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← Oklahoma Freethought Convention 2011 (speech 3 of 5) - The Thinking Atheist

Oklahoma Freethought Convention 2011 (speech 3 of 5) - The Thinking Atheist - Comments

JuJu's Avatar Comment 1 by JuJu

Wow, that was cool. Although I was never religious, I can relate to his story about discovering Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and all the others. Since my consciousness was raised about science and critical thinking I haven't been able to get enough. Prior to that, life was just sorta of ho-hum.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 04:27:17 UTC | #861529

JohnConstantineC's Avatar Comment 2 by JohnConstantineC

Impressive debut, Seth. It was like a secular evangelical sermon. All the entertainment with none of the superstition!

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 07:44:27 UTC | #861549

stevenwood21's Avatar Comment 3 by stevenwood21

Wonderful humour! I found myself sniggering all the way through - rather undignified at work!

I like this guy's stuff - and the preacher accents he does.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 08:01:37 UTC | #861552

AfraidToDie's Avatar Comment 4 by AfraidToDie

Seth is a powerful free thinker that gives me hope that things really are changing, even in the heartland.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 08:24:37 UTC | #861555

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert

Seth is a very charismatic character and his presentation is flawless. But it continues to trouble me that atheists, sceptics, rationalists are caught up more in the spectacle rather than sitting down and having those boring rational discussions with each other. We're more interested in big names, personalities and famous atheists rather than affirming that we're all equals and that boring ugly people have as much to say as beautiful charasmatic people.

Beautiful charasmatic people are perfect for spreading the message (to the enemy) but we don't need to passively turn off our brains and listen to their genius without thinking.

There is, I'm afraid, a profound change within atheism, which is the new atheism, that has popularized the movement, but it's not a change toward reason, it is a change toward justice. This means that atheism can become popular without the need for people to be serious critical thinkers.

We all share the emotional injustices of the religious on our lives, and that is galvanizing the atheist community together. But this is not about reason or critical thinking, which remains a minority pastime.

Power and personalties are now structuring the atheist movement into heirarchies, with leaders and followers, and I'll have none of it. I see right through what is going on, and I'll criticize it from the outside.

We're making a profound mistake by turning off our brains and passively watching the spectacle.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 10:39:23 UTC | #861567

peter mayhew's Avatar Comment 6 by peter mayhew

Great stuff, Seth.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 10:39:51 UTC | #861568

jel's Avatar Comment 7 by jel

Excellent, I wish I had been there. Seth is a great speaker.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 10:41:43 UTC | #861569

mklim's Avatar Comment 8 by mklim

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Kudos to Seth.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 11:10:38 UTC | #861574

bewlay_brother's Avatar Comment 9 by bewlay_brother

wonderful stuff. entertaining, poignant and from the heart. havent heard of seth b4 now but would love to hear more from him.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 13:55:24 UTC | #861594

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 10 by SomersetJohn

Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert :

While I believe there are grains of truth in what you say I want to put a different slant on it.

For centuries, predating even the vicious subjugation that was christianity, those who had no faith in deities were persecuted, ostracised, exiled and killed for their lack of faith. Right up to the 18th century and the enlightenment to be an atheist was to be at risk. It was impossible for rational thinkers to group together in safety.

Freedom of religion came late, and for a long time did not include freedom from religion. Such freedom is still patchy, in far too many places apostasy is at best socially and economically limiting and at worse life threatening.

Atheism, humanism and rationalism are still minority positions. We need the Dawkins and Dennetts, the Hitchens and Harris's, and all the other high profile expositors of Atheism and rationality. Not to lead us down their personal paths of enlightenment but to show us it is not some terrible crime to reject the irrational, and we can survive such rejection. To show us we will not be alone when we reject the woo.

And maybe they will encourage us to not switch off our brains when we listen to them.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 14:18:01 UTC | #861604

bewlay_brother's Avatar Comment 11 by bewlay_brother

@ comment 5 by atheistegbert:

where do you get that notion from. ?. sure there are charismatic and eloquent speakers within the atheist "movement" (is this a movement, i didnt realize?) but having read this site for a couple of years at least now, although i post very little, i have seen little evidence of anyone (here at least ) blindly following the leaders (well i didnt vote for Dawkins!) and in fact many posters on here have argued or debated vociferously with each other and with the aferoementioned leaders of the "hierarchy".

There are plenty of people here (im sorry to say im not one of them) , who do not "turn off their brains and listen to their genius without thinking" and who questioned and consider in detail many of the articles by the "leading lights" of the atheism movement (if there is such a thing) on a regular basis. Names that come to mind, who have in their posts made me think about things by their concise and critical thinking are steve zara and cartomancer, though there have been many more, and i apologise to them for not mentioning them. yes some notable atheists get more airplay than others in the media, deservedly so in some cases, but many speak up on this site and others, without the spectacle and or hero worship that you seem to infer goes on in platforms like this. Seth, i hadnt heard of till today, but he made lots of salient points, was rational, and i dont agree with you that there was any great degree of spectacle there at all, quite the opposite, he was plain speaking and i "got " his speech as the point of view of someone who had endured years of emotional and psychological manipultion by established religion and irrationality before finally finding his way out of it. Far from being a spectacle, i found his whole delivery at the same time both amusing and very moving.

That is not to say that those words will have any effect on "the enemy"; they wont. but they will be of comfort to those in a similar position to seth himself .

Finally I dont think the "movement" , contrary to your assertion, has become more "popularised". sure dawkins, dennet, harris et al are more known within academic and quasi academic circles (Dawkins especially given his post as "prof of public understanding of science" but most of the people i know who have not had an higher level of education are only moderately aware of them (again especially Dawkins) through popular media, distorted though that may well be.

edited for bad spelling/typos

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 14:36:38 UTC | #861610

bewlay_brother's Avatar Comment 12 by bewlay_brother

sommersetjohn put it just as well, if not better and more concisely!

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 14:38:43 UTC | #861611

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 13 by rod-the-farmer

The bit about the guillotine movie, and how it scared all those kids.......what an appalling story.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 14:49:25 UTC | #861615

mr_DNA's Avatar Comment 14 by mr_DNA


There's a difference between politically active and intellectually active. As a European who has been an atheist for twenty plus years since 16 I have never felt the need for political engagement. Seriously it is not a feature of politics over here and there are more important things to debate in the political sphere. None of my friends care about my religious beliefs ( or lack thereof ) and I don't care about theirs. I think it would be a poor way to define your friends by anyway. As a result I am only interested in the critical thinking aspect of atheism. In America it is completely different. The role of religion in society is far more pervasive and stifling. If I were American I would definitely want to be involved in the political debate, both for the sake of personal freedom and the protection of the institution of science. This presentation seemed to be more in that camp than that of intellectual exercise. To be honest I don't think we have reached the stage yet where many atheists blindly follow the herd or accept opinions without thinking them through. To become an atheist involves an effort of free thought on behalf of the individual. As many of the posts to this forum testify.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 15:30:47 UTC | #861624

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 15 by justinesaracen

Very engaging. A sort of atheist 'preacher', though of course it is dangerous to use the word. I could so easily picture him in front of a congregation 'bearing witness' to Jebus.

A man with that kind of wit and charm can have a lot of influence on people who are still uncertain or still 'negotiating' with the religion they were brought up in.

I say more power to you, Seth. I wish he could be giving those speeches in high schools.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 15:56:34 UTC | #861628

achromat666's Avatar Comment 16 by achromat666

Took off my 'god glasses' when I was around 18 or so (just over 20 years ago), though I had been slowly reasoning myself argument after argument years before. My father is still ardently Christian but has never spoke an ill word to me on the subject and he is aware that I'm an atheist. I've heard horror stories about what it was like for many other people, far worse than my experience and it sounds like Seth had a very hard time with expressing it. It really is the hardest part of it, coming to grips, letting go and expressing it to others.

People that weren't raised in it don't quite understand the difficulty in seperating from something that's made intrinsic to your worldview. Seth puts it accurately in saying that it's damaging, for some far more than others.

Bravo sir, for being able to not only see reason but for being able to relate it to others so they can learn from it.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 17:08:53 UTC | #861639

GPWC's Avatar Comment 17 by GPWC

The style and substance are great in my view. But you do have to ask yourself, given his total confidence in his position now, how on earth did he believe for so long? And it is that question which somehow makes one worry about this presentational style. He is such a fluent speaker that I can imagine he would have no trouble walking out of that hall and down to the nearest church and giving an equally "good" speech in favour of religious beliefs.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 17:18:39 UTC | #861641

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 18 by Alternative Carpark

Am I the only one who thinks Seth sounds a little like Bill Hicks?

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 18:30:10 UTC | #861648

maryannschulz's Avatar Comment 19 by maryannschulz

GPWC, he probably would not have any trouble preaching religion being as how he used to do that. As to how he believed so long, he answered by equating religious unbringing with abuse. I believe Richard Dawkins has done the same, and I would third that premise. One who is not brought up from birth through childhood, steeped by family, friends and community in religion and fear and seeing the world only through 'god glasses' has no idea how abusive that is and how hard it is to get out. Seth speaks to us who labored under the same abusive entrapment. I do understand what Egbert is saying too, but think that Seth's approach benefits those still being abused by religion's poison instilled in childhood. His talk encourages me to continue with study to distance myself further from religion's tyranny. This site and atheist blogs give me plenty of 'brain food'.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 18:30:59 UTC | #861649

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 20 by alaskansee

@Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert

I agree with the other posters, where did you dig that problem from, was he really too pretty for you? WTF

It looked and sounded like an interesting talk by a "new" (as in freshly minted) atheist and you know what they say if it walks and talks. What could your problem possibly be?

There doesn't seem to be any evidence of your assertions and certainly no back up, I found this roll around on the floor funny -

"Power and personalties are now structuring the atheist movement into heirarchies, with leaders and followers, and I'll have none of it. I see right through what is going on, and I'll criticize it from the outside."

What utter rubbish, I challenge you to prove on single iota of this. Nor will you be "critisising from the outside", you've said you're an atheist so tough you're in the club. It has no leaders, it has no hierarchy or hierarchies nor do you have an opt out option.

PS your membership fees are now overdue, please pay immediately, presumable you have someone in mind, whomever you imagine is in charge I suppose. What a bunch of utter nonsense.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 18:53:40 UTC | #861653

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

I thoroughly enjoyed that presentation, it ticked all the right boxes for me, cheers Seth.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 18:55:48 UTC | #861654

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 22 by alaskansee

@ AtheistEgbert

Perhaps you could use my last post to illustrate how we're all in lockstep and which one of us is higher up the hierarchy? Are you my follower because I'm certainly not following you?

I'm having trouble getting over the idea of your voluntary membership, is it like gay evangelicals? You sound like the perfect illustration of the adage- organising atheists is like herding cats.

RD "Here pussy, pussy, pussy."

AE "Fuck off I'm not a cat"

RD "Good for you, now come here"

AE "Okay, but don't call me a pussy"

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 19:08:10 UTC | #861655

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 23 by All About Meme

Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert

This means that atheism can become popular without the need for people to be serious critical thinkers.

Exactly. Just like science can (and should!) become popular without the need for people to get doctorate degrees.

I have zero problem with the Four Horsemen literally ramming evidence-based thinking into ignorant brains. These courageous men are putting their lives at risk, each and every day, on a world brimming with deluded religious nutbags. Quit nipping at their heels and put forward a constructive plan to address your concerns, if you in fact have one.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 19:28:10 UTC | #861657

Quine's Avatar Comment 24 by Quine

I have been following Seth's YouTube channel for some time now. Just last week, he put up an audio collection of loss of faith stories. There is a really good one in the collection starting at the 25 minute mark from a guy named Steve. Enjoy.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 20:32:16 UTC | #861671

skiles1's Avatar Comment 25 by skiles1

Very oklahomish. Well done.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 20:51:31 UTC | #861680

Corylus's Avatar Comment 26 by Corylus

What a sweet guy.

I just wanted to give him a hug. No, this was not because he is pretty, but because he seemed so very nervous. Professional, articulate, prepared, polished ... and nervous. Talking in front of a group of people is a very different situation from talking into a mic in a small room.

So, very well done, Seth. You did just fine.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 22:19:27 UTC | #861695

mjs31's Avatar Comment 27 by mjs31

This made me kind of interested in the Texas Freethought Convention coming up. But it's in downtown Houston and parking will be insane! Still the line-up looks very impressive so I may have to reconsider.

Tue, 16 Aug 2011 23:51:05 UTC | #861713

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 28 by HappyPrimate

I've been listening to his Thinking Atheist broadcasts for a long while and even went back and listened to many I had missed before I found him. I really thought he was older than 43. This was an excellent presentation and was easy to relate to as I was raised in a souther baptist family and had many similar experiences to his. Fortunately I missed viewing that god awful movie but I know too many children did see it. I, like many others, found my own way out, took that journey into the light by my own will and need for the truth. I so relate to the feeling of being alone in a sea of deluded and frighteningly religious people. I struggled for over 20 years in my nonbelieve without any books relating to nonbelief or access to the internet. Science books were my only solice until after 2001 when many books started coming out and I was able to buy a computer. It was absolutely amazing to find so many other like-minded people in the world. That feeling of absolutely knowing that you're not crazy is fantastic!

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 00:25:45 UTC | #861717

Red Foot Okie's Avatar Comment 29 by Red Foot Okie


I didn't hear about the event until the day of, and by then I already had plans that I couldn't get out of. Pity I missed it.

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 02:45:38 UTC | #861730

LetMeBeClear's Avatar Comment 30 by LetMeBeClear

For someone so sharp to convert so quickly speaks to the power of the internet combined with free inquiry. I would like to thank everyone on for sharing their experiences and changing my life just as you have changed Seth's.

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 03:20:00 UTC | #861735