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Red hot enlightenment led me to believe in one fewer god - Comments

NewSkeptic's Avatar Comment 1 by NewSkeptic

Wish I'd volunteered this article! ;-)

(The reaction garnered by the article, by readers who wrote into the Op-Ed section, was one for, one against and one unclear; so a modest reaction, but a reaction at least.)

I'm interested in the quote from Stephen F. Robert. It is similar to one of Richard's statements (video and print); I wonder who coined it first? (Not that it really matters. What does matter is that the word - if you'll forgive the expression - is broadcast, and then those who want to start thinking, can.)

Thanks Linda.

Kind Regards, Skeptic.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:43:00 UTC | #206251

Jiten's Avatar Comment 2 by Jiten

As Sam Harris, author of The End Of Faith, puts it, "I think that 'atheist' is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don't need a word for someone who rejects astrology.
Well yes, but what we are not faced with is organized astrology where everybody goes round assuming that you also believe in it. Until religion becomes like astrology then we'll need a specific word for those who don't subscribe. Astrology is one's own private business. Let's hope we live to see the day when religion is the same.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:44:00 UTC | #206254

goobeast's Avatar Comment 3 by goobeast

I find religious teens depressing somehow. They should be out upsetting the establishment and pissing off their parents. God Rocks? Hardly, rock is the Devil's music. Christian rock is an abomination.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:00:00 UTC | #206275

gcdavis's Avatar Comment 4 by gcdavis

Atheism = Liberation so why not celebrate it. Those who have emerged from repression need a word that encompasses their new found freedom and atheist is that word!

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:18:00 UTC | #206296

Shaden's Avatar Comment 5 by Shaden

I feel as if I'm walking through life with the blinkers off.

Is this an Aussie term or a typo? I'm used to the phrase "with the blinders off," as in a horse with blinders. I can't say that I've seen a horse with blinkers...

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:29:00 UTC | #206312

KrisRamJ's Avatar Comment 6 by KrisRamJ

I'm interested in the quote from Stephen F. Robert. It is similar to one of Richard's statements (video and print); I wonder who coined it first?

I had a little search and found this:

...Yep, that's me! I am the author of the above quote which has become a bit of a popular statement throughout the net (and some in the real world too).

...I first used The Quote as a tag line for postings on the newsgroups alt.atheism and talk.atheism at some point before October 1995. I don't remember exactly when I started using it, and unfortunately lost my mailer that would have contained the archive. The earliest records that have is back to 1995, and by October 1995 it apeared 'widespread' in taglines, so I must have originated it sometime before then. Most likely early 95 or late 94.

...The Quote is an original quote that came from an online debate I was having with religious people in the newsgroups. I used the a similar comparison in a debate when my opponent wondered why I ignored the evidence for god, and in return, I wondered why my debate opponent chose to ignore the evidence for Shiva, or Zeus, or any of the other possible gods.

...I then slightly refined and shortened it the next day to the 'modern' form it is now to use in a tagline. Within days, The Quote was in use by others in their taglines (I added my name as an attribute a few weeks later when people asked me if it was my original quote).

...About a month later, I made another variation of the quote that also appears sometimes: "We are all atheists, some of us just believe in fewer gods than others"... but it never quite got the popularity of the original :-)


Since that time, I've occasionally ego-surfed to see how the quote has moved out around the world.

Interestingly, as the quote moved out, it seemed to become attributed to "other" Stephen Robertses. Its funny sometimes to see who people attribute the quote to.

I've also occasionally been accused of plagarism and stealing the quote from others.

I have no doubt that others have said similar things throughout time (afterall, its not like the general concept of atheism was made up by me). But I didn't know about any of the others when I first penned the quote (remember this was 94-95, there was no wikipedia or google to look things up with).

I just had the luck to put together the phrase right at the dawn of the modern Internet age. :-)

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:31:00 UTC | #206315

KrisRamJ's Avatar Comment 7 by KrisRamJ

I can't say that I've seen a horse with blinkers

In Britain we call them blinkers, not blinders, so I guess the Aussies are the same...

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:40:00 UTC | #206327

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 8 by Cartomancer

I find myself getting rather hot and flustered with all this talk of hormonally-charged, fresh-faced teenagers. If only I could attract thousands of them to worship at my feet and adore me just by wearing a pretty robe and swinging a thurible about. Must... be... strong... maintain... rational... thought...

Ahem. Well, anyway. What was I talking about again?

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:41:00 UTC | #206328

Shaden's Avatar Comment 9 by Shaden


I see. Then what do you call automobile blinkers?

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:42:00 UTC | #206333

MBC Morgan's Avatar Comment 10 by MBC Morgan


I see. Then what do you call automobile blinkers?

I'm just guessing here, but in Australia wouldn't it be something like "bajermidoos"?

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:57:00 UTC | #206353

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 11 by HourglassMemory

Religious teenagers is something I have never actually witnessed in real life in my own life.
All of them around me are pretty irreligious.
You get the feeling that if you're religious, you sort of have to keep it to yourself, and I've witnessed people talking about someone else who was religious, but it was all done in whispers, as in "You know she started attending church? She's all lost."

Religious teenagers are alien to me. When I see them on documentaries it disturbs me. It's like there's something actually misfiring in their heads. I never had any contact with religious people, such as those who talk about me accepting Jesus and Heaven only being accessible through Chritianity and talking about being pilgrims for the good lord and whatnot. I never had that near me, believe it or not.
They really do sound crazy to me. It's not something I chose to think about them. They always sounded weird to me.

To me "religious 21st century teenagers" just seems like an oxymoron. As the wrter of the article said "It's a complicated reality" for me to grasp.
They have all of this internet/forums/tv/movies technology around them and they use it to spread their Jesus stories and myths and putting their hands on top of their hearts as they look at the atmosphere. It's weird. And, oh god, to think that some actually think a man will descened from the upper Mesosphere or something and judge sinners.
I have ALWAYS raised my eyebrows to that sort of thing.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 11:57:00 UTC | #206354

practicing atheis's Avatar Comment 12 by practicing atheis


"I see. Then what do you call automobile blinkers? "

I believe that they are 'indicators'.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 12:00:00 UTC | #206358

ColdFusionLazarus's Avatar Comment 13 by ColdFusionLazarus

I'm still not comfortable with throwing emotive words - worrying about child abuse. I do feel some concern for the kids, but I cannot stop parents being bad parents. Thankfully there are some good parents, and some of it might be inspired by their religion. There are some pretty good idealised stories about some religious figures that can inspire simple, selfless, assertive people who are doing a good, supportive job.

Although I've denied god's existence for many years, until recently I thought most christians were just pleasant people trying to emulate an idealised Jesus figure, but forgetting all the "magic" mumbo-jumbo. I thought the fundamentalists lived in America, and that Britain had sensible everyday people that were trying to accept everyone as good character. Only recently I see desperate attempts at failth healing (I do believe, I do believe), and castigation of whole groups (they're quite welcome to be good and enter heaven, but they mustn't actually do any of that dirty sexual stuff). Today we whince at the practices of witch doctors in some regions of Africa. It's absurd to see that people are so backward to believe such dangerous nonsense. But today there are many Anglicans urging each other to "really believe". Not everyone knows that these people like to speak unintelligible mumbo jumbo, predict the future and heal physical injuries with magical spirits. Some people will be shocked what is really believed by the decision makers we have put in such positions of authority!

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 12:18:00 UTC | #206385

radiohead's Avatar Comment 14 by radiohead

a wee meme or a saying we have in northern ireland is the saying over something we like "Good good good"

thats what i feel when i read this little article.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 12:21:00 UTC | #206389

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 15 by rod-the-farmer

Re Comment #217550 by Shaden

I can't say that I've seen a horse with blinkers...

I used to have a Mustang with blinkers, and a friend had a Pinto with them as well......

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 12:32:00 UTC | #206396

Shaden's Avatar Comment 16 by Shaden

MBC Morgan:

I'm just guessing here, but in Australia wouldn't it be something like "bajermidoos"?

Haha, probably. Though, the closest I've been to Australia is the Outback Steakhouse, so I wouldn't know.

practicing atheis,

Ah, indicators, that sounds right, that may even be the correct term here and are just known as blinkers.

Still doesn't make sense that's what horse blinders are called.

PS. Why doesn't this comment section have a quote button? It's the only one I can think of that doesn't.

PPS. Or a preview button? Maybe I should start my wish list for santa early this year.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 12:38:00 UTC | #206400

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 17 by Border Collie

Damn, I'm glad you guys got the blinker/blinder thing worked out. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to sleep tonight.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 12:55:00 UTC | #206408

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 18 by Apathy personified

Some kids go to space camp, some go to glastonbury, others go to a gathering of catholics to hear the pope speak.....

As i've posted before - the idea of 'god' is just a limitation we place (as a species) on our imaginations - the world is a far more interesting place because there are no supernatural elfs or whatever.
Let's hope more people can give up belief in the last god.

Edit: Grammar

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 13:05:00 UTC | #206418

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 19 by Dhamma

This was a fairly interesting text. I love reading about converts, in order to understand the psychology behind it.

Really though, it could've fit in the "converts corner" instead.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 13:12:00 UTC | #206425

Krapulator's Avatar Comment 20 by Krapulator

For an even better read, check out Bill Muehlenberg's response to this article:

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 13:34:00 UTC | #206452

David J's Avatar Comment 21 by David J

goobeast (#3): Christian rock is an abomination

It's not even good instrumentally, and that's saying something because it's the instrument that drives most of the appeal to rock music (with exceptions, of course). "God rocks" is the stupidest thing I've ever read. I also hear people say "You go, god!"

Christ on a bike - I can't stand new-age-y teenage godists.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 13:55:00 UTC | #206477

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 22 by Dhamma


Do you honestly, I mean HONESTLY, think there was anything of value in his "rebuttal"? Do you think preaching is a convincing method to prove religion true? By saying "Jesus has his arms open for you, how can you deny his love?" would convince anyone that there must be a god? If I would say "Jesus/Allah/Vishnu/Odin has its arms open for you, how can one deny its love", would you say that the first choice is the only reasonable? If you do, then can you tell me how we are supposed to understand that all the others are wrong?

Really, he said very much, but nothing of value.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 13:56:00 UTC | #206479

Auraboy's Avatar Comment 23 by Auraboy

Blinkers for a horse is almost certainly to do with them mimicking 'blinking' i.e closed eyelids. That's a guess. An indicator isn't really a blinking eyeball. But this conversation needs to end before we get onto trunks versus boots versus fenders versus bumpers and all that jazz.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:01:00 UTC | #206486

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 24 by phasmagigas

For an even better read, check out Bill Muehlenberg's response to this article:

its funny reading that, its amazing reading something from a writer that just totally assumes that god is there, is the love, tending each, everywhere!!

ugh, i feel like throwing up when i hear the word 'biblical' used as a adjective (well, i think its an adjective anyway).

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:04:00 UTC | #206490

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 25 by prolibertas

Catholicism all 'modern and trendy'? Christian rock? Ugh.

You know that feeling, when you see someone make a fool of themselves in public, you feel embarrassed FOR them, even if they're total strangers? I feel that when seeing Christians trying to rip off secular culture and show how hip and cool they are.

It all reminds me of nerds in high school who tried to imitate the cool guys in an effort to say 'Hey I'm cool, really I am, please accept me please!'

Like those nerds, I'd respect Christians a little more if they just walked their own path unapologetically.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:16:00 UTC | #206500

Oystein Elgaroy's Avatar Comment 26 by Oystein Elgaroy

Muehlenburg's style of arguing is quite common among his kind. For some reason he assumes that atheists know that Christianity is the one true religion (Of course it is! It is obvious!) but choose to reject it because they don't want to give up their sinful lives. Never for a second does he consider the possibility that the main reason for rejecting his religion is that there are no good reasons to think it is true.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:21:00 UTC | #206505

ghuckin's Avatar Comment 27 by ghuckin

Go to
Then you don't have to take up space here that is meant for discussion of the article.

I was going to select a quote from this article that I particularly concurred with. Then I realised that I'd have to select the whole thing. It could have been me that wrote it, because the author's journey into enlightenment mirrored my own, embarked upon quite late in my life, almost exactly.
Oh, all right, I'll pick one quote

"I just opened my eyes one day, looked around and realised that I had once been standing in a house and one by one the walls had collapsed and there was no longer a house there. I was standing out in the open. It was very liberating."

That was me two years ago.

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:29:00 UTC | #206513

DeepFritz's Avatar Comment 28 by DeepFritz

Catherine Deveny is one of Melbourne's best Journalists/Media personalities. Her sarcastic wit has been highly developed over time and reading her opinion on what's on the box for the weekend is always amusing even if you like the show that she is trashing.

Instead of World Youth Day - why don't we have World Adult Day? World Adult Day is like World youth day, except we have "Grown Up in the Universe!" and shed off the mythical beings like the tooth fairy, santa and god...

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:31:00 UTC | #206514

SRWB's Avatar Comment 29 by SRWB

Is Muehlenburg a theologist? Wow, he sure knows alot about God and Jesus!

Reading his rebuttal had me in stitches. So many excellent quotes. And he's sooooo sure of himself isn't he?

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:34:00 UTC | #206515

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 30 by Dhamma


Do you think you ease the stigmatisations of the evil atheist with that avatar?

Really, I love it! :)

"Gravitation" - Oh, the evil scientist!

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:35:00 UTC | #206516