • Daniel

    How exactly am I a misogynist? I merely stated the truth. Animals don’t have a choice. In medieval or earlier times, women didn’t have a choice. Now they do. I like that they have a choice, I’m happy for them. I certainly do not hate women, as is the definition of misogyny.

    I was vulgar, and I don’t apologize for it. I figured on an atheist website, people could be big boys and girls and judge the context of words rather than the words themselves. I think vulgarity is very appropriate and effective when arguing against mass popular opinion about how one should act. Its a form of rebellion.

    As for rudeness, the above paragraph could come across as somewhat rude, but my original post was not rude.

    Yeah, I offended Dawkins and Sagan, but who cares? I hate Sagan like the plague, and I take Dawkins with a grain of salt.

    For those wondering why I hate Sagan so much, his “pale blue dot” message parallels a lot with Christianity.

    In Christianity, you should feel worthless and insignificant, because the only thing that matters is holiness, and dumbass, you ain’t shit because God and Jesus and all the apostles are so much better than shitty little you.

    Christianity destroys self-esteem

    In Sagan’s “pale blue dot”, you should feel worthless and insignificant, because the only thing that matters is how big your stars and planets are, and dumbass, you ain’t shit because the rest of the universe is so much better than your shitty planet.

    Pale blue dot thinking destroys self esteem.

    As for my gross misunderstanding of evolutionary science, I passed college biology. I didn’t take it any more than absolutely necessary because I see it as a worthless thing to study, at least for the majority of people. If you enjoy it, then by all means, study it. I study history for fun, which is worthless, so I hold nothing against people who study biology.

    Now, back on topic

    While I was perhaps a bit out of line in my commentary on clitorises(as I found out after doing some research after my post), that was not your problem with me.

    Your problem was my “gross misunderstanding of evolutionary science”.

    Surely you aren’t so naive? Do you really think that people should have an intermediate knowledge of ALL subjects? That is a waste.

    An accountant does not need science, history, sociology, psychology, physics etc. If he spent time studying all of these things instead of studying accounting, then he would suck as an accountant.

    Instead, he should choose a profession, and FOCUS on it. He should study business mathematics and learn accounting skills. It will not help him to know why the sun burns. It may interest him, but it will not help him.

  • VXbinaca

    Daniel for prez.

  • narpas

    “I have a special sort of herpes which makes me turn from black to red. Don’t touch me where I’m red, you could catch it.”

  • Insignificant Speck

    I think female animals have clitorises so they won’t run away when the male tries to have sex with them. They might stick around to enjoy it. I also think not all female animals are easily raped by the male. Then there’s the pair bonding and all that.

    Knowledge of evolutionary biology is not a worthless thing to have if you are going to express opinions about evolutionary biology. Unless you don’t care about making sense.

  • Aj

    Daniel,

    As AxeGrrl alluded to, your comment is known as an argument from ignorance, it’s a logical fallacy that suggests that because you or anyone else can’t come up with an explanation, that another explanation should be preferred. This assumes that your failure is proof that there is no evolutionary explanation. More likely explanations for your failure are: a) You’re ignorant, b) You’re stupid.

    These are relative terms of course. Even highly intelligent people haven’t been able to create evolutionary models that explain certain anatomy that has subsequently been explained by more intelligent people, or people who had more knowledge. When natural selection was first proposed, explanations were few, genetics didn’t exist, and the vast majority of fossils and living species had not been documented, named, or discovered. The number of evolutionary models for explaining species and anatomical features has grown tremendously decade upon decade creating a mountain of positive evidence for evolution by natural selection. It makes no sense judging evolution by what we haven’t explained, because geographically, anatomically, genetically, and experimentally the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. I doubt you can name as many so-called “problems” with evolutionary theory as an evolutionary biologist can name solutions to previously unexplained phenomena.

    Also, you seem to be under the impression that the clitoris is an organ only involved in pleasure, and has no other purpose. That’s a tremendous leap, again, perhaps you’re just too stupid and too ignorant to understand the purpose of the clitoris. Perhaps you haven’t even studied it in detail or searched the literature on the subject. When stimulated the clitoris can cause sexual arousal, the external genitalia become engorged, the top of the vagina expands, the vagina gets lubricated, possibly having a function in facilitating conception. As Ursulamajor suggested, perhaps the clitoris is a remnant from how genitalia develop embryonically, as males have undeveloped “breasts” and can sometimes lactate.

    It has been suggested that the female orgasm is related to reproductive success. In Denmark, farmers are encouraged to “stimulate” pigs before they inseminate the semen, as can be seen in Mary Roach’s TEDTalk.

  • Aj

    Daniel,

    In Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, he actually says the exact opposite of what you’re suggesting he is saying. He does not say that we are worthless or insignificant, he says the exact opposite. His second sentence is a complete refutation of your point. For us (including him) the Earth is of interest, it is important, everyone we’ve ever loved or even known is or was here. His last sentence is a contradiction to your point, suggesting we preserve and cherish is absolutely not something you would do if you thought the Earth was worthless and insignificant. If English is not your first language and you can barely read I guess it’s excusable that you would make this error, otherwise I seriously wonder about your intelligence.

    From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

  • Daniel

    We’re still talking about clitorises? I’ve already conceded that I was talking out of my ass(out of ignorance and not stupidity) about clitorises. That doesn’t change the fact that I only accept evolution; I don’t like it one bit. Its a Goddamned audacious claim about how we got there. Yeah, its not as audacious as creationism, but its still a stretch. I don’t see how someone can call themselves a skeptic and then swallow the idea that we evolved from bacteria that was around 4.4 billion(or 25,000 with punctuated equilibrium) years ago.

    Forgive me if I don’t immediately suck its cock.

    Still, I’ve never much cared about the how we got here, I didn’t give a shit as a Christian, and I don’t give a shit as an atheist.

    My primary concern is this:That atheists miss religion. I doubt many of us were raised as atheists, or else we wouldn’t be reading atheist blogs and commenting.

    The vast majority of us have either been Christians, or believed in God, or been members of another religion at one stage or another of our life.

    I think a lot of atheists, myself included, miss religion and a god. The difference is that I’ve learned to accept it, while most have not.

    Whenever an eloquent atheist comes along, people jump on it. They catch every word from his(or her) lips to theirs, like honey. They find a human god to replace their old one.

    They try to organize atheism and agree on certain morals and certain beliefs. They try to organize atheism and turn it into a religion, because they miss their old religion, but know that its not real.

    That’s what I think.

  • Daniel

    “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

    While his second sentence may be flowery, everything else he spewed is exactly what I said.

    He’s naive. His head is in the clouds. I don’t care how many books he’s written, how big of a following he has, whatever. He’s naive and is trying to make humanity feel like shit. I am not afraid to call him out on this. I cannot stand his bullshit.

  • Aj

    Daniel,

    As Insignificant Speck commented, we’re fine if you don’t think evolutionary biology is relevant to your life. If you want to actually say anything about it, it’s not worthless to first understand it, something you clearly do not do. You struggle with the fact that all life evolved from a common ancestor? That’s not really an argument against evolution, you’re repeatedly confirming you’re too stupid or too ignorant to imagine something happening. How does a skeptic swallow something so counter-intuitive as evolution? Fucking evidence! I’ve already gone through the main types of evidence that the mountain of evidence for evolution consists. That same evidence that supports evolution happens, also supports common descent. How is it a fucking stretch? Any ignorant person can look at something with no knowledge, intellect, or understanding and say it’s audacious, a stretch, hard to swallow. It’s irrelevant, you’re only describing your emotional reaction to it.

    What you said is actually clearly the opposite of what Sagan was expressing, and it doesn’t take great intelligence or reading ability to understand. I’m not quite sure what you would prefer Sagan to say, that the Earth is eternal, large, central, privileged, and made just for us? He says that humans are important, and that the Earth should be preserved. Your explanation is that he directly contradicts himself at the beginning and end, and that the middle says something entirely different than what it seems? That’s a bit of a stretch. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re in denial, delusional.

  • jejaime

    Rob said:

    “I’m not 100% certain that there isn’t a god”

    That is absolute bullshit and you know it. Atheists are constantly combatting theists and smug agnostics over this ridiculous strawman. As Aj said above, it’s the complete opposite. Absolute certainty is what will get you singled out.

    Also pointing out that a lot of atheist and freethought groups tend to gang up on christianity while giving other religions a free pass.

    Nonsense. Christianity is the dominant religion in the West. Our culture is soaked in it. It intrudes on our daily lives, so naturally it’s going to be the main target in atheist circles. When Hindus take over our government, I assure you, atheists won’t hesitate to “gang up” on them.

  • “I’m not sure I think global warming is real, or if it is real, that humans are a significant cause of it.”

  • Daniel

    I merely want Charles Sagan to change his views on our planet’s insignificance

    I just found out he’s dead and rotted, so…..

    I just want people to realize that the pale blue dot is bullshit.

    Look back at my diamond/landfill analogy. Yes, the landfill is millions of times bigger than the diamond. It is much heavier, much more “powerful”. This doesn’t change the fact that the landfill is filled with shit.

    I didn’t expect him to say the earth is “eternal, large, central, privileged, and made just for us” directly, rather, to realize that the earth is the only thing in the universe that isn’t shit, as far as we know. It IS large. That’s a whole lot of non-shit we’re living on. Privileged? Its as privileged as we can make it. I would gladly destroy the shit out of mars if it would make earth better. Same thing with any non-earth planet.

    The rest of the solar system is like animals. Yeah, elephants are strong, but which species invented guns?

    Yeah, other stars are a lot bigger than our sun, but what do they heat? Empty planets. Its like a guy with a 3 inch dick who gets laid 6 times a day as opposed to a guy with a 12 inch dick who is a 600 pound virgin.

    So our planet IS large. It is privaledged, and central. Eternal? No. Made just for us? Not created for us, but we’ve made it for us.

    Both Christians and Atheists like to talk about how amazing the cosmos and the earth is. They admire the speed of the cheetah and the size of the whale. I am not impressed. I AM impressed by a modern factory. I AM impressed by a modern jet airplane. I am not impressed by what has been here forever, I am impressed by what humans have shaped this worthless land into. Its the only reason our planet isn’t shit.

    Every day we are constantly pushing technology farther and farther. We are mastering more and more elements. Can an elephant make nuclear weapons capable of slaughtering BILLIONS of lifeforms? Can a wolf make artillery that can put 30 pounds of high explosives up someone’s anus from 25 miles away? No, but the sum of HUMAN knowledge can.

    You remind me of Christians AJ. 1. You try to twist the words of your idol to make it sound like he isn’t a douchebag, and you get really butthurt when people disagree with you.

  • muggle

    AJ, you make my point. I’ve gotten that reaction for quoting Dawkins directly with a link to his website and then daring to disagree with his opinion.

  • Aj

    muggle, I don’t care whether you disagree with Dawkins or not. I’ve just seen some ignorant morons try to claim on many occasions that Richard Dawkins supports authorities taking away children if they’re raised religiously. Without quotes from Dawkins or his website. It’s a complete fabrication. By now of course they’ve seen the contradicting quotes from Dawkins when they try to smuggle their bullshit they’re obviously deliberately misrepresenting him.

    Divided by a common language: Richard Dawkins clarifies his position
    Dawkins admits mistake, removes name from petition
    Full Transcript of Brian Lehrer Interviewing Richard Dawkins

    Daniel, I don’t even… what? Large and central are relative, and the Earth is not large or central compared to the rest of the universe. My question was do you want Sagan to have lied? My point about privilege was about God, the conceits Sagan talks about are concerning notions of God’s plan and interest in us and our planet. Watch cosmos and tell me that Carl Sagan does not value human creativity and science.

  • Pete

    Leilani Says:

    I wasn’t attacking you, I was giving an example based on my own experience… gosh.

    In a world recovering from mass religion if you dont want to become the red dot ,one must remember try not to ever have any personal opinion.Its a big no no.Even if you be PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins or anyone else.

    Group think rules.Folks find it hard to learn to allow personal opinion.And different points of view.

    Which IMHO is partly why opressive tyrants like Stalin evolve.Religion and tradition becomes so deeply ingrained into society ,folks even feel uncomfortable if somebody dares think different.

    Ive seen atheists show great religious concern about how another atheist wrote their book ,religious concern that this atheist might be wrong about some things, religious concern that this atheist might be bad for the atheist group image,almost as if they expect atheism to just be another faith group of clones.

    Hemant Mehta said

    What does someone have to say to become the red dot in the atheist world?

    Hemant Mehta, one is in danger of becoming the red dot if they. Dare to be a Daniel.Dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm. Dare to make it known.

    IMHO.

  • @jose

    “We came from apes/monkeys”

    We are apes. The family Hominidae encompasses all the great apes including humans. Apes don’t have tails while monkeys do. Sure we all share a common ancestor and I’m truly sorry that some people don’t seem to understand this. Surely they’d have been taught this at school?

    @Daniel

    Do you really think that people should have an intermediate knowledge of ALL subjects?

    A well rounded education is valuable in itself. If someone wishes to be an accountant then an understanding of mathematics, law and business practices are essential but an appreciation of history and an understanding of computer science are desirable. Add to that an understanding of the industries that the accountant serves with his or her number crunching and you have a well rounded professional. A well rounded person surely adds other topics of interest to the mix though. A high school level education will provide a person with a general understanding of science, humanities, languages, social sciences, art, etc. Do you consider a broad education wasteful?

  • Daniel

    AJ,

    Again, you remind me of Christians. When confronted with the passages about slavery or the “fact” that God was just fucking with Abraham when he told him to kill his son, in ADDITION to the “fact” that God was just fucking with Job when he KILLED HIS WHOLE FUCKING FAMILY AND TOOK AWAY HIS HOUSE AND GAVE HIM A HORRIBLE DISEASE. To top it off, Satan, who is pretty much responsible for every bad thing, who is responsible for all the horrible corrupt shit that happens, and is responsible(according to Christians) for people deconverting to atheism(and thus making them be tortured for E-FUCKING-TERNITY). The reason Satan is still around? Character development. I wonder how many single moms can get off on that same excuse. Oh, the reason I didn’t dump my boyfriend was because it was good character development for my kids. Yeah, all the times he kicked them and punched them and raped them or made them BURN ALIVE FOREVER, it was character development.

    They kind of give a bullshit explanation about why God did that. Or say that its just faith and you trust that God had a reason you just don’t know it. A cop out basically.

    They immediately switch over to the flowery parts of the bible. “Love your Neighbor as yourself” “Judge not lest ye not be judged” “For God so loved the world….)

    Something which you have done, AJ, you want me to look at something Carl Sagan wrote which is undoubtedly flowery and will make me feel good. So?

    Its like an abused woman saying, “Oh no officer! Don’t arrest him! He didn’t mean to hit me! He said he was sorry and that he loved me and wants to spend the rest of his life together with me! We’re gonna have us some babies officer! We gonna have us a family!”

  • Daniel

    Hoverfrog:

    A well rounded education is valuable in itself. If someone wishes to be an accountant then an understanding of mathematics, law and business practices are essential but an appreciation of history and an understanding of computer science are desirable. Add to that an understanding of the industries that the accountant serves with his or her number crunching and you have a well rounded professional. A well rounded person surely adds other topics of interest to the mix though. A high school level education will provide a person with a general understanding of science, humanities, languages, social sciences, art, etc. Do you consider a broad education wasteful?

    I can’t believe you’re actually asking this.

    YES! I consider a broad education to be extremely wasteful! Your attitude comes from the old days of paid education, when only the rich could afford to go to school. They learned things like art, humanity, social science, because they could impress people with it!

    Of course, Colleges have contributed to this attitude as well, more than anything.

    In case you don’t know, colleges are suffering economically right now. Hundreds of colleges have taken out loans and went on building binges. They’ve got to pay their expensive professors, and keep up their expensive facilities. They’ve got to pay for that somehow. How do they do it? They make you take a bunch of classes you’ll never use!

    Its all propaganda!

    Stay with me for a while.
    Do you really think that no education is wasteful? What if someone dedicated hundreds of hours to memorizing different abilities, strategies, costs, and stats of units in the video game Starcraft2?

    They would probably enjoy themselves while they were learning, and would get a sense of satisfaction from having a clear advantage over their peers, their knowledge will not help them advance in life.

    Art will let you enjoy yourself, but it won’t help you.

  • I posted on NP’s site my thoughts about the picture. Basically explaining how difficult it was to be a Christian and at the same time be bisexual and have gender dissonance. The fear of becoming a target was so strong that I didn’t want to even attempt to express the fact that I thought that I liked men (REALLY liked them, I had a major romantic crush on a college mate of mine) and also the fact I don’t feel right as who I am.

    I’m finding a lot more support in the atheist group of people than I think I would in Christian – or if I did receive support it would be more ‘you’re just delusional’ kind of support (like my brother told me a few days ago…)

  • Aj

    Daniel,

    Switching to what? You make a bullshit claim. I search out the passage and quote it here for everyone to read (competently, something you seem unwilling to do), and it contradicts your bullshit claim. You make another claim about Sagan and human knowledge, so I search out Sagan’s opinion on the internet, find it, it contradicts your bullshit claim. You accuse me of some bullshit, which I submit my comments in this thread as completely contradicting your bullshit claim. I see a pattern here, and I can be quite confident that you will not address the fact that you were wrong, but you’ll accuse me of something else I haven’t done.

    When you claim that someone believes something, what else do you want me to do than to seek out what they have said? Don’t think that this is for your benefit. I’m hoping that when people read our comment, and perhaps are persuaded, they then read my comment, where I’ve quoted or linked to the truth, they take away that you’re nuts and what Sagan actually believes, instead of whatever you believe in your delusional fantasy world. I don’t particularly enjoy playing this game of whack-a-mole, but while you’re here spouting nonsense, I’ll be here, debunking your nonsense. I’d be happy with just one person, taking away the correct opinion based on reality, instead of taking onboard your bullshit.

  • Daniel CB

    Perhaps switching wasn’t the right word. I pointed out something that’s fucked up about Sagan, and you show me something he said that’s nice and flowery, just like a Christian witnessing.

  • Daniel, are you deliberately trying to set yourself up as the centre of the target? 😉

    Look, we disagree. I find a well rounded education to be valuable that doesn’t distract from my specialisation. In fact in enhances it.

    I’m not saying that you can’t spend time on a wasteful activity. I’d suggest that those poor fools who spend years in seminary college are wasting their time (the real life equivalent of a degree in Starcraft2) but that is a specialisation. A general education would allow them to switch to another career with less hassle. we could always do with more plumbers.

    As for the financial difficulties of educational institutes I must say that I don’t believe that it is relevant. Sure a degree in Klingon seems invented and silly but you seem to be drawing that distinction for arts as well.

    Art will let you enjoy yourself, but it won’t help you.

    It will help me enjoy myself. This is something that I value.

  • Daniel CB

    Of course, it will let you enjoy yourself, and that is something I value is well. As I said before, I study history recreationally. I’ve never paid for a class, but its something I’ve considered, and I still consider. At the very least, a “fun” class will help the brain to associate the classroom with positive emotions, which can help if one is taking a difficult or stressful class.

    Perhaps it was foolish to dismiss general educations altogether. If someone isn’t settled on a profession, they would benefit from a general college education, to see what they enjoy and/or excel in.

    I’m a different kind of person. I spent hundreds of hours after I turned 16 researching careers, because I wanted to focus the rest of my life on it. That’s just the way I am.

  • Rob

    Jejaime said:

    That is absolute bullshit and you know it

    It may be your experience that most atheists embrace a certain amount of ambiguity regarding the existence or non-existence of a diety. It has not, however, been mine. I was in an atheist group in college and people became very defensive when I said that I wasn’t completely convinced on the non-theism issue.

    Also, try to maintain some civility…this is the Friendly Atheist blog after all.

  • Bernadette

    simple and elegant, this illustration explains why many are so afraid to stand up for who they are and how they feel. its amazing how few words are needed to convey such a complex feeling.

  • charles

    the question is stupid. what is the point?

  • Laura

    I did say some things in an atheist group that seemed to cause kneejerk reactions.
    The first was “There may be Sasquatches”
    The second was “some aspects of alternative medicine come from astute observers of people and contain truth that science hasn’t yet established”.
    And that I thought it a good idea to investigate whether people having near death experiences can see pictures facing the ceiling, when they’re up there. An experiment that someone is actually doing.
    There were dogmatic “skeptics” there, and it felt strange after that to go to the library and find it more a home of open-mindedness.