Richard Dawkins stands by remarks on sexism, pedophilia, Down syndrome

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Richard Dawkins addressing the World Humanist Congress on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2014 in Oxford, England. RNS photo by Brian Pellot

Richard Dawkins addressing the World Humanist Congress on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2014 in Oxford, England. RNS photo by Brian Pellot

ATHERTON, Calif. (RNS) As the world’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins is no stranger to criticism from religious believers.

But in recent months, a few of his opinions have riled many in the atheist community as well. Remarks he made on Twitter and elsewhere on subjects ranging from sexual harassment (“stop whining”) to Down syndrome fetuses (“abort and try again”) have sparked suggestions from some fellow nonbelievers that he would serve atheism better by keeping quiet.

Richard Dawkins addressing the World Humanist Congress on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2014 in Oxford, England. RNS photo by Brian Pellot

Richard Dawkins addressing the World Humanist Congress on Aug. 11, 2014, in Oxford, England. RNS photo by Brian Pellot

When Religion News Service reported on his controversial July tweets on pedophilia — Dawkins opined that some attacks on children are “worse” than others — the 73-year-old British evolutionary biologist and best-selling New York Times author declined to be interviewed.

But on a speaking tour through the San Francisco Bay Area in support of his new memoir, “An Appetite for Wonder,” he invited a reporter to sit down with him and explore the thinking behind his remarks.

Bottom line: He stands by everything he has said — including comments that one form of rape or pedophilia is “worse” than another, and that a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate.

“I don’t take back anything that I’ve said,” Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. “I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being misunderstood and so I will … ”

He trailed off momentarily, gazing at his hands resting on a patio table.

“I feel muzzled, and a lot of other people do as well,” he continued. “There is a climate of bullying, a climate of intransigent thought police which is highly influential in the sense that it suppresses people like me.”

Recent criticism of Dawkins has come from women, many of them within the atheist movement, which has long drawn more men to its ranks. His online remarks, some women say, contribute to a climate they see as unwelcoming to female atheists.

Writing for Salon last month, atheist activist Amanda Marcotte said: “People like Dawkins … are the public face of atheism. And that public face is one that is defensively and irrationally sexist. It’s not only turning women away from atheism, it’s discrediting the idea that atheists are actually people who argue from a position of rationality. How can they be, when they cling to the ancient, irrational tradition of treating women like they aren’t quite as human as men?”

Some atheist men, too, are unhappy with Dawkins’ most recent remarks. 

“There’s no denying that Dawkins played a formative role in the atheist movement, but it’s grown beyond just him,” Adam Lee, a New York-based atheist, wrote in September in The Guardian. “Remarks like these make him a liability at best, a punchline at worst. He may have convinced himself that he’s the Most Rational Man Alive, but if his goal is to persuade everyone else that atheism is a welcoming and attractive option, Richard Dawkins is doing a terrible job.”

Todd Stiefel, founder and president of Stiefel Freethought Foundation, speaks to journalists during the 2014 Religion Newswriters Association conference in Decatur, Ga., on Sept. 20, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Todd Stiefel, founder and president of Stiefel Freethought Foundation, speaks to journalists during the 2014 Religion Newswriters Association conference in Decatur, Ga., on Sept. 20, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

Dawkins, however, disagrees. He is, he said, not a misogynist, as some critics have called him, but “a passionate feminist.” The greatest threats to women, in his view, are Islamism and jihadism — and his concern over that sometimes leads him to speak off-the-cuff.

“I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.

“And so I occasionally wax a little sarcastic, and I when I have done that, I then have subsequently discovered some truly horrific things, which is that some of the women who were the butt of my sarcasm then became the butt of really horrible or serious threats, which is totally disgusting and I know how horrible that is and that, of course, I absolutely abominate and absolutely repudiate and abhor.”

Dawkins’ supporters are legion. They laud the work of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, which many credit with helping to normalize atheism with its “out” campaign, aimed at getting atheists to go public about their lack of religious faith. The foundation also works to remove the influence of religion on science education.

Todd Stiefel, president of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, has worked with Dawkins on numerous projects, most recently teaming up to launch Openly Secular, an anti-discrimination campaign. He says that despite the controversies, Dawkins continues to be a worthy spokesman for atheism.

But Stiefel knows not everyone feels the same — and that is an asset to atheism. Dawkins, he said, is just one voice within atheism — and the more different voices the movement includes, the stronger it will be.

Hemant Mehta, author of the Friendly Atheist blog and two books on atheism, offered to raise money to cover the medical bills or other needs of the Rev. Norman Hayes, who was injured when the boyfriend of a parishioner allegedly attacked him. Photo courtesy Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta, author of the Friendly Atheist blog and two books on atheism. Photo courtesy of Hemant Mehta

“It is wonderful that we have such a brilliant asset with a keen, logical mind and passion for integrity,” Stiefel said in a phone interview. “But he is not perfect. He has flaws and weakness, just like we all do. I forgive Richard his faults and try to care for him as a human being, just like I would any other person. I think it is OK to admire Richard for his strengths and forgive him his weakness.”

Hemant Mehta has covered Dawkins’ accomplishments and his controversies on his widely read blog, The Friendly Atheist. He has read every one of Dawkins’ 12 books and describes them as examples of  “elegant explanations” and “beautiful prose.”

But that doesn’t carry over to Twitter’s 140 characters.

“What we’re seeing is a bad combination of a celebrity who speaks his mind about issues he’s not necessarily an expert on and a horde of well-intentioned people ready to vilify him instead of educate him,” Mehta said.

“But all of this starts and ends with Dawkins. He’s supposed to be the expert at communication. That’s the title he held at Oxford for so long. He, of all people, should realize that not all audiences will respond to him the same way — and he needs to adjust. He hasn’t done that yet.”

 YS/MG END WINSTON

  • Larry

    I have said it before and I will say it again. Despite Dawkin’s brilliance as a scientist and a writer popularizing science and rationality, the guy is an absolute moron when it comes to speaking to the press.

    You never saw Christopher Hitchens, a journalist by trade, making such nonsense public statements. He knew how to avoid being misconstrued. If Hitchens said something provocative, he did it on purpose.

  • Greg

    This issue with Dawkins is not that he will occasionally put his foot in his mouth, the issue is that he is a pure atheist. A pure atheist is one who throws off all moral constraints. Without God in the picture, naturally there are no moral constraints. A pure atheist doesn’t understand why anyone would judge them with any moral standards whatsoever. This is why Dawkins uses weights and measures to apply towards acts of violence as more or less harmful. It’s all in the eye of he beholder according to a pure atheist.

    If you prescribe to an ideal atheism, then you must remove all moral constraints. Dawkins obviously struggles to understand why people don’t understand this.

    Something to think about 🙂

  • Neon Genesis

    I’m sick and tired of people using the limited number of characters on Twitter as an excuse for his sexism. There are tons of other prominent activists that use Twitter and don’t have the same problem. And Dawkins has been downplaying the horrors of abuse since he first wrote The God Delusion so let’s stop blaming Twitter here.

  • philip

    Make no mistake- Richard Dawkins is a product of his ego.! No matter who you are, if you come to believe that you are the smartest person on earth, then it becomes hard to prove that the emperor has no clothes.
    I have many atheist friends. They know I’m devoutly religious; I know they’re devoutly atheist. So, what brings us together and keeps us together as human beings? The traits that all of us have potentially in common: compassion, understanding, forgiveness.
    We come to these and many other realizations of our human condition through different understandings. When a person gets too esoteric and scientific, we are left with the human condition to be viewed in a petri dish. There is much more to men and women; this, a true atheist and a true believer would agree on.
    One of the hardest sacrifices is to admit to your ego, to another person, to humanity, that you were wrong. Even atheists and religious people, including Mr. Dawkins, need to correct their mistakes in an ever increasing faultless world.

  • Alan Kramer

    Neither a “pure atheist” (don’t know what that is), or any other kind of atheist “throws off all moral constraints” belief in a god has nothing to do with moral constraints. It’s the person themselves who does or does not have morals. Having read much of Dawkins’ works, I would say he has very high moral standards. They may not always be PC, but it has nothing to do with his atheism.. Atheism and morality are two different and distinct discussions and subjects

  • Alan Kramer

    “Without God in the picture, naturally there are no moral constraints” spoken like a true apologist.. How many examples of morally bankrupt behavior by religious lemmings do you need to see the foolishness of that statement ?

  • Neon Genesis

    Actually Hitchens was just as guilty of engaging in sexism as Dawkins. Remember that time Hitchens wrote that article where he made the outrageous claim that all women weren’t funny?

  • Larry

    “Pure atheist” as opposed to “Part atheist with a side order of nihlism”? 🙂

    There is nothing more tired and ridiculous than the notion that morality is something that came from religion. This is simply religious folk trying to pat themselves on the back for being able to stomach following arbitrary and capricious authority figures.

    Religion, especially the Abrahamic ones are very good at making relativistic moral judgments or pretending self-interest is a sign of moral thinking. When God is in the picture there is no moral restraint. Everything is permitted if you claim to be acting in his name. God excuses all bad behavior and condemns much which we can consider moral.

    When one claims their morality is comes from God, or in your case fear/love of God then it isn’t really moral thinking. It is merely trying to please authority. Self-interest. No sense of conscience, of the effect of one’s actions on other people. If it gets you into heaven, who cares what an act means to other people.

    That being said, Dawkins is a bonehead who uses his good standing with the atheist and humanist crowd (yes they are 2 separate things), to pretend he has authority to speak on subjects he has no business discussing in public. The man has no media savvy whatsoever.

  • Doc Anthony

    Maybe Dawkins’ chosen religions (atheism and evolution) are part of the reason for his “absolute moron” troubles?

  • Larry

    Very true. But nobody can claim he was being misconstrued. He was being an insensitive jerk on purpose.

  • Larry

    Nope. There are plenty of scientists and atheists who know how to work a crowd. Dawkins simply isn’t one of them. Hemant Mehta being a good example cited here of an atheist who credibly displays intelligence and an ability to understand media.

    I can say however that plenty of absolute morons oppose both atheists and evolution. Its in the nature of why they have such beliefs. A combination of dishonesty, stubbornness and malice.

  • Fil Munas

    Richard Dawkins speaks the truth, unvarnished perhaps, but truthful it is. The pusillanimous crowd should kindly buzz off.

  • Doc Anthony

    Maybe it’s more complicated than “working a crowd” or playing to the media, Larry.

    Maybe when you believe in God, it’s easier to accept the Biblical fact that God createdwomen **equal to** men, instead of accepting what Darwin wrote about women being **inferior to** men because of evolution.

    Which then prevents you from saying heartless Dawkin-isms in public concerning the harsh issues of rape and sex harassment.

    Maybe when you believe in God, you wind up agreeing with King David that humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and that somewhere out there, there’s a God who fully knows about you even before you’re born.

    Which then prevents you from saying utterly stupid, cruel, and heartless Dawkin-isms like “Abort and try again” to parents of Down’s-Syndrome children.

    You say Dawkins is “brilliant” when it comes to popularizing “rationality”, but right now, Dawkins is looking totally ***OUTTA GAS*** in the rationality department.

    Seriously, Larry, I’ve seen dead raccoons on the side of the highway that appear to have more brains than Dawkins does at this time.

    Perhaps his core beliefs–atheism and evolution–have finally betrayed him. Wouldn’t you agree ?

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Without a moral core that reverences human life a man like Dawkins is as dangerous as a Lenin or a Stalin because there are no real boundaries or barriers to protect us from their bloody schemes. What is next after Down Syndrome children?? A new master race theory????.

  • Shawnie5

    That’s true, of course. Dawkins simply has more intellectual integrity than most in that he’s willing to follow his own logic not to its ultimate conclusion, perhaps, but farther down the path than most atheists have the courage to go. you have to give him credit for that much.

  • Martin Wagner

    Maybe when you believe in God, you crash airplanes into buildings. Maybe when you believe in God, you call gay people “abominations” and leave them tied to a fence to die slowly after the savage beating you’ve administered. Maybe when you believe in God, you make videos of yourself hacking off the heads of journalists. Maybe when you believe in God, you win the trust of little children in your parish, then molest them in the rectory. Maybe when you believe in God, you wear belt buckles saying “God Is With Us” while marching millions of Jews into gas chambers.

    Oh wait! What’s that you say? Not everyone who believes in God acts that way? Well then, now you know how stupid you sound making inaccurate, blanket assumptions about a person’s morality based on their belief in an invisible sky being. In reality, atheists are less likely to get divorced, be in prison, suffer from drug addiction and alcoholism, and more likely to have finished higher education than theists in America, and those results are from a Barna poll, a Christian polling organization.

    While I’m busy correcting your stupidity (because hey, when you’re on a roll you’re on a roll), evolution is, in fact, a scientific field and not a religious practice. Which is why no one considers anyone in the field an infallible authority. Darwin got a number of things right, and many things wrong, and his errors (such as thinking that women were biologically inferior) were in fact shown to be wrong by FURTHER application of science and study. Not by any recourse to your religion, which, far from considering women the equal of men, establishes such rules as allowing a father to sell his daughter to her rapist for 50 shekels, and declaring anyone who so much as touches a woman on her menstrual period to be “unclean.”

    If anything, Dawkins’ benighted views on women’s equality and similar social issues is far more in keeping with those of conservative Christians, not progressive atheists. Here endeth the lesson.

  • Larry

    “Maybe when you believe in God, it’s easier to accept the Biblical fact that God createdwomen **equal to** men”

    Bwahahaahaahahaahaahah. ROTFLMAO You don’t actually believe that to be true. You are just saying that for effect. I guess once you show the willingness to lie as a purported Creationist, other lies come much easier.

    Women are treated so equally that the number of abrahamic faiths/sects with female clergy can be counted on no more than 2 hands while the total number of sects number in the thousands. Biblical belief in the status of women also guides how ISIL is treating its female captives, the Quiverfull movement, and opposition to dealing with women’s health issues. Does God like it when you lie or do you think he just shrugs it off?

    “Which then prevents you from saying utterly stupid, cruel, and heartless Dawkin-isms like “Abort and try again” to parents of Down’s-Syndrome children.”

    Good taste prevents me from saying such things. If you require God to prevent you from saying stupid things, we should all worry. You are more or less admitting to a level of sociopathy which would make you a scary person to be near.

  • Larry

    There is nothing more dishonest and libelous than the trope that atheists are somehow immoral people or nihilists who believe in nothingness. You both should know better, but feel the need to hurl insults.

    Neither of you have “a moral core”. Its all about allegedly deferring to outside arbitrary authority. Nothing more than psychopathy on a divine leash. Self-interested action to avoid damnation. Nothing moral. Just glorified selfishness.

    Both of you like to use God as an excuse to take malicious harmful positions and actions towards others. Christian morality is no morality at all. All acts are excused if one claims to do so in a “scripturally sound” fashion. Rather than exercising one’s personal conscience, it is outsourced along with any responsibility for one’s actions. Given the frequently hateful and dishonest positions you both like to gravitate towards, your religious morality appears to be completely worthless.

  • Jack

    The problem, Larry, is that from a pure, unadulterated atheistic evolutionary perspective — ie without watering it down with anything else — what you get is Dawkins. He spoke his mind, and his mind reflects that perspective.

    On the other hand, while the forces of religion in practice have been equally misogynistic across time and place, there are plenty of resources within the Judeo-Christian traditions from which one can draw a conclusion that is favorable to women. There are absolutely no similar resources of any kind from a purely atheistic and purely evolutionary perspective from which to draw. Without smuggling in ideas and beliefs that counteract that perspective, all you are left with are the tooth-and-claw conditions of nature.

  • Jack

    No, Larry, there are plenty of atheists who are fairly decent people. That’s not the point. The point is that the philosophical world view of atheism is powerless to confront evil intellectually. It has absolutely zero to offer in that regard. The fact that atheists can be pretty decent people is a testimony not to an atheistic world view, which leaves zero resources to defend the good, let alone live it, but to the ability of human beings to be better than their ideologies would predict.

    Put another way, if you really want to defend goodness and stand up to evil and injustice in the world, you are saddled with a pretty lousy ideology if you choose atheism. All the good you will do and all the evil you will confront will be by ignoring or pushing past the philosophical implications of your atheism.

  • Jack

    The way people behave is often based more on their upbringings than on the philosophies they embrace as adults. An atheist raised in a wonderful family may well behave himself better as an adult than a person raised among horrible people who then converts to Christ as an adult. In order to decide between atheism or theism in terms of which produces more moral people, you really have to look across generations, and compare apples to apples.

    The only thing you can say is that a philosophy that leads logically to a position of moral and cultural relativism is powerless to aid in strengthening anyone’s moral fiber — no matter how you choose to define what moral fiber is. There no question that one of the many implications of atheism is moral relativism. It is simply a philosophical reality and there is no running from it.

  • Mimi Metcalfe

    “one form of rape or pedophilia is “worse” than another, and that a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate”.

    OH!!!!

    So U R Blaming The VICTIM aren’t You??
    Let’s BLAME that Drunk Woman/Little CHILD for being ASSAULTED right ????

    They were OBVIOUSLY “Lookin’ for a HOT Time” weren’t they????

  • Thecla

    I’m inclined to agree with some of his remarks. Some rapes ARE worse than others: it’s worse to be raped by a stranger at knife-point and left in a back alley bleeding than it is to have non-violent but non-consensual sex after falling into bed drunk at a frat party. And as far as sexual harassment goes, c’mon, getting propositioned by a co-worker isn’t anything close to being kidnapped and forced into sex slavery by Boka Haram. That isn’t however to say that date-rape and boorish behavior on the job aren’t bad, but that they just aren’t nearly as bad.

    That said, while the adult leaders of the atheist movement, even Dawkins, are reasonable and responsible, there is a large following of Lads who will be titillated by Dawkins remarks. I used to write for a national (non-American) newspaper’s online religion section. The articles there invariably drew a spate of comments by the Lads, which were invariably not only anti-religious but misogynistic, racist, anti-semitic and anti-American. They were puffing up their meager chests and exhibiting macho by showing how tough and TRANSGRESSIVE they were, attacking all nicenesses and orthodoxies, including “political correctness” as well as religious belief.

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  • Jack

    You missed the point, Alan. There are plenty of decently-behaving atheists and plenty of poorly-behaving theists. As a practical matter, atheism can help the world by cleansing it of plenty of silly and malevolent superstitions done in the name of countless religions — superstitions that cause poverty and misery, disease and early death.

    And yes, even from a Judeo-Christian perspective, that is exactly what we should expect. Why? Because from a Biblical perspective, every single god is a false god with one and only one exception — the God of the Bible, of Israel, and the Father of Jesus Christ.

    So if the Bible is true, it makes perfect sense that in every instance but one, when atheists attack religion, they are tearing down false gods and false religions….and one would predict good outcomes.

    The problem is when atheism follows through all the way to its conclusion and tears down literally every god, including the God of the Bible and even the God of deism, and therefore every absolute.

    Then….and only then….atheists if they are honest find themselves locked in the horns of a horrible dilemma. They come face to face with the philosophical reality of moral relativism, that if there is literally no deity at all, there is no philosophical basis to call anything ultimately good or evil. If there is no god, and no absolutes, morality becomes relative. One can still choose to act morally, but there is nothing in atheism that provides a basis to hold others accountable who don’t. And that is a gigantic philosophical problem when the issue is human rights across cultures and societies.

    An atheist may rebel against that bleak conclusion and live differently…..Most atheists do, and in one sense, that is to their credit. But in another sense, as Shawnie has implied, there is a philosophical lack of honesty and courage involved. They shrink back from the undeniably bleak conclusions of their philosophy — they don’t have the stomach for it.

  • Jack

    There are plenty of decently-behaving atheists and plenty of poorly-behaving theists. As a practical matter, atheism can help the world by cleansing it of plenty of silly and malevolent superstitions done in the name of countless religions — superstitions that cause poverty and misery, disease and early death.

    And yes, even from a Judeo-Christian perspective, that is exactly what we should expect. Why? Because from a Biblical perspective, every single god is a false god with one and only one exception — the God of the Bible, of Israel, and the Father of Jesus Christ.

    So if the Bible is true, it makes perfect sense that in every instance but one, when atheists attack religion, they are tearing down false gods and false religions….and one would predict good outcomes.

    The problem is when atheism follows through all the way to its conclusion and tears down literally every god, including the God of the Bible and even the God of deism, and therefore every absolute.

    Then….and only then….atheists if they are honest find themselves locked in the horns of a horrible dilemma. They come face to face with the philosophical reality of moral relativism, that if there is literally no deity at all, there is no philosophical basis to call anything ultimately good or evil. If there is no god, and no absolutes, morality becomes relative. One can still choose to act morally, but there is nothing in atheism that provides a basis to hold others accountable who don’t. And that is a gigantic philosophical problem when the issue is human rights across cultures and societies.

    An atheist may rebel against that bleak conclusion and live differently…..Most atheists do, and in one sense, that is to their credit. But in another sense, as Shawnie has implied, there is a philosophical lack of honesty and courage involved. They shrink back from the undeniably bleak conclusions of their philosophy — they don’t have the stomach for it.

  • Larry

    “The only thing you can say is that a philosophy that leads logically to a position of moral and cultural relativism is powerless to aid in strengthening anyone’s moral fiber — no matter how you choose to define what moral fiber is. ”

    Which is why Christianity has such a dangerous effect on the moral judgment of many people. Any and all acts are considered moral if you do it in God’s name. There is no moral judgment employed, conscience, empathy or connection to humanity. Just following arbitrary rules by outside authority.

    Atheism is hardly relativistic. It just relies more on making actual personal moral judgments than deferring to others for their ideas. I will direct you to a statement of morality and ethics done without any reference to religious dogma
    http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III

    But you want to feel superior to atheists, hence your desire to engage in such libels accompanied with patting yourself on the back.

  • Larry

    No we get the point. You give a backhanded compliment to atheists and cast aspersions on their morals and character by calling them relativistic.

    However a more honest approach would note the relativistic moral code is actually the religious one. Especially a Christian one. Christians love to find loopholes and excuses in their alleged code of conduct in order to act maliciously, to harm others and aggrandize themselves at the expense of others. As long as you claim that God wants you to do all of that, everything is permitted.

  • Larry

    No Jack, you are trying to insult atheists and making a poor effort at hiding your contempt of them.

    Religious belief has done more to create evil and injustice in the world than fight it. Religious authority acting in a beneficial fashion is the exception, not the rule. There is no moral thinking in religious belief. It is deference to authority without reflection. It is acceptance of arbitrary and capricious rules without consideration. All of those rules are of course subject to whatever spurious exception you can cite scripture around.

    I don’t see much morality in the people who claim it comes from their religious belief.

  • Larry

    No, Jack. Dawkins is just like every other loose-lipped person who can’t stay away from the media. Fundamentalist Christianity is full of people who do that. Heck, most of the conservative Christians here can’t help but say nasty, hateful things in public. Some people are just jerks. Jerks gravitate towards things that empower them to act like jerks. It has nothing to do with belief systems.

    But unlike your average Fundamentalist Christian figure, Dawkins tends to speak about things he has genuine professional knowledge of as well.

    “there are plenty of resources within the Judeo-Christian traditions from which one can draw a conclusion that is favorable to women. ”

    Not too many. They are the kinds of exceptions a Christian like yourself would usually ignore or say is not part of the true nature of your faith. Atheism, being the absence of religious faith is not tethered to toxic traditions.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    “Courage”??? To advocate the killing of Down Syndrome children. To call his evil “courage” is to call killing a virtue. “Credit” ???? for advocating death as a solution to societal problems. The real “ultimate” conclusion” to his intellectual arrogance is a justification for abominations like Master Race theories.
    Atheists will say it isn’t so but scratch a promoter of death and you will usually find an atheist–Exhibit No. 1: Dawkins

  • The Great God Pan

    ” Hemant Mehta being a good example cited here of an atheist who credibly displays intelligence and an ability to understand media.”

    And yet I have seen Mehta being attacked on Twitter and in comments sections by the same faitheists and “progressive” religionists who go apoplectic every time Dawkins farts. They don’t go after him as loudly and aggressively as they go after Dawkins, but then he is nowhere near as famous as Dawkins.

    Dawkins isn’t really being criticized because of his opinions on Down Syndrome fetuses, stranger rape and child molestation. Those are convenient excuses, and he is foolish enough to keep providing them. But what he is really targeted for is being a what they call a “New Atheist” or an “anti-theist,” i.e. an atheist who likes atheism and doesn’t prefer religion. That is his unforgivable sin, and they would hate him for it no matter what his stance was on any other issue.

  • The Great God Pan

    “The point is that the philosophical world view of atheism is powerless to confront evil intellectually.”

    By “confronting evil intellectually,” do you mean ascribing it to the supernatural influence of a renegade angel?

  • AmericanMuse

    Deacon, you doth protest too much. Dawkins is a breath of fresh air in this religion contaminated world.

  • Stutz

    No superstitious nonsense is required to force people to behave morally. If you think it is, then you ought to defend non-Christian religions against atheist attacks in the name of keeping entire foreign nations from falling into an abyss of moral depravity. Except, the funny thing is, there are several entire nations that are de facto atheist, and they seem to be doing just fine or better than the US in the personal morality department.

    Of course there is nothing “in atheism” that provides a moral framework. Atheism is not a competing religion. Atheism is only non-belief. You know this.

    The moral framework comes from the same non-supernatural sources it has always come from, from the atheist perspective: other people. It’s simply one’s upbringing in the context of very powerful socio-cultural forces, and much of that even has a biological/evolutionary basis. Relative morality is only frightening in theory. In practice, it’s the only type of morality there’s ever been.

  • Shawnie5

    No, Deacon. “Courage” for following his own logic farther along toward its ultimate conclusion than most “new atheists” who are too cowardly to do the same. They can not stomach, as Jack put it, the prospect of life without some kind of moral absolutes which transcend our species, culture and institutions and therefore may demand accountability, so they borrow them from religion–often without knowing they’re doing it. It makes for more attractive atheists, but it is also fraudulent. Dawkins is simply brave enough to go where his lack of belief leads. Nietzsche did the same; he was an extremely unattractive atheist, but an honest one at least.

  • Shawnie5

    No, by defining it in a way that makes any sense in a purely materialist universe–let alone seeking a solution.

  • Sheldon W. Helms

    Yes, because no priest, preacher, rabbi, or imam ever said or did anything unethical or moronic. They’re all perfect and above reproach.

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  • Dave

    Hard to argue, but remember that Dawkins is a scientist and Hitchens was a journalist. It gives him an enormous advantage as a speaker.

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  • Laurence Ringo

    Yeah, and look where it got him, Shawnie5: he (Nietzsche) died a raving madman.’NUFF SAID.

  • Dave V

    Dawkins is 73-years old.

    By Darwinian standards Richard Dawkins is absolutely worthless. A strong young man has the natural rights to strong arm this aged weakling out of all of his belongings and his home and source of food and let nature takes it course.

    The homeless and physically worthless old hominid has lived far past his time.

    Per evolution.

  • Richard Norris

    In Alex Rosenbergs book An Atheists Guide to Reality, Rosenberg points out that in metaphysical naturalism, there can be no free will, thought, beliefs, desires, or information, because these things seem to have a directedness, which is impossible in a purely physical world. There certainly isn’t an objective morality, because again the world is just a collection of wave-particle interactions. So it boggles the mind that there are atheists who go against the grain and claim that Dawkins is being immoral. I mean, if I have no free will, can I even BE raped? If my thoughts, beliefs and desires are illusions, should I cry when those illusions are “violated” after someone forces themselves on me? Or should I just take some medication to change my brain chemistry, which is supposedly the causal mechanism generating all of my illusions?

  • Larry

    There are no moral absolutes in religion, so the idea that atheists are cribbing from it is just laughable fiction. Worst of all when the religion in question is Christianity. In fact the arbitrary and relativistic nature of religious morality is usually a strong reason cited towards adopting humanism and atheism.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html

  • Larry

    Which is done by ascribing evil to the works of malicious divine beings or blaming it on people who ignore the arbitrary pronouncements of an allegedly beneficial divine being.

    A materialist universe is the only one we know exists. Anything else is just blind faith or willing acceptance of fiction.

  • Larry

    That’s all well and good for Rosenberg, but unlike religious belief, any such conjecture of such a nature is not considered accepted belief by those who call themselves atheists.

    The thing is, outside of a few academics, you don’t find the “Scientism” view of morality to be a particularly useful line to take. Since science has not understood the workings of the human mind or social interactions with any degree of certainty, such pronouncements are merely wishful thinking. Claiming answers which evidence has not produced yet.

    A lack of belief does not mean positive belief in something that is considered an alternative. Its not religion. People don’t follow someone who claims authority just because of shared belief. There is no “dogma” to speak of. No binding authority on the subject. It is primarily a negative assertion.

    Humanism, for instance, posits an objective morality yet is perfectly compatible with a lack of religious belief. Something completely at odds with your assertion of what you think atheists understand about morality.

  • Alan

    To say that without God there are no moral constraints is just silly. Rational self interest operating on the basis of treating others as I would like to be treated is sufficient. it’s only when people are imposing their own variety of skybeing (which might of course be their own ego) on others that we get a problem. And in any case most of the individuals in the US who are bent on making the world as unequal as possible no doubt believe that they are Christians.

  • Larry

    With a moral core which is subject to convenient and relativistic exceptions where reverence of human life is conditional, a person like yourself is as dangerous as Hitler.

    Because whatever moral boundaries may exist, they are easily bypassed if one can spuriously excuse it with a scriptural citation or claims that others are simply unworthy of God. Since one is not tying their morality to anything resembling empathy or connection to humanity, all sorts of nastiness is justified by claiming it is God’s will.

    How many wars, genocidal actions, and dictatorships have existed because people felt it could be justified as “God’s will”. More than can possibly be counted. (Although AtheistMax has a pretty good list handy)

  • A Hermit

    Actually Hitchens was capable of some pretty ignorant comments too, especially when it came to women.

    For what it’s worth I don;’t think Dawkins is a misogynist, but he’s no feminist.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Phillip,
    “So, what brings us together and keeps us together as human beings? The traits that all of us have potentially in common: compassion, understanding, forgiveness.
    We come to these and many other realizations of our human condition through different understandings.”
    Well said. When it come to moral behavior I prefer an ounce of empathy to a pound of philosophy.
    Laws, ethical systems, psychology, and a host of other claimants to influence human behavior are vastly overrated. Some of the best behaving people I have ever known
    professed bizarre or naive beliefs that simply did not play a role in their behavior.

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  • John Johnson

    Come on Greg. You don’t really believe that do you? Funny though.

  • Stu

    Atheism an evolution are religions? If you believe that, then you are a moron.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Its funny (in a tragic way) to see Dawkins with his legion of fans claiming to be “muzzled” when he says that ” I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee” – So what does he expect the women who do get inappropriately touched to do? Speaking about it is a no – no per Dawkins because of Jihad! islamism! I wonder when he will add ..think of the poor starving African children.

  • Frank

    Why is it surprising that foolish things come out of the mouth of a fool? One would think Max and Larry have already taught us that.

  • Larry

    Frank, the patron saint of the irony impaired.

    🙂

  • Deepak Shetty

    . A pure atheist is one who throws off all moral constraints.
    So Dawkins is this pure Atheist? I wonder how many believers he has murdered? because we can find many religious people who have and do murder other religious people or non-believers.
    Without God in the picture, naturally there are no moral constraints.
    ha ha – dont read the newspapers, do you? You can find more examples of religious believers who act without moral constraints precisely because they believe that what they do is God’s work than you can find non-believers without moral constraints.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Why? Because from a Biblical perspective, every single god is a false god with one and only one exception — the God of the Bible, of Israel, and the Father of Jesus Christ.
    Lets assume this statement is true.
    Now consider the hypothetical , it is 1939 , Hitler is on the attack. What would this Jesus do? And what should his followers do?
    give themselves up willingly, peacefully to be killed ?(The Gandhi option) Fight? Kill the nazis? Nuke them?
    Different Christians will answer this question differently. So who is interpreting Jesus or the Bible correctly? How will one judge who is more Christian in this lifetime? No one can. Christian A may decide to not fight – Christian B might – Both feel this is what Jesus wants them to do – It’s all relative isn’t it? Who can say what the true meaning of the Bible is? Who can even say if there really is a true meaning? Not you or I – We all act subjectively, And it is really all relative whether you are religious or not.

    And this is even if I concede your first assumption (which I don’t)

  • Larry

    On a completely unrelated side note, Richard Dawkins’s is automatically cool to people with a taste for anglophile SF.

    He was good friends with Douglas Adams, who introduced Dawkins to his current wife, Lalla Ward. Lalla Ward an actress most noted for playing “Romana” on Doctor Who from 1979-81.

  • AstroKid Nj

    There is a wide range of damselling & white knighting going on in the Atheist community.
    On the one end are the extremist white knights like PZMyers.. yuck..
    And then on the other end you have the lite white knights like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris out to protect those poor Islamic Wimminz. Post-colonialist scholar Gayathri Spivak calls this ‘white man saving the brown woman from brown man’ syndrome.

    None of the above are egalitarians. They are walking examples of buffoons who fall for media propaganda, and the ‘women are wonderful’ cognitive bias that results in emotional bias in favor of women.

    The true egalitarians are MRA Atheists. We killed the inner white knight long ago, and female MRA Atheists have killed the inner damsel.

  • Shawnie5

    Nuff said, indeed.

  • Frank

    On cue to prove my point.

  • Shawnie5

    There are no moral absolutes in humanism/atheism. I had to laugh out loud when I read your previous link to the “Humanist Manifesto.” It was literally chock-full of propositions which are entirely insupportable without a transcendent being. Particularly the bit about humans having “inherent worth and dignity” which was cribbed DIRECTLY from Judeo-Christian ethics since that concept was previously NONEXISTENT in human civilization–and who says prechristian civilization was wrong about that? You? Why should your opinion matter any more than anyone else’s?

    No doubt if Jefferson could have come up with an objective source for “inalienable human rights” capable of commanding their recognition by people and institutions alike without referencing a creator, he would have. If he couldn’t, I have little expectation that you can.

  • Shawnie5

    “Humanism, for instance, posits an objective morality”

    It does nothing of the sort. It posits some suggestions that some may agree with and some may not. So who gets to decide?

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  • Larry

    ” “inherent worth and dignity” which was cribbed DIRECTLY from Judeo-Christian ethic”

    Bullcrap!

    Judeo-Christian ethics or the lack thereof when it comes to dealing the dignity and worth of humanity is the reason for such a manifesto to exist in the first place. To get away from the nonsense of religious based arbitrary moral concepts.

    Christians believe all humankind is worthless and mired in sin unless one adopts the beliefs of their given sect. If one does not accept Jesus Christ, they are considered morally less than worthless and must go to eternal damnation. There is no inherent dignity or worth in humanity there.

    Nothing about the faith has ever created absolute prohibitions on people from engaging in atrocious behavior (even to other Christians) People acting beneficently in the name of God is the exception, never the rule. People acting badly with a religious excuse is commonplace.

    Christian faith always found opt outs and excuses for treating people without worth and dignity. You do it on a regular basis!
    You constantly advocate for legal sanction for discriminatory and malicious conduct. How many excuses or limitations have you ever made to “love thy neighbor”. More than anyone can count. You clearly don’t even believe what you are telling me now. You are merely stumping on behalf of Christianity, because that is what you do.

    Jefferson lived in an age where non-belief had far more dangers than today. I never needed to reference a creator, the Bible or any version of God to believe that human life has worth. It is called being a non-sociopathic human being.

    The experience of being a person who can empathize with other people creates such things. It doesn’t take God to realize that you don’t want to be harmed. Nor does it require him to realize people don’t want to be harmed either. It also doesn’t take God to realize that society seldom functions well when people are actively harming each other without limitation. At least assuming you are not psychotic.

    Religion has always found excuses to avoid such consideration. To make arbitrary rules which are easily excused. To find excuses to consider human beings worthless unless certain sectarian conditions are met.

    If you needed God to tell you what basic rights and liberties are necessary for basic human existence with dignity, you never knew what the concepts were. You have such little connection to humanity, that we all have to be worried. Being just a scriptural reading away from running amok. (Like many have done before).

  • Larry

    I take it you didn’t bother to read the Humanist Manifesto. I take it you have no concept of empathy or connection to the human experience.

    Who gets to decide? Who says that morality is a concept that requires outside authority? Certainly not people who make moral decisions. All moral thinking is an act of personal conscience. If you think following rules is moral behavior in of itself, you do not understand the concept.

    There is certainly nothing objective in religious morality. All rules are subject to change and alteration depending on what kind of excuses one can make using scripture.

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  • Larry

    Show me Humanists going on a rampaging mass murder spree in the name of their belief. Atheists sure, Humanists, good luck with that.

    Of course all I have to do is read the news to see how religious belief is used to justify mass slaughter.

  • Shawnie5

    “Christians believe all humankind is worthless and mired in sin”

    We believe humankind to be mired in sin, yes. Worthless? Absolutely not. Rather, of infinite worth by virtue of being created in the image of God and worth the atoning death of God Himself.

    “I never needed to reference a creator, the Bible or any version of God to believe that human life has worth. It is called being a non-sociopathic human being.”

    LOL! No, it’s called being a product of western civilization built upon Judeo-Christian ethics which are all based on the Imago Dei. For millenia of pre-christian history humanity universally participated in slavery, infanticide and the oppression of women. And their societies operated quite efficiently — most of them for far longer than the US has been around. Where was that “inborn empathy” that you trust in? Was all of humanity “sociopathic?” You think you would have been the lone proponent of “inherent human worth” had you had the misfortune to have lived then?

    The rest of your screed is mere hysteria which demonstrates that you are in considerably over your head in this discussion.

  • Criticism is not muzzling. Man up, Dawkins.

  • Larry

    “Rather, of infinite worth by virtue of being created in the image of God and worth the atoning death of God Himself.”

    Being entirely conditional on acceptance on faith of God and his laws. Conditional worth means it is full of exceptions. If you don’t follow what God tells you in this book, your worth as a person is null and void. You are only deserving of eternal torment. Original sin and hell alone refute any notion of humankind’s inherent worth coming out of Christianity. Thank you for playing. Come again.

    History has shown any pretense of inherent human worth coming from Christian faith to be laughable. You keep saying Imago Dei is the basis for beliefs of human worth, but Christianity in practice has always proved you to be completely false. Christian faith frequently being the tool for instigating or abetting atrocities. Those using it as a tool to prevent atrocity being few and far between. Outliers rather than significant contributions.

    “Where was that “inborn empathy” that you trust in? ”

    You have so little ability to understand people that you an explanation why harming others might be considered a bad thing? That God and your afterlife prospects are the only thing keeping you at bay here? This is why I think you are just one scriptural reading away from a killing spree.

  • Shawnie5

    “If you don’t follow what God tells you in this book, your worth as a person is null and void. You are only deserving of eternal torment.”

    Even in a state of rebellion man still has infinite worth. Enough that God will respect his choice of his ultimate destination and not force him into eternal fellowship with Himself which was so distasteful to him in earthly life. Because that is all hell is…the absence of God. That’s what you guys want, right? Man gets to be his own god…but so does everyone else. Permanently. Alone. No one else has to care, remember?

    “Christian faith frequently being the tool for instigating or abetting atrocities.”

    Without the Imago Dei, who gets to decide what an “atrocity” is? The entire human race unanimously engaged in what we in the Judeo-Christian west would call “atrocities” for millenia and considered them very good things. They thought they were doing just fine. From a utilitarian standpoint, many of them were. Again, where was the “inborn empathy?”

    “You have so little ability to understand people that you an explanation why harming others might be considered a bad thing?”

    The Roman historian, Tacitus, commented upon the Jews’ refusal to abandon newborn infants to die miserable deaths from dehydration/exposure/wild animals (about as “harmful” as it gets), or approve others’ doing so, and called it “revolting and sinister.” And he’s one of your boys, ya know–a product of that great world that we rotten Christians messed up and all. That world thought “harming others” in certain (make that, many) cases was a good thing. Who says they were wrong?

    Do you see yet what you’re doing? You’re evaluating the actions of others using values from the very source you hate the most.

  • I can’t defend Richard Dawkins.
    But saying that doesn’t make your God real, either.

    No. I can’t defend Richard Dawkins regarding his comments about drunk women. Sadly, he appears to blame the victim, while insulting men by asserting they are not likely to act with decency or gallantry under such circumstances. But so far as we know, these are opinions of his and not evil actions he has recommended or practiced.

    So, despite that, I’m glad Richard Dawkins is listed
    among those with questionable opinions
    rather than those who get their morality from religion:

    LIST OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE
    DEVOTED TO GOD’S MORALITY

    Osama Bin Laden
    Rudolf Hess
    Adolf Eichmann
    Cardinal Bernard Law
    The Koch Brothers
    Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr.
    Ayman Al Zawahiri
    Robert Tilton
    Joseph Mengele
    Ayatollah Khomeini
    Hahmoud Ahmadinejad
    Peter Popoff
    Reichsfuhrer SS Julius Shreck
    Reichsfuhrer SS Joseph Berchtold
    Max Koegl (Manager of Auchwitz)
    Reichsfuhrer SS Erhard Heiden
    Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler
    Reichsfuhrer SS Karl Hanke
    Archbishop Cardinal Law
    Adolf Eichmann
    Adolf Deikmann
    Fritz Hardjenstein
    Werner Braune
    Bob Morehead
    Fred Phelps, Sr.
    Oral Roberts
    Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker
    Matthew Hale
    Al Queda
    Billy James Hargis
    Bob Larson
    Jim Jones
    Saddam Hussein
    David Koresh
    Zionists
    John Paulk
    Suicide Bombers
    D.V. Grant
    Mike Warnke
    Emperor Hirohito
    Ariel Sharon
    Yasser Arafat
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    Paul Crouch
    Pat Robertson
    Marcial Maciel Degollado
    Michelle Bachmann
    Sarah Palin
    Franz Stangl
    Paul Blobel
    Hermann Goering
    Josef Kramer
    Jerry Falwell
    Oskar Dirlewanger
    Jimmy Swaggart
    Creflo Dollar
    Ilse Koch
    Joseph Goebbels
    Reverend Sun Myung Moon
    Sunday Adelaja
    Pope Leo X
    Anathole Serromba
    Jean Bertand Aristide
    Mel Gibson
    Benny Hinn
    T.D Jakes
    Dick Cheney
    Adolph Hitler
    Kim Jong-Il
    Kaiser Wilhelm II
    Kim Il Sung
    Rush Limbaugh
    Erst Kaltenbruenner
    Michael Bray
    Paul Jennings Hill
    Father Charles Edward Coughlin
    Tomás de Torquemada
    Emperor Constantine

    If god is good – why does he have such a disgusting marketing team?
    If God is moral, why do his injunctions lead to immoral behavior?

  • Robert L Bell

    Two remarks.

    Evolution is not a religion, it is a statement about the world and how it works. Sensible Christians have always known, at least as far back as St Augustine, that only a fool makes decisions about the natural world based on theological arguments. And in fact, if you find an error in presently accepted evolutionary thinking the scientists themselves will rejoice and welcome you with open arms. That is how they go about their business of generating reliable knowledge.

    Atheism can be fine, in the abstract, as a belief system – just as with the Christianities and the Judaisms and the Islams. Every single one fails because it is practiced by fallible humans, so the real question is why do some variants attract so many awful people. Atheism is horrible in this respect, drawing gangs of nasty mean spirited foul mouthed bullies. But then the Mormons have their Pharisees and the Baptists have their Hard Shells and the Catholics have Bill Donahue’s gang and the Jews have the JDL terrorists and the Molsems have ISIL. Personally I think the problem is neither religion or irreligion but the rigid and one dimensional mindset that characterises Fundamentalism in all of its manifestations. Extremist atheists like Dawkins and PZ Meyers, with their odious opinions and their hate filled actions, ought to be shunned but that should not cause us to overlook the thoughtful and constructive within the atheist ranks. Decent men like Raptavio do not share my beliefs, but I can work with them.

  • “Men’s Rights Atheism” (MRA Atheism) has a manifesto.

    Manifestos are a red flag – they can become religions.

    All it takes is a leader who flips it to ‘Frank’s Forced Egalitarianism’ and you have the new Dogma.

    Dogma ends debate.
    And cyberbullying (attack of heretics) ensues.

    So. Beware all dogma.
    There is no evidence that men’s rights deserve a manifesto.

  • Larry

    You already demonstrated that Judeo-Christian notions of the sanctity of human life is conditional and relative in nature rather than an absolute.

    To your version of religious belief, loving thy neighbor will always take a backseat to obey God at all times. Human life is full of sin and only acceptance of Jesus (your orthodox version of it and not some liberal sect’s) makes it worth something in your religious based morality. Any pretense that Abrahamic religions have absolute moral values is fiction. Your Imago Dei concept is wishful thinking completely refuted by the history of all Abrahamic faiths in practice.

    If you require scripture to tell you that maliciously harming others or mass murder and genocide may be bad things, you have no connection to humanity whatsoever. Seek help! Seek help quickly!

  • Small correction. The recent complaints about Dawkins have come from women *and* men. He’s said a lot of things worth criticizing. I wish he’d actually give some thought to the things he says. Victims of sexual assault and rape are *never* at fault for their assault. He doesn’t get to unilaterally decide for everyone that one type of rape is worse than another. And he really needs to read up on what the ‘thought police’ and ‘witch hunts’ actually were. He’s been criticized for the things he said. No harm has befallen him. No one is calling for him to be beheaded, strung up, lynched, or so much as smacked with a wet noodle. But noooo, he whines and cries about being muzzled (in the middle of an interview no less). He is one of the most world-renowned atheists. He commands high speaking fees and has a lot of followers on social media. He is not being suppressed. His problem is that he doesn’t like being criticized. He needs to get over that. Unlike religion, where you aren’t supposed to criticize the men at the top, atheism has no pope. Despite the fact that Dawkins acts like he is one.

  • rob

    The guy is atheist evolutionist .. . His god is his evolved self .
    He is the smartest one of all in his own mind.

  • @Larry,

    Well said. That is an important point.

    Humanist Manifesto – caveat clause:
    “This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe….”

    I think such clauses will always keep Humanism from becoming a true manifesto or slip into dogma.

  • Shawnie5

    Who says mass slaughter is a terrible thing? More resources freed up for the survivors, which is good for the earth and for the species as a whole…from a purely materialist perspective.

    Male lions routinely wipe out all the offspring of males whose prides they take over, and we film it and watch it on Animal Planet without any angst at all. They are made up of the same elements as we are, and feel hunger and thirst and pleasure and pain as we do, and are ultimately headed toward the same end. What makes human beings special?

  • Shawnie5

    All moral thinking is an act of personal conscience–and all are equally valid. So when you (and you-know-who) use terms like immoral, despicable, disgusting, and the like, you are merely babbling into a sea of individual voices.

  • Shawnie5

    Not just the right, but the duty. Humanity would never have reached this point without this process. Per evolution.

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  • Shawnie5

    “Human life is full of sin and only acceptance of Jesus (your orthodox version of it and not some liberal sect’s) makes it worth something in your religious based morality.”

    Learn to read, Larry. Acceptance of Christ does not give human life its value. Creation in God’s image gives it value. It has value whether it is redeemed or not. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8

    “To your version of religious belief, loving thy neighbor will always take a backseat to obey God at all times.”

    The latter leads to the former, naturally. But you can not know how to love your neighbor without knowing and obeying God whose glory he reflects.

    “If you require scripture to tell you that maliciously harming others or mass murder and genocide may be bad things, you have no connection to humanity whatsoever.”

    😀 Seriously? Appeal to emotion is all you have to fall back on? Where was this “connection to humanity” when Roman newborns were being left out as animal treats to the point that the population could not grow for lack of females? When Native American mothers were teaching their children how to torture their captives to death most slowly and effectively? When the Aztecs were ripping the hearts out of captive people by the thousands? These were the great pre-christian civilizations that we Christians ruined, whose beliefs we “insulted” and “suppressed.” We KNOW on what basis we condemn these things. On what purely materialist basis do YOU condemn what human beings do which is as much a part of the natural material world as what the beasts do? And why should anyone care whether you condemn it or not?

    You are a prime example of what Nietzsche was talking about when he sneered at Western civilization for allowing its natural pagan “vitality and greatness” to be suffocated by the sniveling Christian obsession with pity and charity toward the weak.

  • Steve Steverson

    Agreed, when he has followed up in longer format, he just says the same thing with more words. I just deleted what ended up being a rather lengthy example using his “It would be immoral to bring it [fetus with Down’s] into the world if you have the choice” tweet, because that one example is not really the point.

    How ironic is it that he (to a reporter about to publish his thoughts) is criticizing women for complaining about being inappropriately touched and thinking that *he* is the one being muzzled? Paraphrasing, “Hey women, I don’t want to hear about your sexual assault unless they also genitally mutilated you.” Atheists (and theists) in many countries risk death and imprisonment for saying a fraction of what he says. But, but, someone criticized him on the internet. By his own logic, he should not be complaining about being muzzled until he has to go into hiding from the government or lynch mobs.

    Richard Dawkins makes me sad. I once found him to be quite inspiring with his knowledge and love of science but, as a person, he keeps piling on more reasons for disgust. There are a great many (moderate) theists I consider to be allies in the challenge of making this world a better place, even though we disagree on the existence of gods. At this point, I would not even shake Richard Dawkins’ hand if I met him in the street.

  • Steve Steverson

    Agreed, when he has followed up in longer format, he just says the same thing with more words. I just deleted what ended up being a rather lengthy example using his “It would be immoral to bring it [fetus with Down’s] into the world if you have the choice” tweet, because that one example is not really the point.

    How ironic is it that he (to a reporter about to publish his thoughts) is criticizing women for complaining about being inappropriately touched and thinking that *he* is the one being muzzled? Paraphrasing, “Hey women, I don’t want to hear about your sexual assault unless they also genitally mutilated you.” Atheists (and theists) in many countries risk death and imprisonment for saying a fraction of what he says. But, but, someone criticized him on the internet. By his own logic, he should not be complaining about being muzzled until he has to go into hiding from the government or lynch mobs.

    Richard Dawkins makes me sad. I once found him to be quite inspiring with his knowledge and love of science but, as a person, he keeps piling on more reasons for disgust. There are a great many (moderate) theists I consider to be allies in the challenge of making this world a better place, even though we disagree on the existence of gods. At this point, I would not even shake Richard Dawkins’ hand if I met him in the street.

    (P.S. sorry about the double post, I was trying to reply to this comment)

  • Steve Steverson

    The first paragraph of my above comment makes sense in the context to the post by Neon Genesis that I was replying to. I have re-posted in the correct spot so mods can feel free to delete the above.

  • Crackity Jones

    PZ is a creepy white knight, what, with those allegations clinging to him. He also opens his blog Pharyngula up as a safe haven for a child rapist who blogs there.

    Disgusting, vile man, who can’t stop bullying and smearing others who are far superior to him.

  • @Shawnie,

    “All moral thinking is an act of personal conscience–and all are equally valid.”

    Are you trying to prove that God exists by simply stating that moral questions are difficult? That is ridiculous.

    A good moral decision is not proof of a God! Good grief!
    A good moral decision only proves a good moral decision.

    You have to be smarter than that!

  • @Robert L. Bell,

    “Atheism can be fine, in the abstract, as a belief system”
    No it can’t. Atheism is not a belief system – it is lack of faith.
    OFF is not a TV channel.

    “Atheism is horrible in this respect, drawing gangs of nasty mean spirited foul mouthed bullies.”

    Stop that NONSENSE!

    A FEW LEADING ATHEISTS
    IN HISTORY:

    Vincent Van Gogh
    Theo Van Gogh
    Paul Newman (his charity, ‘Newman’s Own’ has raised $370 Million)
    The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
    Warren Buffet – Billionaire philanthropist
    Jonas Salk (discoverer of the Polio vaccine)
    Congressman Barney Frank
    Nehru
    Max Von Sydow (played Jesus in Greatest Story Ever Told)
    James Randi
    Langston Hughs
    Steven Hawking
    Anton Chekhov
    Jules Feiffer
    Claude Monet
    Dick Cavett
    Alfred Nobel
    Henri Matisse
    Richard Dreyfuss
    Mikhail Gorbachev
    David Niven
    Ted Turner
    Arthur Miller
    Berk Breathed
    Francis Crick
    James Watson
    Alan Alda
    Charlie Parker
    Oliver Sacks
    Camille Paglia
    Dave Barry
    Andy Rooney (60 Minutes)
    Tom Lehrer
    Bradley Manning
    Pat Tillman (Atheist in a foxhole)
    Thomas Edison
    Steven Wozniak
    James Lipton
    David Lynch
    Studs Terkel
    Guillermo del Toro
    Moshe Dyan
    MaMarcel Duchamp
    Clarence Darrow
    Andrew Carnegie
    Francis Crick
    Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts, Charlie Brown Christmas)
    Jacques Yves Cousteau
    Harlan Ellison
    Abraham Lincoln – “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.”
    Bertrand Russell
    Gore Vidal
    Rob Reiner
    Mike Nochols
    Seth MacFalane
    Ani DiFranco
    Mickey Dolenz
    Ingmar Bergman
    Richard Leakey
    Kevin Bacon
    Richard Stauss
    Bjork
    Bill Blass
    Roger Ebert
    Albert Einstein
    Richard Feynman
    Barbara Forrest
    Linus Carl Pauling
    Maurice Sendak
    Helen Keller
    Noam Chomsky
    Paul Kurtz
    David Hume
    Steven Weinberg
    Peter Higgs
    James D. Watson
    Ray Romano
    Ted Williams
    Scott Joplin
    Marlene Deitrich
    Butterfly McQueen
    Billy Joel
    Steven Pinker
    Sigmund Freud
    Bruce Lee
    Bill Nye
    Susan B. Anthony
    E.O. Wilson
    Alan Turing
    William Shatner
    Marlon Brando
    Noam Chomsky
    Katherine Hepburn
    Helen Mirren
    Andrew Carnegie
    Richard Branson
    Kurt Vonnegut
    Kai Nielson
    Gene Wilder
    Virginia Wolf
    Charlie Chaplin
    Richard Rodgers
    Arthur Schleshinger Jr.
    Frida Kahlo
    Ernest Hemingway
    Carl Sagan
    Robert Wright
    Michael Martin
    Peter Singer
    Jerry Coyne
    Jennifer Michael Hecht
    Betty Friedan
    Hannah Ahrendt
    Lisa Randall
    Julia Sweeney
    Paula Poundstone
    Diane Keaton
    Phyllis Diller
    Margot Kidder
    Susan Jacoby
    Sarah Bernhardt
    Cloris Leachmen
    Sarah Silverman
    Emma Thompson
    Lalla Ward
    Amy Alkon
    Victor Stenger
    Martin Amis
    Lauren Bacall
    Philip Roth
    Ian McEwan
    Michael Shermer
    Oscar Wilde
    Frank Zappa
    Mark Zuckerberg
    Jamie Hyneman
    George C Scott
    Andy Rooney
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    Daniel Radcliffe
    Penn and Teller
    Arthur Miller
    Barry Manilow
    Kevin Bacon
    Burt Lancaster
    George Orwell
    Steve Jobs
    Mark Twain
    Voltaire
    George Carlin
    Rodney Dangerfield
    Adam Savage – Mythbusters
    George Bernard Shaw
    Simon de Beauvoir
    Isaac Asimov
    Thomas Paine
    Gene Roddenberry – creator of Star Trek
    Rod Serling – creator of The Twilight Zone
    John Stossel
    Brian Eno
    Leonard Susskind
    Stephen Jay Gould
    Dan Dennett
    Thomas Mann
    Noel Coward
    Philip Pullman
    Richard Leakey
    A.C. Grayling
    Lawrence Krauss
    Jodie Foster
    Stephen Fry
    Mick Jagger
    Margot Kidder
    Larry King
    Keira Knightley
    Brad Pitt
    Sam Harris
    David Jon Gilmour
    Robin Williams
    Stanley Kubrick
    Neil DeGrasse Tyson – Physicist
    Richard Feynman – Physicist
    Buckminster Fuller
    Gene Kelly
    Paul Robeson

    AND
    Oskar Schindler (Shindler’s List)

    “Extremist atheists like Dawkins and PZ Meyers, with their odious opinions and their hate filled actions, ought to be shunned but that should not cause us to overlook the thoughtful and constructive within the atheist ranks.”

    The only healthy response to Religion is to shun religion itself because it is dangerous nonsense.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine…execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
    “Slay them wherever you find them” – Surah (Quran)
    “Kill the unbeliever in broad daylight” – Yahweh (Torah)

  • P Smith

    Dawkins has gone senile and needs professional intervention. He now only represents MRAs, and does not speak for atheists.

  • Pingback: Oh noes, the thought police are suppressing and bullying Richard Dawkins | The Shoops Roost()

  • Shawnie5

    Missed it as usual.

  • Robert L Bell

    Nice projection you have going there. Sincere people criticize Dawkins for very specific horrible things that he says on the record, some of which you kindly list above, and you turn around to slime them just because you don’t like their religion. You cleverly fail to present a single defense of any one of the terrible things that Dawkins advocates, but you think that you can dismiss them with a wave of your hand and a smirking insinuation that he is being persecuted simply and solely because he is religiously heterodox.

    This bundle of dishonest tactics is typical of a particular strain of atheist, as well as the Young Earth Creationists under Gish and Hamm and such hard right fundamentalist Protestants as the Cal Thomas and Pat Robertson ilk. You put yourself in some really bad company here and you would be well advised to examine your life and figure out what you are doing wrong.

  • So you claim the fact of morality proves God exists?
    Is that your ridiculous claim?

  • Laurence Ringo

    Whew! That list was so long, I had to go back and see who wrote it! Atheist Max, it’s official: You, my friend, have WAAY TOO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS. Seek help. NOW. (By the way, what was the point of the list, exactly? )

  • @Ringo,

    If Dawkins is not perfect – it is no problem. He incites no violence.

    The above list should show you that the incitement to violence
    and inhumanity is coming from Religion. Not people like Dawkins.

    And no, I never tire of ripping at Religion. As innocent people are beheaded for Allah, it should be clear that others far higher up the food chain than me should be dumping on religion as often and as loudly as possible.

    These ‘faiths’ are nonsense.

    ___
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and the Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    Larry, you’re confusing the philosophical with the personal.

    As for Christianity’s effect on “moral judgment,” I guess you haven’t heard of such things as natural law, common grace, general revelation, self-evident truth, or, in Judaism’s case, the Noahide laws.

    All of these refer to God’s revealing a common moral understanding to human beings through nature, reason, and conscience. Thus I don’t need a Bible to tell me that I can’t walk up to anyone I choose and murder them.

    On such issues, we can say that what nature affirms, the Bible confirms.

    Or to put it a different way, assuming for a moment that there is a God of the Bible, is murder wrong because the Bible and God say it’s wrong, or do the Bible and God say murder is wrong because in fact it is wrong?

    The obvious answer is both. But the second is often overlooked by atheists because they’re looking in from the outside.

    Otherwise, when believers say God is good or righteous, it’s a tautology. Implicit in that statement is the notion of an inherent thing called goodness or righteousness.

  • Jack

    Larry, it seems clear from our continued exchanges that you don’t or won’t get the point. The issue isn’t the moral fitness of people; the issue is the logical implication of their philosophies. As I’ve said repeatedly, the two are far from identical, because upbringing affects the way adults behave at least as much as the world views they hold as adults.

    Atheism is a belief whose philosophical implications for behavior are inescapably bleak and wretched. That doesn’t mean atheists are bleak and wretched. But they will be if they follow through, unflinchingly, on the philosophical implications of atheism. Most will not, because they don’t have the stomach for it.

  • Shawnie5

    This discussion is not about the existence of God, Max. Go bother someone else.

  • Pitchguest

    Dawkins has said that each time he says something in a book, in a speech, or in an interview, almost always for people with an agenda his quotes are taken out of context. The same thing applies here. When you write something like this:

    “Bottom line: He stands by everything he has said — including comments that one form of rape or pedophilia is “worse” than another, and that a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate.”

    It sounds worse than it actually is, because the context has been removed.

    Also, I’m curious where you read “a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate”? It doesn’t sound like anything Dawkins would say so I’d really like to know where you came across that.

  • Jack

    Stutz, just because an atheist is moral doesn’t mean atheism leads to morality. To assume this is to assume that there is no greater influence on human character than one’s adult world view. That would be wrong indeed. The quality of a person’s upbringing is far more decisive in shaping their behavior.

  • Pitchguest

    Tony: Please. The only one acting like he’s some sort of Pope figure is you. Get over yourself.

    His comments about Down syndrome basically amounted to “in my opinion, willingly giving birth to children that you know has Down syndrome is abuse and if I were to choose, I’d abort and try again.” It’s not as bad when you provide the whole context for it, is it? I suppose the author of this article knew that all too well, too, and therefore decided to leave it deliberately vague. At least she did give some context. Kudos.

    His comments about pedophilia was also, actually, personal. I suppose it’s up to the fainting couch brigade to get outraged that Dawkins did not personally feel it was that big of a deal and that, according to him, there are certainly “worse” instances. But if you read his subsequent tweets you find out he doesn’t dismiss the feelings of others who’ve been violated the same way as he was, just to him it wasn’t “the worst thing” that’s ever happened to him. Which is fair, don’t you think?

    I’m not sure if this article is a genuine observation, or whether it’s simply another opportunistic feminist hit piece seemingly in an effort for feminists to cram out as many ridiculous articles they can muster after the shirt “incident.” It sure has the sensationalism to spare. Gawker would love it.

  • Shawnie,

    I did NOT bring up the existence of God – YOU did.

    You claimed that morality is impossible without God.
    That is a claim that God is required, and you claim evidence of a link!

    If you can’t connect your own dots – don’t assert they are linked!

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Honesty and the Separation of Church and State
    Question the claims of religion. Always.

  • @Jack,

    “The quality of a person’s upbringing is far more decisive in shaping their behavior.”

    Thanks for admitting that religion and Gods are not needed at all on questions of morality.

  • Jack

    Deepak, I’m not sure what your point is. My point was this:

    If it is true that there is one God of the Bible and all the other gods are false gods, and thus, being false, bring harm to humanity in the same way that quack medicine brings harm to patients, it follows that when atheists attack religions in general, they are doing humanity a favor in every instance but one.

    The irony is that, again (assuming the Bible is true), in that one instance when they attack the one true God, they end up sawing off the branch on which they sit. Every step until then was a step forward for humanity. But once atheism takes the final, fateful step and attacks the only god who is real, and then follows through on the implications, it implodes philosophically. It collapses of its own weight. Without any deity, all talk of truth and morality becomes babbling nonsense. People will still act morally if they were taught well growing up, but the philosophical argument for the existence of objective truth or absolute morality will be in a shambles.

    In other words, Nietzche was correct. Once you pull down literally every god, everything goes with it. This is something that both he, an honest atheist, and Dostoevsky, an honest Christian, would agree on.

    Both would say that embracing atheism and following through on its logic to the bitter end means accepting the logical conclusion that every notion of objective truth or morality is a sentimental illusion for children and weak-willed adults.

    Dostoevsky warned that embracing atheism would bring humanity precisely to that point….and Nietzche, himself a western atheist, made it clear that, having arrived that that point, western atheists were flinching……they were refusing to accept the nasty implications.

  • Jack

    Alan, you are confusing philosophy with psychology. When belief in God is vacated, that doesn’t mean people suddenly become Charles Manson on steroids. Lots of things besides world view shape a person’s character. Nobody denies that.

    The point is not that “without God there are no moral constraints.” The point is that without God, there is no philosophical basis for arguing that other people must act morally/justly/ethically (pick the word).

  • Jack

    Richard, the reason most self-proclaimed atheists refuse to follow the extraordinarily bleak and terrifying implications of their world view is that most just don’t have the stomach for it. A more mundane reason is that most of them, like most theists or agnostics, aren’t used to thinking critically and following thoughts and beliefs to their logical conclusion. So whether it’s not having the courage or not having the smarts, the result is the same — denial of the implications.

    Again, this was Nietzche’s point.

    Atheists, like most other people, want to have it both ways. They would rather be comfortable than deal with disturbing facts and implications.

  • Jack

    Atheist Max says, “Beware all dogma.”

    “All” dogma, Max?

    You’re contradicting yourself.

    Your statement is itself dogmatic.

    Hence if we should beware all dogma, that would include your exhortation to beware all dogma.

    This is what happens when you try to absolutize what is relative…..

    Other examples:

    There is an exception to every rule. (including that rule?)

    Everything is relative. (including that statement?)

    Everything is meaningless. (including that statement?)

  • Jack

    Larry says, “All moral thinking is an act of personal conscience.”

    But Larry, that includes the thinking behind your statement.

    Based on your reasoning, your statement is itself an act of personal conscience.

  • Jack

    No, P Smith, he is willing to face up to some obvious implications of atheism, whereas most other atheists are not. They would rather hold on to the vestiges of theism while at the same time embracing the opposite world view of atheism.

    Most atheists are dabblers. They don’t want the horror-show implications of their world view.

    But Dawkins is different…..much like Nietzche.

  • Jack

    Nice try, Max, but you’re forgetting that religion or its absence is a part of a person’s upbringing. I’m simply comparing the influence of one’s upbringing to the influence of one’s world view as an adult. It’s clear that for most people, the first can easily be at least as powerful.

  • Secular Woman is the only organization focused on amplifying the voice of nonreligious women. We weren’t contacted for this article and there is only one women quoted in this articlel although one of the main topics is Dawkins’ views on sexism. Secular Woman works to uncover and dismantle sexism in the atheist community. We are a clear voice for progressive secular feminists. Dawkins views on sexism (and many other things) are anathema with the majority of atheists (see Secular Census for details). He does not represent us, although the media continues to thinks he is the voice of atheism. He is not.

    The long-establish atheist groups and the power/money behind these organization are not inclusive. They prefer to talk about “Big Tents” that merely work to silence women and minority groups. They want women and feminists…so long as they maintain the status quo and don’t make waves. When we are in a sea of sexism, feminists are going to make a few waves. Until there is a concerted effort on the part of long-established atheist groups to listen, change, and be inclusive…women and minority groups will be excluded from those groups. As a result, we will continue to create our own spaces that represent us.

  • Ann Kah

    No, not even close. Enough theists have said outrageously offensive things that I think we can rule out atheism as a cause, and indeed we find the opposite, that many people are sexist pigs but feel justified in speaking like that in the name of religion. …….. As for evolution, NOT a religion, Doc. That’s called science.

  • Shawnie5

    The argument is not that morality exists therefore God exists. It is that without the concept of a God, there is no firm basis for morality. All we have left is Animal Planet. And if that is true, you guys need to come out from behind the skirts of western civilization and face up to the implications of that.

    Now go away.

  • He is incredibly misogynistic. He has dictated (to rape victims) what kind of rape is “worse” than another. His problem is that he doesn’t know that feminism means actually listening to women when they talk about what issues matter to them.

  • you are obviously not a parent if you think the context fixes his comments. His comment just heaps extra adversity on the parents who are already have a special needs child that they care for and love. They need support, not judgment.

  • AstroKid Nj

    @SecularWoman:
    “Secular Woman is the only organization focused on amplifying the voice of nonreligious women”
    Nonsense. You are ONE organization focused on amplifying Lefty-gender feminist ATHEIST voices.
    The only way you survive is by turning off comments on your blog, and supporting echo-chamber like the misnamed “women in secularism” conferences. You survive by not inviting women who are libertarians, conservatives, religious women, or anti-feminists to your conferences. you represent perhaps 5% women in the Atheist community.

    “Secular Woman works to uncover and dismantle sexism in the atheist community”
    Good luck. I am going nowhere and will expose your misandry, as will my fellow MRAs, and numerous other unaffiliated anti-gender feminist, pro-egalitarian groups. By the looks of it, even Dawkins is turning into an “MRA”. LOL

  • Larry

    Except there is no firm basis to God based morality. Never has been. Plenty of immoral acts are done because God says so. The morality of all acts perceived being relative to its relation to what outside divine authority asserts as so. Its amazing what kind of heinous actions that can excuse. Absolute moral concepts would find the morality of the act, the means not the ends.

    Following rules in of itself is not morality, nor firm. Especially rules so vague, nebulous, subject to constant arbitrary exceptions, subject to arbitrary interpretations, and without any reasoning behind them besides a deference to authority.

    You had to ask the question as to why mass murder is so bad, why is that? You are so divorced from humanity and making personal judgments that you have to be told so by others? Because if you did them God would punish you for it? How would that be moral?

    That is simply taking direction. Looking out for yourself.

  • Larry

    Except I wasn’t making a moral judgment or consideration. Simply describing the process. Not all thinking is an exercise in moral judgment, nor is rumination on morals an example of exercising them.

    You are being creative. But silly.

  • Larry

    BEST RESPONSE!!

  • Jack

    My sense is that Abraham Lincoln was not a Christian, but he definitely was not an atheist. Labeling him that is quite a whopper of a fib.

    So much for the accuracy of your hate sites from which you robotically post, Max.

  • Jack

    Max includes Abraham Lincoln in his atheist list. That is hilarious. There’s a legitimate question about whether he was a Christian, but there is absolutely no doubt at all that he believed deeply in a God who governed humanity.

  • Jack

    Wrong, Larry. You made a common mistake of trying to debunk an absolute in an absolutist way.

  • rob

    @ RINGO
    A -Max must be suffering from the same thing this Dawson guy is ,,

    I SUSPECT SATAN has attached their retina’s to their Anais’s ..That’s the only thing I can figure out that is giving THEM BOTH such a crappy out look about things and people and Christianity..

  • Jack

    To deny, dismiss, or divert is not to disprove, Larry. Dawkins’ views are atheism’s conclusions absent Judeo-Christian beliefs about human dignity and worth. If nature is all that there is, tooth and claw reign.

  • rob

    correction I meant to say Dawkins not Dawson

  • Jack

    Larry, a universe where matter is all that exists is by definition one in which one’s taste for justice is no different than one’s preference for chicken marsala or bag pipes. It’s entirely subjective.

  • Kip

    “Evolution is not a religion, it is a statement about the world and how it works.”

    It’s far more simple and innocent than that. Like all scientific theories, it’s simply a way to explain billions of facts. It’s not something to “believe in” — you either acknowledge the facts or you stick your head in the sand.

  • Shawnie5

    “You had to ask the question as to why mass murder is so bad, why is that?”

    And you failed to answer it. Why is that? What makes us different from the beasts that we watch tear each other to pieces without pause?

    That humanity that you feel so connected to thought for many millenia that mass murder (not of one’s own tribe, but of others) was a very good thing–taking over the resources of the weak for the benefit of the strong. They thought slavery was a good thing because equality of non-equals goes against nature (remember your Aristotle). That murder of newborns was a good thing for families who wished to devote more resources on their other children. I ask again (not that I expect a direct answer) — do you think YOU would have been the lone proponent of inherent individual rights and dignity had you been born and raised in that world?

  • @Jack,

    Wrong.
    I have every reason to believe Abraham Lincoln could be classified as Atheist; He did not believe God was real. THAT is Atheism.

    According to the people closest to him, Abraham Lincoln did not believe God was real. He used God metaphorically in his speeches and pandered to the religious as necessary.

    “The Bible says somewhere that we are desperately selfish. I think we would have discovered that fact without the Bible.” – Abraham Lincoln
    Debate at Alton, Illinois, on October 15, 1858

    “The Bible is not my book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma.”
    – Abraham Lincoln

    From the Book ‘Six Historic Americans”
    by John E. Remsburg, 1906:

    “The man who stood nearest to President Lincoln at Washington—nearer than any clergyman or newspaper correspondent—was his private secretary, Col. John G. Nicolay. In a letter dated May 27, 1865, Colonel Nicolay says:
    “Mr. Lincoln did not, to my knowledge, in any way change his religious ideas, opinions, or beliefs from the time he left Springfield [as a skeptic] to the day of his death.”
    His lifelong friend and executor, Judge David Davis, affirmed the same:
    “He had no faith in the Christian sense of the term.”
    “His biographer, Colonel Lamon, intimately acquainted with him in Illinois, and with him during all the years that he lived in Washington, says:
    “Never in all that time did he let fall from his lips or his pen an expression which remotely implied the slightest faith in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of men.”
    “Both Lamon and William H. Herndon published biographies of their former close colleague after his assassination relating their personal recollections of him.”
    Each denied Lincoln had any belief in Christianity and explained his religious beliefs to be mildly deist or Atheist; entirely unbelieving and skeptical of claims about gods.

  • Nice try Jack,
    Don’t try to take back what you admitted.

    You don’t need religion – you need a good upbringing.
    You already said it.
    And Every Atheist Parent already knows that!

  • So you prove god exists by playing word games? That is what it has come to for you?

    “Beware all Dogma” is not dogma
    just as “beware of dogs”, or “watch out for fire” is not dogma.
    Dogma is not a warning. Good grief!

    Dogma a set of principles
    laid down by an authority and claimed to be
    INCONTROVERTIBLY TRUE.

  • Jack

    Max, this fits with what I said, that I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Lincoln were not a Christian, at least not based on the historical, Trinitarian, and biblical definition. But whether or not he was a Christian, he definitely was a theist, and putting him on the list of atheists is preposterous.

    Instead of slavishly copying and pasting from crackpot web sites, maybe you should be a little more discerning — and honest.

  • @Shawnie,

    You did it again!

    “…without the concept of a God, there is no firm basis for morality.”

    You are claiming, yet again, that there is a string connecting morality to a god!

    Because a basis for Morality clearly exists!
    We all know it is wrong to kill innocent children.

    Now connect that morality to your god with a string so I can see your GOD!

    It should not be difficult, Shawnie – WHERE IS THAT CONNECTING STRING which leads to the God!?

    If I knew that the evidence of my green jacket proved that Leprechauns were REAL I would have to show the Leprechaun to prove my claim!

    So you have a concrete basis for morality and yet you sit on proof of god yet you keep it secret!?

    Out with it! Where’s the god part of your equation?

  • Nonsense.
    The people who knew Abraham Lincoln best wrote biographies of his life – they all said he did not believe in a real god.

    And this only matters because you don’t understand what an Atheist is.
    Atheism means, “I don’t believe a real god exists” – that is all it is.
    When it comes to understanding what politicians believe we MUST disregard the public speeches as necessary genuflections to religious interests.

    Only the private records of public people reveal the truth.
    Benjamin Franklin similarly revealed his Atheism in private correspondence and letters published after his death.

  • @Jack,

    “Instead of slavishly copying and pasting from crackpot web sites, maybe you should be a little more discerning — and honest.”

    That is rich.
    I have been painstakingly discerning and honest throughout!!

    Abraham Lincoln will remain on my list as an Atheist – not because of ‘crackpot websites’ but because of biographical materials from biographies by Ward Hill Lamon (“My Recollections of Abraham Lincoln”) and others like William H. Herndon (“Abraham Lincoln and friends”)
    who knew him best; his closest colleagues who worked with him and spoke with him regularly all his life.

    There is absolutely no good reason to believe that Abraham Lincoln believed in God.

    He mentions God in speeches to get votes.
    He mentions God to clergy to secure support.
    He mentions God in letters he knew would be public in his lifetime.

    But his private conversations with closest friends reveal a man who had no belief in gods of any kind. Though he MAY have had some sort of belief – it is more likely that he did not.

  • Peg

    “He knew how to avoid being misconstrued.”

    Wow. Given the audience of oppression obsessionists, how can anyone manage to do THAT?

  • Hibernia86

    Atheism and evolution aren’t religions. Evolution is a science and Atheism is just the logical response to the fact that there is no evidence for God. It’s something any middle schooler should be able to figure out (I did by that age). It frankly embarrassing that we have adults in our community going around claiming that an invisible super being talks to them in their head. It is terrifying that these type of people are the ones making decisions in our government and businesses.

  • Hibernia86

    To be a Feminist, all you have to do is believe in the equality of men and women (or at least that is what the word is supposed to mean). Are you claiming Dawkins doesn’t even meet that?

  • “It is terrifying that these type of people are the ones making decisions in our government and businesses.”

    Scary indeed.

  • Bacardisour

    No. No it’s not

  • Hibernia86

    aborting a fetus with down syndrome (which is what most mothers do which is why the down syndrome population is much smaller than one would expect from the genetics) is not the same thing as killing a child.

  • Hibernia86

    First of all, do you have proof this manifesto actually exists, and secondly even if one MRA website has a manifesto does not mean every MRA website has to follow it.

  • Hibernia86

    He isn’t complaining about the criticism. He is complaining about the people who want to run him out of the movement. There are plenty on the far left of Atheism (and I say this as a Democrat) who want to do this. Disagreeing with someone is fine. Trying to force them out of the group is not.

  • Hibernia86

    But the problem is that many of the comments he is criticized for are actually true. For example some rapes ARE worse than others (forcibly raping a 5 year old is worse than ignoring your girlfriend’s discomfort during sex). While I agree that his comment about drunk girls was troublesome, it is true that it is harder to identify who you had sex with and whether it is consensual if you are drunk.

    Secondly, the word witch hunt does not mean that someone is literally trying to burn him at the stake. It means that some Atheists on the far left (and I say this as a Democrat) are trying to run him out of the Atheist movement entirely. Those at Freethought Blogs are the main culprits of this. Disagreeing with someone is one thing, but if you are trying to force him out of the group entirely just because he disagrees with you, then yes you are conducting a witch hunt against him and you are trying to muzzle him. Ignoring the meaning of the word “witch hunt” by treating it as literal when that isn’t the meaning doesn’t excuse the actions of the critics.

  • Hibernia86

    MRAs believe that sexism is wrong if it affects men just as it is if it affects women. If that idea angers you then maybe you aren’t the type of Atheist that anyone wants to associate with anyway.

  • Hibernia86

    No one is judging families with special needs kids. Dawkins is only saying that if you knew early in the pregnancy that your pregnancy would lead to a disabled children then you are helping the child by stopping the pregnancy and starting over so that the child can have a better life. If you have the child with Down Syndrome that is fine, but it is understandable that women don’t continue pregnancies normally if the fetus has a major disability.

  • Hibernia86

    There is no horror show implication of Atheist world view. Only the idea that what you see is real and the invisible god isn’t. That’s about it.

  • Hibernia86

    I think the reason that many people get angry at organizations like yours is that you declare that Atheist society is horribly sexist when it isn’t in reality. People don’t like being demonized. Atheists are no different.

  • Hibernia86

    Um, maybe that is because some rapes ARE worse than others. It is worse to forcibly rape a 5 year old than it is to ignore if your girlfriend looks uncomfortable during sex. Are you seriously going to tell me that these are the same?

  • Shawnie5

    “We all know it is wrong to kill innocent children.”

    ROFL! No, we do NOT “all know” that killing innocent children is wrong. Well, we all feel that way now, of course (I’m sure we don’t want to go into WHY). But the ancients, almost without exception, did not feel that there was anything at all wrong with killing a newborn child that had not yet been accepted into its family as a “person.”

    If you want to show that morality “clearly exists,” you’re going to have to come up with something besides “everybody knows.” What else have you got?

  • Shawnie5

    “The people who knew Abraham Lincoln best wrote biographies of his life – they all said he did not believe in a real god.”

    Hitler’s inner circle said the same thing. You can claim LIncoln if you claim Hitler too.

    “When it comes to understanding what politicians believe we MUST disregard the public speeches as necessary genuflections to religious interests.”

    LOL! Max, you just disposed of a great many of your past screeds. You seriously need to make up your mind what you actually think.

    “Benjamin Franklin similarly revealed his Atheism in private correspondence and letters published after his death.”

    Franklin was not a Christian, but neither was he an atheist. Not even close. As he “revealed in his private correspondence” (a month before his death):

    “Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children.

    I think the System of Morals [of Jesus] and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity.”

    Obviously this morality that you think “clearly exists” has no problem with dishonesty committed in the name of your agenda.

  • Shawnie5

    Obviously, either Max is being deliberately dishonest or he equates, in his own mind, lack of belief in Christianity with lack of belief in a deity. Nice backhanded compliment to Christianity, but still inaccurate.

  • Shawnie5

    Obviously you haven’t been following the discussion.

  • Sarah

    Nonsense – why lie to make your point?

    Your very first claim is a lie: Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God’s service, stating: “…to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture”

    What a terrible list.

  • @Sarah,

    Nonsense – there are no lies on that list.

    “That God of the clergymen, He is for me as dead as a doornail.
    But am I an Atheist for all that? The clergymen consider me as such — then be it so; but I love, and how could I feel love if I did not live, and if others did not live, and then, if we live, there is something mysterious in that. Now call that…human nature or whatever you like, but there is something which I cannot define systematically, though it is very much alive ….. as good as God.”
    – VINCENT VAN GOGH
    Letter to his brother Theo

    That is Atheism.
    Atheism = “I do not believe in god”

    Being amazed at the beauty of the world is not a god belief. To speak of God in metaphorical terms as Abraham Lincoln did as in “God knows” – is not to believe in a real god.

    Learn about Atheism before you make claims about it.
    People who don’t go to church (Van Gogh)
    and who don’t believe in any religion (Van Gogh)
    and who don’t believe in literal God (Van Gogh)

    Are Atheists.

  • Shawnie,

    Atheism = Lack of belief in a real god.

    Abraham Lincoln had no belief in a god, never went to church, was not a member of any church, and had no patience with religion according to the two Lincoln biographies of those closest to him and who knew him best.

    I consider that the smoking gun. It is very strong evidence he was a non-believer in ANY gods.

  • @Shawnie,

    Ok. I admit. I have failed this round.
    My statements were incoherent.

    I was wrong to say we must excuse public speeches in all cases. That was ridiculous of me. Obviously.
    I *may* be wrong about Benjamin Franklin being an Atheist.
    His well-known disdain for the claims of all churches is clearly Anti-Theist, but he may have believed in a deist god – I guess I have to admit I just can’t figure it out.

    But so far, you too have failed, Shawnie.

    You have shown me no good reason to believe in a god.
    You have shown me no good reason to think any god is real.

    And since you claim your Christian philosophy is superior to Atheism
    I find it amazing that you don’t admit there is enormous irony in the fact that greatest people in American History: Franklin, Lincoln, Washington, Paine, Jefferson, etc… were all IN DIRECT OPPOSITION to the Christian church!

    Today Christianity is the number one excuse for not doing anything about Climate Change, Scientific funding, population control, and host of other ongoing crises as Christians await the Armageddon.

    Irresponsible nonsense.

  • @Shawnie,

    “If you want to show that morality “clearly exists,” you’re going to have to come up with something besides “everybody knows.” What else have you got?”

    You are the one who said we could not have morality without God. I completely assumed you accepted the fact the morality exists
    and can be demonstrated! You even reject that now?

    Are you claiming we have no solid evidence of EITHER ONE?
    No evidence of Morality NOR evidence of God?
    Why are you digging your hole deeper?

    I was ready to follow your string
    from Morality (which is frankly self-evident) to a God (which is not self-evident) if you had such evidence to connect them.

    Whether or not killing innocent children was moral once upon a time is completely irrelevant. It is adequate to KNOW such a thing is immoral now.
    The question isn’t whether morality changes over time – it clearly has – the question is whether a God has anything to do with any of it!

    Your claim that God is the reason for morality is dead on arrival.

  • Shawnie5

    “Whether or not killing innocent children was moral once upon a time is completely irrelevant. It is adequate to KNOW such a thing is immoral now.”

    😀 Oh? What changed? What do you know now about human dignity that no one knew in 1 BC when the Greek laborer Hilarion, working in Alexandria, wrote an affectionate letter to his pregnant wife Alis at home that I’m sure was received just as casually as it was written:

    “I beg and entreat you, take care of the little one, and as soon as we receive our pay I will send it up to you. If by chance you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it be, if it is a girl, expose it. ”

    If morality depends on the times, it is neither self-evident nor absolute. It is simply a matter of popular consensus at any given moment and will change accordingly once enough people change their minds about it. In case you didn’t notice, the root of the world “morality” is “mores.” Clearly you can have “mores” without God. What you can not have is “mores” that everyone is bound to respect everywhere and all the time. That’s not much of a foundation for individual dignity.

    Ever wonder why Jefferson felt it necessary to reference a creator as the giver of “inalienable rights?” To forestall, of course, their removal by a majority that might well decide at some point that they “just know” something different.

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  • Shawnie5

    “And since you claim your Christian philosophy is superior to Atheism
    I find it amazing that you don’t admit there is enormous irony in the fact that greatest people in American History: Franklin, Lincoln, Washington, Paine, Jefferson, etc… were all IN DIRECT OPPOSITION to the Christian church!”

    None of them, with the exception of Paine, perhaps, was in direct opposition to the Christian church (Washington was a member of one so he is obviously off the list)–they just had their doubts about it. But you are stretching things quite a bit to limit the “greatest people in American history” to this small group of four — leaving out John Adams, Patrick Henry, Roger Williams, Alexander Hamilton, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.

    I’m always fascinated by modern-day scoffers’ worship of Jefferson. If it were not for his unbelief, they would without a doubt see him as just another racist, sexist, homphobic, predatory, over-privileged rich white guy.

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  • @Shawnie,

    “What you can not have is “mores” that everyone is bound to respect everywhere and all the time.”

    But there are no universal mores.
    That is exactly my point.

    Though it is clear to me that killing innocent children is “Wrong” it may not always be wrong. It is possible that given some situations the death of an innocent child is necessary for the moral good – as in the case of siamese twins, where it is known that upon surgical separation one of the babies will die – It may be immoral to not conduct the operation in hope of saving at least one of them!

    Morality exists because people need to navigate inevitable suffering – and each person makes it up as they go without any consultation to a god.

    Do the least harm + God’s will = do the least harm.

    God’s will is irrelevant to human suffering. Except where he adds to it!

    I don’t see how or why God could be necessary for dignity or morality. The claim that there are absolute moral truths is a plea for dogmatic answers and doctrinaire solutions – both of which add suffering and immorality by being inflexible.

  • Shawnie5

    “You have shown me no good reason to believe in a god.
    You have shown me no good reason to think any god is real.””

    When have I ever claimed to be trying to prove the existence of God? I have already told you that this is an argument in which I have no interest. The things of the Spirit are discerned by the Spirit, not with rulers and thermometers and the like. If God has not revealed Himself to you–or you have not responded, whatever the case may be–that is between the two of you.

    Where I become interested is where misrepresentations about Christianity and its place in history are made, or where scoffers try to arrogate concepts that Christ and His early followers sacrificed their lives to bring to the world.

  • Shawnie,

    Morality exists.
    The fact that it is flexible to various situations (as in no absolutes) is exactly what makes it moral.

    Even in the circular nonsense of Christianity the worst sins ‘can be forgiven’ – so even in God World there are no moral absolutes.
    This is an acknowledgment (however clumsy) that flexibility IS REQUIRED for morality.

    So it is settled, Morality Exists.
    Now show me the string that connects Morality to a god.

  • Jack

    Max, it’s obvious from your lame retort that either you didn’t attend carefully to the progression of posts, or your rational faculty has failed you again.

    Let’s try again. This time I’ll map it out with nice and easy numerical pointers:

    (1) People are influenced by their upbringing — how they were taught and treated, through word and deed — from childhood until adulthood.

    (2) People are also influenced by the world view they embrace as adults.

    (3) People are more influenced by #1 than #2, perhaps a lot more so. One obvious exception would be dramatic spiritual conversions during adulthood, but even there, the baggage, good and bad, from upbringing, generally remains.

    Perhaps that simplifies things for you — if your hard heart permits your head to process it honestly…..admittedly a big “if.”

    (4)

  • Jack

    The fourth point should be obvious — that one’s upbringing can be religious or irreligious…..and thus the fact upbringing usually trumps adult world view in influencing behavior doesn’t mean that religious views don’t matter, since upbringing often involves religious ideas and values.

  • Jack

    Max, Lincoln was no atheist. Don’t be ridiculous.

  • Jack

    Max, read all sides, not just one side, and then assess the evidence. Given Lincoln’s frequent public pronouncements about God, and given the claims of many of his contemporaries that he was actually a Christian, the burden rests on those claiming he was an atheist.

    You need to remove your yahoo partisan atheist hat, and put on one that is more sober-minded and objective. I suspect that when you were a believer in God, you were just as much of an unreflective yahoo.

  • Jack

    ROFLOL — Max, George Washington never was “in direct opposition to the Christian church.” You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    In fact, many times I have visited one of the churches he helped found and of which he was a member.

  • Jack

    I think Max is profoundly ignorant of American religious history…..He fails to understand the wide range of belief among most of America’s Founders and Framers. Virtually every one of them was a theist, but their theism ranged from strongly evangelical or orthodox to deist to all sorts of complicated combinations in between. Most were influenced both by the Bible and the British Enlightenment, and their theism often reflected both sets of influences.

  • @Shawnie,

    “Where I become interested is where misrepresentations about Christianity and its place in history are made, or where scoffers try to arrogate concepts that Christ and His early followers sacrificed their lives to bring to the world.”

    Yes. I become very interested when I hear a religious claim
    coming from a gas cloud.

    If you don’t care to prove god is real,
    or to prove god’s connection to Morality
    then don’t make the claims.

    Maybe you don’t like scoffers because you haven’t figured out that there is an easy way to silence them – and that is to provide evidence for your claims.

  • Jack

    Hibernia, how does it “help” the child if it’s dead? At best, you’re assuming that a child is better off dead than having Down’s. That’s presumptuous.

    And how do you give the child “a better life” if it’s dead? That’s a logical impossibility…If it’s dead, you can’t give it any life at all.

  • @Jack,

    After having my list challenged I have decided I may have been wrong about some of these claims.
    I cannot expect Christians to examine their claims if I cannot examine my own.

    I’m going to amend the list to:
    Atheists,
    Possible Atheists,
    and Anti-Religionists

    I’m convinced that Christians would be shocked to know how much hatred of religion existed at the time of our nation’s founding.

    The Separation of Church and State is willfully misunderstood today thanks to general Christian mischief.

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Honesty and The Separation of Church and State

  • @Jack,

    “I think Max is profoundly ignorant of American religious history…”

    Nonsense.
    America exists with religious freedom because its founders hated religion.

    Get over it.

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion…”

    What could be more anti-theist than that statement?
    AND THEY ALL SIGNED IT!

    ____
    AM
    For Peace, Civility and The Separation of Church and State

  • @Jack,

    Please. Stop flattering yourself.
    You are a Christian for one AND ONLY ONE reason.

    Your parents were Christian.

    Don’t make it like you had some holy revelation of your own insight at age 3 where you found the truth of Holy Righteousness and woe to those who ‘don’t get it’. You are not responsible for your religion.

    If you had been born in Pakistan you would today be waxing romantic about the brilliant super-genius loveliness of the Q’uran!

    If you had been born in Bangladesh you would be singing the praises of Vishnu and the Bahghavat Gita!

    Stop puffing yourself up. Religion is a joke and a parlor trick.

  • nostromokid

    One can argue from philosophy, but it seems futile. What we know as of this minute from life sciences is quantum leaps ahead of what we knew just a hundred years ago. Think about how lacking in scientific information was the brain of pre-historic man. It seems likely that it will be many generations before the brain of homo sapiens can get past being understandably addicted to the hope of living again in a perfect heavenly body. Philosophically, who wouldn’t want that to be true? Theory is that the brain will evolve to deal with mortality by getting fully accustomed to the notion of only existing once with sufficient meaning therein. Dawkins seems to be there now, but even he acknowledges that belief in the supernatural will be around a long time.

  • Jack

    Wrong, Larry. Theism provides a reference point beyond mere matter that gives philosophical coherence to the notion of an objective morality and truth. It provides the stamp of objective reality to our notions of justice or goodness. If matter is all that there is to reality, then a yen for justice is just as subjective as a yen for a burger.

    Atheism provides no reference point for anything outside of matter, and thus, if you follow through on it to the “ruddy end,” as the Brits might say, you empty all moral statements of content or meaning. You can’t condemn anything. You can tell a dictator that genocide is wrong, but will be powerless to respond if he says, “who are you to tell me what is right or wrong? It’s my country and I will do as I please.” Any coherent moral response on your part will smuggle in the theistic presume that morality and justice are real things, not subjective feelings.

    In other words, if you care about justice and right from wrong, theism puts you in the game; atheism takes you out of it. You can be an atheist who cares, but your atheism will do nothing to help. Theism, on the other hand, can absolutely help, because it posits absolutes that can come only from something that transcends mere matter.

  • Jack

    So your ignorance of American religious history is coupled by ignorance of basic logic…..what a surprise.

    Max, it’s not about word games. It’s that you can’t speak of relative things in absolutist terms. It looks like a dog chasing its tail.

    I gave you more familiar examples — such as “there is an exception to every rule” — in the hope that you would get it.

    Apparently you don’t.

  • @Jack,

    “Theism provides a reference point beyond mere matter…”

    How would you even determine there is more than ‘matter’ anyway?
    It is just guesswork. We can only determine things based on our various senses – if we can’t sense it, or measure it, or demonstrate it we cannot claim that it exists.
    The Quantum is a perfect example of something we KNOW about because of instrumentations and measurements – we would not know about the Quantum if we did not have MATERIAL INSTRUMENTATION such as supercolliders to measure it.

    “Atheism provides no reference point for anything outside of matter…”

    And what is your problem with ‘matter’ exactly?
    You brain is made of matter and nothing more – as far as anyone can tell. Are there unknowns? Sure. But that doesn’t mean the mysteries are ‘beyond matter’ or beyond a material world. The Quantum alone shows that matter can be absolutely amazing all by itself.

    Atheism is an amazing way to be! It is the best way to see reality for what it actually is and to be open to whatever else might exist.

    If you mindlessly claim ‘God’ all day, you have shut a thousand possibilities out of your list of options and stopped the pursuit of real answers.

    “I have no use for a person working for me who says “god did it” – because there is nothing left to pursue. We could quit trying to answer questions.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, physicist

  • Jack

    LOL…. Max, the Founders and Framers didn’t “hate religion.” They hated the corruptive union of religion and state prevalent in Europe. A few of them wanted a pretty solid wall between them. Most of them wanted some barrier, but one that was far from being impenetrable.

    But the church/state issue had zero to do with their own feelings or beliefs about religion. One could be an absolutist separationist on the religion/state issue and still have a positive view of religion. The two stances are not mutually exclusive.

  • Jack

    Max, in your attempts to promote atheism, you are harming your credibility by littering your posts with factual and logical mistakes about people and ideas.

    When people have the temerity to point them out, all you do is beat your chest and shout, “I am an atheist.”

    It would be better to take the time to think and research what you post before you post.

    Otherwise, it will be more of the same: You post, others refute, and you have egg on your face.

  • Jack

    Nostromokid, your post begs the question of whether there is life after death. It presumes to know for a fact that there isn’t.

  • @Jack,

    Have you ever read any books?

    The founders of this country had contempt for religion of almost every kind.

    FOUNDERS OF THE UNITED STATES

    George Washington (Diest)
    James Madison (DEIST/Anti-Religionist)
    Benjamin Franklin (Deist?/Anti-Religionist)
    Thomas Paine (Deist/Atheist/Anti-Theist)
    Thomas Jefferson (DEIST/Anti-Religionist)
    John Adams (DEIST/Atheist/Anti-Theist)
    John Jay (Christian)
    Alexander Hamilton (DEIST)

    There was very little interest in a supernatural, personal or intervening god by any of these men. Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and John Adams were all renounced as Atheistsby the church during their lives.

    “What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, NEEDS THEM NOT.
    James Madison – “A Memorial and Remonstrance”, 1785

    “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.”
    – JAMES MADISION

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”
    James Madison -letter to Wm. Bradford, April 1, 1774

    “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”
    JAMES MADISON -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

    “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
    Benjamin Franklin

    “Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged :
 It is so; It is not so. It is so; it is not so.”
    Benjamin Franklin , on the follies of religion.

    “In every country and in every age, the preacher has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
    
- Thomas Jefferson

    “It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.”

    Thomas Jefferson

    “To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.”
-
    Thomas Paine

    Question with boldness the existence of a god ; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”
    
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

    “As I understand the Christian religion….how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”
    – John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

    “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

    Benjamin Franklin

    “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion.
    George Washington

    “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”
- John Adams

    “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.”
- Abraham Lincoln

    “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”
    – Thomas Paine

    “[T]hat no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief: but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil
    capacities.”
    —Thomas Jefferson,

    The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, enacted on January 16, 1786

    JAMES MADISON – ANTI-THEIST FOUNDER OF THE UNITED STATES

    [1751-1836] American president and political theorist. Popularly known as the “Father of the Constitution.” More than any other framer he is responsible for the content and form of the First Amendment.

    “In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”
    – JAMES MADISON

    “…the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State”
    – JAMES MADISION,

    Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819

    “Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together”
    – JAMES MADISON
    Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

    THE FOUNDING FATHERS – PRACTICALLY ALL OF THEM WERE ANTI-THEISTS, ATHEISTS OR AGNOSTIC DEISTS

    George Washington – “The United States” is “in no way a Christian nation”

    James Madison – “Religion debilitates the mind” it is “superstition” and “tyranny” we “need it not”

    Benjamin Franklin – “Faith shuts the eyes of reason”

    Thomas Paine – “All churches… are built to enslave and terrify mankind and monopolize power”

    Thomas Jefferson (DEIST) – “The Preacher” is always “allied with the despots”

    John Adams – “As I understand the Christian religion… most bloody religion that ever existed”

    Alexander Hamilton – “Men are reasoning rather than reasonable animals.”

    John Jay (Christian Fascist) – “Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration”

    Abraham Lincoln – “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.”

    “The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.” – George Washington

    “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
- George Washington

    “To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.”
    
- Thomas Paine

    “In every country and in every age, the preacher has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
    
-Thomas Jefferson

    “On the dogmas of religon, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”
    
– Thomas Jefferson, 1816

    I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”
    
- Benjamin Franklin, on the follies of Christianity

    ___
    AM
    For Peace, Civility, and the Separation of Church and State
    Question with boldness the existence of a god
    – THOMAS JEFFERSON

  • Shawnie5

    So for you, the basis of morality is avoiding suffering?

    In that case, it WAS moral for the ancients to dispose of newborns whose existence would cause them suffering.

    I’m glad you’re not in charge of anything significant.

  • Shawnie5

    What could be more ant-theist? I’m obviously not an anti-theist, and I would have gladly signed it. Separation of church and state is a wonderful and energizing thing for religion. Established clergy are snoozing bureaucrats whose flocks go neglected and scripturally unschooled–the primary situation of the common people in Europe from the middle ages to the present. Free clergy get the job done. It is no surprise at all that the Second Great Awakening only took off in this country after church and state were separated.

    Roger Williams was even more devoted to church/state separation than the founders, and it was precisely because of his religiosity.

  • Shawnie5

    And if he were born in the wasteland that was atheist Albania, raised with no knowledge of God whatsoever because everyone was afraid to talk about Him, he might have chanced to visit America and finally learn about God and find that suddenly everything made sense, and go on to a career in ministry–like one of my dear friends.

    Even here in the US, many Christians come out of nonbelieving homes. You need to get out more.

  • @Shawnie,

    Morality is about avoiding NEEDLESS suffering.

    Giving a baby a vaccine is not needless. It inflicts suffering for a moment but saves the baby’s life.

    If your idea of morality is not about avoiding needless suffering then it is not morality.

  • @Shawnie,

    “many Christians come out of non believing homes.”

    Not Jack. And not You.
    the numbers are ridiculously insignificant. Just enough to prove that suckers are born every minute.

  • @Shawnie,

    “Roger Williams”

    You are all alone on the RNS comment section as a supporter for Separation of Church and State. Almost every Christian here is for Christian Theocracy in America.

    If I’m wrong I’d like to see someone speak up – because my only issue is Separation of Church and State.

    Hobby Lobby is a disgrace to this country. And the list of infractions which push religion onto the rest of us is an ongoing outrage.

  • Shawnie5

    “Morality is about avoiding NEEDLESS suffering.”

    So you prefer that definition. Why should anyone have to agree with it? Most ancients did not.

  • Shawnie5

    Not me, no. So what? My husband is a Christian who came out of a family that I never heard breath a single word about God or faith.

    The mere fact that the Christian faith exists (and indeed has a strong presence) outside of Europe and America refutes your assertion. In fact, that it took off at all in pagan Europe to the point that the best efforts of Rome could not stamp it out refutes it as well. It’s the whole reason that Jesus warned us about how our faith would often turn our families against us.

  • Shawnie,

    If morality isn’t about preventing needless suffering
    and increasing well being
    then I don’t know what you could possibly be talking about.

    Perhaps your religion has taken you completely off the rails of humanity.

    Of the ancients, Marcus Aurelius grasped the difficulties of morality far better than Jesus, other supposed ‘messiahs’ or the authors of the superstitious Jesus texts around 150 C.E.

    His Meditations are completely free from superstitious nonsense and claims about gods.

    I find it absolutely absurd that God is supposed to be “Unknowable and completely mysterious” yet there are bucket loads of contradictory texts describing exactly what God is all about.
    Send in the clowns!

  • @Shawie,

    “The mere fact that the Christian faith exists (and indeed has a strong presence) outside of Europe and America refutes your assertion.”

    No, it confirms that the Crusades, The Inquistion, Columbus’ genocide of American Natives, Emperor Constantine’s wars and a boatload of pogroms and other atrocities are the bulwark of Christian expansion.

    “In fact, that it took off at all in pagan Europe to the point that the best efforts of Rome could not stamp it out refutes it as well.”

    Christianity is just another pagan religion. Don’t kid yourself.

    “It’s the whole reason that Jesus warned us….”

    Shawnie, Jesus probably didn’t even exist. Whatever warnings this character is to have uttered in the Cultic Propaganda Manifestos known as Gospels are so unreliable and contradictory and vague, there is no reason to believe they are prophetic or even relevant to anything that ever happened. The Gospels are self-described, biased propaganda for a cause that lost its validity in 55 C.E. when the character of Jesus said, “people of this generation shall see the return of the son of man”.
    Jesus’ prophesies failed by the year 55 C.E. when the last people died who ever supposedly knew this character. Cuz he aint been back and there has been nothing but wild, ridiculous confusion ever since.

  • Shawnie5

    “Shawnie, Jesus probably didn’t even exist.”

    Crackpot theory, dismissed by religious and secular academia alike. Fail by definition. And in any case, whether or not Jesus ever warned about His followers’ families turning against them because of their faith, that fact is that it happened. People left their native pagan faith of their families of origin for Christianity by the thousands, many at the price of death and public disgrace. You still fail.

    Emperor Constantine’s policy was religious toleration, BTW. He jumped on the Christian bandwagon because it was better to join them if they couldn’t be beaten.

    Why do you routinely quote scripture incorrectly? Jesus never said his generation would see His RETURN. He said His generation would see the arrival of the Messiah and His kingdom. Which occurred on Palm Sunday AD 32. He further said that His generation would see all His warnings about the destruction of Jerusalem fulfilled, which of course happened. It is a common mistake of those who are scripturally ignorant to assume that all Jesus’ remarks about His “coming” referred to His second coming when His FIRST coming hadn’t officially happened yet.

  • Shawnie5

    “If morality isn’t about preventing needless suffering and increasing well being then I don’t know what you could possibly be talking about.”

    Well of course you don’t, Max. That’s been obvious from the beginning.

    And seriously, Marcus Aurelius? That man caused a great deal of “needless suffering” among the Christians of the empire he ruled. Clearly he would have found your notions of “morality” ridiculous. And in his rejections of “superstitious nonsense and claims about gods” he was a proto-Stalinist who considered the state supreme and the sole arbiter of morality. Thanks for clarifying your stance. I’m still glad you’re not in charge of anything.

    So now, like Larry, you’re reduced to emotional babbling about “connections to humanity,” of which most of the recorded history of our species (as well as every other species) shows zero evidence. And why should it? Don’t you know that we have reached this advanced point of evolution solely because our predecessors developed the capabilities to seize more resources while the others (rightfully) died out because they couldn’t? Who says interfering with this process is a good thing?

  • @Shawnie,

    “He said His generation would see the arrival of the Messiah and His kingdom. Which occurred on Palm Sunday AD 32.”

    Prove it.
    Because This is what Jesus promised:
    “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.“
    (Matthew 16: 27, 28)

    He is talking about the Parousia.
    Which never happened.
    And millions of people are still waiting. If it HAD happened you would never hear a single word about THE SECOND COMING, or Armageddon.

    “He further said that His generation would see all His warnings about the destruction of Jerusalem fulfilled, which of course happened.”

    You know better than that.
    The gospels were written AFTER the sacking of the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD. In fact one of the smoking guns is ‘666’ from Revelation which was the name for Nero – who did not reign until after Jesus died.

    If I write down what happened last weekend, slip the paper into an envelope dated two years ago and call it ‘predictions foretold’ – that is not prophecy, it is propaganda – a lie.
    The Books of Luke and John were written well past the sacking of the temple.

    Even if some such figure named Jesus existed his story parallels too many other myths to be entirely fact-based.
    Incidents like the fig tree are such an example – a total lifting of a more ancient story.

    The Jesus cult is more believable as a projection
    of Israel’s exhaustion at the awaiting of a Messiah in the face of Roman oppression. It is no accident that these stories of Jesus emerged after the sacking of the temple.

  • Shawnie5

    The Son of Man came in His kingdom on Palm Sunday. This was the day foretold by the prophet Zechariah, of which Jesus said, “if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” The Kingdom came that day, and the Kingdom continues to this day (one of the ironies of which is that people like you pay homage to it without even knowing it), but as the prophet Daniel foretold the Anoited would be cut off, but not for Himself, and then Jerusalem would be destoyed. As Jesus went on to say in the Mount Olivet discourse (after His arrival in Jerusalem as Messiah king) His actual physical return would not happen until the entire world had been evangelized, and He warned His disciples that they would all suffer martyrdom in the meantime. Clearly the world could not be evangelized in one generation. But you can not get this larger picture without being conversant in the ENTIRE scripture.

    “The gospels were written AFTER the sacking of the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD. In fact one of the smoking guns is ‘666’ from Revelation which was the name for Nero – who did not reign until after Jesus died.”

    There is no proof that the gospels (with the possible exception of John) were written after AD 70. It is generally recognized that Luke and Acts were written by the same person, and Acts ends before the execution of Paul under Nero, so Luke would logically have to have been written some time before that and well before AD 70. And Matthew and Mark came even earlier than Luke. As for Revelation, no one ever claimed that it “foretold” Nero. It was of course a later work than the gospels that employed much symbolic imagery.

    Why do you not know all this already, having supposedly taught Sunday School?

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  • Not Lost

    I understand that it is an unpopular opinion but at a certain age, responsibility for self, no matter the circumstance, has to play a part. In no way am I excusing the crime of rape, of a drunk victim or otherwise, for it is a horrendous act. Yet, to not acknowledge our own part in every waking moment is to deny reality.

  • Diane Avery

    Regarding Doc Anthony’s comment: “Maybe when you believe in God, it’s easier to accept the Biblical fact that God created women **equal to** men, instead of accepting what Darwin wrote about women being **inferior to** men because of evolution.”

    Really? Is this why the 10th commandment states: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

    As if a woman could not covet her neighbor’s husband or own a servant, ox or ass…where is the equality in that? The 10th commandment proves that the bible is a man-made fabrication and so is its god.

  • Luis

    Women don’t have to work.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpA7pfR0FIc

    Womn aren’t funny
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7izJggqCoA

    There you go.

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  • luckylarrysilverstein

    “THE TALMUD IS ONE OF THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD. During the twenty centuries of its existence…IT SURVIVED IN ITS ENTIRETY, and not only has the power of its foes FAILED TO DESTROY EVEN A SINGLE LINE, but it has not even been able materially to weaken its influence for any length of time. IT STILL DOMINATES THE MINDS OF A WHOLE PEOPLE, WHO VENERATE ITS CONTENTS AS DIVINE TRUTH…”

    SANHEDRIN, 55b-55a: “What is meant by this? – Rab said: Pederasty with a child below nine years of age is not deemed as pederasty with a child above that. Samuel said: Pederasty with a child below three years is not treated as with a child above that (2) What is the basis of their dispute? – Rab maintains that only he who is able to engage in sexual intercourse, may, as the passive subject of pederasty throw guilt (upon the actual offender); whilst he who is unable to engage in sexual intercourse cannot be a passive subject of pederasty (in that respect) (3). But Samuel maintains: Scriptures writes,…

  • luckylarrysilverstein

    IN GOD WE TRUST, is on the American dollar!
    Which god?
    The god of the Bible!
    But the Jewish god hates Gentiles/Goyim.

    NETANYAHU PROMISES TALMUD WILL BE ISRAELI LAW
    Netanyahu tells Likud hareidi leader Hebrew calendar will be official calendar of state in new Basic Law, Jewish law basis of legal system.

    By Ari Yashar
    First Publish: 5/9/2014

    GENTILES IN HALACHA

    Foreword — Daat Emet

    For a long time we have been considering the necessity of informing our readers about Halacha’s real attitude towards non-Jews.

    In this article R’ Bar-Chayim discusses the attitude towards “Gentiles” in the Torah and in the Halacha and comes to an unambiguous conclusion:

    “The Torah of Israel makes a clear distinction between a Jew, who is defined as ‘man,’ and a Gentile.”

  • Richard Dawkins worships death.

    Here is his statement on how he sees death as good.

    Here he is glorifying death as being so good!

    “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones.” Richard Dawkins

    There is nothing lucky about dying. There is no one who looks forward to death even when they are “deathly” ill. If death is so good, then why don’t you follow your own advice, Richard, old boy?

    If you are not seeking the Truth, then you are 1/ retarded and believe in magic. 2/ only seeking to keep your dumb ass job and feed the system. 3/ perpetuating lies.