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Atheists' numbers doom them to irrelevance - Comments

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 1 by Bernard Hurley

Why don't you instead proudly proclaim your "atheistic religion"

Maybe because there isn't one!

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:18:17 UTC | #566684

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 2 by Bernard Hurley

Tell you what; why don't you pick a day, any day, call it Atheist Day, and spend the day celebrating your atheism. Get yourself an atheist tree, exchange atheist gifts and have a great atheist meal. Call all the other atheists you know (won't take long) or send them a card and exchange happy atheist wishes.

Already done, it's called Christmas.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:19:12 UTC | #566686

Correct me if I'm wrong's Avatar Comment 3 by Correct me if I'm wrong

No need to get all worked up over us irrelevant atheists, is there?

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:21:28 UTC | #566689

beanson's Avatar Comment 4 by beanson

Atheists' numbers doom them to irrelevance


so why is this cretin writing about them then

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:23:06 UTC | #566690

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 5 by Bernard Hurley

Since you believe that there is no being more supreme than yourself (a rather egocentric viewpoint), you can celebrate you by staring at yourself (or small groups staring at each other) in the mirror all day.

Gets a bit boring after a while. Although I do have to point out that last time I checked, the universe didn't revolve round my ego.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:23:14 UTC | #566691

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 6 by Bernard Hurley

How can they claim that a baby in a manger, a cross, a Christmas tree or some innocent Christmas songs cause them untold suffering and still keep a straight face?

I think you're confusing atheists with vampires.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:25:49 UTC | #566697

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 7 by Bernard Hurley

In the meantime I wish you a Merry Christmas and I will be praying for you.

While you're about it could you tell God that I need a new Land Rover with one of those all-singing all-dancing sat-nav thingies and two garden gnomes. And - I nearly forgot - could He be awfully nice and pay my gas bill?

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:31:06 UTC | #566699

William33's Avatar Comment 8 by William33

This person comes across as a jerk. He seems to have walked into a room with a machine gun and managed to tarr everyone without thought on whether or not this group of atheists represent the majority.

I expect many atheists will be celebrating Christmas in several days. I found it strange that this man believes companies mentioning Christmas is good. What's good about multi-national companies realising the money to be made and milking the system for what it's worth accordingly?

He seems very worried about sucha small group of people to go to the trouble of highlighting it.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:32:47 UTC | #566700

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 9 by Bernard Hurley

Tom Sears is a local professor of accounting in Oneonta.

Well, I guess someone has to be.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:33:14 UTC | #566702

Degsy's Avatar Comment 10 by Degsy


Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:35:54 UTC | #566708

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 11 by Steve Zara

How very un-American. I thought the American Way was that your significance did not depend on which group you happened to be a member of.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:37:11 UTC | #566711

thebaldgit's Avatar Comment 12 by thebaldgit

Tom Sears is a local professor of accounting in Onanism sorry is that Oneonta? I don't suppose there is much difference judging by the crap that this twat is spouting. For somebody who says he does not care for atheists he gets himself worked up unnecessarily.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:39:47 UTC | #566713

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 13 by Luke_B

Umm...did I read that wrong or did he just write an entire article about atheists denigrating Christmas by putting up a billboard and yet didn't actually say what was on the billboard?

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:56:52 UTC | #566734

Hideous Dwarf's Avatar Comment 14 by Hideous Dwarf

Surely this is a spoof. Either that or it's the finest demonstration of religious insecurity I've read in years.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 15:59:59 UTC | #566737

Save me jebuz!'s Avatar Comment 15 by Save me jebuz!

Comment 10 by Degsy :



I found this rant kinda funny though, thanks for the chuckle Tom, you arsehole.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:00:48 UTC | #566738

Linda Ward's Avatar Comment 16 by Linda Ward

My husband joked this morning on hearing the news announcer remind everyone that today is the Winter Solstice. He said there should be a special way to celebrate and acknowledge the natural, astronomical phenomenon. Um no kidding, but that won't fly with Americans. They don't get that it if a woman has a baby she is not a virgin.

I wonder if people are starting to tire with the Coca-cola invented Christmas stuff. It is sort of done to death. The light display in our neighbourhood is in a word, minimal. That could have something to do with our electricity rates rising by 40%. Does being practical inspire reduction of excess? Is Christmas now equated with Halloween, something fun and silly without the need to invest emotion into the season? That works for me.

In our house we have a wonderful meal without gifts. Given that strawberries are available all year long as is everything else the idea of collecting any more useless things seems trite and superficial.

Less is more.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:01:42 UTC | #566740

Logicel's Avatar Comment 17 by Logicel

Sears, here is your pacifier/mummy. It was on the floor where you threw it out of your crib. What, it is too mucked up with dirt? I just said a prayer over it, it is safe now. Suck on it, baby. Ah, peaceful silence for the time being.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:04:48 UTC | #566743

SeculR's Avatar Comment 18 by SeculR

Isn't it great to witness a true Christian, brimming with love for his fellow human beings just like it says in the good book!

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:08:05 UTC | #566746

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 19 by prettygoodformonkeys

Perhaps take another look at your position on civil liberties, if you feel it is one that is

intimidated by the American Civil Liberties Union

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:11:07 UTC | #566751

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 20 by Stevehill

This guy has serious insecurity and self-esteem issues.

What's he so afraid of?

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:19:16 UTC | #566758

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 21 by Jos Gibbons

Atheists are once again trying to bring attention to themselves

Since it is secularists, not atheists, who complain in ways he is moaning about, the article becomes nonsense from this point on, though other errors enter later. (Secularists have those of all faiths and none in their ranks, and secularism is the one stance on religion to which all of America’s Founding Fathers agreed, as it is a principle of political neutrality – not hostility – rather than a religious claim. Outspoken US secularists today are more likely than ever to be atheists, partly because religions have renewed their desire for theocracy, and partly because some religious secularists, including some in the clergy, have been as persecuted for their secularist stances in the courts as have their atheist colleagues.)

by attempting to denigrate, insult or demean religions

Secularism doesn’t do this; it asks religions to know their fair place in society like all ideas. That place is one in which the state should not respect or disrespect them, should not fund or fine them, should not endorse or critique them. It should regard in turn the irreligious in the same here.

Christianity and therefore Christians

That is a non sequitur. Any attitude regarding a person’s stance on some issue may differ markedly from one’s attitude regarding them as an individual. Indeed, since we find we agree with another on some things and disagree on others, this must be so. And some criticisms of religion (not that they’re what this article is about anyway, however much Sears believes otherwise) are even based on the harm a religion can do to its own adherents. Not for nothing did Sam Harris, a vocal critic of Islam, remark that no–one suffers more at Islam’s hand than do Muslims themselves.

Polls show atheists to be 3 percent or less of the total population of the United States, a number that has remained about the same over past years.

Polls also show most people don’t know what “atheist” means, including many who fit, or who accept they fit, the definition. An atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or gods. That’s it. Polls that actually make unambiguous what is asked show a figure some 5 times the one Sears quotes, and further show it has approximately doubled in the past 20 years. They show further it is highest still (about 25 %) in 18–35 year olds, and that the irreligious are growing faster in the US than is any religion. What is more, all of these key findings are approximately true of the world as a whole (though not of each of its individual nations), an interesting coincidence.

the president of this organization now claims that there are many more "closet atheists."

We know this claim is true because there are literally thousands of self–volunteered accounts on one website alone (see the converts’ corner of of people who have had a tough time knowing to whom, if anyone, to divulge such information, sometimes taking years to do so. We even know of dozens of such cases in the clergy from two researchers alone, Dan Dennett and Linda LaScola.

He goes so far as to say that there are many who attend religious services during the holidays but don't believe in them. Kind of pathetic if you ask me. Again, this claim is supported with evidence. Besides the clergy themselves, there are many self–confessed (however privately) atheists still in churches’ flocks. We also know the religiosity of the population is in general indicated well by neither the actual nor claimed level of church attendance, and that the two are not even very close.

Why are atheists so afraid of Christianity that they feel they have to go out and aggressively attack it every year around this time?

Again, it is a case of secularists decrying church–state entanglement, not of atheists decrying a religious festival. It is worth bearing in mind there are also complaints, in individuals’ capacities as historians, about the lie that Christianity is the source of December 25 festivities. They actually date to ancient times. Indeed, the first deity for whom it was the claimed birthday was not Jesus but Ra, the ancient Egyptians’ god of the sun, and the true agricultural meaning – the winter solstice – predates even that. For millennia every civilisation, be it in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, has celebrated this solstice, the latter doing so in June. However, these local celebrations have each undergone various historical corruptions regarding their true meaning, including being co–opted by a plethora of religions. They are mostly extinct due to the decision by Roman Emperor Constantine upon his conversion of Christianity to impose his new religion on the previously multi–faith empire.

Why don't you instead proudly proclaim your "atheistic religion" and explain all the reasons and research that led you to your stance. Maybe you can't? Maybe your choice was made out of laziness and you didn't even give religion a chance?

Such explanations have been provided, a growing number at book length. These are not really suited to Fox News sound–bites or exposition through megaphones on cold busy streets late in December. What many do have in common is having been religious for many years, having gradually, not suddenly, moved away from it. For example, one of Dan Barker’s books explains how it took 5 years, his having already been a Christian for decades; indeed, including those 5 years, he served as a travelling preacher for 19.

Are you going to give your children the right to choose?

Aside from the question of whether religious people do so with their own children, let’s see what Richard Dawkins, usually considered atheism at its worst (save perhaps for Stalin) by atheism’s critics, said on the matter. Dawkins takes the view it is wrong to label a child with the religion or irreligion of its parents; he has complained about “atheist child” to make clear his consistency on this point. He also takes the view children should be taught how to think (i.e. based on evidence as opposed to superstition), not what to think.

Tell you what; why don't you pick a day, any day

We’ll take December 25. Oh sorry, have you booked it with the registry office? Is the rest of humanity (non–Christians outnumber Christians 2 to 1) forced not to celebrate anything on that day? No. We’re taking the solstice like we always did.

Call all the other atheists you know (won't take long)

That depends on who you are. I for one would need hours to do it.

you believe that there is no being more supreme than yourself

A god is a creator of a universe. This is what atheists don’t accept as demonstrated. Individual atheists usually belong to one of two schools of thought, that humans are all equal (putting aside the question of supreme aliens for the moment, thinking all known persons are neither your superior nor your inferior but your equal is hardly “egocentric”, as Sears later claims) or that one’s superiors include for example great athletes, entertainers, humanitarians, philanthropists, politicians and scientists. (I chose an alphabetical order to be neutral. There are other examples, but six common ones will do to make the point.)

you can celebrate you by staring

How about having some actual fun? We prefer doing that.

Isn't this a better idea than going around and putting other religions down? At least you are doing something more positive for yourself if you follow my strategy for you.

Once again, there is a very real difference between demeaning other groups’ views and seeking for state neutrality, and the latter certainly does do us all a favour. Not for nothing does the Freedom From Religion Foundation have religious fans who appreciate secularism helps us all.

Atheists have no real beliefs

Atheists, like all people, believe many things. It is theological beliefs they lack. But to use “real beliefs” as a synonym for these would be the No True Scotsman Fallacy. Since Sears frequently complains about what technically is the work of secularists, perhaps it is worth clarifying they also believe things, including in some cases theological beliefs. Indeed secularists if anything may have even more beliefs than atheists do, as secularism is a very specific position on how best to run our society. To repeat, it is about neutrality regarding religion, not hostility towards it.

they just want to tear down one more longstanding tradition and belief. How can they claim that a baby in a manger, a cross, a Christmas tree or some innocent Christmas songs cause them untold suffering

Once again, the point is about not having the state take sides. Private companies, incidentally, may do as they please to a much greater extent.

they tell the rest of us to be more sensitive to their feelings. ...Your claims of hurt and pain

Does Sears have any quotations to back up these claims? Even when discussing the president of American Atheists he presented no quotations; instead he paraphrased. In neither that case nor this one are the summaries of opinions trustworthy, particularly given various errors so far. I would like to see what comments by atheists or secularists inspired these claims by Sears.

Bill Maher and his classic film, "Religulous," is number … well, I can't find it on the list. As a matter of fact, I wonder if it even covered its costs. I think it was popular for about three weekends. Examples like this abound. I’d love to hear some such examples. For the record, Religulous had box receipts in excess of $13m despite only costing $2.5m, the ratio being > 5. In any case, Maher is yet another sort of non–Christian, a deist as far as anyone can tell. His comments have frequently indicated he believes in a deity, though he doubts any human being, himself included, knows much about this deity.

all the establishments that realized they made a huge mistake a few years back and have since rethought their positions

It is an interesting question what form of data back up the 20%/80% figures Sears cites, but for now I won’t challenge this so much as his explanation of it. This is not the sort of shift in companies’ behaviour which makes sense as a misjudgement of how best to be popular, if only because they must have been as aware of the relevant demographics as anyone. However, there are a number of legal issues constraining them, albeit not to the same extent as with, say, the government. Since these issues are constitutional and America’s adherence to them has lapsed in recent times (this was what Sears called getting back on the right track), those who would deviate from the spirit of neutrality display this much more than they did before, for example, the McCarthy era’s Communism scare.

You are making the biggest mistake of your lives by not at least giving religion a serious try.

As I mentioned earlier, giving religion a serious try has indeed often happened. Indeed, most irreligious Americans today were raised in a religious household, so gave it a try for some 2 decades or even more. What is more, recent research shows atheists (and Jews) know the most about religion. And some, such as the philosopher Sam Harris, have even spent 20 years as an adult studying in detail many religions both Western and Eastern.

I will be praying for you

How patronising and yet how laughable to anyone doubtful of the efficacy of prayer.

Tom Sears is a local professor of accounting

How irrelevant.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:26:04 UTC | #566763

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 22 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 14 by Hideous Dwarf :

Surely this is a spoof.

That's exactly what I thought the first time I saw a video of Fred Phelps. It seems that in the USA religious entertainment reaches heights unknown on the rest of planet.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:26:27 UTC | #566764

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 23 by SaganTheCat

slow news day

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:28:21 UTC | #566767

Reginald's Avatar Comment 24 by Reginald

Sounds as though we've got him rattled; that's the battle already won.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:30:04 UTC | #566768

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 25 by Cartomancer

Looks like the American atheists are doing something right!

But, really, wow. How painfully insular the American religious mindset is.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:30:18 UTC | #566769

Graxan's Avatar Comment 26 by Graxan

As usual with the religious verbal diorhea on offer in this article, there is no evidence given for any of his assertions. The arguament is founded on the usual illogical stand points, that all christians are automatically assumed to be good people and that the traditions associated with christmas are christian ones. We all know that neither is in fact the case. Another piece of meaningless diatribe attemping to attack those who try to view the world through the eyes of reason. I 'believe' this one can be safely ignored. I'd like to add a 'lol' at this point.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:33:18 UTC | #566771

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 27 by Alan4discussion


Oh dear! Just when we thought it couldn't go lower than Fox Noggins!

The epitomy of THICK JOURNALISM in the UK! - No brains required - as long as it has pictures with tits!

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:34:33 UTC | #566772

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 28 by crookedshoes

Silly whining douche. Every point he makes, he himself, then contradicts. I really wonder if he proofread anything he said.

The only thing about any of this that offends me is the illogic that is rampant in this man's thought process.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:49:03 UTC | #566782

sbooder's Avatar Comment 29 by sbooder

yada yada! blah blah blah!

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:53:52 UTC | #566786

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 30 by irate_atheist

What a twunt.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:57:19 UTC | #566789