Godless Who's Who

A look at some of the major players among American nonbelievers.

seathanaich

08/04/2009 04:46:21 PM

Good, unbiased article. I have to commend Beliefnet for this, as it is rare for religion-based anything to be unbaised against atheists/atheism, and indeed rare for religious groups to value honesty and truth over pushing their own views.

Peppermintpat

08/24/2006 12:42:11 PM

Just because a person does not name his or her God by the christian term, Jesus, does not necesarily make them a "godless" person or an atheist. To believe in somthing beyond ourselves is the same as believing in God, although, not in the traditional sense. His true name is hidden from mere mortal like us, so what if we call him "whatever" we are calling him nonetheless. Why do christians and other religions want to condemn those who do not think exactly like they do? Isn't that what this country of the United States was founded on to begin with? The freedom to think and worship as the individual pleases? The Bible tells us repeatedly not to judge, so why is everyone judging everyone else? Who died and made them God? Better look into your own hearts and make them good before you start judging other folks.

BillThinks4Himself

03/28/2006 03:04:27 AM

I find it interesting that so many activists - regardless of the cause - are people who either have nothing left to lose or those who have been so touched or traumatized by something that they can't move on. If there is no God, if Heaven is just wishful thinking, one would expect more skeptics to simply move on and not waste another minute on religion - even to bash it like a pinata. But for some, bashing the pinata of religion is, in itself, a new lease on life - precisely because of its cathartic potential. The only problem is that one man's catharsis is another's obsession. Perhaps the best revenge is to live well.

Tyrsson

09/14/2005 12:23:55 AM

"Actually, given how jealous and spiteful gods are illustrated to be, then really theists are more likely to burn in hell." This shows a marked lack of knowledge about non-Abrahamic gods. Most deities of most religions are not the Hell fire and brimstone types. Indeed, many religions have no concept of a "Hell" at all.

illuminata55

09/13/2005 12:58:26 PM

"Pascal's Wager(which is what you propose) reduces your faith to hedging your bet. If I'm right and you're wrong, you've wasted your whole life and human potential "in the service of God". If you're right and I'm wrong, I'd rather spit in his eye than serve him. " Right on. Besides, if all these theists die and meet a god other than the one which they've worshipped their whole lives, they'll be burning in hell with us. :) Actually, given how jealous and spiteful gods are illustrated to be, then really theists are more likely to burn in hell. We reject all gods equally, theists reject all gods but the one they chose to believe in. They're prejudiced. Better hope you've picked the right god out of the thousands kids. Otherwise, see you in hell! :)

JamesComerota

09/09/2005 12:32:10 PM

The real injustice in my worldview being correct is that you won't learn anything from it.

JamesComerota

09/09/2005 12:08:42 PM

dattaswami- "After my death, you are correct & there are no super worlds, there is no loss for me. But suppose I am correct and there are super worlds you have lost every thing and God will not save you. Hence, it is better to serve Lord by sacrificing extra time & energy after basic needs." Pascal's Wager(which is what you propose) reduces your faith to hedging your bet. If I'm right and you're wrong, you've wasted your whole life and human potential "in the service of God". If you're right and I'm wrong, I'd rather spit in his eye than serve him.

Oceana2

09/09/2005 03:45:33 AM

Several places in this article don't make sense, as the the First Amendment to the Constitution clearly states the separation of government and religion and is not allowed to impose any religious beliefs on the people. Then continues on with the Freedom of the press and speech, etc.

dattaswami

07/24/2005 03:19:39 PM

HELL, HEAVEN & KINGDOM OF LORD Universe is infinite. I am unable to show existence of super worlds. I accept my incapability. But you are also incapable to prove directly non-existence of these. So there is equal chance for existence & non-existence according to probability. Analyze our cases. Both are eating to live. Basic needs are satisfied for both of us. You have spent extra time also in earning more money, which may give health problems due to over enjoying. I have not earned more money and I am healthy due to normal food. None of us will carry money after death. Money given to children may be lost. So, I do not find difference between us, after basic needs are met. I am poor because I spent my extra time in the service of God. After my death, you are correct & there are no super worlds, there is no loss for me. But suppose I am correct and there are super worlds you have lost every thing and God will not save you. Hence, it is better to serve Lord by sacrificing extra time & energy after basic needs.

drakvl

10/18/2004 05:43:06 PM

Norm: However, those socially constructed barriers may make it more difficult for people who might otherwise get along royally to ever meet up. Now, I'm happy to say that diversity has increased in the groups I belong to, but there's still a long way to go. For example (and may he forgive me for using this example), the science fiction writer Samuel Delany was scheduled to give a talk at my university. I couldn't help finding it ironic that everyone in the group waiting to hear him speak was white, and only one was female -- he would have been the only black guy in the room!

Norm_uk

08/24/2004 01:40:59 AM

In the realm of scepticism and disbelief there are no colour boundaries. Intelligent people do not allow socially constructed barriers to get in the way of reason, friendship and brotherhood.

bluecloudsky4

07/06/2004 12:51:12 PM

hahaha, i take great pleasure in not giving myself a label, therefore im unreachable! not atheistic, not agnostic, not a believer. nothing this way or that way, i just am! unlike the rest of many people, i dont take my stance and then critisize all the others...i hate eqaully! :p

drakvl

05/19/2004 01:57:33 AM

anarchy: Lack of diversity could also result from the geek effect: geeks tend to be white middle-class males. (Yes, I am asserting that there exists a correlation between geekiness and secularness.)

Dagny_Taggart

05/18/2004 11:49:24 AM

anarchy: The majority of Americans are American-born and these people just happen to be in the spotlight... I don't think it's some blatant attack against diversity.

anarchy

04/20/2004 08:32:21 PM

I think it's pretty funny that only two of these people mentioned above are non-white and they are all American born. Where's the diversity and multiculturalism? You know, the pluralism of ethnicities that makes us accepting of other people's beliefs? Maybe it's be, but like Michael Moore's book says, maybe it's not only "Stupid White Men" who are running politics, maybe they are running our secular religiosity.

harpist4him

03/12/2004 12:45:59 PM

Belief or non-belief should never be an excuse for rudeness, cruelty or just plain arrogance. If you feel you have the truth, carry it with grace. shalom

gofalcons

12/19/2003 08:55:06 PM

severak yrs ago, when my sister converted to christianity (specifically, Calvary Chapel), i went to church and bible study with her since she was SO enthusiastic and happy after her conversion. i wanted some of that! so i went to three years of bible studies & sunday srvs. Having read the bible through several times, studied commentaries and questioned pastors, i came away from those yrs convinced that the bible, from beginning to end, is no more the word of god than a grocery list. i became as enthusiastic about my LACK of faith as my sister was about her religion, but found out (very quickly!) that to diaparage the bible as myth/allegory and reject its teachings will make you as popular as a fart on a romantic date. i learned to keep quiet about my lack of belief. then i turned 35 and something clicked. after yrs of politely turning down requests from neighbors to go to church or bible study with them i now say, 'no thanks, i don't follow that superstition' and leave it at that.

MizMena

12/10/2003 02:29:06 PM

*SNORT!* I am neither an atheist nor a Christian. What always gets me is that evangelical Christians especially, fail to understand that I am just devoted to my religion as they are to theirs, and that religion is not something to be traded in like an old car battery. Frankly, I think that that actually speaks very lowly of Christianity, that it is somehow a "replacement" religion--don'tyou?

Norm_uk

11/11/2003 12:37:39 AM

"These tactics of alienation and condemnation serve no constructive Christian purpose and should be abandoned immediately" Unfortunately, many Christians (and members of other faiths) feel the need to be unloving and unkind to fellow humans and then quickly moan when someone starts to critisize them or their faith. Christians talk about being persecuted but this is mostly self fulfilling in many cases. Anyone who has to go about preaching antiquated beliefs in iron age middle eastern writings should realise it won't make them popular. Of course, there are some lovely Christians too who are quite respectful of others, but these Christians tend to be labelled negatively by the fanatic majority.

AppianSpirit

10/23/2003 12:43:58 AM

So, the underlying Christian purpose of this article would be...what? Perhaps the beginnings of a "heavenwood" blacklist? Too many judgmental Christians seem to forget that others (non Christians) can't be persuaded to love Christ when they are on the receiving end of this newfangled rhetoric of hate that has emerged from the so-called Christian camp. These tactics of alienation and condemnation serve no constructive Christian purpose and should be abandoned immediately. Christian "tough love" breeds only intense hostility--the kind that leads to war. Witness to non believers by loving example, acceptance, and forgiveness--the way it used to be done in the olden days when church pews weren't empty on Sunday mornings.

Rigel5740

10/15/2003 08:19:59 PM

Wumprek, No one has a divine reason to persecute anyone, and those who claim one aren't serving G-d. They are serving an idol.

Norm_uk

09/25/2003 03:02:37 AM

Someone quite famous once said that "man is by nature a religious animal".

wumprek

09/15/2003 08:15:15 PM

Renee132, I'm sorry, but your accusation of athiesm being antitheism is wrong. Not being religious and being anti those who are are two very different things. You are not Christ, so are you therefore the antiChrist? You can choose not to believe or be something without being against those who have chosen differently. Very few athiests are against religion itself, they simply believe they deserve to be treated equally to those who are religious. Athiesm, unlike many religions, does not have any divine reason to to persecute those who are of different beliefs, unlike myriads of religions off the top of my head, so how can anyone here accuse them to be trying to teach antitheism in schools?

Renee132

08/24/2003 04:56:51 PM

Atheism IS Anti-theism! The two run hand and hand like a blood clot and a coronary. C'mon, lets not tip-toe around reality by calling people bigots and other hateful things. If you do not believe in God you are certainly not supporting God. You are against the belief of a higher power.

leebert

07/31/2003 05:17:32 AM

Atheism is some form of religion, also. Just because you do not beileve in God, that does not mean it is not a religion. Dear me, where to start? This is an entirely mistaken and misinformed statement. Atheism is not anti-theism. Atheism, without the Western apostasy or frustration against religious bigots is simply non-theism (or apatheism as one writer coined it...). It therefore unconcerned with God, gods or anything remotely theist or pantheist. Atheism isn't a religion. And Buddhism hardly qualifies as a religion in the conventional Western sense. I am happy to say that I do beileve in God and we should impose our ideals to others. It's bigotted and intolerant statements like this that remind the otherwise indifferent agnostics, atheists and nontheistic Buddhists to stay politically active in this area. /leebert

dpatel1511

06/04/2003 07:52:22 PM

These individuals are weird. How can atheists condem anyone who beileves in certain religion? Atheism is some form of religion, also. Just because you do not beileve in God, that does not mean it is not a religion. Buddhism is a religion without a God. I am happy to say that I do beileve in God and we should impose our ideals to others.

aerix88

04/16/2003 12:08:43 AM

Whenever I try to convert a highly religious (or even moderately so one, at that) to my side of the seperation of church and state, I generally use the following example: So you want a religious country? Well what religion? How about Islam or Judaism. Now, we KNOW those are wrong, so let's go with Christianity. But which one? Protestant? Roman Catholic? Eastern Orthodox? Those Catholics are just a little bit too crazy for me, so we'll stick with Protestant. And here comes the most splits ever: which one? Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Uniterian... the list goes on and on. According to this site, 2000 Protestant denominations, ranging from liberal to mainstream to conservative. How would you like it if someone told you you had to practice religion their way, following their doctrines of belief? And those are some very good reasons to keep the church out of the state- and vice versa as well.

StrangeAttractors

03/19/2003 10:36:50 PM

"As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.... "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation." -- Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, U.S. Consul)

StrangeAttractors

03/19/2003 10:36:19 PM

First off children should learn morals from thier parents that is at home not school Glad you understand it our way and see why it is reasonable to refrain from using public schools for religious preaching. >8) The seperation of church and state was chreated to protect church not goverment Hitler and Kng Gorge have shown the proof of that.the founding fathers whanted thier own religion. It was done to protect individual liberties. Hitler was a Catholic and later Thule. King George was a protestant. Neither were atheists. A significant number of the founding fathers were not Christian but rather Unitarians, Quakers, and Deists. Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin had some very heavy words to say against Christianity. Ever hear of the Jefferson Bible?

Dagny_Taggart

03/10/2003 09:53:23 PM

Thank you, MsRational. You surely live up to your name. I favor the original version as well. I'd also like to stop printing "God" on money.

acolytejohn

03/06/2003 05:07:17 PM

Ms"un"Rational First off children should learn morals from thier parents that is at home not school.I seen what Godless schools have become.AS well as atheist have rights so do belivers and I will prey any place I please goverment or not.The seperation of church and state was chreated to protect church not goverment Hitler and Kng Gorge have shown the proof of that.the founding fathers whanted thier own religion.Do atheist have morals?yes but great works with out faith are dead.God the perfect being says you can only find me by faith.so his word is perfect and being perfect he can make it where that is the only way you can find him a stright and narow path.Yers religions are just a road map back to him or a life style in the end there is only one God but many religions.Ihave heard the loving children in bible class and they behave way better than Godless schools why is it ok to hang a painting of a dead press but not of Crist who gave us way more?

MsRational

03/05/2003 03:07:27 PM

Almost always when someone wants prayer in public schools, what he/she means is that they want THEIR version of prayer performed. If it were prayer from some non-Christian faith, they would have conniption FITS until the offensive worshiping was removed. That is not freedom, that is hypocrisy, and if followed, religious tyranny. But this is exactly why we should NOT have official prayers in public school. We are supposed to be guaranteed freedom of religion, and this includes freedom from religion. Children can be, and I believe should be, taught ethics and moral behavior in public school; this does not involve faith, prayer, god(s) or superstition of any kind/brand/sect/religion. Let's set a good example for our children and make this world a more loving, tolerant and better place. In love and peace,

MsRational

03/04/2003 10:06:09 PM

8. And last but not least, by trying to undo the change made to the pledge of allegiance a few years ago (well, to me it was a few years ago), using the civilized and lawful means of filing a court suit, and basing his arguments on the Constitution, its amendments and the wisdom of our great founding fathers of this wonderful country, Mr. Nedow is not behaving, as you accused, “like a spoiled brat...” I am not an atheist, but like Mr. Nedow, I favor the original version. In love and peace, MsRational

MsRational

03/04/2003 10:05:07 PM

7. You said, “ I say Atheist's [sic] know darned well there is a God...” Come one now, Stand2, that’s just silly. Would it be true if I said, “Stand2gether4Peace knows darned well there is no God” ? I think not. I would never try to tell you that I know what you believe better than you do. But when it comes to faith, for many people logic loses out, as seems to be so in your case. For some people, superstition is much stronger than reason. This has been so as long as there have been people on earth. But reason continues to make advances on belief. We no longer believe the world is flat, or that tomatoes and night air are poisonous, or that the sun revolves around the earth. (Now THERE’S progress for you. Nowadays one can say that the earth revolves around the sun, and church leaders will NOT put you in prison!)

MsRational

03/04/2003 10:04:24 PM

6. You said, “What makes me mad is that they want and expect the rest of the population to drop everything.....including OUR GOD...to make them comfortable and happy.” (Smiling) Okay, Stand2, let’s turn this around. Would you be “comfortable and happy” if your children were taught every day in school that there is no God? Noooooo, I didn’t think so. Yet you not only have no objection to that situation being reversed – I’d bet that is just what you would like. Forced religious education would be just fine with you – as long as it was YOUR particular sect’s belief system and nobody else’s. (Continued – again!)

MsRational

03/04/2003 10:03:23 PM

4. You said, “Newdow is using his daughter as a pawn against God,and the American people. How loving is that?” By standing up for religious freedom in this country, even in the face of hatred, persecution and many death threats from so-called “Christians,” (read “hypocrites”) Mr. Nedow IS behaving in a loving fashion. (Continued) 5. And as for “He hates God,” one can’t hate something one does not believe exists. For Mr. Nedow, there’s nothing there to hate. :-)

MsRational

03/04/2003 10:01:19 PM

2. You said, “God is a loving and patient and merciful God.” The God described in the New Testament is often described like that. The God of the old Testament was very, very different. He underwent a tremendous personality change from the way the writers of the Old Testament viewed Him. (Continued)

MsRational

03/04/2003 09:59:58 PM

1. You said, “Atheist's [sic] think they don't need a God, they put themselves 1st.” Just because an atheist does not profess belief in God does not mean he puts himself first. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if atheists weren’t one of the most moral and ethical groups among us. After all, they do the right thing because they think it IS the right thing to do, not out of fear of being punished by God or fear of eternal damnation, and not out of hope of some reward in an afterlife. Atheists behave simply because they believe in a philosophy expressed by many major faiths, a philosophy which happens to be known in Christianity as The Golden Rule.

MsRational

03/04/2003 09:58:08 PM

3. And you said, “...but it's ridiculous to expect 98% of the US population to give God up for you.” A) No one is asking you to give up God – that’s not possible. B) Christians do not make up 98% of the US population. And C) That’s not the point anyway. The point is that the founding fathers wisely tried to prevent any one faith (Christian or other) from being forced upon others in public institutions like schools. If Muslims were in the majority in this country, would you want your child required to worship or pray to Allah? Parents are responsible for the religious education of the children; public school is not. And the Baptist minister who wrote the pledge did not put “under God” in it, that was just added in 1954. (Continued)

MsRational

03/04/2003 05:34:50 PM

NOT cause atheists were "getting their way."

MsRational

03/04/2003 05:32:48 PM

blvr 47, atheism is not a religion. It does accept the existence of either an inner or an outer god. It has no ceremonies. You are mistaken on these points, and also that in your belief that refraining from mentioning God in the pledge would somehow endorse atheism. Rather than including "Under God, Yahweh, Vishnu, Allah, Shiva, Jehovah, and a multitude of other names for deities" in the pledge, let's just abide by the wisdom of our founding fathers and refrain from teaching or endorsing ANY one religion, Christian or non-Christian, in the public schools. If you wish to teach your children faith in a supreme entity, it is your responsibility to do so, not the public school's. The words "under God" were added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954. The fact that the pledge did not include these words prior to 1954 was NOT b

blvr47

03/04/2003 02:06:01 PM

I believe atheism is a religion. (Why - it is a belief structure, it believes in the god within yourself and rejects God outside oneself, it has ceremony, atheists are passionate about beliefs and atheists seek to protelyze others. Separation of Church and State means no ONE religion should dominate State. Early settlers did not want ONE religion to dominate the State government, otherwise USA would be a "theocracy, with one official religion. Atheists getting their way means the State is beginning to be dominated by ONE RELIGION - which is Atheism.

human1

01/15/2003 12:24:03 PM

Paul, considering the questions you asked, and the fact that I responded and included an invitation for you to point out the "attack" if you disagree with my answer....together with the fact you are not providing anything further, I will view this as being then, in agreement. Blessings to you, h1

human1

01/13/2003 03:42:29 PM

If you feel we disagree over this, perhaps you could point out the attack you accuse me of. To further add clarity, you and I may differ in our understanding of the word "attack", perhaps you would offer your perspective on the word.

human1

01/13/2003 03:36:26 PM

maltheist, you wrote: "Because my beliefs are "an attack upon God," your being "offended" by my beliefs (and thus attacking me) is somehow justified? So, what you are saying is that my having a different attitude from yours towards God justifies your "offendedness" and your attacking me for having these beliefs, is that right?" (This was in response to a paragraph you copied which I wrote.) The error of thought which you make, is in adding in "(and thus attacking me)". You equate becoming offended with attacking. They are 2 different actions. I share in my paragraph that your beliefs offend me, and why they do from my perspective. I do not, however, attack you.

maltheist

01/13/2003 02:00:00 PM

Human1 wrote: Maltheist believes as I do that the God of the Bible exists, thus the 'idea' of God is acceptable to him. Malteists attacks the belief that God is good. Since I believe God is good, my perception would be maltheist attacks God. If you would rather....perhaps you and I will find common ground if I state the following. maltheist attacks the idea that God is good, and attributes negative qualities to God. I find this offensive since I value and cherish God and and see that He is entirely good as revealed in the Bible, in our universe, and in my personal experience. Because my beliefs are "an attack upon God," your being "offended" by my beliefs (and thus attacking me) is somehow justified? So, what you are saying is that my having a different attitude from yours towards God justifies your "offendedness" and your attacking me for having these beliefs, is that right? Be well, Paul

steve3927

01/12/2003 12:32:04 PM

human1, I understand where you are coming from. Those same feelings were responsible for my "dusting off the keyboard posts", particularly when the arguments go 'round and 'round and yet I felt I also needed to respond to some newer posts that arose afterward. It becomes a a fine line between defending God, one's faith, and what is Holy by simply offering His word and personal experience with Him and getting caught up in the human desire to argue and be sarcastic. Yet, there were some (and are) some very clear attacks on God and Christianity on Beliefnet that go beyond simply denying His existence. This is where I must continue to speak up (although I will try to do it objectively with the facts and what God says and leave out my anger and sarcasm).

human1

01/11/2003 06:54:39 PM

thanks namchuck. h1

namchuck

01/11/2003 05:34:44 PM

Yes, you are quite correct. Sorry to confuse you. I apologise. malthiest does believe that God is more than an idea, and this is where he and I significantly differ. To clarify, I do respect the quality of your character that enabled you to publicly acknowledge your 'sin'.

human1

01/11/2003 05:00:54 PM

(cont)If you feel maltheist was not attempting to attack God, but rather the 'idea' of God, you are wrong. When posting with you, you attack the 'idea' of God's existance. Maltheist believes as I do that the God of the Bible exists, thus the 'idea' of God is acceptable to him. Malteists attacks the belief that God is good. Since I believe God is good, my perception would be maltheist attacks God. If you would rather....perhaps you and I will find common ground if I state the following. maltheist attacks the idea that God is good, and attributes negative qualities to God. I find this offensive since I value and cherish God and and see that He is entirely good as revealed in the Bible, in our universe, and in my personal experience.

human1

01/11/2003 04:59:39 PM

However, you use more of an accusatory tone, than what "respect" entails. Which suggests you really feel I should have been able to better differentiate an attack upon God, and an attack upon the 'idea' of God. It appears then, your opinion is that I was in error when I suggested that maltheist had attacked God. If I described your feelings correctly,....I don't see why one would respect me for error. Thus my confusion with your post.

human1

01/11/2003 04:59:09 PM

You wrote: "All due respect to human1 for her public apology, and her inability to distinguish the difference between an attack upon God and an attack upon the 'idea' of God, but her claim that 'God is entirely good' is not supported by the weight of biblical evidence." I realize that posts are hardly attempts at perfection in grammar, but to begin, I could not tell from your wording precisely what you meant to say. You start with "All due respect to human for.....,AND her inability to distinguish the difference between an attack upon God and an atack upon the 'idea' of God." It appears you offer respect for that inability...according to what you wrote (never mind the unrelated final phrase of the sentence).

human1

01/11/2003 04:08:29 PM

Namchuck, I did not consider an uninvolved poster would take the option of speaking into my words. I saw this thread wind down to a three-way conversation...I felt ready to "leave". Now that you have raised issues with my posts, I see that it was the 3 way conversation I was ready to leave, rather than new issues raised here by new posts. I will then remain in the thread in order to discuss the new and separate issue you raise from observing.

namchuck

01/10/2003 10:27:15 PM

All due respect to human1 for her public apology, and her inability to distinguish the difference between an attack upon God and an attack upon the 'idea' of God, but her claim that 'God is entirely good' is not supported by the weight of biblical evidence. Any supposedly supremely omnipotent being that would order the murder of children, send she-bears to tear apart a group of kids, and give genocidal commands, including the victims animals (while, now and again, making exception of the virgins of the doomed for the pleasure of his faithful male servants), can hardly be entitled to the honor of being called 'entirely good'. I go along with maltheist on this one, but only so far as I do not think for a minute that the biblical God is anything but a reflection of the primitive minds that invented him.

human1

01/10/2003 07:01:58 PM

(cont)My sin in this thread, has allowed me to see an area in my life that I need to confess and offer to Him for change. I have played the fool trying to "fight" God's battle, which He has already won. God is entirely good. Maltheist, I apologize to you for my sarcasm, insult, and willingness to offer hurtful words to you. You are a good and deeply valued person. I pray God will draw near, and show you ALL the truths of His word, and Himself. I pray He will bless you and those you love far beyond the way He has blessed me. I pray you will live eternally in His heaven in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. I pray you will be treated well by those you encounter. h1

human1

01/10/2003 07:01:37 PM

I am leaving this thread, and must admit some things as I go. The arena in life where I respond the worst, is in the arena where something I value and cherish is mocked, belittled, and spoken of in falsehoods. In this thread that has been God, and I have reached for my own ways. I have stooped to going tit-for-tat in insult swapping and sarcasm....and that is in direct opostion to the ways God leads me in. Kindness begets kindness,Love begets love, and anger begets anger, hatred begets hatred in natural man. God has shown us a way to live supernatually, by allowing Him to take the lead in our lives. God offers kindness for insult...love for hatred....strength to fear....hope for dispair....forgiveness to the unapologetic....reconciliation for separation....compassion to those uncompassionate....the list goes on.

maltheist

01/10/2003 06:58:21 PM

Human1 wrote: So, by your rational, you must believe that if I invite people to my house....I am actually recruiting them to take up residency there. If I invite someone to a coffee shop to discuss our individual beliefs I am attempting to recruit them. ... "Invitation" to most people does not mean "recruit". The word "invite" or "invitation" was not used in your original post nor by me in response to it. It seems you are "adding concepts" of your own choosing and trying to put words in my mouth. :) Be well, Paul

human1

01/10/2003 05:53:48 PM

No problem Steve....I hope I wasn't adding anything you did not intend, but your posts were clear. h1

human1

01/10/2003 05:50:05 PM

(cont)People can read.......and make choices for themselves. Your repeated urgings for detour suggest you are not happy with the numbers coming to check out maltheism on their own. You seem frustrated by that. Understandably, as it is hard to value something that others are not very interested in, or can rule out from an early onset. I just don't see the other faiths having to offer repeated invitations for a detour, on the B-net articles. Do you?

human1

01/10/2003 05:49:47 PM

So, by your rational, you must believe that if I invite people to my house....I am actually recruiting them to take up residency there. If I invite someone to a coffee shop to discuss our individual beliefs I am attempting to recruit them. Perhaps this is the way you operate....not most people though. Many people seek out information of things they know with certainty they will not be joining. Some to gain understanding. Some to affirm their own decision. "Invitation" to most people does not mean "recruit". (This does perhaps explain why I have seen you falsely accuse others of proselytizing.) I chose the word begging (which may be what is upsetting you...if so I am sorry), because I thought it best described the repetition of your invitations. Repeated inviting, especially within a short duration usually is a sign of desparation.

steve3927

01/10/2003 05:45:38 PM

Thank you human1. I am glad it is obvious what my posts mean to others because I was beginning to think I wasn't typing English : ) Sometimes I hit some weird key on this board and it starts typing "d" for "j" etc and I have to close whatever window I am in to fix it. I thought maybe that was the problem but I see - no - it's english all right. Perhaps I should stop using the word Christmas and begin to say "Winter display" or "December display". Whatever, all are welcome to have one in any school they want and that includes Christians.

maltheist

01/10/2003 04:20:56 PM

Human1 wrote: "PS - My purpose is not to "recruit" people for a "movement." (Though I can see why from a Christian's perspective this would be assumed to be the case.)" In response to my post of:"Are people not showing interest in your maltheist movement by seeking it out....that you have to post begs on non-related articles for them to come and seek you?"Please show me were I used "recruit", any synnonym for "recruit", or a description of a recruiting process! (LOL!):) You mean "Are people not showing interest in your maltheist movement by seeking it out....that you have to post begs on non-related articles for them to come and seek you?" Where taking action to get people to "come out and seek" is the very definition of "recruitment?" Again evidences of your game playing....twist and distort what is there.(even if by adding words, or concepts). I apologize for "adding concepts." Apparently that is not allowed here. :) Then accuse of an assumption, based on the words/concepts that you added in, (which weren't ever there!) Actually, denoting the implications, connotations, and consequences of what is said is an important part of rhetorical analysis. In fact, the words you typed were synonymous with recruitment--again, taking action to get people to "come out and seek" something. Why on earth would you try to assert otherwise? Be well, Paul By the way, IHTLAFLOLST = "I have the longest acronym for Laughing Out Loud, so there!" :)

human1

01/10/2003 04:04:50 PM

You additionally type this....(LOL) "PS - My purpose is not to "recruit" people for a "movement." (Though I can see why from a Christian's perspective this would be assumed to be the case.)" In response to my post of: "Are people not showing interest in your maltheist movement by seeking it out....that you have to post begs on non-related articles for them to come and seek you?" Please show me were I used "recruit", any synnonym for "recruit", or a description of a recruiting process! (LOL!):) Again evidences of your game playing....twist and distort what is there.(even if by adding words, or concepts). Then accuse of an assumption, based on the words/concepts that you added in, (which weren't ever there!) Very credible. Like I said, the thing about fruit, is it is visible.

maltheist

01/10/2003 03:58:43 PM

Oh, one more thing: I will give you the benefit of doubt and consider perhaps that you don't live in America. I do I do too, at the moment. and here we have had atheists complain about nativity displays in public places. And are you trying to say that such complaint is wrong or invalid? Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/10/2003 03:56:24 PM

IHTLAFLOLST, Human1!

human1

01/10/2003 03:52:04 PM

ROFLOL mal, I will give you the benefit of doubt and consider perhaps that you don't live in America. I do, and here we have had atheists complain about nativity displays in public places. That is what Steve addresses. He has shown his perspective to be (very consistantly), that our constitution supports that occuring, yet politically we have caved to the, to coin your word...."whiners". His perspective has been that he would not oppose a public display representing any other religious display(for the purpose of their holy days...and therefore surrounding the date of that celebration) and feels all should be allowed. Yes, that would include Christianity, which we all know is the stumbling block for you in attempting to come across as tolerant. You are intolerant of Christianity...and you mock it, insult it, distort it, and preach against it in your posts.

maltheist

01/10/2003 03:37:05 PM

LOL, Human1! Steve said, explicitly, "the opposition says if one religion is going to have a display then ALL MUST BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A DISPLAY. Since there aren't any other religions with a Christmas display the argument against removal is facetious and just another tactic to censor Christ and God." It was Steve who asserted that the issue was that "there aren't any other religions with a Christmas display." Who on earth asserted that other groups were upset that "Christians can have a Christmas display, but we can't?" Only Steve. He said "the opposition says if one religion is going to have a display then ALL MUST BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A DISPLAY." This is correct! But somehow, through some magical leap, "have a display" turned into "have a Christmas display" in Steve's argument. Of course, that is nonsensical. But it bespeaks the defaultist Christian attitude, that what other non-Christians would want is "their own Christmas display," and that denial of the right of Christians to have a display is some specific censorship of Christianity. (And God! :) ) You say that others "complain" my "twisting" of words, but you have not shown us any. Did I "twist" anything when I commented about Steve's complaint regarding schools being "forced" to refer to the winter holiday as a winter break and not a Christmas break? Be well, Paul PS - My purpose is not to "recruit" people for a "movement." (Though I can see why from a Christian's perspective this would be assumed to be the case.) I post to give voice to a belief about God that is even more marginalized than atheism, to let people with similar beliefs know they are not alone in this world. What is YOUR purpose here?

human1

01/10/2003 01:45:50 PM

Are people not showing interest in your maltheist movement by seeking it out....that you have to post begs on non-related articles for them to come and seek you? Sorry, I'm sure it is frustrating.

human1

01/10/2003 01:42:59 PM

(cont)I have a great suggestion. If public school attenders who are not Christian, wish to have a purly "winter" holiday, then why not have it during a time when Christmas (Christian or not) is not celebrated....if the break should really have nothing to do with Christmas. Why not have it the first two weeks of January, rather than in December? Yes, some people celebrate Hanukkha, some Kwanzaa, and some Christmas, still others have their unique celebrations. Regarding Christmas in our nation, the majority are not celebrating Christmas as a Christian holiday. Those folks would protest your notion of taking away their "Christmas break"! Your argument is merely a product of your intolerance for Christians....but you don't care if it additionally steps on even the feat of non-Christians at the same time!

human1

01/10/2003 01:42:32 PM

Maltheist your ridiculous rant accusing Steve of the "Hanukkah Christmas", "Kwanzaa Christmas", is just a pure example of your game of "twist and shout"! You twist his words, and then go on a rant over your false interpretation of what he said. You are known for this, and I have seen others complain to you about it! That was not Steve's perspective in the slightest. It appears that this is all you can offer when somebody offers you a valid point to ponder. Come back fighting, and additionally showing the extent you are willing to reach in order to remain antagonistic.

maltheist

01/10/2003 12:02:49 PM

One more point, Steve. Your defaultism is further pointed out by your expressed upset at a school being "forced" (another act of discrimination against Christians!) to refer to the winter break AS a winter break and not with the name associated with one particular religion's holiday (Christmas break). Again, I asked why this is a problem. Most schools throughout the country already do this. Does the fact that the school you refered to hadn't caught up with the rest of the world mean they have some sort of "right" to live in the good old days where non-Christians didn't make a great big ornery fuss about such things, and just "accepted" that it was the "Christmas break" and the "Christmas display?" I've been along that highway you mention, where Georgia is "right down the road" (just a hop, skip, and a jump) from Virginia. I've seen the full size billboards openly recruiting people to join the Ku Klux Klan. I've seen the bathrooms and water fountains restricted by color. (Yes, I'm THAT old!) That some school along that road should exist in a dreamworld (nightmare world?) in which Christianity is still treated as "the default" comes as no surprise to me. That the real world should intervene in this should come as no surprise to you or anyone else. It is a GOOD thing! Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/10/2003 11:53:54 AM

Steve3927 wrote: "Not everyone (believe it or not, Steve) associates that time of year with Christmas in the way you do. (I guess, though, that that's exactly what a defaultist WOULD think!)" I must not be a "defaultist" because I am well aware Christ was most likely born in the fall or early spring. It's nice that you actually have some knowledge of real history here, but what does that have to do with the topic at hand? Which is, your assertion that the complaint from non-Christian groups (and the dreaded ACLU!) was that these groups didn't have the right to have their own "Christmas display." When you start from that nonsensical point, you are correct, why would a non-Christian religion want to have a Christmas display? "Therefore," logically (sic) speaking, this was an act of "discrimination" against Christians, since they were the only ones who would want a "Christmas display." continued below...

maltheist

01/10/2003 11:53:37 AM

Of course, your deliberate miswording of the complaint DEMONSTRATES the defaultist attitude about Christianity that you and others like you present. You made it sound like the Jews wanted a "Hanukkah Christmas display," and the African-Americans wanted a "Kwanzaa Christmas display." They were not claiming that they wanted to have their own "Christmas display," they were saying that if there is a Christmas display (which would, as you astutely point out, pretty much have to be a Christian one) there should also be "winter religious holiday displays" for ALL religions. The fact that you refer to any winter religious holiday display as a "Christmas display," and infer that other religions, if they want such displays themselves, want their own "Christmas displays," demonstrates the defaultism I'm talking about. The "default" winter holiday is Christmas, of course, everyone knows that. Anyone wanting a winter religious holiday display "therefore" wants their own Christmas display. continued below...

maltheist

01/10/2003 11:51:56 AM

Here are Steve's exact words: the opposition says if one religion is going to have a display then ALL MUST BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A DISPLAY. [this much is of course true] Since there aren't any other religions with a Christmas display the argument against removal is facetious and just another tactic to censor Christ and God. A display, by default, becomes a "Christmas display" in our friend's mind. I will be using this dialogue as an illustrative example of Christian defaultism in the dialogue group on the subject of Christian Defaultism in America which will start next week. I invite all interested to join and participate. Be well, Paul

steve3927

01/10/2003 08:39:58 AM

God is evil? God is bad? But it's okay to call upon the name of "goodness" and man's ways are the only good ones. Isaiah 5:20 - Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

steve3927

01/10/2003 08:31:28 AM

"Not everyone (believe it or not, Steve) associates that time of year with Christmas in the way you do. (I guess, though, that that's exactly what a defaultist WOULD think!)" I must not be a "defaultist" because I am well aware Christ was most likely born in the fall or early spring. The "Winter Holiday" of December 25 is just another day to me although the family chooses to exchange gifts at that time. I see more Santa Claus than I do Christ in our modern Christmas. Once again, you assume what I believe and judge me based on others.

steve3927

01/10/2003 08:28:21 AM

"Actually it was in Georgia not Virginia." Geez, you can't even get your story straight in the first place! Never said I was perfect. When I went back to verify what I was posting I discovered it was Georgia..right down the road from Virginia..Not above making a correction to my information in the interest of keeping it factual. The "story" is true.

steve3927

01/10/2003 08:25:41 AM

"Thank goodness (not God, but its opposite, goodness) for people like the ACLU who "force" people to respect others!" Even God doesn't force His will on anyone, I guess it's okay for non-Christians or political organizations to do so though.

steve3927

01/10/2003 08:22:52 AM

"The issue is (and I know it's hard for a defaultist to phrase it in these terms) whether or not other religions should be allowed to have a display celebrating their holiday that occurs at the same time of year!" Bring em on. I don't have a problem with them. I gave a Hanukkah card to my friend that happens to be Jewish last year. Just don't ban the Christian ones and stop judging me because I am Christian and you think I am not open minded because of it.

human1

01/09/2003 07:24:30 PM

Oh, btw, it appears you are not familiar with the current popular movie "the Lord of the Rings", funny I thought you would have been, perhaps just because your posting pal here calls herself "Frodo Baggins"...rather unique choice for an atheist. Anyway...maltheist, you should stay more current there, the Lord of the Rings is rather well heard of and popular. Come on out of that maltheist bubble sometime!

human1

01/09/2003 07:21:28 PM

The Simpson's are well loved in our group....though I'll admit, mainly that is a guy thing even there!

human1

01/09/2003 07:20:38 PM

Here is another shock to ponder....in the fellowship group my husband and I attend before church (aka..."Sunday School!") We have watched The Simpson's more than a few times....in order to start some pretty amazing discussion...perhaps you should come on by some time!! :)

human1

01/09/2003 07:17:24 PM

:) I sure didn't expect such glee from you upon finding out that Mr. O'brien is indeed a Christian! Good to hear, for it is the first glimpse of hope I have seen for you. Perhaps you should closely observe him for a while in an attempt to shake you free of your all Christian's are "Leave It To Beaver" assumption! Happy surprise there, maltheist.

maltheist

01/09/2003 06:50:47 PM

(This response to Steve seems to have gotten lost. It is relevant enough to post now.) Steve3927 wrote: I said "Some schools in Virgina have been sued over having a "Christmas break" on their calendars and now use the term "Winter Break" so Christmas isn't mentioned." The response was: "Sounds reasonable to me! Tell me, please, in detail, why this sounds unreasonable to you?" Actually it was in Georgia not Virginia. Geez, you can't even get your story straight in the first place! The ACLU threatened to sue a school district unless they removed the words "Christmas Vacation" from the school calendars. Because the school didn't have the money to fight the legal battle they gave in and changed the school calendars to read "Winter Break". What a "Christian" thing to do--recognizing that there are people who aren't Christian who celebrate OTHER holidays at that time of year! :) And yet, you seem to be complaining about the fact that they did this. (The fact is, most systems all over the country have been doing this for years--are you fighting for the right to be backward?) Why is it unreasonable? Because call it what you want it is censorship of any word with CHRIST. I guess discussion of CHRISTopher Columbus is right out, then. :) Additionally, under the ACLU threats it becomes a form of TERROISM and FORCED policy. Very unreasonable. LOL! Yes, very unreasonable... to a Christian defaultist who is upset that his beliefs are not treated with reverence by others as the status quo! Thank goodness (not God, but its opposite, goodness) for people like the ACLU who "force" people to respect others! continued below...

maltheist

01/09/2003 06:49:40 PM

I said "The problem with this (Christmas displays) is no other religion would have a Christmas display except the Christian religion." Response: Um, could you explain how this is a "problem" with such opposition? The statement you just made actually provides support to such opposition. I have to assume this is not your intent. Actually no it doesn't support the opposition because the opposition says if one religion is going to have a display then ALL MUST BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A DISPLAY. Since there aren't any other religions with a Christmas display the argument against removal is facetious and just another tactic to censor Christ and God. Thank you so much for making this statement, because it demonstrates unequivocally your Christocentric, defaultist attitude. "There aren't any other religions that would have or want a Christmas display?" True, because there are, as you say, no other religions that celebrate Christmas. But how much gall, how large a set of cojones, does it take for someone to assert boldly that the issue is whether or not "other religions should also be allowed to have a Christmas display!" ROFLMAO! The issue is (and I know it's hard for a defaultist to phrase it in these terms) whether or not other religions should be allowed to have a display celebrating their holiday that occurs at the same time of year! Not everyone (believe it or not, Steve) associates that time of year with Christmas in the way you do. (I guess, though, that that's exactly what a defaultist WOULD think!) Isn't it about time you exited your cocoon and recognized that? Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/09/2003 06:33:39 PM

(I know I agreed that I would not pander to Human1's pedantic bait. Still, this thread is dying down.) Human1 wrote: maktheist, You're opinions don't hold much water there. With you. I don't have time for all of them at the momment. I know. :) I can see that you have a person motive for keeping your white knuckled grip upon your stance that God is bad. Luckily, you have no such "person motive" for your own stance that God is good. :) You are in constant need of affirming you decision to leave Him out of your life. If you say so. :) To let go of your beliefs for even an instance and ponder what the true messages of the Bible are, could cause you the pain of finding something that contradicts that comfort zone you have created for yourself there.... This doesn't also apply to you, by any chance, does it? Be well, Paul PS - One last thing: Conan O'Brien, from the Harvard Lampoon, original head writer for the Simpsons, wildly irreverent gay-friendly (if not gay himself) late night talk show host, is a "Christian influence?" ROFLMAO!

human1

01/09/2003 05:58:26 PM

lyrics....before I get corrected! :)

human1

01/09/2003 05:54:21 PM

(cont)There are large numbers of single mom, single dad, divorced, remarried, homosexual, promiscuous people who claim Christianity and love God. What do you think they are all atheist, or maltheist? You have astounding assumptions in your opinions....again! You remind me of the Simon and Garfunkel lirics...."still a man hears, what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest." I can see that you have a person motive for keeping your white knuckled grip upon your stance that God is bad. You are in constant need of affirming you decision to leave Him out of your life. To let go of your beliefs for even an instance and ponder what the true messages of the Bible are, could cause you the pain of finding something that contradicts that comfort zone you have created for yourself there....even if it is easily seen to be false. It keeps you safe, and feeling affirmed.

human1

01/09/2003 05:53:51 PM

maktheist, You're opinions don't hold much water there. I don't have time for all of them at the momment. I'll touch on your take of the Christian vs media war. Have you seen the latest movie of a Christian story which has been holding top spots in the box office....Lord of the Rings? Doesn't look like society is too bored there! Have you considered the growin number of Christian influences (still a minority) in Hollywood and their popularity...ie, Patricia Heaton of "...Raymond", or ever catch Konan late night....how about Bill O'Reilly, or Sean Hannity...do you really think these are unpopular people?!

maltheist

01/09/2003 03:18:07 PM

I have initiated a new Beliefnet dialogue group on the subject of Christian Defaultism in America:We often hear American Christians complaining that they are being discriminated against, when in reality they are simply being treated just like everyone else. What they resent, what they are complaining about, is that their beliefs are not treated (any longer) as the default, as the accepted status quo. Yes, once they were. But thankfully for those who don't share the Christian agenda and belief system, we have evolved as a society so that this is no longer the case. The past half century has seen a dramatic reduction in the discrimination, censorship, and suppression of lifestyles that Christians don't like (but that hurt no one) which marked the days of Christianity as status quo. Still, Christians today seem to want to bring back the "good old days" of Christian defaultism, bringing all those "good" things back once again.I invite all interested in the subject to join and participate. Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/09/2003 02:42:57 PM

Human1 wrote: Paladindave, Why should fareness require the consideration of God as bad. Oh gee, I don't know... perhaps because... freedom of religion means freedom for people with all kinds of beliefs, not just the ones you deign to label as acceptable. As PaladinDave said, "fareness" would require that a belief that God is evil be considered as acceptable as a belief that God was good. This would mean, for example, that the statement "under God" in the pledge would be an endorsement of theophilic (pro-God) beliefs to the exclusion of maltheistic ones. And thus, would be unconstitutional. Just because someone falsely claims in errant understanding of what is revealed in the Bible that He is? "Falsely claims?" ROFLMAO! By this standard you espouse, people whose beliefs are founded on "false claims" (ie, claims YOU regard to be false based on YOUR chosen beliefs) should not be accorded freedom of religion. Since Jews' belief that Jesus is not divine obviously would be considered a "false claim" by someone with your beliefs, are you saying that Jews should not be accorded freedom of religion? I suppose then in fairness, we must also assume then you are bad?...and maltheist bad as well? Because when I read your words I get the "opinion" that is true? Would you really call that fairness?! I think even you have no idea what the meaning or context of these last sentences was supposed to be in reference to the subject being discussed. Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/09/2003 02:35:17 PM

Human1 wrote: In all respect....how can you possibly suggest the media is pro-Christian?! That is hillarious. The media jumps at the chance to caste Christians as lunatics! In recent memory, for the past five or so years, I would to an extent agree. Here's why. In contrast to the old bigot's assertion that "the media is run by Jews," we will find today that it IS "run" by marginalized and disenfranchised people. More accurately, such people have always been part of that community, since that world has always attracted those very people and has always offered them a welcome non-judgemental home. But today those people (and I'm not solely refering to gays and those with so-called "alternative lifestyles") certainly have grown to have a more prominent and open voice in that world. This has led our society down the path into what has been called the "Culture Wars." Though once the media was shackled and censored into displaying only Christian-approved depictions of life (Legion of Decency, Hays Code, etc.), this Leave It to Beaver vision of the world gradually (thankfully) dissipated. Today's Christians are "offended" by the fact that the modern media over time DARED to depict families with single parents, families where the mother works, people who have sex outside of marriage, homosexuals, etc., in a positive light. This goes against what they--and they alone--call "family values" (really just a code word for Christian thinking). Family values means: no sex that Christian belief would find wrong (in fact, preferably, no depiction of the existence of sex at all!), a hierarchical two-parent household (preferably white, although the Cosbys were gracefully deemed acceptable to a degree) with the father as breadwinner and everyone else accepting their proper role and obeying, etc. continued below...

maltheist

01/09/2003 02:34:43 PM

Many people, of course, do not live by these values. In fact, the majority of households in America do not fit into this mold! With 10% of the population gay or in other alternative lifestyle situations, over a third of the multi-person households having only one adult parent, etc., these cannot legitimately be called either family values or community standard values. The Christians would tell you that the distancing of our culture from these "noble" values is the "reason" our society is "disintegrating." Note that they will never statistically or evidentially demonstrate this, they will simply keep asserting it as loudly and as often as possible. But a "return" to these supposed ideal values (as if they were ever the way things really were anyway) of the so-called "good old days" not only wouldn't "save" our society, it would mark a return to all the negative things that were the status quo in those "good old days": discrimination against women and minorities, denial of civil rights, forcing people to live according to roles assigned arbitrarily to them, etc. Note also that what they label as "disintegration" is not necessarily negative at all. They will note, for instance, that the media depicts homosexuality in a positive light, encouraging people to think it is acceptable. To which a reasonable person would say, "So? Isn't it?" This is what I have been saying about Christian defaultism. Because Christians see alternative lifestyles, alternative sexualities, alternative beliefs as wrong, as things the media should not "endorse" (ie, show) simply because THEY are offended by them, they feel "discriminated" against when they are "forcibly" exposed to these things--apparently these people don't have a means of changing channels or even turning off their televisions! (And let it be said--these things are all "alternatives" only in relation to an acceptance of Christian lifestyle as the status quo!) In other words, because the Christians don't like these things, we shouldn't see these things in the media! Their being "offended" by these things constitutes a "reason" why they should not be represented in our culture. continued below...

maltheist

01/09/2003 02:34:03 PM

OK, having said all that, here's the "here's why I agree with Human1" part. In the course of this ongoing battle (and yes, it has become a battle--with our society as a battlefield, Christians and the media world as the combatants, and the rest of us as the casualties), people in the media world have taken on a "yeah, well, we'll show THEM" attitude. The more indignant and obnoxious the Christians get in trying to suppress personal freedom by erroneously invoking defaultism, the more people in the media world will overtly press in the other direction. The more Christians whine about depictions of homosexuality in the media as "an acceptable lifestyle" (horrors!), the more outlandish and over the top "Will and Grace" will become. The more Christians push to bring back "Ozzie and Harriet," the more the media people will push to bring us "Ozzy and Sharon" (Osbourne, that is). The more Christians try to convince us that the only correct way to live is the gospel according to "Leave it To Beaver," the more Howard Stern and Jerry Springer will provide us with programs like "Show Us the..." Well, you get the idea. :) We, the people who are supposed to be the audience, are the ones who suffer in this war. On one side, we get "Highway to Boredom," on the other we get a new sitcom called "Look at Me, I'm Gay, Isn't That Fabulous!" The battle lines are drawn. The same impetus that motivates the media's push to counter Christian defaultism and discrimination also leads to that state where they "jump at the chance to cast Christians as lunatics." But the media is not making anything up here. If Christians want not to be depicted as lunatics... well, perhaps they should stop acting like lunatics. :) Of course this would involve being tolerant and accepting of lifestyles and beliefs other than theirs, refraining from acting like their beliefs are the default status quo, refraining from obnoxious proselytizing, etc. How likely is THAT to happen? :) Still, think about it. The notion of a group of Christians trying to do this sounds like the source material for a GREAT sitcom! Perhaps the combatants in the Culture War can call a truce, and collaborate on this! We would all be the winners then. Be well, Paul

human1

01/09/2003 03:23:59 AM

(cont)Why do you suppose it took so long to offer the mostly unheard truth about the dynamic of his relationship to his daughter and wife, and the truth that he is bitter over her Christianity? If the media were pro-Christian, the opening story and the first month's worth of coverage would have devulged that. But it only became part of the story as the opener had died down, and after Christian media had long displayed the truth in that regard. Even then, if you blinked on mainstream media, you missed it! For the record, as a Christian, I like the nation's decision to add "under God". But if it were decided it must go back to the original....that is fine, too.

human1

01/09/2003 03:23:35 AM

Paladindave, Why should fareness require the consideration of God as bad. Just because someone falsely claims in errant understanding of what is revealed in the Bible that He is? I suppose then in fairness, we must also assume then you are bad?...and maltheist bad as well? Because when I read your words I get the "opinion" that is true? Would you really call that fairness?! In all respect....how can you possibly suggest the media is pro-Christian?! That is hillarious. The media jumps at the chance to caste Christians as lunatics! The media if you sense anything may well be pro tradition....but I have only seen it portraying this story as neutral.

PaladinDave

01/09/2003 02:19:18 AM

Maltheist has a good point as well. In the spirit of all religious beliefs all being equal, fairness would have to take into account the concept that God is bad. Therefore, the only way is to not have that part of the pledge.

PaladinDave

01/09/2003 02:14:51 AM

Stand2gether, don't claim to know Newdow's motivations, unless you know him personally. As for it being about the Bible being dangerous, it is. Normally books that portray graphic, wanton, gratuitous violence (e.g. in the form of genocide and other forms of mass murder) - would not normally be considered messages of 'love'. Human1, same, and keep in mind that the press is typically pro-Christian on issues such as these. I don't know Michael Newdow. But he is ireelevant. The fact is the plege is wrong for the simple reason that it advocates theism of some sort. You'd have to be pretty self-centred to think that in some way or another, its right to force theism onto someone, but not right to force a paticular religion.

steve3927

01/08/2003 05:24:15 PM

And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that Beliefnet board, shake off the dust from your keyboard...

steve3927

01/08/2003 05:19:17 PM

Sounds like more Christian censorship to me. Call the BN police I might be trying to convert you...(which has never been my intent here).

steve3927

01/08/2003 05:17:06 PM

"...something closely related to this topic--theophilic proselytizing..." So if someone says they believe in God and the Bible and attempts to defend their faith they are proselytizing but if someone says there is no God and vehemently offers evidence on why it's stupid to be a Christian and believe in fairy tales, and what a waste of time it is, they aren't.

human1

01/08/2003 04:20:35 PM

These things regarding the dynamic of the hostile relationship existing between Newdow and his wife....and his prejudice toward her for being Christian were shown on the news.

human1

01/08/2003 04:18:59 PM

stand2gether, You are right. Your points are valid. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I will add that to complicate matters, Newdow is mostly venting his anger toward his ex-wife's Christianity. It has been explained that this child did not object, nor ever complained about "under God". It is simply bitterness taking root in Newdow....and I think he fears the chance his daughter will embrace her her mothers faith. It is a game of complicated emotions.

stand2gether4peace

01/08/2003 03:24:05 PM

This began with Newdow complaining because his daughter had to stand and "tolerate" listening to the words "under God" in a patriotic gesture. Ok-so he doesn't want his daughter to believe in God(which is what it boils down to)he doesn't want her exposed to it at all. Why? Because the Bible is Dangerous. The Word of God is indeed powerful enough to actually change a heart-an entire life. HE is against God and doesn't want her exposed to something --He claims DOESN'T EXIST(???)Atheism as a belief asserts that there is no God. So then, why should he be so afraid unless he really is afraid there is a God--and that he will be someday held accountable to that God? I can see why as a parent he'd be against something he thought would be bad for his child to see or hear, but not something he doesn't even believe exists. It's silly. If I don't see something as a threat, why fight so hard against it?? Why fight agaisn't something you don't believe is even there?

maltheist

01/08/2003 01:31:56 PM

I am in the process of creating a thread on the subject of Christian defaultism, the topic that seems to have risen to the top in this particular thread. I think it is a worthwhile subject for serious discussion. Hopefully we will get a better quality of post there than the ones we have seen here, where wholesale overusage of "obviously" and "surely you jest" (instead of the supplying of demonstrable evidence and example to support a point) rack the eardrum and the eyeball beyond endurance. As a prelude to this, I refer readers to a thread posted some time ago regarding something closely related to this topic--theophilic proselytizing by those who claim they are evangelizing and haranguing to us "in our best interests." The comments made from all sides of the issue were quite enlightening. In addition, I recommend the website www.christianitymeme.org for further information about this subject. Be well, Paul

steve3927

01/07/2003 10:13:12 PM

Thank you human1 for clarification on some of the issues. Sometimes it takes "two or more", saying the same thing, to make things perfectly clear. : ) matheist, methinks thou dost enjoy the game of debate to the detriment of thine own intellectual validation. Please re-read my statement which I shall paste below and your response and see if you are misinterpreting what I said. You said "Saying "it's obvious" or "surely you jest if you don't see this my way" is the last resort of the intellectual charlatan. I was honestly hoping for better than this." In reply to my statement of: Maltheist, surely you jest if you don't see the obvious attempt to stifle and censor specifically the CHRISTIAN faith in schools and other public facilities. Translation: You have a limited awareness of what's really going on in the censorship movement. NOT you didn't see things MY WAY.

steve3927

01/07/2003 09:55:32 PM

Actually I have heard of non-christians complaining that a person wearing a cross offends them and it shouldn't be allowed and must remain hidden under clothing. But a cross is simply a symbol and more and more it's being used in non-Christian ways as a modern fashion statement, particularly with the Goth crowd. The public school censorship of Christianity movement is far more extreme and a misinterpretation of the Constitution than you give it credit for. Intellect is a great tool, but reality is a real wake-up call. Beliefnet discussions are a prime example of the bigotry against Christianity. "I knew we'd get the Bible verses sooner or later" and "I wish the Christians would stop trying to convert everyone" and "I am so tired of Christian fundamentalism." etc. etc. etc. Who's doing the real whining?

human1

01/07/2003 09:20:00 PM

Do you have Christian in-laws?

human1

01/07/2003 09:16:29 PM

(cont)You shoot yourself in the foot going on about faculty and admin staff supported prayer there! As if Steve or I suggested that should happen!!...nor for school funds or school time in order to have it! You make another error in considering optional wearing of personally sellected items which have symbolism of a religion is the same thing as wearing something that Allah requires as a practice of obedience. Strange you overlook that. Regarding your Brittany Spears girls comment....I doubt that any of them would be pressured hearing that there are students who are choosing to pray on campus...unsupported by the staff in anyway. I wasn't when I was there!! Also revealing to see that you equate praying with evangelism and proselytizing! It is always interesting how posts can reveal how much or how little true understanding one has of the topic at hand.

human1

01/07/2003 09:15:21 PM

"As I said earlier, the use of the word "obviously" without evidentiary support is the sign of a weak link in the argumentative chain." that may be your opinion, but just like many of your other opinions...it doesn't make it true! You hit on something in your own paragraph which begins "Obviously"! You ask if Jewish symbols go against Christianity. I don't believe that any religious symbols are an attack upon Christianity. They simply are symbolic of a set of beliefs that I don't believe in. Period. I don't expect anyone to be outraged by the practicing of beliefs or religion, be it wearing a required head garment (which by the way is far different from wearing something optional such as a cross, etc.) The practicing of beliefs is something our government protects.

human1

01/07/2003 08:43:04 PM

I'm admittedly only half through reading....but must pause to ask when either steve or myself asserted the student prayer was supported in anyway by the faculty or staff? :)

maltheist

01/07/2003 08:39:00 PM

An interesting aside to the whole clothing non-issue: Christians have repeatedly made efforts to prevent students from wearing t-shirts that represent non-Christian symbolisms (eg, pentagrams) to school. If the Muslim girl can wear her ethnic garb, if the Christian children can wear crosses, why CAN'T the young aspiring goth wiccan satanist wear a pentagram? Why does the CHRISTIAN collective assertion that this symbolism is "bad" (to whom?--only to Christians!) become worthy of consideration? Why does THEIR wish to ban such symbolism have merit? Obviously there is some kind of defaultism going on here: Christians expect that EVERYONE will be outraged by symbolism they see as specifically going against Christianity! But don't Jewish symbols also go against Christianity in that Jews reject Jesus and the Christian belief system? What gives here? Why do these people think THEIR belief is a default that we all should be adhering to? Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/07/2003 08:34:39 PM

Human1 wrote: And regarding the Muslim practice of wearing head garments.... malthiest asked if the student wearing it proclaimed it to be a requirement for all. Well, if Christians chose to pray in school, or have a prayer meeting, are they proclaiming it to be a requirement for all? If they use school funds and time to do it, if it is organized by the faculty and administration of the school, then yes, they most certainly are! LOL! No, they actually have offered it for those who believe and wish to participate. Funny how these people see their proselytizing and evangelizing to others as "offering" it to them... whether they want it or not! Like my wife's family's idea of "love": making you do what THEY want for YOUR own good! And dismissing you as "ungrateful" if you refuse their offer of "love." LOL! If there is any whining, I have heard it coming from atheists who believe that the existance of students praying in school causes the non-believers to feel peer pressure. Endorsement and support from faculty and administrative staff IS not only peer pressure, it bears the stigma of state/government ENDORSEMENT. Then who is to say that even though the muslim student going around in head dress, is not also providing means for peer pressure? Yes, I'm sure all the girls in school will be influenced by the peer pressure of a small number of Muslim girls who dress in traditional female Muslim garb, to abandon their efforts to dress like Britney Spears and cover themselves up! :) Both are merely expressions and practices of their respective faiths. You are also free to wear "Christian clothing" if you like! Believe it or not, no one thinks that is an "endorsement" of Christianity for you to do that. It should come as no surprise that these theophiles compare apples and oranges (wearing of clothes, to praying in school)--their arguments are THAT vapid and empty! continued below...

maltheist

01/07/2003 08:34:17 PM

Interestingly though, I have not heard of nonbelievers actively going after this demonstration of a faith. Perhaps because no one believes wearing the clothes you choose is a religious expression. Note that Jews wear stars of David, Christians wear crosses. You are treated EXACTLY like the Muslim girl in this regard. But, as I have been saying, being treated exactly like everyone else is not enough for those who long for the days when the "defaultism" of Christian belief allowed many of the excesses that have (thankfully) diminished from the public scene over recent years. But as Steve points out, it is merely the Christian practice which is targeted. When that "Christian practice" involves expecting their belief to be treated as a default, when it involves implicit/explicit state endorsement of the belief, when it involves proselytizing and evangelizing to those who aren't interested. Then, yes, absolutely, without a doubt, 100%, such practice should and must be "targeted" in a democratic free society. The effort there is obviously to censor Christianity As I said earlier, the use of the word "obviously" without evidentiary support is the sign of a weak link in the argumentative chain. It is an example of severe intellectual dishonesty to use such appeals as the basis for argument. It is only employed who expect their use of the word to magically make people accept their assertions. Maltheist asked: "See what I mean? :)" No, actually. I really don't see a point being made there at all. I know. :) Be well, Paul

human1

01/07/2003 07:42:14 PM

(cont)Interestingly though, I have not heard of nonbelievers actively going after this demonstration of a faith. You can know for sure, that the muslim wearing the head gear feels they are doing it in all obedience to Allah, and that the remaining students who are not wearing it are in disobedience. So, same thing. But as Steve points out, it is merely the Christian practice which is targeted. The effort there is obviously to censor Christianity, alone. I would never be for having the student refrain from wearing what the student believed they must. The point is, you can't pick and choose regarding religions. Either allow them (all!) or allow none.

human1

01/07/2003 07:41:55 PM

And regarding the Muslim practice of wearing head garments.... malthiest asked if the student wearing it proclaimed it to be a requirement for all. Well, if Christians chose to pray in school, or have a prayer meeting, are they proclaiming it to be a requirement for all? No, they actually have offered it for those who believe and wish to participate. If there is any whining, I have heard it coming from atheists who believe that the existance of students praying in school causes the non-believers to feel peer pressure. That is the complaint I have heard. Then who is to say that even though the muslim student going around in head dress, is not also providing means for peer pressure? Both are merely expressions and practices of their respective faiths.

human1

01/07/2003 07:16:50 PM

Maltheist asked: "See what I mean? :)" No, actually. I really don't see a point being made there at all.

maltheist

01/07/2003 06:49:09 PM

Steve3927 wrote: Maltheist, surely you jest if you don't see the obvious attempt to stifle and censor specifically the CHRISTIAN faith in schools and other public facilities. ROFLMAO! Saying "it's obvious" or "surely you jest if you don't see this my way" is the last resort of the intellectual charlatan. I was honestly hoping for better than this. The young lady in my son's class wears a covering over her head because she is Muslim. She's expressing her religion (and should be allowed to) but if a Christian mentions Christ or God or prayer in school, suddenly its GOVERNMENT ENDORSED RELIGION and can't be tolerated. Did the Muslim girl bring up the subject of Allah? Talk about the requirements of woman in Islamic culture as if they were requirements for all? Did she try to proselytize her beliefs ("witness") to others? Take out a prayer may, face east and begin praying in the middle of class? You are trying to compare a Muslim person's choice of headgear and clothing with your "right" to discuss (ie, evangelize) your beliefs in a public setting. This would be riotously hysterical if you did not actually intend that this fatuous comparison should be taken seriously. I'm sure the ACLU would have been calling my college and threatening a lawsuit when I stood in line for books the other day and a student from a nearby Bible college began to discuss the Bible and his eventual ordination as a minister where everyone could hear. NO ONE IN LINE WAS OFFENDED, in fact we all found it very interesting and there were nearly 75 of us there. Did the ACLU call your college? Was any action taken to stop this example of free speech (as contrasted with defaultist evangelism)? Then what exactly are you complaining about? This is exactly what I have been talking about! Since this is clearly the best you can do, my statements about Christians whining and demanding special treatment are all the more demonstrated by your "rebuttal" here. Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/07/2003 06:47:45 PM

I wrote: It is appalling how theophiles will try to twist the agenda of the founding fathers to make fatuous declarations about how this is "therefore" a "Christian" nation or was intended to be so. Then Human1 added: Actually, on that topic. This was not to be a "Christian" nation, and still isn't obviously! However Christianity, and principals from the Bible are what shaped and formed our government. It's founders were predominantly devoted to the God of the Bible, and His word for their ideas, and decision making in establishing our nation. We all (believer and non) benefit from that, even today See what I mean? :) Be well, Paul

steve3927

01/07/2003 06:10:26 PM

I'm sure the ACLU would have been calling my college and threatening a lawsuit when I stood in line for books the other day and a student from a nearby Bible college began to discuss the Bible and his eventual ordination as a minister where everyone could hear. NO ONE IN LINE WAS OFFENDED, in fact we all found it very interesting and there were nearly 75 of us there.

steve3927

01/07/2003 06:10:17 PM

Maltheist, surely you jest if you don't see the obvious attempt to stifle and censor specifically the CHRISTIAN faith in schools and other public facilities. The young lady in my son's class wears a covering over her head because she is Muslim. She's expressing her religion (and should be allowed to) but if a Christian mentions Christ or God or prayer in school, suddenly its GOVERNMENT ENDORSED RELIGION and can't be tolerated. We aren't talking about teachers leading students in prayer at the bequest of the state or federal government but Christian students who wish to discuss their religion or maybe a group of them that decide to pray after another (God forbid!) 9/11 scenario.

human1

01/07/2003 05:51:45 PM

Actually, on that topic. This was not to be a "Christian" nation, and still isn't obviously! However Christianity, and principals from the Bible are what shaped and formed our government. It's founders were predominantly devoted to the God of the Bible, and His word for their ideas, and decision making in establishing our nation. We all (believer and non) benefit from that, even today

maltheist

01/07/2003 05:38:42 PM

Thanks, Frodo, for the Jefferson links. It is appalling how theophiles will try to twist the agenda of the founding fathers to make fatuous declarations about how this is "therefore" a "Christian" nation or was intended to be so. Be well, Paul

human1

01/07/2003 03:52:12 PM

Frodo, I'm out the door in a minute, but came back to also offer a site to you, if you are interested. It is http://www.wallbuilders.com/. Interesting stuff. It goes to show in the life of Jefferson, that several camps claim his faith...but if we are going to be honest. It has not been proven, and he gave conflicting messages. the Diest, Unitarians, and Christians wishing it were theirs have each offered up plenty of spin, and omitted anything contradictory to their own desire of faith. Personally, He was just one founder. There are many many more who's faith is no mystery. Take care.

human1

01/07/2003 03:40:19 PM

Hey once again, I'm curious why as an atheist, Frodo, that you would choose a name like Frodo Baggins? Not at all a cut, believe me, I love the name. Just curious is all. grace to you' h1

human1

01/07/2003 03:38:45 PM

Thanks Frodo. I have studied, and I claim no specific knowledge on T Jefferson's religion. He may have been a diest, some believe He was a Christian, though extremely on the fringe. I honestly can't offer the exact religion...only speculation on this one founder's faith. At any rate I can tell you that He strongly believed in teaching the Bible to children and adults, and took action as a leader to see it was done. (Yikes! even in public settings like schools and libraries.) When on a committee of 3 who were creating a national moto, Jefferson submitted one honoring the God of Abraham, and siting an OT Biblical reference. He also repeatedly recommended to congress (and signed) treaties giving Bibles and providing religious ministries to Native American Indians. But you are right, Frodo, it remains unclear what title of faith this one founder chose for a discription of his faith. I appreciate your references and will take a look. Thanks.

Frodo_Baggins

01/07/2003 02:14:44 PM

This thread is still alive? Wow. Just thought I would respond to one of the older posts by human1: It is not difficult in the slightest to prove out that our founders were Christian, Bible revearing, God fearing, Jesus dependant people. Of course they did not set up a new nation and entitle it "A Christian Nation"! There are some interesting tidbits on Jefferson, who was Unitarian and Deist, at Deism.Org. You may find it of interest. This page specifically is a must-read.

maltheist

01/07/2003 10:04:55 AM

Steve3927 wrote: "...we have lost sight of: that of Christians complaining about being "discriminated" against in America where that "discrimination" consists of being treated just like everyone else!..." To my knowledge, banning the Christian God and name of Jesus while saying anyone else can mention their god is not being treated the same as anyone else. No Christian I know, arguing against censorship is asking for special treatment or exclusion of others. Really? Can you give examples of this? Examples that go beyond "we've been told that our city can't put a nativity scene on the City Hall lawn and that's not right because this is a Christian country after all?" Reminds me of something in the Bible about concentrating on one point of the law and ignoring the reason behind the law. Yes, what you're talking about reminds ME of that, too! :) The same Constitution that says Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or preventing the practice of it also guarantees FREE SPEECH to all - including Christians. LOL! The funny thing is that no one is denying "free speech," what is being denied is state endorsement and legitimization of particular speech that is religion-related. I don't see anyone telling the girl in my son's class that she can't wear her head covering because it means the government is condoning Islam. What, exactly please, are they "telling you" that you and your children can't do that is analogous to allowing people the right to choose their clothing? Please be specific. "These people...(Christians)...seek to pretend that there aren't people with other beliefs than theirs, who should be treated with respect." Absolutely false. Just don't exclude everything Christian with the false dichotomy of claiming its for the freedom of all other religious expression. ROFLMAO! What is it you feel you are being excluded FROM that other religions ARE being included into? Again, please be specific. (Those making these complaints frequently go into this "vagueness mode" where they make bold pronouncements and assertions like this but don't feel they need to bother to document them or explain how someone else's religion is being treated preferentially.) Be well, Paul

steve3927

01/07/2003 08:30:35 AM

"These people...(Christians)...seek to pretend that there aren't people with other beliefs than theirs, who should be treated with respect." Absolutely false. Just don't exclude everything Christian with the false dichotomy of claiming its for the freedom of all other religious expression.

steve3927

01/07/2003 08:27:18 AM

"...we have lost sight of: that of Christians complaining about being "discriminated" against in America where that "discrimination" consists of being treated just like everyone else!..." To my knowledge, banning the Christian God and name of Jesus while saying anyone else can mention their god is not being treated the same as anyone else. No Christian I know, arguing against censorship is asking for special treatment or exclusion of others. Reminds me of something in the Bible about concentrating on one point of the law and ignoring the reason behind the law. The same Constitution that says Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or preventing the practice of it also guarantees FREE SPEECH to all - including Christians. I don't see anyone telling the girl in my son's class that she can't wear her head covering because it means the government is condoning Islam.

human1

01/06/2003 08:02:04 PM

Maybe I'll have the chance for some input from ........ReformerJoe!

human1

01/06/2003 03:29:02 PM

There is good and bad existing in every belief system in our world, both believing and non-believing.

human1

01/06/2003 03:26:45 PM

Additionally in the face of so many white segregationist bigots 50 or so years ago, I am very thankful for the numbers of true Christians who saw it was wrong, and who opposed these segregationists.

human1

01/06/2003 03:24:15 PM

That is encredibly interesting!

human1

01/06/2003 01:18:04 PM

(cont)As for my experience, I grew up surrounded by prejudiced people, and most of them, and additionally the most extremely obnoxious ones I encountered were not Christians, but atheists in belief. So, therefore, should I broad brush atheists as the extreme prejudiced people....not at all. I recognize it as a human problem. Humans sin, or fall short of perfect thought, action, and deed....all humans, and regardless of their theology or lack of it. It is a human condition.

human1

01/06/2003 01:17:44 PM

Interesting issue indeed, and a sad one at that. All people need to realize that opposing beliefs are held to whatever beliefs they have chosen. Sure, there have been whining people from every sort of belief. There are some very whining godless folks around, as well as some god-believing whiners. I lived a non-believing life well into adulthood, though now, I am a Christian. I have never felt that choice should receive special treatment, nor do I have Christian friends who feel that way. I believe that stereo-typing in any catagory of beliefs is a joke, and seems to reveal more about the stereo-typer than about the belief they discuss.

maltheist

01/06/2003 01:00:31 PM

I'm still interested in reviving one particularly relevant topic that we have lost sight of: that of Christians complaining about being "discriminated" against in America where that "discrimination" consists of being treated just like everyone else! This is the "defaultism" I have refered to repeatedly: these people seem to EXPECT that they deserve special treatment just because they are Christian. (No surprise: in every part of the world where there is a theophilic religion that has been treated as a default status quo for countless years, followers of that religion seem to expect that sort of treatment.) These people seek to pretend that there aren't people with other beliefs than theirs, who should be treated with respect. (I draw parallels to the white Christian segregationist bigots of half a century ago who thankfully lost their battle to deny equal rights to others--the whining Christians today make similar complaints pretending that the last fifty years never happened.) Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/06/2003 11:15:35 AM

Curiousdwk, I agree and I apologize. I regret giving in the facetious bait posted by Human1. Hopefully we can restore this thread to its original topic. I will not bother to respond to Human1's bait any further. I am most interested in steering discussion back to one particularly relevant topic that we have lost sight of: that of Christians complaining about being "discriminated" against in America where that "discrimination" consists of being treated just like everyone else! This is the "defaultism" I have refered to repeatedly: these people seem to EXPECT that they deserve special treatment just because they are Christian. (No surprise: in every part of the world where there is a theophilic religion that has been treated as a default status quo for countless years, followers of that religion seem to expect that sort of treatment.) Apropos to this thread, these people in America seek to pretend that there aren't people with other beliefs than theirs, who should be treated with respect. (I draw parallels to the white Christian segregationist bigots of half a century ago who thankfully lost their battle to deny equal rights to others--the whining Christians today make similar complaints pretending that the last fifty years never happened.) Be well, Paul

curiousdwk

01/06/2003 11:08:18 AM

Maltheist and Human 1. Please be considerate and knock it off. These posts are not for two (or a small group) to use as a chat room. It is very discouraging to read a stimulating article, one that provokes some thought, and then try to read the associated comments. Only to find out it has become a bisynchronous chat room with personal references with personal agendas from previous forums. How about an agreement to respond just to the articles and not make any references to any individual who has posted. Use generalities like "some people" when referring to previous quotes, and try to only submit something that you feel is germane to the issue. Thanks. I'm sure that others will appreciate it also.

steve3927

01/04/2003 11:32:03 AM

"...it's reasonable for a public, government-run school to omit mentions of a religious holiday, because it would be an unethical government endorsement of that religion..." Because a school has football players that speak of "murdering" the opposing team, does it mean the government endorses violence against others? If half the students in a school talk about their sex lives openly and are promiscuous, does it mean the government endorses promiscuity? I could go on and on, but my point is that individuals attend public schools and individuals are free to discuss whatever they want during the school day. Because some students or teachers choose to discuss the Bible or pray or whatever, these are individual choices and not an endorsement of the government. No one is forced to take part in any of these discussions and shouldn't be, but they shouldn't be censored on what they choose to discuss either.

human1

01/03/2003 11:00:59 PM

Now regarding your ten different Christians posting...I am not sure I'm crystal clear on what you intended there, but I will guess that it was that Christians disagree on the path to heaven. All I can tell you, is there are many who claim the title Christian, who have no idea of true theology. Some have not studied, some have been lead blindly. In many facets of life there is both true and imitation. Same goes for Christianity. I will tell you that I have met thousands of Christian believers in my life, and those who truly know and study the Bible know assuredly that heaven is not offered as a reward for living good. That is the genuine truth! Even the Bible points out that there will be false teachers, and false theologies....we are all called to come to the truth, rather than scratch our heads at the imitations and throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

human1

01/03/2003 11:00:38 PM

No, I don't agree with the "contradictions" you say exist in the Bible. The Bible needs to be thoroughly studied, and the things you site as contradictory actually reveal to me a lack of understanding of what is there. The Bible is lengthy and complicated, but worth digging into. It's foundational truths become clear, and simple. We can talk about it if you want....however, I am typing a mini-novel at this point with many issues to respond to. Let me know...I'll be glad to share with you some of what I have learned. What is your track record of study there? How long, with whom, and where have you studied? Just curious. Hey I once talked at length about how I knew all about the Bible, and plent enough to reject it! I later came to see, I had never known it much at all. Maltheist, what is it that you feel toward those of us, even me, who believe in God and see Him as entirely good? Just curious.

human1

01/03/2003 11:00:10 PM

Anyway....I do think that "God-free thinker" is an accurate and positive (perhaps neutral) phrase for nonbelievers. I additionally do not feel antagonistic toward any person who choses not to believe in God. Do I believe that not believing in God is a positive thing? No, I've been there, and know for sure that it is not positive. Does it mean that every nonbeliever's life on earth will then be only negative? Nope, not at all. I know some who I really can't imagine things being more positive for. Yet even they are not perfect, and they have failings and shortcomings like anyone else, including me....it is however eternal life that comes into play, and a man can gain the whole world, yet forfeit his own soul in the end. This is a truth I believe in and am concerned over. My choice...once again.

maltheist

01/03/2003 10:02:17 PM

I choose to allow a fully rounded spectrum of possibilities into my mind before taking a stand of belief. Where does the possibility that God is a liar, that he is deceiving you when he describes himself as "good," that he bullies and abuses and blackmails human beings into accepting his will, fit within your "rounded spectrum?" If I rule God out as non-existant, or if I don't truly look at what has been revealed about Him......I would only be limiting myself. Indeed, if you "rule out" possibilities a priori, you would not be a free thinker. (A free thinker, it should be noted, DOES rule out possibilities once it is shown that they do not fit the evidence after careful analysis--you aren't asserting that free thinkers should leave even self-contradictory and evidentially invalid posssibilities, like God being good, open?) But it seems, you have ruled out, in fact will not even consider, one particular possibility: that being that all the contradictions and hypocrisies in the Bible (eg, God telling the Hebrews that it's wrong to kill, then encouraging them to kill the native inhabitants of Canaan at his say-so) are evidence that God is a liar and an abusive bully. You would need to explain how you have considered and kept an open mind about this possibility, how you ruled it out (if indeed you did), before you could be genuinely considered a free thinker. continued below...

maltheist

01/03/2003 10:01:13 PM

You also post untruths in regard to Christian theology. True Christians know that the heaven is not offered as a result of obeying God's commands. The Bible clearly points out that it is not possible for humans to "behave themselves" into heaven! Funny, but ten Christian denominations will likely offer twenty different interpretations about God's promise of Heaven--one of them certainly being yours, I'm sure, and at least one of them resembling the one you claim is false. Are those whose beliefs incorporate that interpretation that you discount liars? Deceived? How would you describe those people and their beliefs? Heaven is offered not at all as a result of man's doings, but only as a result of what Jesus chose to do. To everyone? No matter what? No matter what they do, or believe? Please elucidate. Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/03/2003 09:48:36 PM

KyyDakh wrote: I prefer to believe that some (not all) evil is necessary for good to exist. While you may prefer to believe this, it would seem that exactly the opposite is true: good is necessary for evil to exist, not the other way around. Evil requires the presence of good as a foundation, as a contrast. A world that is purely evil, totally absent of good, could not sustain itself for very long, on any timescale. If what you mean is that "good" does not seem as significant or potent if it does not exist in contrast to some things that are evil, I would agree. But this does not mean good doesn't exist without evil, it just means it doesn't stand out, is not as pronounced, is not worthy of distinction through naming, in the absence of evil, wouldn't you agree? What many people don't realize is that without the downsides to existance, there is no upside. Without feeling pain, sorrow, hate, etc., there's no way a person can truly experience joy, love, or wonder. This is a statement often made by those who make excuses for the existence of evil, with the claim that evil is "necessary" for good to seem as contrastedly better than the alternative. I do not understand this at all. I doubt anyone is qualified to speak to this sentiment from experience. Do you know for a "fact" that good isn't "as good" without evil, that the "up side" isn't "as up" without the "down side?" And, in any case, does this matter? Does good really NEED this sort of contrast to BE good? Isn't good "good enough" on its own? Mostly, we hear this sentiment by apologists for God, who make excuses for his failure to make the world without evil, building twisted castles of rationalization to "make" him "good" despite this failure. Be well, Paul

human1

01/03/2003 06:38:07 PM

You also post untruths in regard to Christian theology. True Christians know that the heaven is not offered as a result of obeying God's commands. The Bible clearly points out that it is not possible for humans to "behave themselves" into heaven! Heaven is offered not at all as a result of man's doings, but only as a result of what Jesus chose to do. Man can never receive eternal life by attempting to live good and obediently. Heaven is a gift of love, grace, and mercy.

human1

01/03/2003 06:29:02 PM

God gives us free choice. I choose to allow a fully rounded spectrum of possibilities into my mind before taking a stand of belief. If I rule God out as non-existant, or if I don't truly look at what has been revealed about Him......I would only be limiting myself. I still feel I am a free thinker, as I have allowed all options in in decision making. I believe in God. I have experienced life without and with a relationship with Him. He is entirely good......and perfect in His ways. I could never go back to a life without Him.

KyyDakh

01/03/2003 06:09:56 PM

Maltheist> Dealings with God often seem to have that Twilight Zone-ish nightmare quality, don't they? Well, so far, most in-depth discussions I've had with theists tend to fall into that category. I've had a few who seemed to deviate, where they spoke of a universal salvation, Deism, valuing the negatives and imperfections of existence, etc. In short, they were the types that probably wouldn't be defined as Judeo-Christian in the strictest sense. I prefer to believe that some (not all) evil is necessary for good to exist. What many people don't realize is that without the downsides to existance, there is no upside. Without feeling pain, sorrow, hate, etc., there's no way a person can truly experience joy, love, or wonder.

maltheist

01/03/2003 05:38:25 PM

KyyDakh wrote: Well, just to say something about the "What ifs" mentioned earlier: They don't work on me. I'm not going to change my behavior or beliefs very much out of concern for my personal well being. Besides, I'm not very fond of Heaven concepts. It seems to require utopian thinking, and whenever I try that, it always ends up a Twilight Zone-ish nightmare. Dealings with God often seem to have that Twilight Zone-ish nightmare quality, don't they? Bargains with God are no different than the allegorical bargains with the devil of literature (no surprise, since Satan is just a pseudonym used by God when he needs a patsy for evil deeds). One must wonder about the promise of Heaven: rationalizing theophiles claim that the "reason" God created the world with evil in it was because he "had to" in order to provide free will. Never mind the fact that this is a vacuous unsupported assertion (and a blatantly false one) for the moment: if we obey in exactly the way he tells us to (even though there are thousands of different ways that the disparate groups of theophiles are told to believe and behave), God promises us the eternal paradise of Heaven: a place without evil yet WITH free will. How can this be? Is God lying yet again? And furthermore, if this place exists, and God is as rich in omnipotent power and benevolence as he claims, why aren't we ALL in Heaven from the get-go? Why must we toil in the world he created deliberately with evil and suffering in it, when he could have (supposedly) placed us all in Heaven, with free will but without want and suffering and evil? Good question... Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/03/2003 05:29:45 PM

Human1 wrote: After giving it more thought and in reading the posts of many here, I will go back to my view that rather than "free thinkers", the more accurate term for non-believers would be "God-free thinkers". While I happen to believe the term you use is an extremely positive one (to be God-free in one's thought can only be considered a positive thing) I somehow get the feeling that you don't mean it that way. :) To be free of God, to be free (in other words) of the biases associated with theophilic thinking, where you are blindly accepting of the word of a being for whom the only "proof" of his goodness is his own word (again, contradicted by his very actions and words), can only be considered a good thing. Thus, I accept your appellation of "God-free thinker" with pride (I know, you think that's a sin, even when you engage in it with zeal yourself). By analogy, theophiles should, symmetrically speaking, be refered to as God-shackled thinkers, wouldn't you agree? Be well, Paul

KyyDakh

01/03/2003 04:54:25 PM

Well, just to say something about the "What ifs" mentioned earlier: They don't work on me. I'm not going to change my behavior or beliefs very much out of concern for my personal well being. Besides, I'm not very fond of Heaven concepts. It seems to require utopian thinking, and whenever I try that, it always ends up a Twilight Zone-ish nightmare.

human1

01/03/2003 04:23:22 PM

After giving it more thought and in reading the posts of many here, I will go back to my view that rather than "free thinkers", the more accurate term for non-believers would be "God-free thinkers". Their passions in leadership, are just the same as with believers, to support the beliefs they hold. Nothing wrong with that. Although there will always be opposition to both sides of the equation.....at least in this age.

maltheist

01/03/2003 10:20:53 AM

Princeton2004 wrote: What if ultimate truth and the pre-reqs of Heaven are beyond what you believe now? Don't you FEAR that? What kind of God would make this something to FEAR? Would a God who "created and loves us" not only make the "ultimate truth" beyond us, but simultaneously make it something to FEAR if we don't grasp the right one? You expect others to FEAR this, yet you seem unafraid. What if ultimate truth is beyond what YOU believe now? Don't YOU fear that? Or has God convinced you to believe that YOU are right but others are wrong and need to fear? (And that YOU need to "help" them think as you do.) The "What Ifs" go on and on. Indeed! What if God tells a billion different stories about the "pre-reqs of Heaven" to a billion different people? And each story is a lie? Don't you fear that? Why not? Further, why would a good God not invite EVERYONE into Heaven? Why would he deliberately set up conflicting "pre-reqs" as told to differing groups of people. Why would an omnipotent benevolent God not put us all in Heaven in the first place, from the get-go? A lot of rather obvious questions that you don't seem to bother to ask. No one remembers Second Place. And not everyone sees life as an athletic where it is required to "come in first." Though it would seem that God has taught you to think this way. What will you think when you find out that God has rigged the race so you can't win? Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/03/2003 10:11:54 AM

One more thing, Human1: Again, my statements comparing the Christians of today with those from half a century ago were simply a point of comparison. They were not intended to accuse you of the same prejudices. Like Trent Lott, I'm sure any residue of such prejudices that may have existed are long gone. It just raises the question of whether today's complaining Christians, who seem to lack knowledge of history or the ability to learn from it, recognize the parallels. Today, we think of the segregationist bigots who wanted a white Christian nation and the denial of rights to Jews and blacks to be laughable antiques. Hopefully, similar hypocrisies today will be remembered the same way years from now. (Unless, we listen to those voices NOW, so that we won't have "those problems" years from now... :) ). Be well, Paul

bardmountain

01/03/2003 09:10:41 AM

Thank you for your concern. For me personally, the path you describe doesn't fit what I see and sense and feel when I experience the world. I've looked and researched there extensively, but I didn't find the answers I sought. That isn't to say that I didn't find wisdom and beauty down that path, or that I think that path isn't one worth pursuing. It just isn't for me. As for fear, certainly I have as much as anyone. But to me the past and future are more ideas than reality, and I do not fear those. I try to live my life at this instant, and in this instant I fear my prejudices, my misconceptions, my ignorance, and the suffering of others. Besides, I'd get bored living forever. I'd eventually run out of books :).

Princeton2004

01/03/2003 03:17:16 AM

(started in previous post in response to Bardmountain) What if ultimate truth and the pre-reqs of Heaven are beyond what you believe now? Don't you FEAR that? The "What Ifs" go on and on. No one remembers Second Place. I hope you'll take the time to consider the big picture. And how God created us and loves us because we make up the little picture. God is in the details. Hey, you are a detail. And probably a pretty interesting one.

Princeton2004

01/03/2003 03:16:12 AM

Bardmountain: You wrote, "If there is an ultimate truth or reality, then believing in it isn't particularly useful - it will be there regardless." Yes, it will be there regardless. But is eternity based on whether you exist or not? Despite difficulties, it doesn't take much to exist. Eternity cannot be based on whether we exist or not, especially since it is not our choice to be born. Perhaps truth IS that eternity is as simple as surviving earth for some time. Ok, then you're set. But what if you're wrong? Then you're screwed. If Ultimate truth is that you need to believe in something greater than yourself (GOD) and that you need something to restore your separated relationship with God (JESUS via death and resurrection), then believing in truth is VERY useful because it offers the path to Heaven. But, you say, "there are many paths to one light." What if that "one light" is not just God, but is Jesus? (cont'd)

human1

01/02/2003 11:15:36 PM

Well.....I suppose if I had bought into the nonsense that not long ago we were swinging from trees, etc. I might feel as you do! If I felt life was a millableep of meaninglessness, I doubt seriously that I would even spend a moment of time pursuing truth. In fact, I certainly would not spend a second of it at b-net! Happy football. Hey, does anyone really win? Can you prove it? Is football evil?..........It is actually THE football I'll bet, in all selfishness beckoning the players to hurt one another over it, and wear themselves out. That evil pigskin. I'm considering malfootballism at the moment! Okay....on to other possibilities. Actually to join my football watching husband!!

bardmountain

01/02/2003 11:02:54 PM

(con't) And, perhaps, not terribly important. If there is an ultimate truth or reality, then believing in it isn't particularly useful - it will be there regardless. And if there isn't an ultimate truth, then believing in it also isn't terribly useful. I sense (for lack of a better word) an interconnectedness or unity of things, a fundimental substratum of some sort, though perhaps not self-awarene. I have a feeling that the common notion that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter is backwards. I get the sense that matter is an epiphenomenon of consciousness. But it's all fuzzy in my head; probalby just idle synapses firing. I seek truth, but truth to me is removing the cages of the mind to experience the universe as directly as I can. Whether that's God or not I cannot say. It probably both is and isn't. But for now, football beckons....

bardmountain

01/02/2003 10:51:39 PM

human1, I will live for a time period that, in terms of the age of the universe, is infintismally small. During that time I will have a handfull of epiphanies, but most of it will be taken up by working, eating, television, and other nonsense. So of that tiny bit of time I have, only a small fraction of it is useful in the pursuit of truth. In terms of the spatial extent of existence, I will experience an uncomprehensibly small part of the universe in that time. To think that I can take this thimble of existence I'm allotted in this (possibly) infinite universe, with the intellect of a species that was (arguably) relatively recently swinging from trees and flinging feces at each other, and figure out the make and meaning of everything seems nonsensical to me. Perhaps even arrogant on my part. (con't)

vaaxu1

01/02/2003 09:23:58 PM

He sees two major battles ahead. One is fighting the mixing of church and state in the United States, offering as an example the Bush administration push for faith-based programs. The other, he says, is "trying to bring secularism to the Muslim world." Great isn't it, as if it isn't enough living in a world such as this so corrupted by modern capitalist consumeristic ideas, now this guy decides he wants to follow Bush's crusade of polluting the rest of the known world with an inforced american way of life. has it ever occurred to them their so-called 'dream' doesn't work, and that maybe we (ie the Earth minus america) don't want it? And the fools wonder why the Arab world and every other country will never trust the West and consequently Christianity itself which by the sheer ignorance of its own adherents in every field has permanently tarnished the reputation of their Lord.

KyyDakh

01/02/2003 08:40:44 PM

Steve, it's reasonable for a public, government-run school to omit mentions of a religious holiday, because it would be an unethical government endorsement of that religion. It's not censorship in the sense you're thinking: It's self-restraint. The government is an institution, not a person. Therefore, it can only do what its self- and voter-imposed rules allow it to. If you want to mention anything Christian privately and personally, please go right ahead. No one is stopping you from doing that. Just don't put it into the mouth of a government that is supposed to be religiously neutral. That's what we're trying to stop.

human1

01/02/2003 07:33:41 PM

(cont)I think for now, that solid unmoving foundations can be found (beliefs),yet built upon with free thinking. The Bible provides a solid foundational set of beliefs...yet we are asked there to remain plyable, teachable, soft-hearted as we walk through life. And all the while, not compromising the foundational truths of God. Look at the examples given Biblically of houses being built upon a solid foundation....and upon a shifting foundation. One is lasting truth.....one is merely here and gone, proven untrustworthy and faulty. Do you feel there is no lasting truth in life?

human1

01/02/2003 07:33:13 PM

Bardmountain, I would come close to agreeing with you on this particular fine tuning of your thoughts. I think you are much more accurate in definition than any other I have read here. However, it begs the question, are there then no absolutes in life? Additionally, no foundations to be used for thinking? Must a foundation of thought process be always portable? What about less theological thought...and more moral thinking? No absolutes? Is shooting an innocent person wrong? Must I keep that as changeable?

steve3927

01/02/2003 07:27:13 PM

I said "The problem with this (Christmas displays) is no other religion would have a Christmas display except the Christian religion." Response: "Um, could you explain how this is a "problem" with such opposition? The statement you just made actually provides support to such opposition. I have to assume this is not your intent. Actually no it doesn't support the opposition because the opposition says if one religion is going to have a display then ALL MUST BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A DISPLAY. Since there aren't any other religions with a Christmas display the argument against removal is facetious and just another tactic to censor Christ and God.

steve3927

01/02/2003 07:23:27 PM

I said "Some schools in Virgina have been sued over having a "Christmas break" on their calendars and now use the term "Winter Break" so Christmas isn't mentioned." The response was: "Sounds reasonable to me! Tell me, please, in detail, why this sounds unreasonable to you?" Actually it was in Georgia not Virginia. The ACLU threatened to sue a school district unless they removed the words "Christmas Vacation" from the school calendars. Because the school didn't have the money to fight the legal battle they gave in and changed the school calendars to read "Winter Break". Why is it unreasonable? Because call it what you want it is censorship of any word with CHRIST. Additionally, under the ACLU threats it becomes a form of TERROISM and FORCED policy. Very unreasonable.

bardmountain

01/02/2003 07:11:17 PM

Bardmountain's definition of free thinking also points out that once you have arrived at what you believe, you are no longer free thinking. I probably miscommunicated there a bit. For instance, I think you are a free thinker. I think you came upon your views of God through a great deal of thought, life experiences, and introspection. As a seeker, I think your ideas of God continue to evolve as you learn and grow, and that if some incontrovertible evidence arrived that conflicted with your ideas, you would in fact change your viewpoints. I don't think having beliefs precludes one from being a free thinker, provided those beliefs are living, breathing things. When we stop being seekers, we stop learning, and our beliefs become heavy stones we wear about our necks. Of course, that's just a belief of mine. Could be wrong :).

maltheist

01/02/2003 06:59:13 PM

Please, once again, I ask that those seeking to discuss maltheism (and not the subject of this thread) take the discussion to the Maltheism forum where it is more appropriate. I will not participate in further clutter of this thread with off-topic discussions, but at the same time, I will not allow the kinds of personal attacks offered by people like Human1 to go unchallenged. Be well, Paul

human1

01/02/2003 06:11:25 PM

This all goes to show that the non-believer's touting of the word is merely an attempt to offer insult to believers. What they miss in this excercise of pride, is that they, too, are not free thinkers according to their own perspective on the phrase. It is interesting to watch, as time passes, all of the attempts to name call and label others insultingly by the so called "Godless". That is the thing about fruit....it is visible.

bardmountain

01/02/2003 05:17:49 PM

Of course. As an occasional consultant, my thinking is often both not-free and beneficial :).

maltheist

01/02/2003 03:32:40 PM

Bardmountain wrote: I would differentiate free thinking from non-free thinking as a mindset which is subject to change. Non-free thinking is a mindset in which explicit arbitrary ideas are labeled as "truth" and are therefore, by their nature, incontrovertible. Hence the mind is not "free" to fully appreciate other viewpoints or to change based on new information. Is this idea--that free-thinking as you describe it is something beneficial--part of a mindset that would be subject to change? In other words, is this an "arbitary" idea merely labeled as "truth?" Is its validity subject to change? Or... ??? :) Be well, Paul

bardmountain

01/02/2003 02:26:50 PM

I would differentiate free thinking from non-free thinking as a mindset which is subject to change. Non-free thinking is a mindset in which explicit arbitrary ideas are labeled as "truth" and are therefore, by their nature, incontrovertible. Hence the mind is not "free" to fully appreciate other viewpoints or to change based on new information. As termed in the wonderfully illuminating movie Dogma (hee), it would be the difference between beliefs and ideas. Free thinking is not inherent in personal mythology (I include atheism in personal mythology). It isn't even particularly religious in nature. It's a methodology for constructing conscious thought. I've met Christian free-thinkers and atheist non-free thinkers and vice-versa. Non-free thinking is most unfortunate. It causes a lot of suffering.

maltheist

01/02/2003 01:53:30 PM

Steve3927 wrote: "We mention theophiles' intolerance of others, their desire to impose their lifestyle as a required default for others, etc., explicitly." In no way does a person praying in a restaurant or in a classroom or anywhere someone might hear them IMPOSE their beliefs on anyone. Likewise, in no way does a person being a homosexual, or (God forbid :) ) being Jewish, or of another "lifestyle" choice that is different from the Christian mainstream, or being pro-choice, constitute and example of IMPOSING beliefs on Christians. And yet, the whiny Christians complain that the very presence of such "alternative" beliefs and lifestyles is an affront to them! LOL! The difference is that what non-believers are complaining about is state-supported endorsement of Christianity as a DEFAULT. While your example is quaint, the more applicable analogy would be that of people being required to wear a particular kind of coat whose label promotes a particular group's agenda (e.g., Tommy Hilfiger :) ). Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/02/2003 01:46:30 PM

Human1 wrote: Francopol, I read your original post here regarding the use of the word "free thinker". Christians here have felt the same way you do. And like Francopol's complaint, their complaints about the use of that term is also without merit. It is logically impossible to be a "free thinker" and yet be enslaved to autocratic dictates from an incorporeal bully at the same time. Free thinking is available to all. Indeed! It is not an exclusive club that restricts its membership. Even Human1 can choose to join of his own volition. All he has to do is actually think freely, shirking the shackles of theophilic thought that constrain what he thinks to what God tells him to think. The term more appropriate to non-believers would be "God-free thinkers". What a good thing that would be, to have your thinking become free of God! Don't you agree, Human1? Be well, Paul

human1

01/02/2003 01:07:28 PM

Francopol, I read your original post here regarding the use of the word "free thinker". Christians here have felt the same way you do. Free thinking is available to all. The term more appropriate to non-believers would be "God-free thinkers".

maltheist

01/02/2003 12:04:04 PM

Francopol wrote: You neglected to address the main point. That being that if a good thing happens in this world, could you personally concieve of it being attributable to God? I addressed this point by asking you whether, if an evil thing happened in the world (like death, like suffering, like the very existence of evil itself) you could personally conceive of it being attributable to God? If you cannot, and you have said clearly that you cannot and do not, then where is the legitimacy of your original question? I believe that God does good. And you believe this despite evidence that shows otherwise: refer back to the description of the problem of theodicy, which asks why, if God is as powerful and as GOOD as he says he is, there is evil and suffering in the world. The only reasonable answer to this question, as to why a supposedly omnipotent benevolent God would create a world with evil and suffering when he could of course have chosen to create it without those things, is that God WANTS for these things to exist. Can a God who wants such things to exist (and who then blames US for the perpetuation of those things that are his creation) be deemed good in any reasonable way? continued below...

maltheist

01/02/2003 12:03:46 PM

I also believe that God cause things to happen (sometimes) that would be viewed by you and others as "bad" or "evil". But you do NOT view them as bad, right? LOL! Why do you complain that the label "freethinker" is applied to those who choose not to supplicate themselves to God and not to those who do, while thinking along the lines you profess here?--that these things are not "evil" (with quotes) but are simply "viewed by me and others" to be so? I invite Francopol to bring his issues with Maltheism to the Maltheism forum where he is more than welcome to discuss all this at length. Point taken. Is there a particular subject you recommend posting under? Be a free thinker. Choose for yourself. :) Or create your own. This is the opportunity free thinking offers you. Be well, Paul

francopol

01/02/2003 11:53:24 AM

Malthiest: Point taken. Is there a particular subject you recommend posting under?

francopol

01/02/2003 11:51:37 AM

Malthiest: You neglected to address the main point. That being that if a good thing happens in this world, could you personally concieve of it being attributable to God? I believe that God does good. I also believe that God cause things to happen (sometimes) that would be viewed by you and others as "bad" or "evil". Death itself in it's myriad forms is probably the single greatest cause of anger towards God. Yet many never question their own attitudes towards death whether their own, a loved one, or a complete stranger on the other side of the globe. Let's assume for a moment that one of my children (I have 3) died, and that God was directly responsible. This would cause my great suffering because I love my child and would miss her greatly. (continued...)

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:43:04 AM

This is rapidly turning into a discussion about Maltheism between Francopol (who seems to have just joined Beliefnet today :) ) and myself. This is surely not the intent and purpose of this particular thread. I invite Francopol to bring his issues with Maltheism to the Maltheism forum where he is more than welcome to discuss all this at length. Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:40:40 AM

Francopol wrote: Malthiest wrote: "...that he is good simply because he says he is (certainly there is no evidence to indicate his goodness other than his say-so), that his word is to be taken a priori as fact." Why do you assume that I believe that God is good just because He says He is? Ah, so you have a demonstration of God's goodness outside of his own word that he is good? Let us see this, and determine whether or not it is valid! You assume blind belief in "His Word" while not even knowing from what source(s) I take "His Word" from. Well, tell us! Show us examples of these sources that demonstrate rather than simply assert his goodness! As for there being no evidence of His goodness, I would say that while you would probably agree that good things can and do happen in this world, you can and will always find alternative explantions for them other than God. Is God responsible (in your view) only for the good in the world (for those things that I "can and will"--how presumptive!--always find alternative explanations for), or is God also responsible for the evil in the world that he created? Do you hold him responsible for the "acts of God" that kill millions but save a mere dozen who sing his praises and call their rescue a "miracle?" (Much like that firefighter in Arizona who actually set the brushfires that swept the state so he could gain the glory of having subdued those fires!) Whose explanations are the "alternative" here? Yours, which credit God with good (but presumably do not hold him accountable for evil), or mine? Be well, Paul

francopol

01/02/2003 11:39:48 AM

Malthiest wrote: "Such as...???" Before I get into what I personally believe to be the nature of God and his relationship with us, let me ask you this. You seem to have an underlying problem with the Biblical account of God. Why accept this particular version of God as the true one in the first place? Your interpretation of the Bible's characterization of God sees Him in a negative light, while others interpret it differently. Why not look for explanations of God in the religious texts or doctrines of other religions/belief systems. That is the course pursued by most folks if they are disillusioned by their own religion. You choose to remain with the Bible it seems, yet see it as upholding your malthiestic views. Is this accurate?

francopol

01/02/2003 11:31:57 AM

Malthiest wrote: "...that he is good simply because he says he is (certainly there is no evidence to indicate his goodness other than his say-so), that his word is to be taken a priori as fact." Why do you assume that I believe that God is good just because He says He is? You assume blind belief in "His Word" while not even knowing from what source(s) I take "His Word" from. As for there being no evidence of His goodness, I would say that while you would probably agree that good things can and do happen in this world, you can and will always find alternative explantions for them other than God.

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:25:36 AM

Francopol wrote: I answered my own question by simply reading your profile after the fact. Good for you! Inquisitive curiosity and knowledge-seeking of this nature are the first step to shirking the shackles of theophilia and becoming a "free thinker!" :) I wish to address the issue. I have run into the "problem from evil", as a philosopher friend of mine calls it, many times in my life as I talk to people about their belief in God. The basic arguement goes like this. The things I was taught about the nature of God in Sunday School or catechism as a child didn't hold up in the real world. Ergo, either God doesn't exist, or he is a big jerk. The more technically correct name for the question you describe is the problem of "theodicy." If God exists, and is as good and as powerful as he claims to be, why is there evil and suffering in the world? Most so-called theologists do a circumnavigational dance around the very obvious answer to this question (that you offer above), and try to "make" God good, either by rationalizing his behavior, making apologetic excuses for him, or (laugh of all laughs) blaming US for the existence of evil! The "ergo" answer you describe, despite all the flippant jigs and foxtrots by "theologists" and philosophers, is the only logical answer possible: either God doesn't exist (which I think is contradicted by the historical record of his presence in our world) or he is "a big jerk." Most people I've spoken with opt for the former point of view. Most are unaware that the latter point of view is even an option! That's one of the reasons I post on Beliefnet, to give voice to that latter point of view, to let people who have also thought along these lines know that there are others of like mind. continued below...

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:25:16 AM

One thing that never seems to occur to these folks is that perhaps a great deal of what they were taught about the nature of God and his dealing with us humans was just plain false. Such as... ??? And that just maybe the truth about the character and nature of God might lie somewhere between what they learned as a child and athiesm or malthiesm. This vague sinewy response of yours sounds very tempting, but where is its content? What precisely are you saying IS "the truth about the character and nature of God" that differs from his very words and deeds as described in the Bible and other such texts? Is that latter point of view that you yourself describe something that never occured to YOU also? Be well, Paul

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:15:38 AM

Francopol wrote: I believe I specified the contextual meaning of "freethinker" that I objected too. I may not have been aware of the origins of the term, or it's application to the Quakers, (who I believe could be qualified as "theophiles", i.e. they profess a love of Diety), however my objection is not with an older usage but rather the abrogation of the word for use as a disparaging term for those who CHOOSE to believe that God exists. You seem to choose not only to believe that God exists (which is a belief I personally concur with) but that he is an authority over you and other human beings, that he is good simply because he says he is (certainly there is no evidence to indicate his goodness other than his say-so), that his word is to be taken a priori as fact. How can you rationalize such a belief as being consistent with free thought? You ask "Do you find something erroneous or wrong with such a contrast?", then in a later response agree with my that athiests can be just as slavish to their dogma as can theists. I don't see how one statement contradicts the other. The contrast I am speaking of is the contrast between slavish acceptance of God's word as "law" versus free thought. The former precludes the possibility of the latter. Can you give an example that demonstrates otherwise? continued below...

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:15:18 AM

My complaint BTW did not assert that all theists are so-called "freethinkers". Indeed I believe a great many people adhere to doctrines or belief systems without much in the way of critical analysis of said beliefs. However the implication by a great many athiests and others who use this term seem to refer to anyone at all who holds to a set of beliefs that they themselves do not. Indeed, doctrinaire dogmatic people exist within all groups. Theophilia, however, not only legitimizes such intolerance towards other beliefs, it reaches new heights in trying to enforce that intolerance on a societal level. I would not impugn an athiest for not believing in God merely for that fact alone, though I may call into question the methods he/she used to reach that assumption Even I, who believe strongly in the existence of God as you do, see no way to call into question the "methods" atheists use to reach the conclusion (not assumption) that God does not exist. Can you demonstrate precisely how and why you would call such methods into question, and why you consider the conclusion that God does not exist to be an assumption? Am I correct to assume that you in some way believe in the existence of the God of the Bible, you simply view him as a hypocritical lying being such as the wordly dictators you mentioned? By jove, I think he's got it! :) If you like, read the Introduction to Maltheism for more information. Be well, Paul

francopol

01/02/2003 11:15:02 AM

Malthiest: (continued from below) One thing that never seems to occur to these folks is that perhaps a great deal of what they were taught about the nature of God and his dealing with us humans was just plain false. And that just maybe the truth about the character and nature of God might lie somewhere between what they learned as a child and athiesm or malthiesm.

francopol

01/02/2003 11:07:47 AM

Malthiest: I answered my own question by simply reading your profile after the fact. I wish to address the issue. I have run into the "problem from evil", as a philosopher friend of mine calls it, many times in my life as I talk to people about their belief in God. The basic arguement goes like this. The things I was taught about the nature of God in Sunday School or catechism as a child didn't hold up in the real world. Ergo, either God doesn't exist, or he is a big jerk. Most people I've spoken with opt for the former point of view. (continue above)

maltheist

01/02/2003 11:01:36 AM

The Introduction to Maltheism thread provides an elaboration (message #5) of the defaultist attitude of present day American Christians. Be well, Paul

francopol

01/02/2003 11:01:05 AM

Malthiest: Am I correct to assume that you in some way believe in the existence of the God of the Bible, you simply view him as a hypocritical lying being such as the wordly dictators you mentioned? If not please explain.

francopol

01/02/2003 11:00:36 AM

Malthiest: You ask "Do you find something erroneous or wrong with such a contrast?", then in a later response agree with my that athiests can be just as slavish to their dogma as can theists. My complaint BTW did not assert that all theists are so-called "freethinkers". Indeed I believe a great many people adhere to doctrines or belief systems without much in the way of critical analysis of said beliefs. However the implication by a great many athiests and others who use this term seem to refer to anyone at all who holds to a set of beliefs that they themselves do not. I would not impugn an athiest for not believing in God merely for that fact alone, though I may call into question the methods he/she used to reach that assumption, given the opportunity to discuss it with that particular individual. It is the blanket use of the terms which bothers me, not necessarily the individual application. BTW, I apologize if this post is a bit long a rambling.

francopol

01/02/2003 10:58:31 AM

Malthiest: I believe I specified the contextual meaning of "freethinker" that I objected too. I may not have been aware of the origins of the term, or it's application to the Quakers, (who I believe could be qualified as "theophiles", i.e. they profess a love of Diety), however my objection is not with an older usage but rather the abrogation of the word for use as a disparaging term for those who CHOOSE to believe that God exists.

maltheist

01/02/2003 10:45:54 AM

Steve3927 wrote: Most opposers of Christmas displays on school and public property, etc., say they are doing it because it promotes one religion and that all religions should have the right to present their displays (or whatever). The problem with this is no other religion would have a Christmas display except the Christian religion. Um, could you explain how this is a "problem" with such opposition? The statement you just made actually provides support to such opposition. I have to assume this is not your intent. Furthermore Christmas is celebrated in this country as a FEDERAL HOLIDAY and not a religious holiday. And yes, this is ALSO part of the problem! You put the cart before the horse in this argument of yours. While some people are saying Christmas shouldn't be treated as a government-endorsed institution, you say "it is, therefore it should be!" LOL! This is the very sort of "defaultism" among Christians that non-Christians of all stripes (be they Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists or maltheists) rightfully fight! And this person here tries to assert that this defaultism is "reasonable!" LOL! Some schools in Virgina have been sued over having a "Christmas break" on their calendars and now use the term "Winter Break" so Christmas isn't mentioned. Sounds reasonable to me! Tell me, please, in detail, why this sounds unreasonable to you? continued below...

maltheist

01/02/2003 10:45:31 AM

It's an extreme movement First of all, this is hardly extreme. It is founded on simple constitutional principles. Can you explain how this could be considered "extreme?" Second of all, would something being an "extreme" movement necessarily make it a bad thing? The movement to end the war in Vietnam, to end segregration and discrimination, to end the arbitrary denial of human rights to groups of people, these were all in some sense "extreme" movements. What would make an extreme movement a bad thing is if the goal of that movement was to impose one particular belief system as a default for others who don't agree with that belief system. and it isn't about protecting one's child from hearing about religion - it's about censorship of all things Christian. It's about not treating "all things Christian" as a default implicitly or explicitly endorsed by the government (in what would amount to a state endorsement of religion). It's really that simple. All the handwaving by dogmatic Christians claiming they are being "discriminated" against because their belief is not treated as the default for all people is just hot air from whiny people who long for the "good old days" when the defaultism of white male Christianity was an accepted status quo. (Listen to the likes of Trent Lott for a prime example.) Be well, Paul

steve3927

01/02/2003 10:40:28 AM

(I also can't spell this morning - INCOMPLETE) By censorship no one can engage in free thinking because any view disagreed with is banned. True free thinking is being exposed to all the options and choosing which ones to ignore and which ones to pay attention to.

steve3927

01/02/2003 10:35:11 AM

sorry imcomplete thought (so I'm not perfect but don't tell anyone) : ) "Who's imposing the lifestyle? The one's that don't want ANYONE to wear the coat, or the ones that choose to wear it and don't put it on anyone else's back?" UNLESS THEY ALSO WANT TO WEAR IT.

steve3927

01/02/2003 10:32:31 AM

I agree some religious people will try to cram their religion on others - even other denominations in their own faith. Everyone sholdn't be placed in this category, anymore than most Christians would torture someone because they refuse to believe. Those that did (do) such things are a discredit to their religion and in fact will keep many from every accepting any religion.

steve3927

01/02/2003 10:25:42 AM

"We mention theophiles' intolerance of others, their desire to impose their lifestyle as a required default for others, etc., explicitly." In no way does a person praying in a restaurant or in a classroom or anywhere someone might hear them IMPOSE their beliefs on anyone. If there is a coat hanging in a public place that everyone can see, (perhaps with a sign saying "free coat") no one is forcing anyone to put the coat on. If the coat is removed however, because someone was "offended" at it's style, NO ONE can wear it and those that wish to stay warm go cold at the whim of others. Who's imposing the lifestyle? The one's that don't want ANYONE to wear the coat, or the ones that choose to wear it and don't put it on anyone else's back?

maltheist

01/02/2003 09:32:48 AM

Francopol wrote: I'd just like to register my complaint to all those who like to throw the term "freethinker" around. I'm not sure who one would register such a complaint with, but let's see if we can shed some light here. The word "freethinker" has been around for a rather long time, and in fact originally refered to people like Quakers who simply eschewed the dogmatism of theophilia. It is obvious to me by the context in which this term is used, especially by athiests, malthiests, etc., that there is a contrast intended between "freethinkers" and those who believe in God, Indeed. Do you find something erroneous or "wrong" with such a contrast? Those who "believe in God" (as you say) accept what he says at his word, accept and obey the laws he sets for human beings (but does not see fit to follow himself), and accept as "just" his punishment of human beings for acting exactly as he supposedly designed us to act. This, very clearly, is not an example of free thinking, don't you agree? The implication is of course that anyone who believes in God or diety(ies) in any way is somehow devoid of the ability to think freely. The implication is of course that anyone who accepts what God says a priori, anyone who simply takes God at his word despite his long history of betrayal, self-contradiction, and hypocrisy, etc., is simply, clearly, unequivocally, NOT thinking freely. Again, do you deny the validity of this claim? It is obvious to me by the context in which you are asking that you disagree with this claim, but you offer no evidence that it is false. You disagree as if by rote, as if making a robotic slavish assertion (unsubstantiated) that one can qualify oneself as a "free thinker" while still accepting as givens the dictates of a biased external entity with an agenda. How can this be? continued below...

maltheist

01/02/2003 09:32:28 AM

And that by choosing to not believe, one has suddenly freed his/her mind. This, I will agree, is not necessarily true. A significant number of atheists, so-called "objectivists," and others do not have free minds at all; they are as much a robotic slave to a particular ideology as the theophiles are, and their thought is no more free than that of the theophile. (Atheists, for instance, conclude that because the description of God in the Bible is rife with contradiction and hypocrisy, "therefore," God is proven by these contradictions and hypocrisies to not exist. This is like saying that because the historical record of a particular world leader--Hitler, Stalin, Nixon, Clinton, Bush I and II, or insert your favorite corrupt hypocrite here--is rife with contradiction and hypocrisy, that leader never existed.) I find this incredibly arrogant and elitist to say the least. This is like comparing two people, one who says 2 + 2 = 5, simply by assertion that it is so, and the other who says 2 + 2 = 4, and brings to bear a set of definitions and logical demonstration to prove this to be so. Is the latter "arrogant and elitist" for saying that the other is wrong? (Disclaimer: Yes, theists also display their share of the above mentioned attitudes) As we can see. :) Nevertheless, I would be interested to hear a defense of the use of this term that wasn't simply a confirmation of these attitudes. LOL! This is a request to "defend" the use of the term "freethinker" without "confirming" the "attitude" the requester sees in those who use the term! But any such defense by definition WOULD confirm that attitude! Sounds like a catch-22 to me. Be well, Paul

francopol

01/02/2003 01:45:43 AM

I'd just like to register my complaint to all those who like to throw the term "freethinker" around. It is obvious to me by the context in which this term is used, especially by athiests, malthiests, etc., that there is a contrast intended between "freethinkers" and those who believe in God, whether as part of an organized religion or not. The implication is of course that anyone who believes in God or diety(ies) in any way is somehow devoid of the ability to think freely. And that by choosing to not believe, one has suddenly freed his/her mind. I find this incredibly arrogant and elitist to say the least. (Disclaimer: Yes, theists also display their share of the above mentioned attitudes) Nevertheless, I would be interested to hear a defense of the use of this term that wasn't simply a confirmation of these attitudes.

presbygirl79

01/01/2003 07:49:58 PM

The original colonists may have said that, but the advancement of Christianity was NOT what the framers of the Constitution were concerned with. Also, the Mayflower Compact goes to show that the original colonists came not for freedom of religion, but for freedom of THEIR religion. Luckily, we've come a long way from there.

maltheist

01/01/2003 07:45:46 PM

Human1 wrote: There are plenty of things forced into my life and my families life that I do not believe in. I am not out there in all activism to sensor them away. It is always a good laugh to witness theophiles talking about things "forced into their lives" with this kind of indignance. What exactly could this one be talking about? What is truly "forced" into the lives of theophiles as this person describes? "Forced" tolerance for those who don't think like them or behave like them, perhaps? Why, it's true, we've heard such people whine and complain that they are "forced" to tolerate the presentation of homosexuals, for example, or others who harm no one but for whom these people feel disgust and distaste? Forty or fifty years ago, these same people were doing similar whining and complaining, that they were being "forced" to tolerate the presence of blacks, Jews, and others, in their lives. We as a society grew to learn that their whining and complaining was of no account. Now they are back to their old tricks, doing the same kinds of whining and complaining, vainly pretending that there is a symmetry between the whiny complaining that their way is not treated as the default for all in society, that they don't get to impose their way on the rest of us, and the justifiable complaining about efforts by a group of ever decreasing size and influence to have their way considered that default. The situation they describe is plainly not balanced, not symmetrical, in the least. continued below...

maltheist

01/01/2003 07:45:29 PM

I believe the wish to sensor Christianity out of public view, is soley based upon the uneasy feeling of conviction it brings upon non-Christians. Thus the vocal activism. LOL! The best laugh is obtained by witnessing the supposed noble high horse these people put themselves on! The problem, according to our friend here, is that non-Christians are simply made "uneasy" by the Christians' level of conviction! In reality, it is the things in which they have this level of conviction that give the rest of us the uneasy feeling, though it is odd that you choose not to mention them specifically. One must wonder, why not? How many other things in life are right out there in your face that you simply avoid rather than protest? Again, how many of these things do you speak about with an air of pomposity without mentioning them by name. We mention theophiles' intolerance of others, their desire to impose their lifestyle as a required default for others, etc., explicitly. Why is Human1 so reluctant to come out and SAY what these things are that are "forced" into HIS life and his family's life really are? (Perhaps because we are talking about "forcing" upon him and his family notions of tolerance for people who aren't quite like him?) Be well, Paul

KyyDakh

01/01/2003 07:19:38 PM

I'm not in favor of censoring Christianity. I'd just rather it remain in the personal sector, endorsed by individuals and privately run groups. Not government institutions. I say the same thing for all the other belief and disbelief system. There should be no appearance that the government supports particular religions.

wageserf

01/01/2003 06:38:18 PM

It's true, the original thirteen colonies were institutionally Christian to varying degrees. Their founders and governments were pretty explicit about it: the government of Massachusetts, for example, was so devoutly sectarian that people there could (and did) have their tongues bored through with red-hot awls for being the wrong *kind* of Christian. It's a good thing the American revolutionaries, Christian, deist, and infidel, had enough sense to look back on their states' histories and conclude that religion and government were best kept seperate. (I'd be willing to bet that most contemporary Christians, whatever their position on the seperation of church and state, would have been - at the very least - whipped and banished from quite a few of the original English colonies for doing stuff on Sundays or not believing in things like predestination or the damnation of unbaptized infants.)

human1

01/01/2003 05:46:12 PM

There are plenty of things forced into my life and my families life that I do not believe in. I am not out there in all activism to sensor them away. I believe the wish to sensor Christianity out of public view, is soley based upon the uneasy feeling of conviction it brings upon non-Christians. Thus the vocal activism. How many other things in life are right out there in your face that you simply avoid rather than protest?

zobriana

01/01/2003 05:25:00 PM

So which is worse? "Censoring" Christian influence or forcing it down everyone's throats (as it is now.. or actually is being forced more than in the past). My family still has Christmas and it doesn't have a religious context... I'd be interested in seeing how many Christians would blow a gasket if other religions' holidays were forced on them or they had to stare at displays for other religions. It's a case of hating something unless its yours, then everyone else can "go to hell" if they don't like it (which can be the case for any religion)... Pretty unfortunate.

steve3927

01/01/2003 04:23:42 PM

Most opposers of Christmas displays on school and public property, etc., say they are doing it because it promotes one religion and that all religions should have the right to present their displays (or whatever). The problem with this is no other religion would have a Christmas display except the Christian religion. Furthermore Christmas is celebrated in this country as a FEDERAL HOLIDAY and not a religious holiday. Some schools in Virgina have been sued over having a "Christmas break" on their calendars and now use the term "Winter Break" so Christmas isn't mentioned. It's an extreme movement and it isn't about protecting one's child from hearing about religion - it's about censorship of all things Christian.

steve3927

01/01/2003 04:23:36 PM

I would be the first to tell you I don't want the government endorsing a religion. Letting people have the freedom to pray is not the same thing. Letting them read from the Bible is not the same thing either. There's a difference in allowing freedom and saying YOU MUST read and pray or YOU CAN'T read and pray.

KyyDakh

01/01/2003 03:50:44 PM

Note: It's alright to pray in public. Even as an (anti-stereotypical) atheist, I'd encourage it a little, so long as it's done personally, and not institutionally. That's the difference: Institutional religion is unethical. Personal is the right way.

KyyDakh

01/01/2003 03:50:27 PM

I agree with MightyMountainGorilla down there in a general sense. Government endorsement of religion causes laziness in that religion. Rather than letting their beliefs stand on their own merits, they cover up the flaws with some vague statement of patriotism. They should be seeking out new explainations, new merits, new interpretations so that their religion won't stagnate. For "Under God" in the pledge, well, you're talking about children saying it under the social threat of being mocked or shunned. Cults use a similar tactic. I think the pledge should go back to its original format. Also, the various mentions of God in the government are monotheistic, which seems to imply that the government considers polytheistic and atheistic religions to be inferior.

Eudaimonist

01/01/2003 02:07:48 PM

Why should the European name for the Revolutionary War be the "true name"? Why should there even be a "true name"?

swperson678

01/01/2003 01:58:09 PM

Personally, I think its funny how America never uses the true name of the Revolutionary War which is "The Presbyterian Revolt" as it was called throughout all Europe.

bardmountain

01/01/2003 01:57:08 PM

Agreed. But sometimes when new perspectives of history come to life, it isn't revisionist in the sense that history is being changed for personal reasons, but in the sense that we may have discovered more information about our past that leads to a new understanding. I think the majority of our founders were Christian in the modern sense. But a surprising number were deists, and many were influential people in the formation of our government. Nor was everyone in agreement about what our government should look like when the constitution was drafted. It was quite contentious. I think to characterize our country's founders as not being Christian is misleading. Although some were deists, the majority were not. But to ignore the diversity of the early American movement is also a bit misleading. In fact, I would say it was that diversity that helped make the US government a secular institution.

human1

01/01/2003 01:00:51 PM

(cont)Thankfully, while our history has been revised, our nations archives are still intact containing the writings both public and personal, and the records of our early courts, and congresses that prove out precisely who our founders were and that the God of the Bible shaped their choices. What's the big threat in seeing it truthfully? We are hardly shaped and formed by the Bible today!! I would never revise history.....and I don't care if it were an influence from Islam, or any other religion which was the truthful start! History is history...it should be truthfully taught.

human1

01/01/2003 01:00:34 PM

Well of course Harvard changed it's moto! It is very obvious that the Chrisitian influence which shaped and formed our nation is no longer as it once was! I did believe, however, we were discussing for a moment the founding of our nation and it's institutions. Revisionist historians have falsely influenced many. It is not difficult in the slightest to prove out that our founders were Christian, Bible revearing, God fearing, Jesus dependant people. Of course they did not set up a new nation and entitle it "A Christian Nation"! This was to be a land where all were to be welcome. But it was a Christian perspective, and that, Biblical, from which the constitution, and state constitutions were created.

lucilius

01/01/2003 11:45:43 AM

Paying lip service to popular religion does not make a government holy.

lucilius

01/01/2003 11:37:54 AM

For that matter, Cortez and Pizarro said they came to advance the Christian faith as well, and had royal and papal sanction to do it. They managed to "sanctify" about 90 percent of the native population to death -- so I'm not convinced that a political claim of proselytization usually stems from pure motives.

steve3927

01/01/2003 10:27:02 AM

I am as suprised as anyone to see the words "Advancement of the Christian Faith" in this document, but I just wanted to look at all the evidence in the discussion, and it seems pretty clear.

steve3927

01/01/2003 10:22:22 AM

(from below)Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the Northerne Parts of Virginia; doe, by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equall Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the Generall Good of the Colonie; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience."

steve3927

01/01/2003 10:22:05 AM

Let's not forget the Mayflower Compact which is pretty explicit on why the colonists came to America: (No one can say that Congress added the word "God" to this document at some later date.) "In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereigne Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. (continued above)

steve3927

01/01/2003 10:11:40 AM

"...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Interesting how this part of the Constitution is ignored by those worried that their child might hear the word "God" in a public setting. This as tantamount to "Christians" that use scripture out of context to condemn others. (by the way "God" can fit anyone's moment of silence or prayer or pledge of allegiance or song asking for God's blessing on a country. If the argument that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," applies to any place that receives government funding, so does the second part. Therefore, abolition of everything pertaining to religion (or God) is not a valid response or solution to the argument. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil mentality is not the answer to religious division, protection, or freedom.

acolytejohn

01/01/2003 06:00:52 AM

Really?congress sang GOD bless america on the steps on 9 11 as to having the two?God said be hot or cold but not luke warm.so choose.like they say in highlander they can only be one.personaly i sorta like the fine tune of GOD bless america

presbygirl79

01/01/2003 12:10:06 AM

Well, there is a difference between you or I saying, "God bless America," and the Congress making a declaration saying such. BTW, Congress singing "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol Building does NOT count because they were not making an edict about religion; they were acting in response to something as mere people, just as we all did. Separation of church and state simply means that the government cannot create laws forcing religious practices on the people; it does not mean that the statement "God bless America" is unconstitutional or somehow forces people to believe in God.

mightymountaingorilla

12/31/2002 11:57:31 PM

I am SOOO glad that this article came up. After the 9/11 stuff happened, a lot of ppl ran to their churches and used the phrase, "God Bless America." However, isn't there an inherent problem with that statement and our constitution? The government should not be supporting any type of theism. By doing so, they are discriminating against atheists. I may not be an atheist, but I support their side more than most others. (Actually, in European countries, religion can be an active part of govt., and ppl often lose their faith--some sociologists suspect that BECAUSE of our separation of church and state, Americans tend to be MUCH more religious! Weird, huh?)

presbygirl79

12/31/2002 11:37:02 PM

Thanks for clarifying Steve. I went to the school where one of the first controversies involving school prayer started in the mid-80's. I graduated high school in 1997, and I just wanted to know the context of what you said.

presbygirl79

12/31/2002 11:35:57 PM

Biblical influence does not equal the establishment of a "Christian" nation. Also, Harvard changed its motto, dropping the religious part to just be "Veritas." I'm not sure about the others, but when I entered college (a private Christian college), we were told how horrid it was that Harvard did that (My thought is, "Well, Harvard can do what they want; why do we care?"). Earliest public education in this country (dating back to the 1600's) was established by various churches (because different churches were more prominent in different parts of the country), so of course the primers had religious poems (and yes, I've seen some of them!), but when the government took over, this had to be done away with (although slowly) because "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." It's in our Constitution! The USA was NOT established as a "Christian" nation although certainly some aspects of Christianity influenced the creation of our country.

human1

12/31/2002 11:20:26 PM

(cont)All that you will find if you look, is a heavy and intentional Biblical influence from the very onset.

human1

12/31/2002 11:19:10 PM

FYI....our schools in Missouri, even into the 70's also had Bible time each morning. Is this really a shocking thought? Our nations first establishing of a public system of education was based upon the beliefs of the founders that our nation would only be great if people were able to read and study God's word the Bible. Check out our early reading primers, also the biblical rhymes etc used in learning the alphabet....look at the motos of our nations first colleges, etc. Check out Harvard, William and Mary, Princeton, etc.

steve3927

12/31/2002 11:02:30 PM

One would think a non-believer would want their child to be able to make up their own mind about belief in God, just as a religious person would want a child to be able to study and make up their own mind about religion without being brainwashed. There are extremes on both sides of the coin.

steve3927

12/31/2002 10:58:11 PM

"I'm from Tennessee, was born and raised there, and my homeroom in high school NEVER opened with a Bible reading. In fact, the Bible wasn't included in ANYTHING (although portions were included in our lit. books-but were not used) because, as jkopanko pointed out, it shouldn't and can't be legally. First, where in TN was this?" It was Lebanon,TN at Lebanon High School. The year was 1969 and I assure you we passed the Bible around and read it in our homeroom, first thing every morning - led by the school coach. Times have changed. I doubt with the censorship today this is still going on there.

steve3927

12/31/2002 10:53:01 PM

"It occurs to me, judging from your monolithic classroom experience in Tennessee, that you may not even realize that there are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, maltheists, humanists, who don't share your view of God." Not only do I realize there are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, maltheists, humanists, etc., but I also realize there are Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Mormons, Christian Scientists, and on and on and on. Don't think my belief in the monotheistic God of the Bible some blind, "learned in Sunday school", "follow like sheep", experience, because it comes after much study of as many views, religions and denominations as I can get my hands on in a lifetime.

presbygirl79

12/31/2002 08:53:44 PM

Oh, and in response to the claim(s) that this country was founded on the principle of religious freedom and was thus set up as a "Christian" nation is nonsense. After four and half years of studying theology, the Bible, and religion and earning a degree, concentrating on American religious history, I can tell you that the first white inhabitants (the Pilgrims) came for freedom of THEIR religion, not for true religious freedom, but our founding fathers chose to build this nation APART from the concept of a state religion, hence the first amendment. America was never created to be a "Christian" nation, regardless of what the Christian right wants to believe.

presbygirl79

12/31/2002 08:46:04 PM

Steve, I'm from Tennessee, was born and raised there, and my homeroom in high school NEVER opened with a Bible reading. In fact, the Bible wasn't included in ANYTHING (although portions were included in our lit. books-but were not used) because, as jkopanko pointed out, it shouldn't and can't be legally. First, where in TN was this? When was it? Was it a private school? Also, speaking as a Christian, I have a problem with it, and I guarantee that someone in that class didn't want to.

jkopanko

12/31/2002 04:58:50 PM

typo below --> "indoctrination"

jkopanko

12/31/2002 04:57:33 PM

steve, "When I moved from New England to Tennessee during high school, I was suprised to find that every morning in homeroom opened with a Bible reading. No one had a problem with it and the students WANTED to participate. " 1.) This is illegal and prohibited by the Constitution. 2.) There are sound, moral, ethical and sociological reasons WHY an arm of the state SHOULD NOT get involved on sponsoring religious endoctrination. These reasons are the conclusion of centuries of experience. 3.) There are big problems with using words like "no one" [had a problem with it] or "everyone WANTED" [to participate]. You should be adult enough to be conscientious to what these problems might be. (continued below)

jkopanko

12/31/2002 04:57:06 PM

(continued from above) 4.) EVEN IF everyone but one silent person--unable to voice her disapproval because of peer pressure--"wanted" to include this religious moment in public school: IT WOULD STILL BE INAPPROPRIATE, COERCIVE, AND STATE-ENFORCED RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION. 5.) Even if NO ONE in that particular setting was not pleased with it, IT WOULD SET AN INAPPROPRIATE, ILLEGAL, AND PROBLEMATIC PRECEDENT, ESTABLISHING STATE RELIGIOUS INDOCTRINATION AS A NORM, WHICH WOULD EFFECTIVELY LIMIT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND MAKE ITS PROTECTION THE ABERATION RATHER THAN THE RULE, AS GUARANTEED BY OUR CONSTITUTION.

maltheist

12/31/2002 04:46:42 PM

Sevenpale wrote: Ok, Call me crazy. But what if everyone just went around minding their own business. Is that so hard? Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe. The Constitution says so. How dare you spout this radical liberal nonsense! Why, think about what it would be like if people just did this. The world would be... a tolerant, peaceful, joyful place to live! And we can't have that, can we? :) Along with that, we shouldn't be bombarded with people wanting to "witness" Yes, I understand this falls along the lines of their belief...But it also imposes on other people's rights. Y'see, It's a very complicated matter. Actually, it's not complicated at all. What if someone's beliefs dictated that they should break into your home and replace all those evil freethinking books with Bibles and religious texts. Would that "freedom of expression" be acceptable, just because their God told them this is what they should do? One person's freedom of speech does not result in an obligation on the part of the person spoken to to listen. Even if these theophiles vainly believe that it is "necessary" that you or I be "witnessed" to in order to "save" us, who cares? They may think this an infringement on their freedom, or a curtailment of their rights, or a persecution (LOL!) of their religion, but all it is is a respect for difference and tolerance, something we will never see in a world run by theophiles. Be well, Paul

maltheist

12/31/2002 04:45:12 PM

Bravo88 wrote: It's interesting how some of the "non-believers" also wish to share their beliefs with others. Yes, and it's interesting how they force their opinions down others' throats, expecting others to accept their religion by default... oh wait, never mind, that's ONLY the theophiles who have this tendency to do that, not the non-believers. All the non-believers expect from theophiles is that they respect THEIR right to not believe. Be well, Paul

maltheist

12/31/2002 04:44:35 PM

Steve3927 wrote: There's an interesting proven concept that what you fill your mind with is what you will think about and be concerned with. Even the Bible authors knew this centuries ago. Which... is why theophiles have tried so hard to indoctrinate into all of us this irrational notion about God and his goodness as a default that everyone must conform to or be outcast? God is all around you whether you choose to acknowledge Him or not. Perhaps thinking living people who place their humanity above supplication to an alien incorporeal entity can eventually fix this, by pointing out what a scurrilous liar and abuser God is (by his own admission and proclamation). It can be denied as much as anyone wants to but the fact is this nation was founded by people seeking the freedom to mention and worship God as they saw fit. Or NOT to mention and whorship God as they saw fit. It occurs to me, judging from your monolithic classroom experience in Tennessee, that you may not even realize that there are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, maltheists, humanists, who don't share your view of God. Do you "pity" them for not knowing your "truth" (often the standard response of the theophile to those different from him) or do you, as the people who founded this nation did, expect that it is your obligation to tolerate their ways that are different from you? Remember, this includes explicitly those who find your notion of God repugnant, either because they do not believe in his existence or because they do and find his self-expressed nature vile and disgusting. Be well, Paul

maltheist

12/31/2002 04:43:19 PM

Jkopanko wrote: "Godless" is really a loaded word with pejorative connotations. Yes, but the question is, why should it be? Why is being "without God" equated tautologically to being "without good?" It is because of the a priori assumptions of theophiles in asserting that God simply IS good, is equivalent to good, without having any evidentiary support for this assertion whatsoever. (And with the evidence of God's own words and deeds making it apparent that no such association between God and good exists!) Godless does have negative connotations in a world where theophilia is not only the majority opinion, it is also the "default," and where failure to conform with that default is deemed an aberrant phenomenon. Be well, Paul

human1

12/31/2002 04:25:09 PM

(cont)My son and I stood in the dining room, me holding his soup bowl while he ate while 7 adults sat individually around us, at tables for 5 each avoiding eye contact, and stating that all 35 chairs were "reserved" as if they owned them!! Literally hundreds of people were left to eat standing, or go sit outside in the snow! Do I believe these people understand love?! Love of self perhaps.....would they lay down their lives for someone else?! They couldn't even offer one of the spare chairs to our children let alone our family for a matter of minutes. I witnessed dozens of people approach these folks and ask to borrow chairs or one side of the table to eat.....the answer was continually "NO, SORRY". I was insensed....and this is completely a minor of minors in life. We are members of a self seeking breed.

human1

12/31/2002 04:24:29 PM

(cont)We were just skiing during the last week. Fabulous snow, but not much sun...making the lodge at lunch (anywhere from 10:30, to about 3:00) jam packed. What became disturbing, is the lack of human decency to even allow others to sit down for a few minutes to eat. The tables were claimed by a few who chose not to ski, but wait on others while playing solitare, or sewing, reading, for hours on end. I'm not a pushy type...but I was about ready to punch some of these rude loafing people who reserved dining tables for their loved ones to stop by and visit with for the entire day!!

human1

12/31/2002 04:20:30 PM

BTW....I really don't think you would volunteer to die for me in that scenario.....who can answer that? Would I for you?! I'd love to say yes, but I'd be lying to say I know that I would...

human1

12/31/2002 03:35:46 PM

Hey....pretty intriguing thought process there. One thought jumps out at me as I read.....I could most likely substitute "God" in your post for "love" in each phrase. Affirming perhaps the teaching that "God is love". For me, God is the definition of love.....rather than love defining God. I'd say, look to God, and all He has done, is willing to do, and has revealed He will do, for the understanding of what love is. I've never found a more satisfying understanding of love than that, for as you correctly insinuate, our human efforts to define it, fall short.

bardmountain

12/31/2002 03:21:51 PM

What is love? I would say God (God being loosely defined as truth or ultimate reality) is love, but of course that really isn't an answer either. Here's my official cop-out: love transcends human understanding and is therefore undefinable. Which is the philosophical way to say I don't know exactly. The best description I've ever seen of love comes from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (chapter entitled "Love"). But it still dances around the edges. The human langauge is by nature a limiting tool, and I don't know that you can describe the infinite in such a manner. Punt.

bardmountain

12/31/2002 03:12:56 PM

Oh, probably :).

human1

12/31/2002 03:01:10 PM

bardmountain.....good to see your thoughts. Question--What then is love? and who or what defines it? One definition known is Jesus stating that no greater love is this...that one lays down his own life for another. Do you agree? Would you lay down your life for me? Suppose you and I are in line some where....bank,etc. A man comes in with a gun, grabs me and says I will shoot her unless someone else volunteers to die in her place. Would you volunteer? (Now...the rest of you, stop fantacizing! I know this would be a dream come true for many of you!!) What is love?

bardmountain

12/31/2002 02:08:27 PM

shamanu, Well said. I have always believed that religious experience is experienced. Religious experience you hear or read about is here-say. human1, there is no standard of love apart from God I appreciate (as always) your viewpoint on matters, as it is well thought out always given in a respectful manner. But I would disagree. God does not set the standard for love. I think God is love. When I love, it my prayer. Love is the only prayer I know. Just my opinion. jkopanko, Rock on brother. steve3927, There's nothing banning prayer in school. It just isn't state sanctioned, as we have a separation of church and state in the US. Kids pray in school all the time. Nothing is keeping them from participating.

Sevenpale

12/31/2002 01:45:12 PM

Ok, Call me crazy. But what if everyone just went around minding their own business. Is that so hard? Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe. The Constitution says so. Along with that, we shouldn't be bombarded with people wanting to "witness" Yes, I understand this falls along the lines of their belief...But it also imposes on other people's rights. Y'see, It's a very complicated matter. So...a good solution would be...To leave each other alone. Isn't that what our parents said to us, at least some of them. "Just ignore him." "Leave your sister alone..." "Don't make me come back there!!" Seriously folks. Life is to (insert expletive here) short to be acting so (insert expletive here) silly.

Bravo88

12/31/2002 01:44:38 PM

It's interesting how some of the "non-believers" also wish to share their beliefs with others. As for Reverend, I wonder why he chooses to take on a title of a belief system that he is fighting against? What is chilling though is the one whom says they don't care what their children believe. It is chilling because a parent is responsible for the upbringing of a child and to neglect them in any way is a tragedy

steve3927

12/31/2002 01:42:32 PM

It can be denied as much as anyone wants to but the fact is this nation was founded by people seeking the freedom to mention and worship God as they saw fit. While a government mandated religion would indeed be wrong, preventing others from worshipping or praying whenever and wherever they want to is an infringement of rights. Perhaps a better line for the Pledge of Allegiance would be "one nation under Bush". Maybe we could change it each time a new leader was elected.

steve3927

12/31/2002 01:37:52 PM

Be careful because I am very likely praying in my college classroom, in line beside you, in a restaurant you might be in and maybe even FOR YOU. God is all around you whether you choose to acknowledge Him or not. Thinking Him a myth won't make Him any less God. Trying to keep others from mentioning Him won't either.

steve3927

12/31/2002 01:33:24 PM

Because a classroom chooses to have a moment of silence, or even a prayer does not mean one has to participate. It is NOT government sponsored religion. To remove God from everything and make it a crime to mention His name (exaggeration? most likely we will see a time in this country when people are put in prison for doing that very thing as they are in many other countries). There are already lawsuits concerning it so laws banning "offending" people by mentioning it can't be far behind. This then violates the constitutional right that Congress shall make NO LAW prohibiting the free practice of religion. When I moved from New England to Tennessee during high school, I was suprised to find that every morning in homeroom opened with a Bible reading. No one had a problem with it and the students WANTED to participate. There's an interesting proven concept that what you fill your mind with is what you will think about and be concerned with. Even the Bible authors knew this centuries ago.

jkopanko

12/31/2002 01:26:32 PM

"Godless" is really a loaded word with pejorative connotations. Secondly is any "non-believer" any more "godless", or abandoned by god, than ANY OTHER person--of whatever theological/philosophical stripe--might be??? "God" is not ANY more "present" to ANY being than to any other. The extent to which religious hypocrites love to cling to the nothion that she is, is juvenile, self-serving bull. "I have God because I believe what's written in this 2500 year old book [whereas God has nothing to do with you because you don't]" is perfect snide stupidity.

human1

12/31/2002 12:48:45 PM

By the way shamanu, true believers don't rely upon God in order to live moral and loving lives........they rely on God for eternal life. Moral and loving lives only come from understanding truth. For a true believer, the way in which we live is out of thankfulness to God in obedience to His word. The problem with trying to live summoning morals and love out of ourselves, is we are all imperfect, self seeking, and there is no standard of love apart from God.

human1

12/31/2002 12:44:17 PM

Well, for me, I've seen the most intolerant people coming from the ranks of humankind. I've seen equally obnoxious people coming from every arena out there. It sounds as though all types of learning are wonderful, as long as you aren't learning about God, right?! Michael Newdow's obvious battle is actually against his own ex-wife, and her beliefs. He is making himself out to be a national stigma out of his own personal bitterness against her, using his own daughter in the process. Those who would believe otherwise are willing to go to any extreme in the name of "love", and "tolerance". Ask Newdow's ex-wife, even daughter, about his love and tolerance! How truly tolerant and loving are you?.....putting down and condemning people you don't even know, because they claim to believe in God and have a relationship with Him? Such hypocracy.

shamanu

12/31/2002 11:29:08 AM

Why "believe" anything? The undeniable truth is that we do not know (hence..."faith"). Why not rely on the "felt presence of immediate experience" and just work through the changes and experiences of life with eyes and hearts open and filled with love. We should not rely on "God" to live moral and loving lives, we should summon these qualities out of ourselves. The most intolerant people on earth come from the ranks of "believers". One need not believe nor disbelieve, one need only live responsibly, love unconditionally, and learn perpetually. Happy New Year all!

maltheist

12/31/2002 09:59:43 AM

Redhawg wrote: I think they all just get bored and have to dream up something for attention. You are speaking here of the "godless" atheists? Or of the theophiles? When offering sweeping pronouncements about groups of people, you should be clear who and what you are talking about. Where do they experience their miracles? LOL! That's a good one! What miracles does God actually perform? Saving three people from a natural disaster (an act of God) that killed millions, with those three singing his praises ad nauseum as "testimony" to his greatness? Why cause the natural disaster in the first place only to augment his own glory in the end by saving only a few? (Like that firefighter in Arizona who actually set the brushfires that swept the state so that he could gain the glory and the pay associated with fighting them!) How about curing a small percentage of the people who contracted diseases? Why not cure the diseases in the first place, or enable living beings to fight them from the get-go? Why not choose NOT to have disease at all? Who created the diseases in the first place, only to gain self-aggrandizing glory for curing a select few who would offer him "testimony" about his "benevolence?" What a feeble lying God this is! And you would point fingers at those who make the intelligent choice NOT to whorship him? The insistence by theophiles that "godless" people (atheists, agnostics, humanists, maltheists, etc.) do not "experience miracles," do not have any sense of spirituality and wonder about the world, is not borne out by any evidence. Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence (and an atheist), was disturbed by those who thought reproducing human cognitive processes in a machine, and calling our thought processes "mechanistic," was denigrating to people. He remarked that this view did not minimize what human beings are and are capable of, but instead made all the more wondrous the possibilities of what machines are and are capable of. continued below...

maltheist

12/31/2002 09:52:36 AM

Newdow has a daughter he has went to court for to try to protect her from the very God that put her on this Earth. Actually, it was to protect her rights (and all of our rights) not to have our government endorse religion by including praises for God in a public oath. This country (despite feeble assertions by right-wing theophiles) was founded with freedom of religion as its basis. This does not mean freedom to choose from an approved list of Christian denominations. It means freedom to choose any religion, or none at all. It means freedom from the tyranny of state-imposed religion. There are those who believe their God is somehow different than the one you choose to kowtow and supplicate yourself to. Some believe your God does not exist at all. And others, like myself, think the evidence of your God's own words and deeds marks him as evil and unworthy of any devotion from us, including affirming that our nation is "under" him in any way. ("The very God that put her on this Earth" is something we DO need protection from, judging by the way he treats human beings. We can get that protection from each other, by agreeing to refuse him the whorship he craves. But that is another issue to discuss at another time.) If any of his family ever experiences life threathening health issues, who will he ask for help? As most other people here have already said, hopefully a medical professional (one of US, a human being) whose track record is orders of magnitude better than the deity who claims to be beneficent but who rarely cures anything and who brought the diseases to us in the first place. I wouldn't want to ever be so empty and rely on my own srength to face so many of life's challenges. How sad that you would wilfully CHOOSE slavery instead of independence, that you would be proud NOT to want to rely on your own strength, and that you would try to tell others they should feel the same sorry sad way as you do. Be well, Paul

dworkin

12/31/2002 06:25:43 AM

I am living. And dying. It's this process called, life. When it runs out for me there will be no more me. Happens to everybody. So why fuss over it or pretend there's more. You're alive now. Live now.

dworkin

12/31/2002 06:21:14 AM

Gosh, doctors make mistakes. tell me something I don't know. Still, what will it be when you get sick, have an accident or need good natal care? Witch doctors and priests? Or the hospital? Choose.

human1

12/31/2002 03:19:24 AM

(cont)Sure I have relied upon doctors and medicine....and probably will again. Bottom line though....nothing will save any of us from death. We call ourselves the living....though we are indeed the dying! My trust is placed in the source of all life....and life eternal. But hey.....we all choose, and it's always interesting swapping our choices here.

human1

12/31/2002 03:19:03 AM

dworkin....with respect, place all trust in docs and nurses? Here's a few situations off the top of my head. Our close friend lost her Dad to a fatal error in a simple, yet necessary surgery. A friend of mine has a father-in-law who injured his leg seriously in a ski accident requiring amputation.....hard enough to face, yet the wrong leg was amputated just above the knee....requiring the loss of both legs. My sister-in-law nearly died one night as a Doctor admitted her to the hospital with a "severe case of the flu", when actually she suffered an internal rupture from an ectopic pregnancy and very nearly bled to death.(A specialist took one look at her at 3am and knew what was wrong, emergency transported her to a larger facility and announced she might not survive transport...she did I'm happy to say.)

dworkin

12/31/2002 02:19:22 AM

redhawq As an atheist I can go through life experiencing it in all it's absurdity without need to call sets of coincidences 'miricles'. If I ever experience 'life threatening health issues' I shall put my trust in the doctors and nurses at my fully equipped 21st century hospital. I am a member of my society and civilisation. It is this to which I turn to when I need help and to where my efforts go. I do not need belief in a higher power. Nor do I want one.

redhawg

12/31/2002 12:48:22 AM

I think they all just get bored and have to dream up something for attention. Where do they experience their miracles? Newdow has a daughter he has went to court for to try to protect her from the very God that put her on this Earth. Go figure... If any of his family ever experiences life threathening health issues, who will he ask for help? I wouldn't want to ever be so empty and rely on my own srength to face so many of life's challenges. I'll make sure to pray for him and his children so that they may face life with a feeling heart, maybe they will one day help their dad to see we do have a higher power and his name is God by all definitions.

human1

12/31/2002 12:36:13 AM

(Also, to Frodo Baggins....interesting title you have chosen as an atheist!) blessings...h1

human1

12/31/2002 12:31:43 AM

I would have to disagree, raindog. I felt much less freedom in life as an atheist than I have found in my life as a Christian. Understanding all that I can in what God has revealed of Himself, and His creation has increased my knowledge of humans, our relationships (all types...from friendship, family, marriage, dating, and parenting), our personal situations, thoughts, ambitions, motivations, love, our world, societies, politics, and much more. Becoming a Christian brought more freedom, and understanding to my life than I had ever experienced before. I am free to be precisely who I was created to be. My life was never this rich, meaningful, satisfying, nor blessed before. My world view was not narrowed at all, just that the pieces of the puzzle of life all began to come together and make sense. I have a deeper understanding of all that transpires in our world, and will happen, as a result.

aghra18

12/30/2002 11:57:20 PM

Just felt like putting in my two cents' worth. Even though I do believe in a higher power, I find myself respecting atheists, agnostics, and skeptics for their freedom from religious dogma. In the period after September 11, I felt closer to the atheists than I did to the politicians and citizens spouting God at every opportunity. I believe that one of the things that improves the relationship that I am in is the fact that my significant other is an agnostic, and that while he may not believe the same way I do, he can at least give me the freedom to have my own beliefs, just as I am able to give him the freedom not to have beliefs. And I completely agree with the idea of removing the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Even if they were about the Deity I worship, they still have no place in public life.

raindog

12/30/2002 10:41:43 PM

A question was asked earlier, wondering why generally only atheist and agnostics are considered "free-thinkers." I think that the reason for this can be simply explained. If you hold as a belief, on faith, that there is a God, this necessitates closing your world view to that which your God tells you to subscribe. This is not beneficial to free thought.

namchuck

12/30/2002 08:31:03 PM

You make some good points in your post, kannbrown65. I've always wondered why, considering that Jesus' recommendation regarding prayer was that it should be done alone and in private, believers should insist on prayer in schools? Further, if, as I've been informed by believers, God never changes his mind (despite the fact that the scripture records that he often does), what is the point of petitionary prayer in the first place? In fact, the more thought that one gives to the whole haunted-house hypothesis of theism, the more sound and logical the atheistic position becomes. Perhaps that may be why believers (with the notable exception of maltheist) are more renowned for their faith than for any dedication to thought.

namchuck

12/30/2002 07:32:51 PM

I doesn't require a great deal of time at all, steve3927, to identify that the basic assumptions of theism are nonsense and insupportable. And while there are theists attempting to introduce their creation myths into the classrooms of my children, I, for one, will be there attempting to keep it from any consideration other than an example of adipose thinking.

kannbrown65

12/30/2002 07:28:42 PM

I don't know, Steve. What's the big deal to a Christian that they need the entire group to pray with them? Does solo prayer not count? Is their instillation of prayer in their children so weak that if the child doesn't have the reinforcement of the entire class reciting a rote prayer every school day isn't practiced, they'll fall away from the faith...even though they can pray all day and night if they want to? Frankly, very little monies are spent on this sort of thing, thank you. Atheists and other secular types comprise at least 10 percentp of the population in the States. That's 10's of millions of people. How many of these sort of suits do you see? Do the math. Probably not nearly as much as Christians spend to get Harry Potter off of school bookshelves or to get school prayer legislation on the books. Why not spend that money on charity, which is FAR more likely to inspire believers than any number of mechanical recitations of mass prayer.

steve3927

12/30/2002 07:00:26 PM

One has to wonder, if there is no God as the atheists tout, what's the big deal if He's mentioned anywhere? Seems a lot of wasted time and effort to prevent something you don't believe in anyway. With the supposed morals and charity of most atheists, why not use the time and money to support charity, etc. Guess it's sort of like not saying BOOGEYMAN! to a child I suppose. Scare's em. BOO!

maltheist

12/30/2002 06:50:55 PM

Xcelfitpat wrote: The bottom line is, without God, there would not be a soul, and without a soul, there would be no argument over what is good and what is evil. I totally understand the utter frustration of atheists when I read unsupported boastful pronouncements like these. Is this anything beyond an assertion? Is the whole statement rife with presumption? I love it when such statements are "spun" with the tone of authority, as in "the intelligent person realizes that without God there can be no order in the world." I for one do believe in the existence of God, but I recognize that by his own words and admitted deeds, he is nothing but a big obnoxious bullying monster unworthy of whorship. Who says there has to be a "soul" in order for there to be a notion of good and evil? Where does this assertion come from, if not the word of God himself, which can only be deemed trustworthy if you accept a priori that God's word IS trustworthy! We have created human laws to preserve a social order. We have grown from believing that the "social order" worth preserving consists of just ourselves, to believe successively that it extends to our families, our "clan" or "tribe," and eventually, through sound reasoning to the whole human race. We do not need God to "sanctify" the simple laws that say it is wrong to harm other people! In fact, all God does is bastardize those very sensible laws! Did he not tell the Hebrews that it was wrong to kill, then authorized them to slaughter the native inhabitants of Canaan to suit his agenda? Did he not encourage the Christians to slaughter and conquer to "spread the good word" by any means possible, justifying it by saying it's "God's will?" Be well, Paul

lucilius

12/30/2002 06:10:15 PM

Even if we were to accept your statement , xcelfitpat, that right and wrong for an atheist is only what "society allows/condones" (which I don't), might that not be preferable to right and wrong determined by irrational and unchallengable fiat? – "The next tribe over doesn't worship Me. Kill them all;" "If you're gay, you deserve to die;" "Keep your women in subjection," etc. It's true that many great societies have embraced human sacrifice, cannibalism, muder, incest, etc. What you so conveniently ignore that – surprise! – those customs have, in every case that I know of, been bound up in the prevailing religion. Given that, I think it's high time we gave reason a chance to prevail. It's quite a non sequitur to say that without a soul, there would be no argument over good and evil. Since you no doubt believe we all have souls, there would be no way to test that; but consider that on the crudest level (pleasure/pain), the simplest soullest beast can make a distinction.

xcelfitpat

12/30/2002 06:00:43 PM

The bottom line is, without God, there would not be a soul, and without a soul, there would be no argument over what is good and what is evil. The only reason that this will be an eternally debated topic is that no matter what scientific explanation man tries to supercede God with, he will always feel a tug at his conscience because there is an ongoing struggle to win his soul. I don't wish for anyone to lose this battle, but it's a shame to see how bitter - see Maltheist - some people have become in their efforts to bring purpose to their lives. GOD BLESS ( even if you don't believe).

xcelfitpat

12/30/2002 05:55:40 PM

Many great societies in recorded human history have at one time or another considered human sacrifice, cannabalism, murder, incest, etc. as acceptable social practices so your assertion that adults don't need help from some external source to control their behavior flies in the face of all logic. Forget about God for a minute, why do we have the need for so many laws and various forms of law enforcement? The answer is very simple; without these there would be complete anarchy. Since you obviously don't understand where a healthy fear/respect comes into the development of a child's behavior, I must also think that you have never had the pleasure of raising a child. If you get an adrenaline rush every time you see a police car in your rearview mirror then you can begin to understand where the concept of fear becomes a positive one in terms of behavior modification. TOBECONTINUED

xcelfitpat

12/30/2002 05:49:17 PM

Boy,this topic sure hit some touchy spots, didn't it! Just wanted to throw in a quick response for mettamorphosis and ariane5. Yes, I "know" that there is a "Father/God" watching over me at all times; and your comment that it is a primitive concept is quite true. From the very dawn of time, man has realized that their exists a Creator; and from the very dawn of time, man has tried to make Him go away. I wish you luck in your journey to come up with a better explanation for the purpose of your existence. As for dear ariane5: I think I have a very clear view of what a person without God is like; what worries me, is that you don't. As for human behavior and psychology, you may want to do a bit of reading; and as for your comment that as adults we inherently know the difference between wrong and right and therefore act accordingly, give me a break. Right and wrong as defined by an atheist extends no further than what society allows/condones as being right and wrong. TOBECONTINUED

namchuck

12/30/2002 01:56:15 PM

(con'td) It is my contention that, the paradigm of meritocratic rational enquiry, with its minimum of starting assumptions which are never immune to criticism, revision, etc, has been far more successful in explaining how our world works and is than the worldview of theism, with its elaborate number of starting assumptions, where, in constructing one's explanation of the world, the nature of explanation must always remain subservient to the largely unquestioned assumptions of the worldview.

namchuck

12/30/2002 01:49:05 PM

Proofs of truth and falsity are rare things. One can only prove something relative to a set of assumptions or facts. One assumes such-and-such and proves so-and-so on that basis. However, what is at stake in the atheism/theism debate is not whether God's existence follows from the fact that the world is beautiful and intricate, nor whether God's non-existence follows from the fact that people, and animals, suffer. The debate is about a much more fundamental isue: the whole worldview to which we subscribe. Worldviews, our basic assumptions about ourselves and our world, respond to a fundamental human need: the desire to understand.

Johann_Faustus

12/30/2002 01:42:10 PM

Another maltheist butting in here.... An untrue, unfair stereotype against atheists is that because they are "anti-god" then that must mean that they are "anti-good," because theophiles assume that god is good. As one who believes in god, I do not share this opinion of atheists in general and I am offended that anybody would ask an alleged democratic government to ask such a bullying bastard to "bless" this nation of ours.

maltheist

12/30/2002 01:21:57 PM

It is most definitely a good thing that Beliefnet has taken a positive step in disassociating the word "godless" from connotations of evil and unworthiness! Of course, there is a possibility other than atheism for those who take note of the blatant contradictions to be found in "the word of God." The abundance of such clear contradictions does not actually "prove" that God does not exist, it merely demonstrates that God is not what his followers claim he is. Maltheists agree with theophiles in believing in God's existence, but reject the obviously flawed notion that he is a benevolent being worthy of whorship. The question of theodicy ("If we have an omnipotent benevolent God, why is there suffering and evil in the world?") has a very simple answer: because either God is not omnipotent, or he is not benevolent. (Or both.) If God is omnipotent and created a world with evil in it, this must of necessity be because he wants for evil to exist. In either case, he is obviously lying. Such an unmitigated habitual liar is certainly not a being worthy of whorship. (There are apologists for God who claim that evil is "necessary" for the existence of free will, but they are making a vainly presumptive assertion, not even bothering to try to demonstrate this as a "fact." Free will could certainly exist without evil. In fact God describes and dangles in front of us a world in which there is free will but no evil--the "Heaven" he promises to those who supplicate themselves to him! Is God lying yet again in describing Heaven to us?) continued below...

maltheist

12/30/2002 01:21:33 PM

It should be noted that many theophiles choose to discount out of hand the arguments of atheists. These theophiles claim that atheists are "godless" (and thus "unworthy" by self-referential fiat--to be "without God" according to theophiles means tautologically to be "without good"). That the atheists have no sense of spirituality about the world, no "reverence" for "the divine." That they "just don't get" the notion of God's existence and presence. And that, because of all these things, it is thus "impossible" for theophiles to have a rational (sic) discussion with atheists. In some sense, this is all true--these attitudes do make rational discussion between the groups difficult if not impossible. Maltheists, on the other hand, DO recognize the presence of God, DO acknowledge his existence, DO accept as historical record God's autobiographical self-aggrandizing texts. We just look at those texts and at those historical records and see an abysmal autocratic bullying blackmailing monster whose only claim to "goodness" (judging from his own admitted actions) is his own word and assertion! This places debates between theophiles and maltheists on a more level playing field than those between theophiles and atheists. In any case, I mention maltheism simply to demonstrate that atheism is not the only option open to those who fall into the "godless" category that Beliefnet describes in this article. Not that there's anything "wrong" with choosing atheism (some of my best friends are atheists :) ) but it should not be assumed that atheism is the only choice available for those rightfully disaffected from theophilic beliefs. I invite those interested in the subject of maltheism as an alternative to theophilic religion to visit the Maltheism forum, and to read the Introduction to Maltheism thread for more information. Be well, Paul

tonygalli

12/30/2002 12:06:38 PM

Ah, bardmountain a wise post indeed. Have i seen you on the Buddhist forums? If so, i'm not surprised. Unfortunately, a lot of westerners are uncomfortable with paradox. They see it as mere irrationality and don't understand the differences between irrational, rational, and transrational. Sometimes in trying to satisfy both parties you end up alienating both, since they're bent on absolutist thinking, and make 2 enemies in the process instead of just one. I hope people on this forum are not that narrow-minded. We'll see. [For dissafected Christians with these viewpoints, I'd recommend Bishop Spong's writings, especially the parts about nontheism as the alternative to strict atheism and strict monotheism].

thepotbellypig

12/30/2002 10:01:24 AM

In our society, we tend to ban anything that is offensive to one person or more. Soon we'll have to express anything of importance in whispers. Instead,we need to work things out and accomodate a variety of viewpoints, and allow people to abstain instead. Some people need to learn that they need to verbally fight for their point of view & accept that not many hold their view. Others need to quite making fun of an individual who holds an dissenting viewpiont. That's life. Otherwise, the public sphere probably needs to be reduced so that people can just relax, express their opinions without be called names.

bardmountain

12/30/2002 09:38:01 AM

I think a root problem is the underlying assumption that there is a universal truth. Either there is a God or there is not a God. But that is only an assumption. It is entirely possible that there is both a God (or Gods) and not a God simultaneously. This is not natural to western thinking in general. As both theists and atheists, we tend to believe in absolute truth. But relative truth may be a better approximation of reality. Just as observation in relativistic physics changes reality, perhaps we both create and are created by God, and are also not created by and not creating God, based on our relative truth. To give an example, when native american tribes gathered, each would tell the other tribes their creation story, and each tribe would listen attentively. All the stories were starkly different. And each were held by the entire gathering to be true. They understood that truth is relative, not absolute.

delfentor

12/30/2002 08:08:00 AM

I believe miracles happen everyday. I believe many of my prayers have been answered. I believe that I have the right to pray when and where I choose too. I believe in a power greater than myself. And I beleive that I do not need a religion or a government to tell me what to put my trust in or what name that I have to give my belief in order to have it. When I quiet my mind I connect with the mysterious source of life and we are one in the creative process of my life.

Rickw3dve

12/30/2002 07:00:15 AM

All Need to repent Now! The end of this age is truly near. Lean not on your own understanding, but rather submit to God. The God of this Universe-The Creator of all Life-The God of your immortal soul.I know to many of you this statement seems like folly. Nonbelievers give God a fair chance before its too late!!! Just your simple logic will tell you that all you see--The world around you--The unimaginable Universe, had to have a creator, or on a smaller scale, how absurd it would sound to you that the new house that just went up on your street, had NO builder--NO creator!! My friends, without me going any further, I know you get the point. You know, no matter who you may be or are, that deep inside of you, that God Almighty does indeed exists! Take the time, and open your Hearts of Stone, and give God the chance to show you in your own life, that indeed he does exist, and is there for you through all eternity.

bbdh

12/30/2002 05:46:41 AM

BS"D As a religious person, I see no difference between a person who discriminates against another because of religion or lack of religion and a chimpanzee who attacks another chimpanzee because it sees another doing it. Apparently G-d forgot to give certain people brains when he created them (G-d forbid). So stop persecuting "non-believers" or simply purchase the chimpanzee suit from the current rental establishment. Compared to G-d, EVERY humuan being is theologically ignorant. (My Apologies to chimpanzees everywhere for degrading them thusly).

SquirleyWurley

12/30/2002 12:01:22 AM

I'd like to expand the whole issue. It may be a particular attempt at description or definition of the term "God" that is accepted, rejected, or claimed beyond knowledge. I.e., a non-personal (not having what we would call human personality) question-mark that has consciousness that is limited in ability to respond to our requests for help, but is never cruel or desiring needless suffering, is never unethical or evil, and knows everything about what exists, being the source of everything, BY ITS NATURE, could describe a non-theist notion of spirit or God (whatever) that is basically the ground-of-existence and source of all, therefore including the basis of everything (including consciousness). Yet the idea of a personal being with will as humans understand it, being all-powerful and all-good as well as all-knowing, could be determined to be a logically contradictory description, a USELESS and IMPOSSIBLE definition of God, Spirit, or anything else.

gravedoubts

12/29/2002 11:14:51 PM

Another observation, in partial agreement with gwydionoak and in partial conflict with namchuck: There are some atheists who take their belief that God exists to be certain, and hence do not submit it to criticism. I have a friend who is like this, whose atheism is, I suspect, a consequence of her reaction to her religious upbringing instead of an attempt to rationally weigh the evidence. I take this as a natural consequence of the fact that both atheists and theists are human. Presumably, similar cognitive processes are available in both for belief-creation. Hence, it should not be surprising that atheists may sometimes hold their belief irrationally, nor that theists may sometimes hold their belief rationally. But then, of course, there are some of each who hold their belief the other way. I would like to count myself among the rational atheists.

gravedoubts

12/29/2002 11:06:26 PM

continued... A parallel case would be my belief in electrons. Although I think it highly likely that electrons exist, I admit the possibility that I am wrong. Perhaps the evidence which electrons explain could better be explained in other ways. Hence, I am not certain that electrons exist, but I am still an electronist and not an electron-agnostic.

gravedoubts

12/29/2002 11:01:48 PM

gwydionoak: I hope that neither you nor Frodo mind me butting in on your exchange, but I have something that I think must be said. You say, "it seems that most atheists I have met are certain that God doesn't exist, otherwise they would be agnostics." I believe that this statement reflects a misunderstanding of the meaning of the terms "atheist" and "agnostic." An atheist is one who believes that God does not exist; this does not imply that the belief is certain. An agnostic is one who professes not to have any belief on the matter. Hence, someone might, on the total evidence available, come to believe that God does not exist; that person is then an atheist. However, he might also believe that the evidence he has is limited, and that further evidence would convince him that his belief is false; hence, he does not believe it with certainty. to be continued...

namchuck

12/29/2002 09:49:05 PM

One of the fundamental differences that I have observed between believers and atheists, and the thing that attracted me to atheism in the first place, was that atheists invariably have embraced a worldview that, unlike the paradigm espoused by believers, is never immune from criticism, revision, or even, in the light of new evidence and data, rejection. Despite their disavowel of my claim that theism is inherently dogmatic (swallowing, as they do, a richly elaborate number of starting assumptions), no believer has ever been able to inform me what aspects of their belief are open to criticism, revision, or rejection.

Maccabeus

12/29/2002 09:10:01 PM

nightngle> I agree with you that sometimes believers have gone nuts over the presence of atheists. All the same... I think it should be obvious that you don't have to be a minority group to be persecuted (cf. South Africa), though I don't think that's the correct term for very many events affecting American Christians. However, you should know that quite a few Christian religious groups depend on proselytization to maintain their membership, either because there are not enough children among them or because their children are leaving. To these groups, opposition to proselytization threatens their very existence.

gwydionoak

12/29/2002 09:09:01 PM

Thanks for your response, Frodo. To me, here is the rub of the whole thing. I would also maintain that healthy grass is green, as a matter of simple observation, and I am not an atheist. This is not a religious question. I also agree that the existence of the Divine has yet to be proven, and my personal opinion is that it simply cannot be proven by empirical scientific means. Yet it seems most atheists I have met are certain that God doesn't exist, otherwise they would be agnostics. It's not a matter of belief. These are basically direct quotes. That's why I posted the question. Again thanks.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 08:59:23 PM

They cling to their certainty that God, or the Divine, is not with exactly the same tenacity that Fundamentalist proclaim the absolute certainty of their views. Am I the only one who feels this way? The wording is awkward, and so I cannot answer. All I can say is that there are many kinds of atheists, some are extremely "vocal" like that. You have all kinds, just like you have all kinds of Christians. Also, if forced to define my beliefs, I would say I am "spiritual but not religious" or "I believe (NOT know)in God, and completely don't believe in churches. Does that make me "godless?" I've been told so many times. Responses? I consider myself a "mystic atheist." Some atheists are religious, some are spiritual but not religious, some are neither. You can find atheists that are also Buddhists, Taoists, Satanists, Hindus, and Unitarian Universalists. I am sure I missed some as I am still researching it. Some consider it "godless," some do not.

kungfutzu

12/29/2002 08:58:26 PM

dreamer, dreamer, dreamer... I'm afraid it is your argument which is at fault. How could I possibly be using a "Science of the Gaps" principle when it is gaps IN science which cause people like you to look elsewhere? God of the Gaps means that explanations given by science have a few holes, and those holes are filled in by God. A "Science of the Gaps" theory would surely be the reverse, whereby God gave us all the explanations bar a few holes, and those holes were filled by science! Sorry, but that's not my world view. I believe science can and will fill those gaps in our knowledge, after which "god" will be a useless commodity confined to the realm of superstition alone.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 08:54:03 PM

I'm curious about something here. It has always been my personal experience that atheists are, in a key sense, every bit as "religious" as most fundamentalists. I did ask this question at the Atheism Challenge and Critique board in a thread titled "Atheistic Fundies?" I have come to disagree with this for the most part. Am I stubborn and dogmatic when I say that healthy grass is green? This can be observed. God still has yet to be proven, much less his nature and his demands to be agreed upon. Yet wars, torture, and imprisonment have occured in his name. Religion demands a certain lifestyle and form of worship. Science and techology, as mere tools, do not.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 08:48:12 PM

I AM concerned that I, as a christian, would be told that I cannot publicly mention the proper name of my own religious holidays and observances. If you don't wish to observe my holidays that is fine by me - you can even go back to work on those days if you like. Welp, if people ARE going that far, then they are wrong. That is a whole other issue. Additionally, when I WAS a Christian, the Christian church I attended did not believe in celebrating holidays such as Christmas and Easter as religious holidays anyway. Even during my believer days, I DID have to go to work a lot of times on those holidays. Animals that have been hospitalized in a veterinary clinic still need feeding, medication, walking, and cleaning no matter what day it is. =D

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 08:45:07 PM

When the so-called "Godless" go public and cry out about the startling phenomenon that some people would actually mention God; and see it as a "call to action," I have dificulty believing that they are simply asking to be left alone. Sounds more like they have an agenda against all religious faith and practice in society. That may be because you have not been put on the defensive, on the receiving end of some of the hatred that atheists or even non-Christians have had to endure. Examples in history include the Salem witch trials and the "Scopes Monkey trial." For a long time, atheists were not legally able to file civil lawsuits nor testify in court because it was believed that swearing on the Bible would somehow not compel the atheist to tell the truth. Bush had questioned whether or not atheists are true Americans worthy of the same civil liberties that Christians enjoy, and that Wicca was not a religion to be protected by the first ammendment.

gwydionoak

12/29/2002 08:43:56 PM

I'm curious about something here. It has always been my personal experience that atheists are, in a key sense, every bit as "religious" as most fundamentalists - my mother, for example most definately was. They cling to their certainty that God, or the Divine, is not with exactly the same tenacity that Fundamentalist proclaim the absolute certainty of their views. Am I the only one who feels this way? Also, if forced to define my beliefs, I would say I am "spiritual but not religious" or "I believe (NOT know)in God, and completely don't believe in churches. Does that make me "godless?" I've been told so many times. Responses?

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 08:39:11 PM

frodo, you are a clever little hobbit! Of course I realize that Tim McVeigh and Osama have strong beliefs in something. The issue is not theocracy. As a christian, I do not support theocracy. I see this as an issue of basic 1st Ammendment rights and possibly a matter of civility. I also said it was about the first ammendment. I am glad you support religious freedom and not a theocracy, but how is putting "One Nation Under God" NOT a subtle reminder of a theocracy? What if everybody had to say "One Nation Under Lucifer" instead?

acassistant

12/29/2002 06:53:05 PM

frodo, you are a clever little hobbit! Of course I realize that Tim McVeigh and Osama have strong beliefs in something. The issue is not theocracy. As a christian, I do not support theocracy. I see this as an issue of basic 1st Ammendment rights and possibly a matter of civility. When the so-called "Godless" go public and cry out about the startling phenomenon that some people would actually mention God; and see it as a "call to action," I have dificulty believing that they are simply asking to be left alone. Sounds more like they have an agenda against all religious faith and practice in society. I AM concerned that I, as a christian, would be told that I cannot publicly mention the proper name of my own religious holidays and observances. If you don't wish to observe my holidays that is fine by me - you can even go back to work on those days if you like. ACA

dreamer9

12/29/2002 05:24:59 PM

It sure is fun to spar with ideas. All paths lead to the truth, eventually, whatever it may be. To atheists and theists: peace, love, and enjoy the ride.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 05:17:18 PM

Thanks, nightngle. This is true. It reminds me of a Taoist story I read in which a man lost a cherished possession. Immediately suspecting it was stolen, he saw a boy walking by. The boy looked sneaky, suspicious, untrustworthy, even dangerous, to this man. Then this man found his possession right where he had misplaced it. Suddenly the boy walking by looked like just a nice boy walking by. Likewise, the second people have found out I am atheist, suddenly my confidence is arrogance, my sinus infection is actually bitterness, etc. Every little quirk about me that was ignorable or even likable by these people are suddenly a target for belittlement and outright hostility.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:47:15 PM

I quote this about "Infidel Guy" straight from the Feature Article: ("There are atheists in foxholes," he notes), ... Still, Finley, like Newdow, doesn't necessarily want to convert the world to atheism. " Despite his lack of belief, he isn't raising his children as atheists. "My 10-year-old calls himself an atheist but he doesn't really know," he says. "I'm going to allow my children to believe what they want to believe. If they become believers, I won't care." His radio show and other projects, he says, aren't "atheist activism, per se. It's intellectual activism."

nightngle

12/29/2002 04:46:20 PM

I'm contstantly amazed that the very mention of Atheism brings on a barrage of defensiveness. Why do the religious feel attacked by the mere fact that Atheists are in their midst? They immediately go into these nonsense arguements and believe that they are being ridiculed and belittled - not because they are, but because someone simply explains why they do not believe. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" is the phrase that always comes to mind when I hear the whining and screeching. Believers run in circles, pulling their hair screaming that if they can't prostelytize they are being persecuted - how a majority in a country can be persecuted, I have no clue - and screaming that it's the Atheist who is screaming at them! If they had an abiding faith, I'd think it would give them more grace and peace than it apparently does. Oh well... to each his own.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:45:46 PM

Whatever one believes is personal. I agree. These "atheist" major players are as bad as the God-espousing people they oppose (despise?). Both are narcissistic and misguided - they obviously have nothing better to do and are best ignored. How does asking to keep the government out of something as personal as spirituality and religion (or lack thereof) "narcissistic and misguided"?

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:41:25 PM

Great question, godwithu! In fact, what is wrong with wishing someone well by saying "Blessings..." or "God bless you..."? That is not the issue. Nothing is wrong with that. All have equal right to believe or disbelievehe existence of a Diety. Again, the First Ammendment rights issue... Do you not mean "Deity"? I am not hurting anyone by believing what I choose and I am not offending anyone by wishing them well in the manner that I am accustomed to. It is theocracy that is the issue, which does NOT respect the right to believe as one chooses. Additionally, not all beliefs are "harmless." Osama Bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh were strong believers, were they not?

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:37:26 PM

although I do feel sad for them. I do pray that one day my choice to know and believe in Christ will be a choice that will be equally welcomed. A lot of American atheists were former Christians, including me. I have been MUCH better off since I went atheistic. It IS a welcomed choice. The pledge issue is not strictly an atheist cause. If I believe openly, I am called a fanatic (WRONG). My desire for others to know Him is not fanatical, it is my love for them in action. If someone doesn't believe, then all they have to do is say so. At least I have, in love, given them the opportunity to know love--God. Nobody is saying you cannot believe. What it is saying is a simple request NOT to be forced, coerced, pressured into pledging that one deity is favoring our nation. Our nation is basd on religious FREEDOM. What if you and your kids were required to say, "One Nation, Under Allah"?

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:37:12 PM

I welcome their freedom of choice to not believe, Which is why we ask NOT to be labeled as un-patriotic by trying to respect and defend the First Ammendment. The McCarthist addition to the pledge favors one religion and one deity over others.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:32:36 PM

What I don't understand is if these individuals do not believe in God, why is saying "under God" so harmful? A lot of believers opposed this phrase in the pledge as well, as they also opposed mandatory school prayer in public schools. Using your "reasoning," then perhaps you would not feel threatened if we changed the pledge to "One Nation, Under Zeus" so that your kids will be made to say this? If God doesn't exist then, there shouldn't be any harm in living "under" something that in their mind doesn't even exist! That is not the issue. The issue is being REQUIRED to say this, just like if someone were to make you say "One Nation, Under Buddha." I am not "anti-God" but I am "anti-theocracy." This was added during McCarthyism. He has no power. I think their cry is simply to draw attention. No. It is not. Is it your cry to draw attention if we changd the pledge to "One Nation, Under Eru"?

acassistant

12/29/2002 04:29:36 PM

Great question, godwithu! In fact, what is wrong with wishing someone well by saying "Blessings..." or "God bless you..."? All have equal right to believe or disbelievehe existence of a Diety. I am not hurting anyone by believing what I choose and I am not offending anyone by wishing them well in the manner that I am accustomed to.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 04:24:08 PM

to answer frodo's question: ateism, by definition, is the disbelief of a deity When did I ask this question? :/

godwithu2

12/29/2002 03:57:26 PM

What I don't understand is if these individuals do not believe in God, why is saying "under God" so harmful? If God doesn't exist then, there shouldn't be any harm in living "under" something that in their mind doesn't even exist! He has no power. I think their cry is simply to draw attention. I welcome their freedom of choice to not believe, although I do feel sad for them. I do pray that one day my choice to know and believe in Christ will be a choice that will be equally welcomed. If I believe openly, I am called a fanatic (WRONG). My desire for others to know Him is not fanatical, it is my love for them in action. If someone doesn't believe, then all they have to do is say so. At least I have, in love, given them the opportunity to know love--God.

xobeto

12/29/2002 03:53:23 PM

to answer frodo's question: ateism, by definition, is the disbelief of a deity

xobeto

12/29/2002 03:41:52 PM

the confusion lies with the misinterpretation of the seperation of church and state.

ecforeman

12/29/2002 03:15:14 PM

Whatever one believes is personal. These "atheist" major players are as bad as the God-espousing people they oppose (despise?). Both are narcissistic and misguided - they obviously have nothing better to do and are best ignored.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 03:01:20 PM

Oh My! I have finally met up with the villain that is impersonating my poor Uncle Bilbo!

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 02:59:45 PM

I would like to know whether atheists also deny the theory that alien life-forms had something to do with human creation.Isnt God alien in a way so to speak?And do atheists deny the acceptance of God as an entity as a philosophy, or accept the denial of God as 'preached!?' by someone else. (Which in my opinion is tantamount to some sort of belief system...). Please choose to enlighten me on the subject. I started a few threads on the "Learn about Atheism" boards myself. One is a list of web sites about atheism and another is a list of "What Kind of Atheist are You?" The term "atheist" is an extremely broad term. It would be like saying "Theist." Some atheists, like myself, are "spiritual" for lack of a better word. Atheists vary, from Objectivists to Humanists to Ethical Culture to Agnostics to Philosophical Taoists to Communists to Anarchists. Even some Buddhists and Hindus are atheists. Most Satanists are atheists as well.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 02:54:40 PM

Something (life) does not evolve from nothing. Then where does "god" come from, assuming god exists? We cannot even agree on a definition of god, so why dismiss it as god? Evolution has moved towards more complex organisms because of the presence of a divine intelligence (will), which gives it a purpose (a return to that intelligence). Are you a "Theistic Evolutionist"?

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 02:54:12 PM

I cannot seem to stay away from poor unsuspecting Dreamer9 today. hee hee... sorry, but "evolution" doesn't work in the case of the beginning (or creation) of life. It should not. Evolution simply means "change" and is a dynamic process, without beginning or end. Perhaps you meant "Big Bang"? Sure, I "believe" organisms can and do mutate and evolve. I say "believe" since it is theoretical. The term "theory" in science does not have the same meaning as "theory" in the secular use of the term. In science, a "theory" is actually an idea - a hypothesis - that has earned respect and high status. The question of the beginning of life is one which is too important to simply dismiss as evolution. I used to be a Creationist myself, and that all changed. Evolution is so incredibly misunderstood, it is sad, really. It is hardly a "dismissal" but rather a very rigorous field of study.

dreamer9

12/29/2002 02:51:22 PM

kungfutzu, Yes, I am a mental light-weight, and a dreamer, don't rub it in, thank you. But I do see in your argument the same thing you accuse me of. I employ the "God of the Gaps" principle and you employ the "Science of the Gaps" principle. But, do you really believe you can combine carbohydrates, stir for a billion years, add lightning as needed, and create life? I believe that eventually there will be a common ground for science and spirit. See you there. Peace.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 02:48:18 PM

Maybe I should clarify what I am looking for. Evolution tries to explain how species A turns into species B. That is correct. Thanks to our very short lives, we as a species will rarely, if ever, be able to "see" this happen any more than an ant will be able to "see" an acorn grow into a tree. Please explain how "inert material" turns into species A. I have never heard or read of the discovery of a molecule with the intelligence or desire to live and reproduce. "Desire" has nothing to do with it. Enzymes, viruses, RNA, mitochondria, etc. have no "intelligence" or "desire" as we define it, yet they exist and do what they do. Your very "strong" argument doesn't address my question. I would like to invite you to join in on any of the following boards that have discussed these interesting issues in detail a number of times: Any of the Science and Religion boards (Evolution versus Creation, ET's and UFO's, Cosmologoy, Archaelogy) and Atheism Challenge and Critique.

Frodo_Baggins

12/29/2002 02:41:43 PM

dreamer9, just because someone is Evolutionist, it does not automatically qualify them as atheist. Many religious people are Evolutionist. At the Evolution versus Creationism board at this very site, for instance, one of the biggest "champs" for Evolution is Lutheran friar. On the flipside, there are atheists that believe that Creation by a Superior Being occured. They just do not believe that the Superior Being is "God" but extraterrestrials instead. If I were to believe in a Creator, actually, I would actually find more valid reason to believe in the Extraterrestrials idea than I would God.

dreamer9

12/29/2002 02:14:01 PM

ariane5, Maybe I should clarify what I am looking for. Evolution tries to explain how species A turns into species B. Please explain how "inert material" turns into species A. I have never heard or read of the discovery of a molecule with the intelligence or desire to live and reproduce. Your very "strong" argument doesn't address my question.

kungfutzu

12/29/2002 02:07:00 PM

[[CONT]] You are a prime example of someone employing the "God of the Gaps" principle - you find something you don't understand and you thus attribute it to God. Just as primitive man did not understand how the sun rose everyday and attributed it to God (or gods) you in turn do not understand how the universe came about and attribute it to God. Go read some Hawking and Penrose and, if you understand it, tell me straight-facedly that God is the only option. Peace and harmony, KFT

kungfutzu

12/29/2002 02:06:36 PM

Dreamer (a fitting name, I might add), There are a number of theories about how the world/universe came about, and those theories do indeed have 'complete' explanations. They take into account recent developments in theoretical physics and mathematics, and they are extremely difficult theories to get one's head around (as you'd expect, given the vastness of the subject matter involved). I freely admit that I do not entirely understand such theories, and it would do them no justice to "babify" them in trying to explain them to you. What I would say is this: why do you take the easy, no-brainer option? Just because a theory is hard to understand or pushes the barrier of thought just that little bit further, why do you decry it and instead plump for "God did it"?

dreamer9

12/29/2002 01:50:54 PM

ariane5, sorry, but "evolution" doesn't work in the case of the beginning (or creation) of life. Sure, I "believe" organisms can and do mutate and evolve. I say "believe" since it is theoretical. The question of the beginning of life is one which is too important to simply dismiss as evolution. Something (life) does not evolve from nothing. Evolution has moved towards more complex organisms because of the presence of a divine intelligence (will), which gives it a purpose (a return to that intelligence).

ariane5

12/29/2002 12:49:57 PM

dreamer9 "It is only a scientific explanation for the beginning of life which I ask for." Never heard or read of evolution of course. It is probably all just ridiculous and a waste of time in your eyes. That's without a doubt a very "strong" argument of course, isn't it?

ariane5

12/29/2002 12:41:11 PM

In this way it is clear that a postulate as “the existence of a god” is just a man-made theory, which we can’t test at this point. Besides this, it is also a theory that doesn’t seem necessary and plausible if we use logic. If alien-life forms have any to do with the evolution of the human race doesn’t make any difference to our discussion about atheist and religion. Maybe the basic components needed for life are formed in galactic gas clouds and brought to us by meteors or maybe all the basic components are just formed on earth, this is something that scientists still need to discover.

ariane5

12/29/2002 12:40:25 PM

petrushka. There are probably different reasons why somebody is atheist or non-religious. Actually, it is not self-evident that somebody is religious. Nobody is born as "a believer", every religious person has developed his religion because of different possible reasons. This could be the education and environment (this declares why the religions are also for a big part geographical located), this could be because of interest or proselytising, or because of indoctrination, or because of certain spiritual events, ... Most atheists don't belief in a god because they discovered that there is not such a thing as "absolute truth". The only way we can describe our environment is by using a scientific method: describe a theory and test it over and over again until you have a good probability that your theory describes that part of reality that you analysed. (continued)

dreamer9

12/29/2002 12:09:52 PM

jkopanko, You are right "NO ONE NEEDS TO EXPLAIN OR JUSTIFY #&*% TO YOU WITH REGARD TO THEIR PERSONAL SPIRITUAL BELIEFS" Athiest have no spiritual beliefs to explain or justify, their's is purely scientific. It is only a scientific explanation for the beginning of life which I ask for. Any takers? For without an ifinite intelligence all other explanations are rediculous.

WisWmn

12/29/2002 11:49:35 AM

What I believe is based on years of searching for "Truth". What I have found for myself, thus far, is that I believe in humanity, that it is essentially "good natured". I consider myself to be spiritual in nature and believing that everyone has the choice and self-determination to believe in what they choose...according to their upbringing, search for truth and life experience. My fiance is Agnostic and we Love and respect each other very much. I understand his point of view, and he, mine. He does not cheat on his taxes and posseses high morals and standards as a compassionate human being. That is what drew us together, not our beliefs, but more importantly, what we are made of, our character, sense of self, which goes beyond belief, in my opinion.

petrushka

12/29/2002 11:41:28 AM

I would like to know whether atheists also deny the theory that alien life-forms had something to do with human creation.Isnt God alien in a way so to speak?And do atheists deny the acceptance of God as an entity as a philosophy, or accept the denial of God as 'preached!?' by someone else. (Which in my opinion is tantamount to some sort of belief system...). Please choose to enlighten me on the subject.

presbygirl79

12/29/2002 11:35:04 AM

All people have the right to believe what they wish or not to believe anything at all. Although I am a Christian believer, I have no right to impose my beliefs on them. However, what I wish would stop is the continued attacks on religion, particularly Christianity. If we allow you not to believe, then you should have the decency to allow us to believe.

jkopanko

12/29/2002 11:01:46 AM

(cont'd) If any "believers" want themselves to be taken seriously in any way--in terms of their threats, admonitions, or attempts to convince other people to want to be like them--they need to cut the babyishness, arrogance, bigoted cliquishness and (overt or covert) condemnation of anyone who is not a part of their group, and behavior which suggests that they are somehow elevated and somehow DESERVE to be listened to by default... and begin to act in a way that is admirable, rational, benevolent, positive, spiritual, and embracing of the rest of world they wish to look favorably on them.

jkopanko

12/29/2002 10:35:56 AM

dreamer, "I would like an atheist to try to explain how life began." Just the point: NO ONE NEEDS TO EXPLAIN OR JUSTIFY #&*% TO YOU WITH REGARD TO THEIR PERSONAL SPIRITUAL BELIEFS. This is called "Freedom of Conscience". You might wish to spend some time thinking about why something like that might be valuable. In light of the stupidity, superstition, pettiness, bigotry, and control and domination obsessions by so many particularly western religious people and groups, THE ATTRACTION OF SIMPLE RELIGIOUS FREDOM AND SELF-DETERMINATION is nothing to be shocked over. "Religious" people simply need to stop being so obsessive, prying, condemnatory, insular, arrogant, perverse, subjective, beligerant, ugly... and essentially ANTI-spiritual, if they truly wish to have any credibility whatsoever in convincing ANYONE to "join up" with their particular group.

dreamer9

12/29/2002 09:22:58 AM

I would like an atheist to try to explain how life began. Can you mix inert material and, given ideal conditions, produce a chemical compound with the intellegence (will) to survive and reproduce itself? I can tell you with certainty that because of this stumbling block science eventually MUST conclude the existence of "God".

akbusch

12/29/2002 08:42:37 AM

I like and (mostly) agree with what LoveChristandRosary and goddessinembryo said. Actually, a good many atheists and anti-religion folk take these sorts of issues very seriously, while a good many "believers" are, let's face it, quite lazy about their faith. I don't think that the "godless" are a threat to people's faith at all. The "godless" have taught me a great deal about me and my own faith. No, my faith tradition (Christianity) is much more in danger from laziness, ignorance, non-love and syncretism (blending "patriotism" with religion) than it is from outspoken athiests.

jonogan

12/29/2002 06:44:17 AM

It is important that everyone retains the freedom to believe what his or her own experience has led to. Our experience is our own personal truth and our own personal path to eventual 'salvation'. To rob anyone of hard-earned conviction is to deny them the chance to become what they are destined to become.

ariane5

12/29/2002 05:08:47 AM

xcelfitpat You have a very subjective and biased view on atheism. In fact, it tells me more how one-sided your view of religion is. It's a wrong attitude if adults fear accountability for their actions because of a god. Adults have the ability to fully understand the result of their actions, they have the ability to see their actions from an other point of view and they understand what's wrong and what's right. A child hasn't this ability.

mettamorphosis

12/29/2002 04:10:26 AM

xcelfitpat, the belief in an all-knowing fatherlike God is completely primitive. You seriously think that someone is watching out for you? Also, if God knows what we'll do before we do it, how can there be freewill? I know you didn't mention freewill in your posts, but it shows just one of the many contradictions of "God." Christianity=control. ~Thorn

xcelfitpat

12/29/2002 03:09:58 AM

The great thing about believing in a loving and merciful Father is that you know that He is always watching so you know that you are always held accountable for your actions. One of the most fundamental fears for an atheist is that they instinctively know that they are incapable of holding to such absolute standards on their own so they learn to live life based on the local cultures set of relative standards. I sure hope cannabalism doesn't come back in vogue. This is why I believe shows like Jerry Springer exist. People feel so much better when they can compare themselves to such miserable people. All this being said folks, have a wonderful New Year and may your intellects never get so comfortable that your mind shuts down.

xcelfitpat

12/29/2002 03:02:28 AM

These are the same people who think it's okay to cheat on their taxes ( hey, everyone is doing it ); these are the same people that believe that cheating on a spouse is probably okay ( if it feels good, it must be right ). My best argument for believing in God for my intellectual friends is based on basic psychology and human behavior:Why do children learn to obey their parents and how does their behavior differ when a parent is watching or not watching them? Children learn to obey because they fear accountability for their actions. When the parent is not watching, many children will revert back to the behavior that makes them feel "good"; whether or not that behavior is the correct one. TOBECONTINUED

xcelfitpat

12/29/2002 02:56:11 AM

I'm assuming that most of these people aren't very old; otherwise, they would realize how silly such comments are. Go on-line and check out television programming or radio broadcasts or newspapers from past decades and you will see that the real truth is that atheists and well intentioned liberals have been very successful at greatly reducing the presence of religion in our public lives. The hypocrisy of this type of thinking goes like this: my 15 year old daughter can have an abortion without having to tell her parents, but her school has to call me if she needs an aspirin. Makes sense to me! The other historical trend that we are experiencing like all great empires of the past is that as affluence, education, and technology advance, we become increasingly convinced that there is no need for God. These same people are the ones who don't feel a need to obey speed limits and other traffic laws ( hey, it's not a crime if no one catches me ); TOBECONTINUED

xcelfitpat

12/29/2002 02:46:37 AM

Wow, fun topic for the holidays, huh! Pick your holiday, I don't care. Mine happens to be Christmas. For the incredibly intelligent atheists on board, I'm sure that you have all already reviewed the mathematical probabilities involved with our universe coming into being, and continuing to exist, without a "divine" guidance, so I won't bother trying to sway you with scripture or more statistics. After all, if you don't believe in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. what good does it do to quote from sources you wouldn't deem credible? I don't feel superior when I take time to pray for those in the world who prefer to live as an "army of one", I just feel like it's the best way that I can express my "love your neighbor policy. The funny thing with the bold,"new" atheist movement is that they claim they are worried about the renewed efforts to introduce religion into our public lives. (to be continued)

namchuck

12/29/2002 01:32:34 AM

I disagree with your hypothesis, ElGabilon, that atheism (the plausible and probably correct belief that God does not exist) is 'just as bad' as theism (the implausible and probably incorrect view that God does exist). You are also wrong in stating that atheists are trying to 'prove' the nonexistence of God. The atheist is simply listening to the assertions of believers and responding that their claims for supernatural entities is not only bereft of any compelling evidence, but, for a wealth of reasons, that God probably doesn't exist. Agnoticism, on the other hand, is just the studied art of fence-sitting, or an absence of belief in virtue of an absence of arguments.

ElGabilon

12/29/2002 12:45:33 AM

Those who are named in the Godless Who's Who are hated in America. Yet one would ask why Benny Hinn, James Baker, Jimmie Swagart and others like them should be loved. Is it Christians who hate these people? If so whatever happened to "love they neighbor as thyself"? If someone took pock shots at some of them (or even killed them) what ever happened to "Thou shalt not kill"? We have never seen an add from "god" looking for recruits to fight a battle. All this horse-pucky is coming from christians. Now the Grahams, Farwells etc are critizing Islam. It is the insanity of Christianity that brought about Islam, and the insanity of Judaism that brought about Christianity. The atheist is just as bad since as with the religious who cannot prove the existence of god, they cannot prove its non existence. The only group who can be right is the agnostic who simply says: "I don't know". But they will get no where simply because there IS NO MONEY IN IT.

namchuck

12/28/2002 10:28:45 PM

Well said, kungfutzu! Who is not an atheistic, including theist's, in respect to some god or other? Atheism is the default position. The atheist is not saying (at least, this atheist isn't) that there is no God, only that there is no compelling reason to believe that there is.

kungfutzu

12/28/2002 06:54:47 PM

And another thing, people who come onto these boards and respond to people's comments with huge tracts of Bible/Koran/[insert holy text here] are essentially saying "you might think that, but look! this is true, and what you say isn't" It's a puerile response, and would be analogous to me saying "you're all wrong! religion is silly!" You wouldn't like it, and I can tell you I don't like it either when it's done in reverse. Discuss, don't preach....

kungfutzu

12/28/2002 06:52:10 PM

triplea4: Well, that's very interesting, because going by this discussion board, I'VE never met a theist who didn't immediately tell me I'm "wrong", that "eventually I will meet God" or that "in the end, you will know the truth and get right with your creator". How many atheists or agnostics do you find posting messages like "AHAHAHA you're all wrong, there IS no heaven or god, you're wasting your time?" For my part, I've not found any. Serious agnostics and atheists tend to know more about religion than theists do, and what is more, they think with their minds rather than with their 'scriptures' and as a result are more conciliatory. I don't know which atheists you've been consorting with, but I do know that theists I see on these boards are far worse in their treatment of my beliefs than I've ever been of theirs.

triplea4

12/28/2002 06:41:04 PM

I have never meet an atheist that had a good word to say to me. as soon as they found out I was a christian they turned on me.

thepotbellypig

12/28/2002 06:24:35 PM

There are people in the Christian Right that want to clam everyone else up AND there are militant secularists & atheists that want to do the same. Allow children to abstain from saying the pledge if they must, which I think is being done now. If we change the pledge, I don't think the Orwellian Mr. Newdow would let children say it the old way under his regime or let them abstain. Lets face it, EVERYTHING of any importance is going to be offensive to someone. Making secularism the official religion of america is as unwarranted as making Buddism or Christianity the official religion.

johnnydoe

12/28/2002 05:38:04 PM

I meant to say "everybody else is wrong." I wish there could be an edit option for the absent-minded like me.

bardmountain

12/28/2002 05:36:51 PM

I would say to believe in, say, the Catholic God, is a belief, and to believe that the Catholic God does not exist, is also a belief. They are different and opposing parts of two personal mythologies. Unfortunately, atheism often comes off as anti-religious rather than non-religious. An atheist attacking the views of the religious is as bad as a theist attacking the views of the atheist. Hence it can evoke the same ill feeling from a believer that fundimentalists evoke in...well, everbody. I would view both belief and non-belief to be a part of a person's mythology, and as such is no better or worse than anothers. Both strive to use human reasoning (finite) to describe the universe around us (infinite). Both will invariably miss the mark. To label one or another as deluded or its followers as inherently unhappy is generally disengenuous (we want to think people not like ourselves are inferior) and wholly unhelpful.

johnnydoe

12/28/2002 05:32:55 PM

Some of these atheist groups are silly, to me militant atheism is kinda the same thing as dogmatic religon, telling everyone that they are right and everybody else. Some of these people are quite hypocritical saying that they know there is no God and at the same time putting all their faith in science, when science can't prove nor disprove that there might be a God.

Catholicdude

12/28/2002 05:08:53 PM

To all and to BNET, I thought Beliefnet was the home for people who want to express their views about faith (believers)? The very title of this sire "Beliefnet" tells us that is a place for believers. So what gives with the posting of materials and views from self professed non-believers? It seems to fly in the face of what this place is all about.

Eudaimonist

12/28/2002 04:23:33 PM

"I am so sad for these people." I probably shouldn't respond to these semi-trollish responses, but I'd just like to say to any theist onlookers: You may be surprised, but plenty of nontheists are happy people, and aren't "caught up in darkness", if that means leading miserable or destructive lives. Spare us these public comments of misplaced pity. They may make you feel better, or compassionate, but are rude and irritating to nontheists. If you want to pray for us, then simply do so -- there's no need to add rudeness to that.

Quaero

12/28/2002 02:36:57 PM

i'm still in a school and i've noticed a lack of reverence for the pledge. the pledge should not be said every day as if it were an ordinary thing. if it means so much, then why do we just fling it out every morning like so much of yesterday's fresh seafood. i'm entirely agnostic and have little patience for fanatic believers (atheist/theist). the same fanaticism that you show toward "protecting/restoring" the pledge is similar to fanaticism shown by splinter groups (those who think they have a monopoly on truth). everyone is too concerned with being right when there is no right. there is only perception (plato & descartes). i may have offended some people, but please keep in mind, that was never my intent. i am sincerely sorry if i have offended you with my bludgeoning approach at language (i’m no verbal artist). i only wished to present my side and i will gladly entertain anything (notwithstanding fanatics) i’m an aspiring philosopher trying to think through this. thank you

goddessinembryo

12/28/2002 02:24:01 PM

I agree with LoveChristandRosary, most Americans do live as if God doesn't exist. And, in my opinion, the worst of those people are the ones who go to Church on Sunday and then drink, cuss, and are otherwise un-Christian the rest of the week. I call these people pew-warmers. What's worse is that these people are usually the most outspoken about what's wrong with everyone else. I almost think that God would rather someone openly not believe in him than be one of those hypocrites.

LoveChristandRosary

12/28/2002 01:49:48 PM

This is a whole bunch of silliness. These people aren't unique or a minority like they may enjoy thinking. Most Americans live as if God doesn't exist.

anarchy

12/28/2002 01:48:17 PM

In 1954, the pledge 'under God' was added because of Anti-Communism. Communist people are Godless Materialist and essentially Atheists however of course not all Atheists are Communists even though all Communists are Atheists. However some were Catholic and Jewish Communists but they kept that from the Communist party. The movie Europa, Europa and Enemy At The Gates into that a bit. Same with K-19: The Widowmaker. It was added to spread McCarthyism, which is essentially Fascism. For that reason and that reason alone if you feel like pledging to your country, even though I wont take part, pledge 'under the constitution' like your great free thinking, deist, atheists, agnostic, liberal Christians, Unitarian founding father said so and not by that we did in the 20th century. Also for the sake of arguing, the Magna Carta founded the laws in the USA not the bible. That is a fact.

yabedda

12/28/2002 01:38:49 PM

Well, the Mike guy does have a point. The original Pledge didn't have the phrase "under God." That wasn't added until the Communist era.

DawnLouise

12/28/2002 11:55:22 AM

God states that we only come before him when our works are in our faces. These people are working, in time they will either fall into the ditch or, grasp at a thought, that today they can not see. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. A matter of faith, would be, that this understanding, be applied to those without faith in God, as well as with. Why doubt, what God has told us. Why strive against something already in his hand. You want a stench worth the time getting upset about. Come,visit the people the world forgets, who, some for reasons of hiding to be safe, are hidden amongst us. The ones, in the fight over right ,wrong, good, evil, the voices so strident scream in front of. The child of incest sitting in a class teased for being different. The wife of abuse, being pushed in line for moving too slow. While one of these is sacrificed for the further joy of arguement, no wonder, there are those who find it hard to believe in God. Dawn

Gertrude_of_Nivelles

12/28/2002 11:38:56 AM

I don't know why, but for some reason, I am reminded of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. I am so sad for these people. This article will add to my prayers for those who are caught up in darkness, separated from the Light of the world, a new urgency. I guess that for me, rejection and darkness now has more of a "face". This also reminds me that faith is experiential--just "being a christian" etc does not give one the experience of the living God, which must be thirsted for, and sought after.

glory2glory

12/28/2002 11:10:05 AM

Yikes! I'm praying for them.

patient4

12/28/2002 11:04:59 AM

It is very easy to determine who has not led a group to grow in size and effectiveness. It is can be determined by how easily they sit back, criticize and pontificate without understanding the values of others. Those who are active don't have time to waste on such empty verbage. The Internet draws so many who can't relate to others face to face, people who surf the web looking for someone to dump on.

BobStern

12/28/2002 09:28:31 AM

Why is it that we get inundated with the stridency of extremists. When are the believers and non-believers who believe in civilized discourse and live and let live, going to come out of the closet? One of my professors in my college days (about 100 years ago), told us that in Judaism, "God gave you a mind to reason with. To be a true believer you must doubt first. You must use your reason to question and analyse. Eventually you reach a point where human reason is no longer fallible. At that point you are free to accept or reject." I see this stridency and vituperation over running our civilization. Let's stop it and get back to civilized discourse in the free discussion of ideas.

roratori

12/28/2002 02:01:56 AM

Eventually everybody will have a personal realationshship with God. It might as well be now because it certainly makes it easier on one's self.

randoo

12/27/2002 10:25:37 PM

Both theists & atheists have locked themselves up in dogmatic cages and swallowed the key. The key is open-mindedness. People on both sides of this issue need to stick their fingers down their throats and get that precious key back.

anarchy

12/27/2002 09:09:14 PM

I think sometimes we all fear changes because once someone becomes so used to having something or believing in something it can be hard for that person to change what they feel so desperately about. It happened to the best us that is why I think our thought systems teen the accassional tune up every 5,000 kliks.

andrewcyrus

12/27/2002 08:52:29 PM

Why don't people get right with their creator and clean the closet rather than come out of it?

anarchy

12/27/2002 08:11:42 PM

I just can't take the Godless Movement seriously because of the people Spearheading the project however I don't think going to the march and/or backing up this Movement will sned you to hell, I'm not extreme like that nor do I think you are wrong. I just personally can't take it seriously.

anarchy

12/27/2002 08:08:13 PM

BTW I don't mean to sound anti-American, please don't get me wrong. I'm anti-America meaning I hate your government and your political parties. I love American people because you are very friendly to us Canadians especially when we visit. I like saying ‘eh’ and stuff like that because I keep you guys laughing. I’ve been to every state on the map. Nevada, California and Ohio being my personal favorites. I think you American people diserve better public heath care and better public education and overall a better system so your culture of fear can finally be put to rest. I really didn't want what I wrote to sound like I am some wrong or anything or even that I hate everything in fact there are many thing I love to do in American, such as Grits something we don’t have in Canada. I also of course know Canada is also a mess and trust me we all know it up here.

anarchy

12/27/2002 07:56:05 PM

Lose yourself in bitter nihilism if you wish, but don't expect many to follow you; the atheism I know is generally espoused by kind, thoughtful people who seek the betterment of humanity, not its denigration. -I’m sorry but as a philosophy student of many years, Nihilism doesn’t live here. I hate violence and wish not to abandon morality nor do I believe in nothing so trying to make that an argument simply doesn’t work however I give leeway to Americans, too much shit you people don’t know. I do agree with on one thing I rather know an Atheist then a Fundie religious person. Atheists tend to more down to Earth, I agree with most Atheists on Evolutions and how the bible is a good storybook. Something I can’t discuss with Fundies because in their mind the bible is 100% true, no questions and Creationism happened which is a myth.

anarchy

12/27/2002 07:55:52 PM

It's amazing, anarchy, that you can determine the legitimacy of a political movement by some of its proponents' resemblance to other Americans, their personalities and their facial expressions. -You might but I don't trust the constipated however that is your prerogative. You need not be the same as I. Nor was I aware that a necessary qualification for atheism was the rejection of government and all of society. -It’s not actually. Despite your disavowal of arrogance, your dismissal of most people as idiots gives you away. -But it’s that what it’s all about now?

anarchy

12/27/2002 07:55:42 PM

The Godless Americans march may not have attracted much of a crowd compared with other civil rights events, but I don't think it's "closing the box of diversity" to limit it to atheists; that's who it was for, after all. Extending an invitation to, say, Methodists would rob it of purpose. -Maybe that is problem with it. You close the box of diversity but not letting those who want to attend, attend dude. All I was saying is that if this Methodist, hearsay, wishes to come I think he or she should in that this is not a march only for specific people with one common goal but that it should’ve been more open to those like myself who believe in removing church and state but use my freedom’s to believe in God. This is all.

lucilius

12/27/2002 07:49:33 PM

Sorry to miss what I'm sure will be a fascinating discussion, but I have to go home now.

lucilius

12/27/2002 07:14:55 PM

The Godless Americans march may not have attracted much of a crowd compared with other civil rights events, but I don't think it's "closing the box of diversity" to limit it to atheists; that's who it was for, after all. Extending an invitation to, say, Methodists would rob it of purpose. It's amazing, anarchy, that you can determine the legitimacy of a political movement by some of its proponents' resemblance to other Americans, their personalities and their facial expressions. Nor was I aware that a necessary qualification for atheism was the rejection of government and all of society. Despite your disavowal of arrogance, your dismissal of most people as idiots gives you away. Lose yourself in bitter nihilism if you wish, but don't expect many to follow you; the atheism I know is generally espoused by kind, thoughtful people who seek the betterment of humanity, not its denigration.

anarchy

12/27/2002 06:29:39 PM

Also anyone can be a Free Thinker yet most Atheist free thinkers are naturalistic dogmaticists I met some of these fun people. Hint the sarcasm. I think individualism is the first step toward freedom both political and social therefore as long as you are doing things for yourself and not listening to anyone else you are thinking freely. Most Atheists listen to the government, their country, Uncle Sam and same with non-Atheists. I consider these people to be brain washed idiots who think comes with violence and war. Unfortunaly, to my shugrin, most people are generally idiots. I’m neither perfect nor arrogant so I do assume that I am apart of this alomancy called society even though I don’t want to be.

anarchy

12/27/2002 06:29:27 PM

Secondly the people listed above have hardly done anything for anyone. A soccer mom is reason why America sucks. I met Michael Shermer, if you find anymore of an arrogant man I want you to tell me. He's a fool, a Fundie and a really head case. Michael Newdow look constipated; maybe the removal of that thing up his ass will get rid of him paranoia. America is a peaseless, militaristic culture of fear. These non-beliers through wood on the burning fire just the same way as the religious right does. This about personal bias and political correctness something which needs to be removed from American society.

anarchy

12/27/2002 06:29:13 PM

2,000 people showed up which really isn't much considering much more come out to support the million man march, the march of dimes and the environmental movements, plus the band that played really suck ass and the organizations that went are not really Non-Believers they are Non-Christians. I'm glad you have a march but someone like myself should've been able to come. It's very wrong to only let one group of people in because that closes the box of diversity. Unfourtunaly Americans no nothing about diversity. A melting pot of assimilation doesn't work which is why practically this movement and this march won’t work. It's too bad but it a waist of time.

anarchy

12/27/2002 06:28:38 PM

I have two opinions on this subject. First the Godless American March wasn't even broadcasted on any network new program nor would any network touch this for many reason I guess some are reasonable and some are ridiculous. I feel that people just didn't care.

lucilius

12/27/2002 05:24:30 PM

I don't see that anyone has said atheists are incapable of being influenced by others. If anything, many atheists are more aware of subtle influences toward unquestioning acceptance of the status quo than is usual among the religious. That doesn't mean there aren't intelligent and openminded people on both sides, or that the term "freethinker" necessarily excludes religious belief -- only unquestioning belief, or continued belief in the face of strong countervailing evidence. I certainly don't think this article promotes hatred; it provides a valuable look at those so often on the Other Side of religious debates; what rancor exists is, I think, simple exasperation at the antics of extremists. And at the assumption that any public statement on the issue must come from an extremist.

human1

12/27/2002 05:06:36 PM

(cont)I believe we all have the choice to think freely.....for example I did not walk into my church and swallow the unspoken, yet existing, list of mindless conclusions insinuated there. For example, I am not opposed to abortion, and have some very relevant questions for those who oppose it in every case. I also am very opposed to the death penalty, and believe the Christian stance there to be wrong. I am not popular for beliefs such as what I mention and more.....but I was given a brain, and the power to think freely, and conclude with what I see to be truthful. I believe in God...as a result of looking at all opinions, and reading, and opening myself up to the possibility by avoiding the dogma of many, even family, who are atheist. I, just as anyone else, can think for myself.

human1

12/27/2002 05:06:15 PM

I'm a Christian, yet consider myself to be a free thinker. If you think that atheists are incapable of being influenced by the thoughts of others, including other atheists, you are kidding yourself. There is revealed in this article, and in some posts, a thread of hatred toward believers....and each contributer to this is feeding the hateful thoughts lingering in others.

WillSea

12/27/2002 04:39:40 PM

At the root of things, we are all free-thinkers, even if we freely hand the power of thought/choice over to others. So many people in this world don't want to think for themselves and they are freely choosing to give up that right. The point is, they can take back that right at any time that "non-thinking" ceases to work for them. The inquiry that is necessary for personal growth and human consciousness demands that freedom, and the exercise of that freedom is happening, one person at a time.

lucilius

12/27/2002 04:21:45 PM

We can always count on you, b-baggins, to sneer at anything which smacks of intelligent inquiry, and cast your vote for blind zealotry. Hatred is bred from fear, which usually stems from ignorance. If free thinking brought me to believe in a certain religion, I would adhere to it immediately. Because I have found yours to be full of holes does not mean that all religions are so, or that I will not discover truth tomorrow; it just means I won't be satisfied with a placebo. I offered an honest definition, which did not attack any specific belief, in response to a public question; you took it upon yourself to decide my finger pointed at you. If the dunce cap fits, wear it.

b-baggins

12/27/2002 04:06:57 PM

lucilius, And what if your free thinking brought you to the conclusion that a particular religious dogma is an effective embodiment of truth? The simple fact is that "free thinker" is like "pro-choice." It is a word specifically designed to discredit opposing philosophies and has nothing to do with thought (or choice).

lucilius

12/27/2002 03:35:38 PM

"Freethinker" includes anyone who is not bound by religious dogma, wherever they sit on the spectrum of belief. It generally refers to atheists, agnostics, and any variety of secular philosophies; but many Unitarians would fall under the heading as well. It implies openness to critical examination of belief (or unbelief). To the extent that organized religion discourages constant reexamination of its foundations and tenets, it distances itself from free thought.

doctorfrog

12/27/2002 03:27:03 PM

does the term "freethinker" only apply to atheists? is this meant to imply that every non-atheist cannot think freely? i can think freely, yet am not an atheist.

Eudaimonist

12/27/2002 03:27:01 PM

My thanks to Beliefnet for this article. I hope that one day an article about Objectivists will be included, possibly interviewing someone from The Objectivist Center.

WGSmith

12/27/2002 02:53:29 PM

I would like to thank Beliefnet and Rebecca Phillips for the balanced and favorable coverage of the contemporary Freethought scene. It's tough to be an unbeliever in America today and it's about time we started seeing some coverage of the lives of the nonsuperstitious, who are disproportionately among the best, brightest and most generous Americans but who are all but invisible in our national dialogue where it is simply assumed that you are religious (even though nearly half of all Americans do not regularly attend church).

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