Another Atheist Billboard Vandalized August 31, 2010

Another Atheist Billboard Vandalized

The Freedom From Religion Foundation placed this excellent sign in Watertown, Wisconsin a few weeks ago:

And what does it look like now?

What you see there is yellow paint that was splattered over the sign late last week:

The vandalized vinyl message was promptly removed by Adams Outdoor Co., on Friday. Adams Outdoor is replacing the message gratis and expects to have it back up around Labor Day to honor FFRF’s 6-week lease. The billboard went up on the first week of August.

An octogenarian Lifetime Foundation member who prefers not to be publicly named suggested the wording of the slogan as a legacy for his grandchildren.

The donor of the billboard is putting up $500 and the Foundation is matching that pledge for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal(s). The donor expressed shock and revulsion that a vandal or vandals would deface his message to “enjoy life now.”

How awful our society is when a sign that promotes living for the moment instead of the afterlife is seen as a threat by some (presumably) religious person. But at least the billboard company is stepping up to replace it and FFRF is issuing a reward to anyone who can turn in the vandal(s).

Just keep in mind: the response in these cases should never be to retaliate in kind. We’re better than that. We’re the logical and sensible ones.

But we can always keep putting up more billboards…

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  • Justin

    It is rather depressing that a message that promotes living the life you have is deemed by some a threat. Also, what does it say about the kinds of people who commit such offences? Their state of mind or their worldview?

    As much as this annoys me I do entirely agree with the last part of your post, Hemant; those who do support these billboards should never retaliate in a tit-for-tat act of vandalisim.

  • Bridget

    We can’t be shocked..truly, correct? Being that most of society feels there is a God, they are appalled to believe others don’t see their views. Unfortunately I don’t feel they are all free thinkers & willing to try & understand another person’s point of view.

  • On the one hand, I can understand the vandals. Sometimes when I see obnoxious Christian bumper stickers or signs, I want to tear them down, I want to write rebuttals on them in magic marker, I want to knock on their window and start telling them they are wrong.

    But–and here is the really key part–I DON’T. Because although I am a human with all my irrational impulses, I am also a human with a mind. A human who knows how to override emotional response and respect other people’s rights to believe what they will. Yes, I think they are tragically wrong, and given an opportunity for discussion I might take it. But vandalism is just giving into that base urge to stamp out opposition.

    So I can understand the vandals, but I definitely do not excuse them.

  • The vandals message is clear: Don’t enjoy life. Suffer and you’ll be rewarded in the magic kingdom after you die. Clearly the best place for them is prison. They can suffer there to their heart’s content.

  • Couldn’t agree more with Nora.

  • tim

    How awful our society is when a sign that promotes living for the moment instead of the afterlife is seen as a threat by some (presumably) religious person.

    How awful our society is when we overreact to the vandalism of a sign which your note clearly is. Fix the sign and go have a beer. There are worse things in our culture than this.

  • alex

    Another religious (I presume) ass-hat with nothing better to do with their time on Earth. How predictable. And now just wait for some other idiot get on his/her moral high horse and tell you how they are the “persecuted” ones, of course. Start the countdown…

    I second Hoverfrog: let them have their suffering, if they so desire it. We are not some monsters, after all, are we?

  • keddaw

    Isn’t it nice to think that while Christians are doing their best to prevent fellow Americans from exercising their First Amendment rights all over the country that they can still take time out of their busy day to think of us.

    And still claim it is Christians who are being persecuted.

  • Ahh, but these signs are an affront to their faith, their reasoning goes, which makes them just like the Taliban imho, just on a smaller scale (for now).

  • El Perro

    They are truly frightened of the rising tide of reason in this nation and are striking back in the only manner their primitive minds can understand. It’s so sad and ironic that “the Prince of Peace” has so many thugs spreading his message.

  • DMendes

    I wonder if they are also trying to discourage these billboard companies from putting up “Atheist” themed billboards. If companies have to continually replace them for free, they become “high” risk and cost more to put up.

    Or do you think i am giving these vandals too much credit?

  • This vandalism might be an act of god, whereby the paint leapt out of the can all by itself and smeared itself over the billboard. After all, miracles happen all the time!

  • L. Vellenga

    martin luther said. “if you must sin, sin boldly.” whoever did vandalize the billboard clearly was an amateur.

  • muggle

    To retaliate in kind would be a huge mistake. It would be used to say see how these Atheists are with the first vandalism entirely glossed over. Far better to take the high road and leave the egg on the faces of those who threw the first stone.

    I’m with hoverfrog. Let them suffer now. However, there’s a slim chance in non-existent hell of that ever happening. But in a sense, they are in their own prision. Imagine having so little a life that this is how you get your kicks.

    They like to promote being happy in Christ but I see very little evidence of it. Someone who was happy would be so busy with their own life that they’d leave judgment (for this and so many other things) in the hands of who they are supposed to.

    Any preists/ministers decrying this from the pulpit yet? No? I didn’t think so. In fact, in any of the vandalised signs has there been? To tell the truth, that actually does surprise me. You’d think there would be one or two. Maybe, at 52 and having been through a lot, I’m still hopelessly naive or maybe it’s just not making the news.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Jeez, can we get one of these in view of a camera? Find a billboard located near a bank for fuck’s sake. Better yet, find one next to a megachurch; and if teh vandalismz do strike, ask them to work with us on reviewing one of their many camera feeds. Else, they’d appear to be abetting said vandals, y’know.
    *grrrr*

  • Jonas

    As much as I agree with the FFRF’s view represented in the Billboard, I wonder if the Billboards would get vandelized less if the messages were softer. — Like the “There’s Probably no God” messages the Humanists put out. — ex:

    “Enjoy Life, there may not be an Afterlife”
    “Enjoy Life, don’t bet on an Afterlife”

    Though again: if the Religious billboards are allowed, then so should be the non-religious billboards.

  • Nordog

    Perhaps the vandals surpressed any fear of future punishment for their crime and were simply enjoying themselves.

  • Jagyr

    They just splashed paint on it? They couldn’t attempt some kind of witty rebuttal at least? Come on Christian vandals, step up to the plate, you’re hardly trying.

    And doesn’t this mean that someone just won a bet?

    On the bright side, the billboards are going up faster than they can be vandalized. I think the sloppy paint splashing shows how hard it is for the vandals to keep up.

  • “Enjoy Life, there may not be an Afterlife”
    “Enjoy Life, don’t bet on an Afterlife”

    i tend not to mix agnosticism and atheism, myself. i like the strong declarative. atheists should express our views just like we think them in our own heads, which often is not “how can i show consideration to the position of the believer” but “i want to demonstrate that some of us are extremely firm in our atheism, because one project in religious propaganda is to convince people we don’t really exist.” as we say in the queer community “silence = death.” the author stated what he thinks. nobody ever suggests believers modify their billboards to be considerate to people like me. “jeebus loves you, (maybe)” isn’t something i’ll ever see on a church lawn.

  • «bønez_brigade» said:

    Jeez, can we get one of these in view of a camera?

    That’s an interesting idea. There is electrical power up on billboards to power lighting. I wonder what it would take to put a small PC with a webcam or something like that on one of these. Hate to think atheists have to go to the extra expense, but might not be bad to make an example of one of these vandals.

  • Alexius

    Jonas-

    I don’t think so, although I would like if that were true. Remember all the “you can be good without God” billboards that have been vandalized? That’s only a simple statement of fact and yet it seems many people take exception to it.

  • Gauldar

    This only proves that the hyper religious can’t stand being disillusioned.

  • Steve

    If it’s anything like it is here in the UK, no doubt they’ll just get a slap on the wrist! Please don’t get me talking about UK justice!! A woman who urinated on a war memorial in the northwest English resort of Blackpool was let off with a suspended sentence and community service….after running away from court the first time!

    Must grit my teeth!!!!

  • Richard Wade

    The donor expressed shock and revulsion that a vandal or vandals would deface his message to “enjoy life now.”

    I think the vandal is not concerned with the first part of the message. He’s threatened and upset by the second part, “There is no afterlife.”

    He’s trying to enjoy life now too, like most people. He is just very afraid that when it’s over it’s over, and he doesn’t want anyone telling him that.

    This is not an excuse for the defacement, just an explanation. We need to understand those who actively and violently oppose us, in order to effectively resist their suppression.

    It is not anger that makes them dangerous, it is fear.

  • Once again, the theists can’t even vandalize something properly. What lame-asses!

  • Heidi

    @tim:

    How awful our society is when we overreact to the vandalism of a sign which your note clearly is. Fix the sign and go have a beer. There are worse things in our culture than this.

    So, what in your esteemed opinion is the worst thing in our culture? Given your logic, that is the only thing permissible to discuss.

  • AxeGrrl

    chicago dyke wrote:

    i tend not to mix agnosticism and atheism, myself. i like the strong declarative. atheists should express our views just like we think them in our own heads, which often is not “how can i show consideration to the position of the believer” but “i want to demonstrate that some of us are extremely firm in our atheism….

    Personally, I don’t particularly like the idea of adopting any stance of rigid certainty, just to feel or appear ‘stronger’…..just because most believers do this doesn’t mean that atheists need to.

    I think my lack of belief is just as valid as someone else’s certainty that there’s no god. I don’t think there’s any particular need to conflate the two things to make valid points about freedom of expression.

    I’ve never really understood the believers who express more ‘respect’ for strong atheism than weak atheism or agnosticism ~ what’s more respect-worthy about certainty than uncertainty? especially if the former isn’t warranted?

  • «bønez_brigade»

    @everydayatheist,
    An outdoor IP camera rig can be obtained for a few hundred bonez. No on-site PC necessary. Compared to the advertising fees and cost of sign replacement (luckily waived here), that’s a small investment to expose some religi-vandals.

    BTW, most atheists I know are rather tech-savvy, and most ultra-tech-savvy people I know are somewhat godless. However, most people I know in organized godless groups are elderly and not-ultra-tech-savvy. Go figure…

  • Some people’s way of enjoying life now is to deface the efforts of others. I’m not condoning such behavior by acknowledging it.

  • Put up a donate link, and I’ll be happy to toss in ten bucks toward the new sign…

    -J. Gravelle
    Cheesehead/Conservative/Agnostic*
    http://DailyScoff.com
    (*There are, maybe, three of us)

  • sf

    I like how they don’t seem to know what spin to put on it to change the meaning.

    I mean all they needed to do was paint the word “LIES” somewhere on the billboard and it would have been a successful piece of vandalism/culture-jamming.

    Instead they just throw the paint en masse all over the billboard. Despair is such an obvious state of being.

  • Robert Tobin

    That is the United CHRISTIAN States of America where minds have been, and are stiil being poisoned by the BS of the “Holy” Bible

    I am so gald I don’t live in that crazy country. I’ve been there and found the best part was the airport on the way out.

  • ckitching

    Well, I think we can put to rest the notion that these are just random youngsters defacing these signs. At this point I think we have a pretty solid trend to show that these signs are being specifically targeted because of the message on them.

  • I Live close to 5 corners in Vancouver Washington, there is space for a billboard. Hell, use my backyard for it, then put up one of these signs, I will point one of my security cams at it and we can watch the vandals hit it.
    Then we can prosecute and make a statement.

  • Personally, I don’t particularly like the idea of adopting any stance of rigid certainty, just to feel or appear ‘stronger’…..just because most believers do this doesn’t mean that atheists need to.

    i work in discourse. politics. media. whatever. it does matter, a lot. “appearing stronger” is sooo very important in our society right now, if you want to claim personal agency. that is something i would argue very strongly on another thread if you’d like. it’s not “rigid certainty;” i’m a scientist and i don’t believe in that. it is media reality, which is a very fuzzy consciousness. which many americans have. learning to operate in that is tantamount, imho.

  • Mike

    i tend not to mix agnosticism and atheism, myself. i like the strong declarative. atheists should express our views just like we think them in our own heads, which often is not “how can i show consideration to the position of the believer” but “i want to demonstrate that some of us are extremely firm in our atheism….

    Congratulations! You have just placed your rigidity of thinking in the same camp as the fundamentalist christians (or, for that matter, fundamentalists from any religion).

    It is the epitome of arogance to assume that any human being will ever have a full lock on “truth.” Once we have set our beliefs in stone, we have closed our minds to the search for truth. This is equally true of those who embrace a rigid religious dogma and of those who embrace an unflinchable conviction in the absence of god.

    This is the (dare I say it) fundamental difference between the fundamental Christian and the progressive Christian (of which I would define myself). The fundamentalist has closed his mind. The progressive is open to fact that we might just not have all the answers (to any question) correct.

    “Enjoy Life, don’t bet on an Afterlife”

    I like this option so much better than the original billboard because it makes the point without going to the arogant stance normally associated with the fundamentalist.

  • Nordog

    Mike, your response reminded me of the following from the founding document of my alma mater (http://thomasaquinas.edu/about/bluebook/03.htm):

    III. ACADEMIC FREEDOM
    This conception of the intellectual life, which is the orthodox Catholic position, seems contrary to the prevailing view of modern society and of those Catholics who are becoming increasingly secularized in their thoughts and their actions. The prevailing view holds as a principle that the uncritical acceptance of religious doctrine not only inhibits, but even destroys the life of intelligence. The statement of this principle takes many forms, but they are finally reducible to the single contention that the believing Christian, since he refuses to submit his belief to rational examination and hence to the possibility of rejecting it, has traded the freedom of his mind for the blind security of unquestioned authority. The consequence is that Christian schools, in so far as they are subject to Christian Doctrine, are thought to be less free, and the education they offer is thought to be necessarily inferior. It is well, therefore, since this is the root objection, to consider it in some detail.

    Since the Christian faith involves undoubting belief in certain assertions for which there is no natural evidence, but which are nevertheless taken as the ruling principles of thought and action, the intellectual life of a Christian is generally assumed to be less free. This is because intellectual freedom is customarily defined by the mentality of free inquiry, the mentality which sees itself as not enslaved to any fixed conception but free to subject every doctrine to critical examination and possible rejection. Academic freedom is supposed to be the protection and promotion of this intellectual freedom by institutions of learning. Accordingly, schools whose academic policies are based on religious doctrine limit academic freedom and thereby depress the intellectual life of the scholarly community. Such a view, for example, has been expressed by the American Association of University Professors:

    “Freedom of conscience in teaching and research is essential to maintain academic integrity and fulfill the basic purposes of higher education; consequently, any restriction on academic freedom raises grave issues of professional concern.”

    (Statement on Academic Freedom In Church-Related Colleges and Universities; A.A.U.P. Bulletin, Winter, 67)

    It is clear that they hold religious doctrine to be a restriction on academic freedom, for later in the same statement, the conditions upon which a religious school insists when it appoints a teacher are described as “institutional limitations on his academic freedom.”

    Now inasmuch as this conception of intellectual and academic freedom is based on the principle of free inquiry–i.e. the position that every doctrine is subject to critical examination and possible rejection–it is suitable (and hardly unfair) to examine critically the general principle itself. If it claims to be a dogma, the only dogma immune to criticism, by what right does it claim its exemption from the general principle? Or, on the other hand, if it too is open to question, by what principle are we to justify our examination of it? Not by the principle of free inquiry, for it is presently under judgment and therefore in suspense.

    To proceed further, free inquiry is usually justified by its effect in the pursuit of truth. More truths will be discovered, and more surely held, it is said, if all beliefs are subject to question and possible reversal. But such an assertion, if it is not a “dogma,” must be grounded on the actual examination of the issues upon which men have disagreed, a judgment where the truth lies in each case, and then a determination of whether and how much the principle of free inquiry was an advantage. It would then follow that the resolution of those issues–the test cases of intellectual progress–would be immune to criticism under the principle of free inquiry, since the value of the principle is predicated on their resolution.

    A further difficulty is that the principle of free inquiry would be nullified by the achievement of its stated purpose. As long as a man is ignorant, it is consistent with his condition to remain open to both the affirmative and negative answers to the issue in question. But when and if he comes to know (which is the purpose of his investigation) the matter ceases to be doubtful to him, and his mind closes to the possibility that the opposite might be true. He is no longer free to doubt, except willfully. Thus by the assumed definition ignorance makes free, while knowledge enslaves. A reply to this objection might assume that knowledge is simply unattainable, inasmuch as all things are in all respects always changing, or inasmuch as our minds, not being omniscient, cannot reach the certain truth about anything. But this, as before, would base the principle of free inquiry on particular and controversial philosophical theories, which as a consequence would be immune to criticism under the principle.

    Also, every criticism, unless it be simply an expression of the will to criticize, must finally be based on premises not subject to criticism. For if the premises of some criticism are themselves to be criticized, and the premises of this second criticism are in turn to be criticized, and so on, then either the process must rest in premises not subject to criticism, or all criticism is a game which begins anywhere and ends nowhere, advancing not a step towards the truth. Not even logical consistency can be established, for presumably the principles of logic are subject to criticism as is everything else.

    Since academic freedom is thought to derive from and be justified by the principle of free inquiry, and since in turn considerations of academic tenure are supposed to be governed by the principles of academic freedom, the college professor comes to be judged by standards which have no relation to the purposes of his life as a scholar and a teacher. For it is usually maintained that the academic standing of a scholar should be determined by his “competence,” while at the same time academic freedom requires that competence be judged in abstraction from what is true and what is false in the area of his competence. But since knowledge of the truth is the end of all study and teaching, to judge a scholar in this way is comparable to judging a doctor while abstracting from all consideration of health and disease, or to judging a cook without tasting what he cooks.

    As a result, when scholars must determine the professional standing of one of their colleagues, they must find some definition of competence which prescinds from the very purpose of competence; thus, they are compelled to fall back upon “accepted standards” of competence, standards which are either based on what is altogether secondary, or so vaguely and generally described as to be nearly useless as directives, or which even carry in disguise definite views of the true and the false in the various disciplines. But what is worse, the standards are thought to be standards precisely insofar as they are accepted; in other words, the accepted rather than the true is the standard not only in fact (because of human fallibility) but also by intent. Thus the consistent application of academic freedom becomes by definition the very tyranny which it is supposed to prevent.

    Indeed, it would seem that the government of any institution by rules which prescind (or pretend to prescind) from all differences of belief, or which negate in principle the possibility of governing by the truth, must of necessity be tyrannical. For concrete and particular decisions must be made, about the curriculum, student life, hiring and firing, promotion and so forth, but cannot be directed by rules which by their abstract and negative character in effect deny that there are any rules. Thus, no individual decision can be really justified or condemned out of principle, leaving an infinite latitude in practice to the men who actually make the decisions, who thus rule by their own absolute discretion.

  • muggle

    Tell me why then, Mike, I don’t have to qualify disbelief in the Easter Bunny this way. Why can I say there is no Easter Bunny but not there is no god?

    Ridiculous. There is no god.

  • Nordog

    Muggle,

    I think the answer to your question is found in the science of cosmology.

    Apparently, I take this on authority of course, there are infinitely many universes, or, multi-verses so to speak.

    Now, infinitely many, which is whole bunch ‘o many, allows, even under the requirements of strict materialistic probablility that in at least one of those universes there is indeed an Easter Bunny.

    So by this light, you can neither say there is no Easter Bunny nor that there “is no god”.

    Poe’s Disclaimer: I’m joking.

  • Heidi

    Are Christians comfortable with saying there is no Shiva? How about Zeus? Thor? Ba’al? Invisible Pink Unicorn? I’m just adding one more non-existent god to the list.

  • Gauldar

    @Heidi

    No Invisible Pink Unicorn!??! Blasphemy!

  • Heidi, I’ve known some Christians claim that these other gods were demons and others claim that they were or are God in disguise…Well apart from the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

  • “Enjoy Life, don’t bet on an Afterlife”

    How about, “Enjoy life. There is absolutely no evidence that consciousness can or does survive the death of the brain.”

    But that’s a bit long for a billboard, LOL.

  • Nordog

    “But that’s a bit long for a billboard, LOL.”

    But it has such a catchy ring that is sure to resonate with so many people.

  • Mike

    Tell me why then, Mike, I don’t have to qualify disbelief in the Easter Bunny this way. Why can I say there is no Easter Bunny but not there is no god?

    Ridiculous. There is no god.

    Caveat: The following may well follow you into the absurd direction you chose to take it.

    Assuming we can both agree on the one and only definition of the Easter Bunny and assuming it is the same as my current definition of the Easter Bunny, then I will concede that there is no Easter Bunny.

    If, however, my belief is that the Easter Bunny is any young rabbit that I happen to see on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, then I must adamently disagree with your assertion that there is no Easter Bunny as I have, in fact, seen him with my own eyes even if you have not.

    My point? The equation of the extremely complex concept of god with the very simplistic concept of the easter bunny is ludicrous.

    There is a huge difference between the assertion “I cannot believe in your notion of god” and the assertion “There is no god.” Once you’ve taken the latter stance, you have closed your mind to the realm of possibility (which is exactly what the fundamentalist does). This is the basis for my initial statement above.

  • Mike

    My point? The equation of the extremely complex concept of god with the very simplistic concept of the easter bunny is ludicrous.

    And on further reflection, I would also add that the equation of the extremely complex concept of god with the very simplistic understanding most people (of any faith tradition or lack thereof) choose to have of god is the source of much of the evil done both in this world. This includes evil done in the name of god and in the name of the fight against god.

  • Heidi

    @Gauldar: The Invisible Pink Unicorn is still pretty, whether or not she’s real. And she does have that cool logo. And lots of information written about her. Ok, maybe she is real.

    @Mike. In that case, it is my considered opinion that every god and/or body of mythology I’ve heard is absurd, flat out impossible and without the slightest shred of evidence. Though some are more entertaining than others. The only “gods” that have the slightest chance at existing are those whose definition is so vague as to make them meaningless and irrelevant.

  • My point? The equation of the extremely complex concept of god with the very simplistic concept of the easter bunny is ludicrous.

    What on earth is “extremely complex” about the concept of a god? Just because you make that assertion doesn’t make it true.

  • Mike

    The equation of the extremely complex concept of god with the very simplistic concept of the easter bunny is ludicrous.

    I have no concept of gods. I’ve picked up on other people’s ideas about gods or God and had a look at them but find them either nonsensical or so ill defined as to mean nothing. I’ve asked numerous theists to define their deities for me but they are typically unable or unwilling to. Those who attempt it provide self contradictory accounts. That leaves those of us with no idea of what gods are purported to be somewhat confused.

    The Easter Bunny though is reasonably well defined.

    In other words I agree with you. It would be more appropriate to compare gods with Zargle beasts of the planet Klom. Just don’t ask me about Zargle beasts because I don’t know anything about them except that they want your money to build Zargle temples.

  • Mike

    I have no concept of gods. I’ve picked up on other people’s ideas about gods or God and had a look at them but find them either nonsensical or so ill defined as to mean nothing. I’ve asked numerous theists to define their deities for me but they are typically unable or unwilling to.

    What on earth is “extremely complex” about the concept of a god? Just because you make that assertion doesn’t make it true.

    Please note that in all of my comments in this thread (and most other threads), I have intentionally been avoiding using the word “God” and have been using the word “god”. The first form implies a lock-down on a set of particular dogma, while the latter implies (at least it is my intent) the larger concept.

    If you are to pick any specific human dogma about god, then yes, the idea of god becomes as simple as the Easter Bunny. Read the “fact sheet” and then evaluate if the ideas hold water.

    If, however, you step back and look across the spectrum of the history and diversity of our understanding of god, then things do become complex. Things as simple as relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Fourier transform took many decades to come to terms with. We have been wrestling with the persona of god for millenia. Maybe, just maybe, this is a tad more complex than those scientific principles/tools I listed above. [And yes, you could flip this around and say perhaps those who are studying it are just a tad less bright… but I’m talking about societies and cultures here, not individuals.]

    Next point: There was a quote I heard once (I wish I could cite the source) attributed to either a Rabbi or Buddhist monk that went along the lines of, “The instant we define God, is the instant we are wrong.” Those serious about seeking god realize this fact (either cognizantly or not) and are thus “unable or unwilling” to commit to an understanding they know will evolve.

    Final point (and then I’ll be quiet on this thread): The basic point I was trying to make at the top of this thread is that lot of commenters to this blog define themselves as either scientists of a scientific mind. But, they reveal themselves as not being so when they make the bold statement, “There is no god”. The scientific method simply does not allow for this. The best it can say is that there is no evidence to support the existence of god and therefore, “I do not believe in god.” These two statements, while they may look similar, are radically different. One is the lack of belief. The other is a solid belief in a negative. Negatives are very difficult (if not impossible) to prove scientifically. If you read through comments I’ve made since I began commenting on this blog, you will see that the core theme to my religious search is “faith”, not “belief.” These are also two radically different ideas.

  • Heidi

    There was a quote I heard once (I wish I could cite the source) attributed to either a Rabbi or Buddhist monk that went along the lines of, “The instant we define God, is the instant we are wrong.” Those serious about seeking god realize this fact (either cognizantly or not) and are thus “unable or unwilling” to commit to an understanding they know will evolve.

    As both Hoverfrog and I have already said, such a god is meaningless.

    The only “gods” that have the slightest chance at existing are those whose definition is so vague as to make them meaningless and irrelevant.

    In case you missed it the first time I said it. What exactly is the point of something you can’t define, describe, observe either directly or indirectly, or even coherently explain as a concept?

  • If, however, you step back and look across the spectrum of the history and diversity of our understanding of god, then things do become complex.

    I disagree. You speak of “god” in the singular, but there is no singular god-concept. What we have are many different concepts of many different gods and goddesses that span the whole of human history.

    Unless you’re speaking of a specific god, you’re leaving the concept undefined, incoherent, and ultimately meaningless. I see nothing complex about positing a vague supernatural deity, or a specific one for that matter.

    Just because theists claim that such a thing is “extremely complex” doesn’t make it so.

  • Mike

    We have been wrestling with the persona of god for millenia. Maybe, just maybe, this is a tad more complex than those scientific principles/tools I listed above. [And yes, you could flip this around and say perhaps those who are studying it are just a tad less bright… but I’m talking about societies and cultures here, not individuals.]

    Or maybe they are just chasing a metaphor.

    There was a quote I heard once (I wish I could cite the source) attributed to either a Rabbi or Buddhist monk that went along the lines of, “The instant we define God, is the instant we are wrong.” Those serious about seeking god realize this fact (either cognizantly or not) and are thus “unable or unwilling” to commit to an understanding they know will evolve.

    So define it and be wrong. Have the error pointed out and correct it. Look at the evidence and see if it fits your hypothesis. Refine your definition until you have something that approaches the truth.

    The bold statement: “There is no god” is something that has an unspoken proviso. It means “There is no god as far as we can tell” and this is just the same as “There is no Easter Bunny as far as we can tell“. With deities though I’d go further and say that whatever is meant by “gods” is so ill defined as to be instantly dismissed as irrelevant so I’m not going to waste my time anymore by trying to coax out of people what it is that they mean. If someone wants me to buy into the idea then they can define the idea first.