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← OUR VIEW: Atheists trade bibles for porn; dis Mother Teresa

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Jos Gibbons

Atheists have enjoyed a good run in recent years, organizing to challenge the value and validity of organized religion.
Much of their organization was to challenge the NECESSITY of organized religion, i.e. to challenge the view that atheists are evil or not amenable to spiritual experiences or of opinions that make little sense or whatever. The claim atheists are immoral is especially damaging; it has made atheists the most hated minority in America, and they are similarly unpopular in many other places. You may say things about atheists just about anywhere that, in the Western world, it is no quite rightly seen as horrid and unforgiveable to say about blacks or Jews or gays.
They’ve reminded society about historic episodes of evil cloaked in religion
Or, indeed, due to religion; they have in some cases made a convincing case for that. For example, Sam Harris has eliminated pretty much every other excuse; indeed, many were refuted merely by pointing out they assume the exact opposite of the truth (e.g. claiming terrorism as a reaction to poverty, even though it is the wealthier Muslims, and the Muslims in the more affluent nations (at least by Muslim standards), who do it, and similarly with other lies about education). People act on the basis of what they believe will serve their interests and/or be moral, and religion offers absurd claims about both. Why wouldn’t you expect the quotation of scripture to justify activity to accurately represent motives at least some of the time? Why would you expect such excuses to be politically effective unless at least large parts of the audience really do have the religious beliefs such excuse-users profess, whether or not the latter do?
once-insignificant Freedom From Religion Foundation
which has been reforming legal practice in the United States by winning court cases for several decades; hardly insignificant
confrontational billboards that insult religion in Colorado Springs and other religious bastions
”Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” “You can be good without God.” What’s insulting to religion about any of that? It merely says they don’t lay exclusive claim to morality; that’s hardly offensive. And “religious bastions” still contain plenty of atheists, whose morale (and don’t you dare misquote me by dropping the e so as to make it look like I was referencing ethics*) is in need of a boost. Outreach to them is the aim, not hurting theists’ ever–precious feelings. (*The worst forms of quote mining, which even many apologists dare not do, involves cutting stuff out of the MIDDLE of the quotation.)
it appears the movement toward mainstream status for atheism may have come and gone in a flash.
Appears? Does that mean we have good evidence to support that hypothesis, or just that it seems to you? After all, I could hardly contest the latter. However, if the former fails, I’ll still be unimpressed.
[It] has become a comedy of buffoonery.
The only times I’ve ever seen it criticised – and I’ve read plenty of them – its details were lied about, and this article has already done that several times to slanderous effect. Religion really is a comedy of buffoonery, not to mention many worse things. It’s also a tragedy in many ways. All of these have been true for a long time, nor are they likely to change. And we have no reason to think atheism will so similarly suffer that agnostics shall eventually rule.
As mainstream religious organizations devote human labor and hundreds of millions of dollars to aiding earthquake-ravaged Haiti and Chile, atheists organize around causes like the bibles-for-porn exchange.
AND sending human labour and lots of money to aiding Haiti and Chile! Have you never heard of Nonbelievers Giving Aid (where atheists explicitly club together) and the tens of BILLIONS of dollars from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (atheist individuals donating to charity and not making a big fuss about it the way theists insist upon)? Not everything a group does will involve charity; you’ll always find more flippant things with which to make a comparison. But you are implying atheists are disinterested in charity. You are truly evil to do this, though not evil enough to deserve the Hell you think your god has rightly prepared for many others, including us. (That attitude, of course, makes you even more evil.)
the Freedom From Religion Foundation has decided to battle the U.S. Postal Service over its new Mother Teresa stamp. Never mind this honorary U.S. citizen won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Forget that she fed and comforted orphans and AIDS patients and eased famine. Never mind that a Gallup poll found that Americans admire Mother Teresa more than John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King, Jr. Never mind we’ve yet to hear about atheists organizing to help Mother Teresa’s surviving order of nuns bathe the lepers. The foundation wants to eliminate her stamp because she was Catholic and opposed abortion. Apparently, this group that claims to advocate tolerance believes one must be an abortion-rights atheist to go on a stamp.
Lies through and through. Her Nobel prize was a result of campaigning by the Catholic Church (whose 750 BILLION dollars prove very useful for that) and one of the most controversial in its history. She used her acceptance speech to call abortion the greatest threat to peace in the world, proving she knew nothing about the subject for which she was awarded the prize. Her various awards were all awarded based on the false assumption she actually helped people all that much. Instead she conned enormous sums of money out of donors and didn’t use them to help poverty, seeing the latter as a blessing, and she instead simply worked on conversion efforts. Her establishing a 150–strong convent in her name in perpetuity with such funds rather than, say, helping people, is the reason there are now such nuns preparing to “help” lepers (and we have precious little evidence they’ll mean it any more than she did). Note that all these accusations were made and well–evidenced in the biography The Missionary Position decades ago, and no–one has ever even tried to challenge any of them. A person this evil, however good the masses falsely think she was, and this proselytizing, does not belong on the stamps of a secular nation proud of its defence of all that is good in the world. Atheists are giving plenty of help to people around the world; and, insofar as lepers are aided by charities, said charities seldom have an explicit religious alignment.
a CB radio provides more intellectual depth.
Prove it – don’t just pass onto your next point.
[RD] recently complained about frivolous gossip and a lack of sophistication and civility among users. That’s because his users direct their energies at opposing the beliefs and works of others.
In other words, they identify imperfections so something can be done about it. Within the space of days, a forum dispute – rare in the years the blog has been running – was fixed, despite RD not always being in the same Hemisphere throughout the incident; and, while heavily jetlagged, he closed the problem and retracted some of his earlier comments (like a good person should do when making mistakes; I would like to see the lies herein retracted).
And, FWIW, you have misrepresented what the reason for the controversy was. For years now, religious trolls have been causing all sorts of havoc, such as copying and pasting the same long and/or nonsensical and/or threatening messages over and over again all over the place, without their comments being relevant to the numerous threads upon which they landed, and using numerous sock puppet accounts (especially to mass sin bin others’ comments and thus make them less visible), misquoting others both therein and on other sites, raising the same claims repeatedly but never answering questions asked of them, and deleting huge numbers of their own posts on occasion to hide what really happened in some cases. has tried numerous ways to minimise this harm while still permitting free commenting (pre–publication comment moderation, for example, is an option many religious message boards use and which RD’s site would never consider), and no one compromise is perfect or uncontroversial, with some simply falling to the manipulation of trolls (e.g. the sin binning mentioned above).
When Dawkins introduced the idea of more moderation of comments, users turned on him. They became so angry, so mean, so anti Dawkins that he shut down the blog immediately and some of it will remain shut down.
This is a lie. Dawkins does not control how his website is run; the control is in the hands of a couple of experienced web admins, who, in their professional judgement, deleted the small minority of accounts which had caused the most trouble. This small edit was nonetheless arguably excessive, but it was not technologically possible to revert its effects, or to implement alternative moderation techniques such as the moderation of new thread topics, without temporarily deactivating the system and rebuilding it offline. For example, old discussions were considered valuable enough to deserve preservation, rather than retroactively subjecting them to the aforesaid new rule, but cost issues for implicating the new human moderation method required costs to be cut elsewhere, and so avatars in old discussions will need to be disabled after 30 days.
The Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Mother Teresa blogs don’t contain such talk — not even when bloggers speak of atheists who despise them.
They don’t need to – they come to and say such things. Dawkins, for example, has received plenty of death threats therein. But don’t forget either the bigoted comments that are not even notable on religious blogs because they’re mainstream, such as sexist, religiously discriminatory and homophobic nonsense.
As an organized movement of activists, atheists are falling apart.
Actually, they’re only getting more organized, their meeting sizes breaking new records (by their standards).
Their movement probably has no great future. It may have seen all the momentum it ever will.
Speculation couched in probabilistic or vaguer language with no evidence to support specific claims.
The atheist community will thrive only if non-believers find positive and constructive causes, as Mother Teresa did.
I won’t repeat the Nonbelievers Giving Aid and Mother–Teresa–as–bad points above. Atheists have plenty of positive and constructive causes, such as defending legal freedoms (including of religious groups, and many religious people have worked with and/or thanked groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation for such efforts) and science education, and challenging prejudices against themselves and other groups suffering from religion’s worst excesses.
It will find a bright future only if disbelievers put time and money into soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospitals and AIDS hospices — as Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians do.
There are such organizations set up by and partially filled with atheist individuals, and some such as Paula Kirby were thrown out by religious sypervisors when their non–belief was discovered and with no other reason cited. What you are recommending may be that more explicit culminations of atheist efforts be initiated, and this is where we may be in agreement – NBGA is a good idea (whose existence you seem to have ignored), and I for one would like to see many others like it.
A movement can’t go far on negative energy alone.
Every criticism of one thing is a preference of something else. Was the abolitionist movement on negative energy alone?
It can’t inspire with publicity events that trade good books — which implore discipline, order and love — with pornographic images that trivialize sex and separate it from love.
Sex is OK whenever between consenting adults and safely practised. By contrast, Abrahamic texts have no claim to being good books – their “discipline” and “order” involves very silly rules and the call for the death by barbaric methods of those breaking them, their love comes with too many terms and conditions (and the consequences of failure are too horrific), and they also call for many horrid things such as slavery, the subjugation of women and of foreign nations, and many other things that have no place today.
A movement can’t grow with campaigns designed to belittle beautiful deceased heroes, such as Mother Teresa
She is nothing of the kind, and to “belittle” her requires nothing more than telling truths about her biography.
If atheists want acceptance, and to make a difference in this world, they need to find the love.
If we don’t find the love of you or other theists, that’s the fault of your unloving lot, not us. Just how pleasant do our slogans have to be before you stop lying and calling them insulting? Indeed, what do we have to do for you to stop lying in general?

Wed, 10 Mar 2010 07:58:00 UTC | #447994