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My Spiritual Journey - Comments

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 1 by irate_atheist

Oh dear. Seems like mama & Papa Obama didn't teach their son enough about critical thinking and avoiding appeals to emotion, tradition etc.

The story of Abraham and Isaac offers a simple but powerful example. According to the Bible, Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his "only son, Isaac, whom you love," as a burnt offering. Without argument, Abraham takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, we know the happy ending — God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute. Abraham has passed God's test of devotion. He becomes a model of fidelity to God, and his great faith is rewarded through future generations. And yet it is fair to say that if any of us saw a 21st century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would call the police; we would wrestle him down; even if we saw him lower the knife at the last minute, we would expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away and charge Abraham with child abuse. We would do so because God doesn't reveal Himself or His angels to all of us in a single moment. We do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, understanding that a part of what we know to be true — as individuals or communities of faith — will be true for us alone.

Only a religious wingnut would find a story of such barbaric child cruelty and abuse to be a test of loving devotion. Only religion would make such a story acceptable. If a god told me to kill my child, I'd slit my own throat first.

And someone with such an inability to think properly and inability to be emotionally reliant on themselves, without getting suckered in by a particular bunch of crackpots, gets to be in charge of the world's most powerful nation. What a joke.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:01:06 UTC | #619945

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 2 by irate_atheist

No, not even a joke.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:07:05 UTC | #619948

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 3 by irate_atheist

The guy doesn't even seem to grasp what evidence and objective facts are.

Jesus wept. No wonder he was a lawyer.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:08:56 UTC | #619949

SnowyDoc's Avatar Comment 4 by SnowyDoc

One has to keep wondering, though, if he truly believes any of these religious ideas, or is pandering, as he feels he must, to the vast majority of his constituency.

Religious accommodationism is a poor alternative to sensible debate and rational decision-making, but when you're surrounded by idiots, perhaps the most productive course of action is to attempt to find a middle ground. As the saying goes, you can't please everybody... but I suppose at least you can prevent 95% of the population from rioting in the streets. ;-)

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:15:35 UTC | #619951

Erik Andreas's Avatar Comment 5 by Erik Andreas

D'oh! I was hoping I could make the argument that he was just writing something vainly christian-like to please the religious of that mad country. The way he went on about it was disappointing.. I still want to believe he is an atheist, but faced with this rather convincing evidence to the contrary I will not keep that faith.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:16:17 UTC | #619952

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 6 by justinesaracen

Any declaration of faith has got to be embarrassing. For a sitting president whom the whole world recognizes as an intelligent man, it is embarrassing and fake. He should never have done it. With re-election coming up, he is trying to be all things to all men (and women) and he it just sounds like stupid pandering.

It shows that you CAN be articulate, even eloquent, yet say stupid things.

While the US Republicans seem to have moved to the right of the Czar in their policies (those who are not out-and-out clowns), Obama is so compromised, he gives progressive Democrats very little to work with.

Isn't there some nifty expression in the bible like "the lord spits out the lukewarm" ??

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:17:34 UTC | #619953

Netsrak's Avatar Comment 7 by Netsrak

I really was hoping he was a closet atheist.

He almost seems to have given in to the deluded masses just to feel part of something. Cant understand that.

Even so, still miles better than the last chap...

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:18:44 UTC | #619954

superbeanson's Avatar Comment 8 by superbeanson

Yay- respeck! for anti-abortionists, they're only blindly following the Rat-man's diktats, bless 'em

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:21:31 UTC | #619956

Fouad Boussetta's Avatar Comment 9 by Fouad Boussetta

He IS a closet atheist... who needs to be elected.

Anyway, why this 2006 paper now? I did read it when it came out in print.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:25:24 UTC | #619957

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 10 by hungarianelephant

Am I alone in feeling when I read Obama's writings that they seem to have been generated by a computer?

Admittedly, quite a good one. Unlike the Commodore 64 that used to do Bush's.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:26:19 UTC | #619958

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 11 by El Bastardo

Comment 1 by irate_atheist Oh dear. Seems like mama & Papa Obama didn't teach their son enough about critical thinking and avoiding appeals to emotion, tradition etc

Really? Apart from the fact it's common knowledge, it is even stated above

My father was almost entirely absent from my childhood, having been divorced from my mother when I was 2 years old;

He is right though in the article when he says that a lot of religious think women take abortion lightly, as some for of after the fact birth control, which is not the case, and ultimately,

a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions,

This is true no matter how you feel on the subject.

The real question here is why an article dated Monday, Oct. 16, 2006 is being posted now. Nothing to do with a re-election bid, I'm sure.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:28:20 UTC | #619959

Fouad Boussetta's Avatar Comment 12 by Fouad Boussetta

Well, hungarianelephant, I regularly do read his speeches, and they're pretty good!

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:29:33 UTC | #619960

schalkerforever's Avatar Comment 13 by schalkerforever

Comment 10 by hungarianelephant :

Am I alone in feeling when I read Obama's writings that they seem to have been generated by a computer?

Admittedly, quite a good one. Unlike the Commodore 64 that used to do Bush's.

you offended my C64 :(

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:32:48 UTC | #619962

GBile's Avatar Comment 14 by GBile

Abraham has passed God's test of devotion

What is wrong with this sentence? Let me rephrase that: what is not wrong with this sentence? Abraham has never existed, God ditto. And is devotion something that should be tested? Is 'devotion' a honorable character trait, or should the afflicted see a psychiatrist?

We do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be.

The mental institutions are teeming with people hearing 'things', seeing 'things' and experiencing 'things'. In this light the 'know' in "part of what we know to be true — as individuals or communities of faith — will be true for us alone", has little to do with 'knowlegde'.

This is not hard to understand.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:38:02 UTC | #619966

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 15 by irate_atheist

Comment 11 by El Bastardo -

Almost, but not entirely absent.

But that avoids the main issue. He's either yet one more religious nutter or a lying scumbag. People here seem to think they hope he's a lying scumbag. Quite a hope to have, for a President of the United States.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:38:28 UTC | #619967

green and dying's Avatar Comment 16 by green and dying

It's so hard to work out what he actually believes. He says he's not sure about anything except the obvious things like the golden rule. He's either not really a Christian and he's trying to appeal to Christians as much as possible without actually saying "I believe Jesus was God and he rose from the dead" etc. or he's a Christian who's trying to appeal to atheists. I feel like with his upbringing it's the first one. He says he doesn't know what happens when we die but he "hopes" there's a heaven. It sounds like he's hoping that the first part sticks in atheists' minds and the second part sticks in the Christians' minds and everyone comes away thinking he agrees with them.

The abortion thing is the same. "Oh no one takes it lightly and we should prevent women wanting abortions" is such an annoying middle ground type thing to say where you hope the pro-choicers remember that you said abortion should be legal and you hope the pro-lifers remember that you said abortion is terrible and difficult and women wouldn't want them in a perfect world or something.

This technique doesn't really make me respect him to be honest. It's kind of sneaky and it's like he's hoping his audience aren't as bright as him.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:38:35 UTC | #619968

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 17 by El Bastardo

Can anyone explain to me where this "closet atheist" thing came from, considering he's always said he was a christian?

Was this just wishful thinking?

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:39:12 UTC | #619970

skiles1's Avatar Comment 18 by skiles1

Must be election season.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:40:05 UTC | #619971

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 19 by irate_atheist

Comment 16 by green and dying -

I think we can agree that he's full of crap.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:40:29 UTC | #619972

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 20 by AtheistEgbert

100% bullshit.

Religion has no legitimacy in the realm of ethics or politics. It has no business interfering with liberalism nor democracy.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:41:47 UTC | #619973

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 21 by El Bastardo

Comment 15 by irate_atheist :

Comment 11 by El Bastardo -

Almost, but not entirely absent.

But that avoids the main issue. He's either yet one more religious nutter or a lying scumbag. People here seem to think they hope he's a lying scumbag. Quite a hope to have, for a President of the United States.

Neither, he's a secularist. Which is pretty much what we'd want from our politicians, no matter what their beliefs, or lack thereof.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:49:38 UTC | #619977

David-in-Toronto's Avatar Comment 22 by David-in-Toronto

I’ve read and heard Obama’s “Abraham example” before. And I interpret it as a diplomatically veiled indictment of religion. He grants that the believer might have access to revealed “truth.” But he’s basically asking (demanding?) that this believer be able to “speak secular” – translate the revelation into an argument that the rest of us can appreciate. Absent such a translation, we’re compelled (as Obama says) to “act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know…”

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:54:01 UTC | #619979

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 23 by irate_atheist

Comment 21 by El Bastardo -

I prefer AtheistEgbert's analysis. I, personally, don't hope he's a lying scumbag vis a vis being Christian/atheist. I just hope that, when he grows up, he learns a bit more about how the world actually is. For his own sake, really.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 15:54:39 UTC | #619980

brian thomson's Avatar Comment 24 by brian thomson

He makes a strong argument for secularism near the end, though:

What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy demands is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason. If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons and seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God's will and expect that argument to carry the day. If I want others to listen to me, then I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

I note also that he frames his involvement with religion as a choice, in terms of social issues, rather than any kind of religious epiphany or vision:

It was because of these newfound understandings — that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved — that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.

Some very diplomatic language there!

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:03:18 UTC | #619983

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 25 by BanJoIvie

FOLKS, please note the date.

This artilce is from October 2006 As Obama was laying the groundwork for a presidential run in a country where evangelical sentiment in politics was at a fevered pitch. This article was NOT written by a stitting president, but by a politician who had sized up his audience (and very shrewdly I might add.)

Considering the context, and the rhetorical pandering to VERY motivated evangelical voters that was going on, I think this is a remarkable statement, and we are foolish to dismiss it with churlish wave. Criticism is great, and of course it's open season, but read the whole article and consider what he actually says in total.

Note his opening assessment of his audience as he cites statistics.

Note his frank admission, in several places that his faith does not preclude doubt, even saying he does not know what happens after death.

Note his firm insistence - again more than once - on secular reasoning as the only viable option in governance and lawmaking.

Note his defense of non-belief as fully moral and fully American - especially his lengthy description of his openly atheist mother's sense of wonder and her fierce advocacy for human causes.

Considering that this is arguably a statement directly addressing religious voters and seeking to establish his Christian bonifides, I think it shows remarkable defiance to faith-headedness.

I'm as critical of "accomodationists" as the next guy but it does behoove us to recognize that not all battlefields are the same. And that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

I see nothing in this piece as a whole that disproves the "closet atheist" hypothesis, just a reminder of the "closet" part.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:03:40 UTC | #619984

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 26 by God fearing Atheist

I have read 80%. All it does is reinforce my impression that Obama is clever, liberal, and a politician.

The only hope of ever knowing his actual religious belief is by reading his memoirs written after he has retired from politics. Bush, Clinton and Blair are currently "ambassadors" for various causes, so if Obama follows their lead he might die in the political saddle. So the only hope is a postumously published biography. (That is, if Obama does not continue to play politics postumously!)

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:06:06 UTC | #619985

yanquetino's Avatar Comment 27 by yanquetino

95% of Americans believe in God, more than two-thirds belong to a church, 37% call themselves committed Christians, and substantially more people believe in angels than believe in evolution

What? Obama's numbers can't be right. Only 5% of Americans are atheists? No way. Typical of politics: distort the numbers to pander to the voting public. Geeeeezus.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:07:24 UTC | #619987

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 28 by hungarianelephant

Comment 16 by green and dying :

It's so hard to work out what he actually believes.

I doubt he would regard that as a criticism. In fact his abstention record in the Senate was so impressive that the people of Illinois would have been forgiven for wondering whether he actually knew he had been elected.

What's amusing is how keen people are to project their fantasies onto him, rather than (as irate says) read things at face value and realise he's full of crap. Reagan fans do the same for Reagan. Kennedy fans did the same for Kennedy. Bush and Nixon were entirely different kinds of president, who were useful as totems of abuse. Can you imagine the reaction if Bush had written this twaddle? Apart from sheer amazement at the accuracy of the grammar, obviously.

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:11:26 UTC | #619989

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 29 by RichardofYork

Shock horror : Obama is a politician , Christ on a bike you expect integrity on the run up to an election?

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:13:39 UTC | #619991

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 30 by El Bastardo

@ BanJoIvie - Agreed, an old piece being dragged up, dusted off and taken out of context.

Moving on....

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:14:06 UTC | #619992