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Tuesday, 26 February, 2008

Thankful For Atheists
(with comments)

Linda Staten says: Let us bow our heads in thanks for atheists.

Here are a few simple truths about who they are, and aren't.

  • Atheists are well-behaved.
  • Atheists don't take up much space.
  • Atheists make good neighbors.
  • Atheists will not infringe upon your life uninvited.
  • Atheists are lousy fundraisers.
  • Atheists are the quiet type.

Each point is explained in the article.

Permalink | Posted in General |
  1. By Sheldon. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @08:04am:
    But what about the Agnostics?
  2. By another larry. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @08:52am:
    You can't have it both ways Sheldon
  3. By El Duderino. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @09:45am:
    Except for Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Trotsksy, Beria, Hoxha, Ceausescu, Pol Pot, Napoleon, Czolgosz, Bakunin, Zangara and George Carlin. While I'm sure there are some very decent non tyrannical, non homicidal, currently funny atheists in the world, to generalize and say they are all sweetness and light is patently false, as are most generalizations involving vast numbers of people.
  4. By L.. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @10:05am:
    Of course, Hitler wasn't an athiest (just as he wasn't a vegetarian)
  5. By beegee. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @10:58am:
    But what about the Agnostics?

    Meaning literally, "without knowledge". Atheism and theism spend all of thier time asking followers to prove or disprove the existence of God. Atheism has leaders (Harris, Dawkins) and adherents seem quite passionate in their belief of non-belief.

    Agnosticism is to be without knowledge of God. Can't say there is or isn't. It is an intellectually honest position but in my experience, unsatisfying.
  6. By decibelcat. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @11:05am:
    By L:
    Of course, Hitler wasn't an athiest (just as he wasn't a vegetarian)

    But he was flatulent.
  7. By Indigo Kid. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @11:16am:
    Atheism requires the belief in the existence of a God in order to deny that said God exists...

    Just another puff piece filled with misrepresentation to prove what I am is the best thing to be.
  8. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @12:13pm:
    Hitler was a Christian.
  9. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @12:15pm:
    Atheism requires the belief in the existence of a God in order to deny that said God exists...

    Nonsense. As usual.
  10. By Mr Me. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @12:42pm:
    We are just humans, that explains everything.
    My take is that there is no fargin god, that i am 100% sure about; i build that on the fact that nothing in all of history has shown 1 proof, not 1 single thing that can be taken as a proof.
    Religion = You are in love with yourself
  11. By bdn2004. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @09:25pm:
    have any atheists ever done a THING for the betterment of mankind? NAME ONE. They certainly can't just BE...no they have to FORCE their views on us all by tearing down every decent institution in the country because they are "offended". They do it so cowardly too by using the bought and paid for court system so that we the people have no say in the matter.
  12. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @09:39pm:
    Well, Thomas Edison invented a few things...use any light bulbs lately bdn2004? Here's a few more: http://digg.com/lbv.php?id=552703&ord=1

    Far as I can tell, they have never killed or tortured anyone for their faith, either.
  13. By Blayne. Comment posted 26-Feb-2008 @10:19pm:
    Bisbonian, I didn't see "John Walkenbach, Author, Professional Blogger" anywhere in that clip.

    Nice clip BTW.
  14. By Wilson. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @04:14am:
    Atheist... write blogs...
  15. By bdn2004. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @06:01am:

    Thanks for your slick production. You wouldn't be convinced otherwise if a similar production were made about Christians. And that production would take take hours not 3 minutes - and no actors would pad it either. It wouldn't sway you one iota - guaranteed. Thomas Edison, maybe he was an atheist, but probably more so in the vane like most so called Christians - they claim to be but really spend no time thinking about it so that it doesn't motivate their actions. And that is what I'm talking about...that the betterment of mankind is motivated by atheism - I don't think ANY of your so called examples are proof.
  16. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @06:20am:
    Of course not, bdn. You only think a book written 2000 or more years ago by multiple authors, translated and edited numerous times is proof. But you asked for someone to NAME ONE, and I did. Guess you really wanted more.
  17. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @06:22am:
    By the way, I don't doubt that some christians have done good things....I don't need proof. I can open my eyes and see that for myself. Sadly, that hasn't worked with god.
  18. By jigawatt. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @11:47am:
    Far as I can tell, they have never killed or tortured anyone for their faith, either.

    Whether atheists have faith or not is itself worthy of a discussion, but they certainly do have a worldview. And this worldview was used to justify killings and torturings under atheists such as Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, and Mao Tse-tung.
  19. By Marie. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @02:44pm:
    @Jigawatt: I'm an atheist, and I certainly never felt any justification for the killings and torturing that went on in the world. Those people were probably not all that stable, and I am certain that not everyone in one group will share the same motives. There will be good atheists and bad atheists, just like good Christians and bad Christians and any other thing, but we can't categorize someone by what someone else in their group did.
  20. By jigawatt. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @04:05pm:
    we can't categorize someone by what someone else in their group did

    I totally agree. For the same reason, I don't think it's fair to say that Christianity itself leads to the atrocities that have been perpetrated in its name by e.g. Hitler.
  21. By bdn2004. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @04:13pm:
    How can a book be written that no one disputes is full of the most profound moral teaching be based on the greatest lie of all time and that lie be perpetuated for a 1000 years by 66 authors? Like how? That by itself should be SOME proof. But that's hardly proof compared to how that teaching has inspired people to build great buildings, compose great music, pioneer science, hop on the Mayflower and form the USA.... My point is atheism doesn't have that affect.
  22. By J-Walk. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @04:38pm:
    How can a book be written that no one disputes is full of the most profound moral teaching be based on the greatest lie of all time and that lie be perpetuated for a 1000 years by 66 authors?

    I'll field this one...

    It's because people have a great need to believe that they continue to live after they die. Ancient Greeks and Romans had their mythology, and we have ours. There's nothing wrong with the Bible as literature, and if it inspires you, great! But that whole a bit about Jesus dying for our sins is a myth, stolen from earlier myths.

    You can probably make a similar statement about the Koran being profound. In fact, if you were born in the middle East, you'd be a Muslim rather than a Christian.
  23. By haywood brinker. Comment posted 27-Feb-2008 @10:33pm:
    BDN, these folks would like a word...
  24. By bdn2004. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @06:00am:
    well thanks haywood,

    Sounds like I hit a nerve with you....I express my opinion and atheists come crawling out of the woodwork armed with f-bombs and insults. George Carlin? Whoops maybe I spoke too soon.

    And J-Walk I must say, as a great admirer of your Excel books, that I by the way have helped you sell a few of, am truly disappointed in your simplistic answer. I've read many of the same things you put in your books in other books, and they may have stolen from you, but it doesn't make it less true.

    One simple example of the profundity of Christianity... Jesus said "Love your enemies". That is "pure love" - you just can't do any better than that. Those three words have changed this planet.
  25. By J-Walk. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @06:18am:
    Can you provide a few examples of how those three words have changed this planet?
  26. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @07:10am:
    Can you provide a few examples of how those three words have changed this planet?

    I'll take a shot. You can type these into google to get to the websites.

    1. Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

    2. The Salvation Army

    3. Human needs ministries (part of the international mission board of the SBC)
  27. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @07:36am:
    Here are two more, both of which I have volunteered with:

    Desire Street Ministries

    United Methodist Hope Ministries
  28. By J-Walk. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @08:41am:
    I have no doubt that those are fine organizations. But who exactly is the "enemy" that they are loving?
  29. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @11:24am:
    The enemy that they are loving is that person who is outspokenly against Christianity, but who is in a situation of desperate need. For example, I'm sure most Christians would consider Christopher Hitchens an enemy of our faith (he himself said as much in an interview with World Magazine), but if he were in great need, organizations like the ones mentioned above would not refuse to help him because of his atheism.
  30. By Ed T. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @11:53am:
    jigawatt, I am an atheist and I would help Christians in need, even those who call me immoral scum responsible for all of this country's ills. So your point is what exactly?
  31. By J-Walk. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @12:06pm:
    You're really stretching it there jigawatt. Is that the best example you can come up with of how "loving your enemy" has changed the world?
  32. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @01:18pm:
    Ed T, bdn2004 said that Jesus' command to love your enemies had changed the planet and J-Walk challenged him to provide examples. I provided some and J-Walk asked for clarification. I have no doubt that many atheists would do similar things. Since many atheists consider Jesus as a good teacher, perhaps for some, their reason for doing similar things would be because they were influenced by those exact words.
  33. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @01:25pm:
    J-Walk, I don't think it's a stretch, given the historical context of Jesus' words. Maybe it's not the absolute best example, but are you saying that the world would be better off if Christian relief organizations administered some form of belief litmus test before helping those in need?
  34. By J-Walk. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @02:13pm:
    Now you're putting words in my mouth. I'm just looking for an example of how the words "love your enemy" has changed the world. You gave me examples of Christian relief organizations that do good work. However, the work they do is not for an "enemy."

    In all fairness though, it was bdn2004 who made the original statement. And he seems to have disappeared.
  35. By Misc.. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @02:19pm:
    You don't NEED Christianity to be charitable, you just need empathy -which most people have to some degree, it's part of how we understand other people.
    Yes, people have been inspired by the Bible. They've also been inspired by the works of Karl Marx, for example, and I'm not drawning comparisons between the two, I'm just pointing out another work that changed this world. There are many more.
    And most athiests don't care if you want to worship any number of gods, until you start telling them how to live their lives, and judging people who have done you no harm just because you don't agree with their personal lifestyle choice. And it's no wonder people protect themselves from innaccurate insults. What did you expect?
  36. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @04:41pm:
    J-Walk, I was not trying to put words into your mouth. I was just asking you to clarify your position. You have clairifed it by saying that people who are openly hostile to Christianity are not enemies. If Christopher Hitchen's self description as one who hates religion doesn't fit the bill, how about certain people of Indonesia who received aid from Christian charities after the 2004 tsunami? Since the majority of Indonesia is Muslim, there were surely those in need there who were very hateful against not only Christianity as a religion, but against Christians themselves.
  37. By Bill. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @04:45pm:
    What have atheists done for the betterment of mankind? Most of the scientists that have developed modern day technology and medicine are atheists.
    What have religious people done other than spread bigotry and try to undermine education, rights, and freedom?
  38. By Bill. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @04:47pm:
    ..and let's not forget most of the violence carried out in the world is done in the name of religion.
  39. By J-Walk. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @05:16pm:
    Ok, let's get practical. Some guy breaks into your house and kills your family. Do you love him?
  40. By jigawatt. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @06:02pm:
    Some guy breaks into your house and kills your family. Do you love him?

    I'm not sure how this relates to Jesus' words changing the planet, but I will answer. It would be very difficult to love him especially if he showed no remorse. But Jesus didn't say it would be easy. I cannot say for certain how I would respond in such a situation, but I hope that I would still love and pray for such a person. I'm sure that there are examples of Christians who have been faced with difficult challenges like this and still kept true to Jesus' teaching. I would try my best to be one of them.
  41. By Mary. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @06:02pm:
    It's exceedingly rare around here for Christians to be trying to tell others how to live and what to believe and annoying others by trying to force their religion down anyone's throat; in fact, it's clearly the other way around. The open season on believers of any sort, but especially Christians, is extreme; it's fanatical, it's distorted, it's unreasonable, and it's sad for people of this age to be behaving like eager adolescents with a new fad.

    How can I say it's "distorted and fanatical"? Because it's always, always taken to the extreme. John and his fellows here portray all religious people as crusaders and murderers - "murder" wlways comes into the conversation; yet, just the merest suggestion that atheists have also been responsible for such things opens a blast furnace of indignation - oh, what a fuss!
  42. By Mary. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @06:08pm:
    At a sensible level, the most obvious "enemy" of the average believer is the average atheist because they're clearly on the other side of the fence. But average believers can love average atheists, and vice-versa.

    The question of what "love" means here is another good one; at it's lowest level, it would involve tolerance. Tolerance is more common than not on both sides, but each side can be intolerant - and intolerance is the norm here - inevitably from the atheist standpoint.
    Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source ... they are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres. Albert Einstein

    He wasn't the only smart guy, but he was pretty smart.
  43. By J-Walk. Comment posted 28-Feb-2008 @06:38pm:
    But Jesus didn't say it would be easy.

    Wow, you act as if this Jesus character were a real person, with a history of quotes that you can call upon when needed. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it's all made up. Your hero is a fantasy character, created from previous fantasy characters.

    Nothing wrong with that, as long as you understand that this whole Jesus thing is fabricated, and you treat is as the fictional story that it is. But, unfortunately, most people actually believe this myth is true history.

    Do a little research, rather than believe what your parents told you. They probably also told you that Santa came down the chimney on Christmas eve.

    The story of Jesus is a nice story, and we can all benefit from knowing it. But, c'mon... it's not real.
  44. By jigawatt. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @08:53am:
    J-Walk, While I am a Christian, my comments on this post itself have mainly been about how Jesus' words "love your enemies" have changed the world and not about Christianity per se. I believe they have changed the world. You don't have to believe all the other things about Jesus to believe that. You don't even have to believe that Jesus really existed.

    Your quote above about how the story of Jesus is a nice story and we can benefit from it seems (to me at least) to contradict your earlier statements about how one of the most beloved moral teachings ascribed to Jesus have not really been all that beneficial. Let me be clear, I'm not trying to put words into your mouth, I'm just trying to understand your position.
  45. By J-Walk. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @09:28am:
    Back in comment #25, I asked a simple question. Twenty comments later, I still don't have an answer. You say you "believe" that those words have changed the world, but I'd like some concrete evidence.

    To clarify, we can benefit from the story of Jesus, just as we can benefit from Aesop's Fables.

    Feel free to drop this conversation. As is always the case with religion, these types of arguments never really go anywhere.
  46. By jigawatt. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @09:52am:
    I'd like some concrete evidence, I provided what I consider to be compelling evidence for this in 29 and 36. If it's not compelling to you, that's fine. And if you want to drop this conversation, that's fine too (unless someone asks me a direct question, I will stop posting). But let me just finish by saying that, from what I gather, this is your position:

    1. These words are attributed to Jesus: "Love your enemies"
    2. Christian relief organizations do great things.
    3. Self avowed haters of religion do not qualify as enemies.
    4. Members of other religions that express hatred towards all Christians are also not enemies.
    5. Enemies are only those people who do something on the level of killing your family.

    Now, to me this seems like you're conveniently defining the term enemy so that the number of enemies in this world are so few that it's nearly impossible for "Love your enemies" to change it.
  47. By J-Walk. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @11:15am:
    OK, so as long as you have a very limited definition of "enemy," all is fine. I'm just using the normal definition of "enemy." Someone who disagrees with me isn't necessarily my enemy. But, by your definition, I am definitely your enemy.

    Here's an interesting take on the "love your enemy" concept. Even the Jesus character didn't take his own advice.

  48. By Mary. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @06:26pm:
    John, get real: You consider any person who believes in God your enemy - that's why you call them "stupid" and "morons" and you carry on about how they can be blamed for everything under the sun, likening all Christians to mass murderers and other such nonsense.
  49. By J-Walk. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @06:53pm:
    Again, I'm using the common definition of "enemy." People can be stupid, and they can be morons, but they aren't necessarily my enemy. They are just people that I'd choose to not associate with.

    I don't think I have any actual personal enemies. I guess terrorists are enemies. People who threaten me or my family would be enemies. But religious people? No.
  50. By Mary. Comment posted 29-Feb-2008 @08:28pm:
    Here's an example of what jigawatt's talking about: Remember the guy who walked into the Amish school and shot 10 girls? Do you think the families of those girls hated him? They didn't. They were very concerned about his family - they considered the young man's family to have suffered the same loss as themselves. They prayed for the family, took them food, included them in their memorial services, etc.

    In Oct of 2005, a man drove his truck across the centerline on a highway here, hit a van and killed five children, all members of the same family - again, a Mennonite family. There wasn't any hate on that occasion, either; instead, the children's family has embraced the man with love - yes, really. Here's a link, if you're interested enough to read about it: http://www.mennoweekly.org/NOVEMBER/11-20-06/SCHROCKS11-20.html

    Again, I personally believe in God but am not a member of any organized religion - or even any disorganized religion.
  51. By J-Walk. Comment posted 01-Mar-2008 @07:58pm:
    Two good examples, </b>Mary</b>. But, if you recall, the original statement was that "love your enemies" is a concept that has changed the planet.
  52. By Curtis. Comment posted 01-Mar-2008 @08:27pm:
    Everything changes the planet and nothing does. Jesus, either as a myth or real human, changes the planet. J-Walk changes the planet. Mary changes the planet.

    Toad changes the planet, especially for the pigs, who also change the planet, but also do not.

    The Mennonite who forgave is also a person who has done bad things and hurt people.

    If you "love your neighbor as yourself" you have to ask, "how much do I love myself?" Sometimes a lot. But not always.

    I don't believe in Beatles.
  53. By Mister E.B.. Comment posted 01-Mar-2008 @08:59pm:
    I don't believe in Beatles.

    Hey, whatever gets you through the night.

  54. By bdn2004. Comment posted 01-Mar-2008 @09:42pm:
    How has "loving your enemies" changed the world? One example....How do you think a majority Muslim nation would have handled the conquest of Japan if what happened at Pearl Harbor happened to them? Or to the point ....a predominantly atheist nation such as Russia? Do you really think they would have rebuilt their country, provided food and medicine, respected their sovereignty and traditions - even let them keep their country and it's borders, and then commit to forever protect them from all their enemies? It's never happened before in the HISTORY of warfare. And I'm saying the only reason it happened THEN is because underlying Christian ethic that the USA is built upon. And that specific phrase sums up a lot of what it truly means to be a Christian.
  55. By Mary. Comment posted 01-Mar-2008 @10:43pm:
    John, everything changes the planet, but before any large-scale change can be seen, there has to be a long history of small-scale changes; it all begins at the bottom.

    When they heard about the Amish school shootings and the reaction of the parents of those children, I would think everyone did some serious reflection: Could I possibly find it in me to care about the person who shot my child?

    One person sets an example and others follow. That's the way things change the planet.
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