Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I Live In The Bible Belt

So, it's Sunday night and I've just dropped Pam off after watching a movie ("Lock Out") which was so boring to me that I spent more time talking to Pam and getting pretend married to her on Facebook than I did watching the actual movie. (We had the entire theater to ourselves, stadium seats and all, if that gives you any idea how un-popular this movie apparently is, and for good reason.)

We chatted for a while after the movie was over and on the way home after dropping her off, I stopped at the post office to check the mail.

As I often do, I take the mail to one of the tables in the lobby to determine what is junk to be tossed in the trash can. When I arrived at the table, I was greeted by this lovely flyer asking me "?? WHY ??":

I can only presume that the person asking this question is implying that those of us who do not believe in their god should not be living in Tennessee. You'll notice there is an e-mail address ( at the bottom of this flyer, to which I am sending a link to this blog post in order that the person asking such a ridiculous question might understand that not only am I willing to answer the question for her, him, or shim, but also for anyone else who might have ever pondered such a presumptive question.

Why do I live in the "bible belt" even though I do not believe in "God"? (I assume you are referring to the Christian god and not one of hundreds of other gods.)

First of all, I don't actually live in the bible belt. And yet, I do live in the bible belt. Let me explain.

I grew up mostly in the state of Tennessee. I find Tennessee to be one of the most beautiful areas in the country, with much to offer those of us who value mountains and trees and hills and valleys.

The geographical area referred to on maps as "Tennessee" is a natural part of planet earth. It has no belief system, no superstition, no preference for who walks upon its soil, to whom one living on its territory is married, whether or not they use birth control or with whom they have had sex...

The trees and the mountains do not require that anyone gazing upon them hold any superstitious belief in invisible beings whatsoever, nor is there any requirement that I am aware of that one speaks to these invisible deities in order to reside here.

The fact that the land mass known as "Tennessee" happens to be located in an area larger than itself labeled as "the bible belt" has nothing to do with the land mass, but rather with the majority of people who reside upon it.

As evidenced by the flyer under discussion, many of these people fancy themselves to be more worthy of living in this area than those who do not share their superstitious beliefs in invisible beings who make rules about what humans are forbidden to eat (shrimp, lobster, and all other shellfish) and then dictate them to ancient people who have no idea where lightning comes from.

Let me assure the author of the above flyer that, according to the United States Constitution, you are absolutely wrong.

Superstitious people who join clubs called "churches" and engage in group rituals where they drink wine and/or grape juice and pretend that it is the blood of their magical invisible friend and eat crackers or wafers and pretend that it is their magical invisible friend's flesh do NOT own the state of Tennessee, nor do they own any other part of the earth that falls under the label of "bible belt".

The reason certain parts of the geographical land mass of North America are called "the bible belt" is because those areas are known to have a majority of people who are extremely superstitious and engage in the ritual I have just described. The term "bible belt" came about because the majority of people in those areas are known to practice such superstitious rituals and are also known for having little or no tolerance for anyone different than themselves, but long before people ever lived in the area known as the "bible belt" and swarmed and settled there, it was, and still is, just a mass of beautiful land where any human being might wish to live and enjoy the view.

I happen to be one of those people. I also happen to be a humanist who values ALL human persons and believes it is my responsibility to help those whom I can personally rather than simply praying to an invisible friend and hoping they will feed them and provide their needs. I also happen to be an atheist - someone who does not believe in any god or gods.

For the most part, I can live peacefully and respect those who practice superstitious rituals in groups gathered in buildings called churches. I have many friends who do just that, and we get along just fabulously.

However, when I encounter people who do those things who imply that they are morally superior to me because I do not share their superstitious beliefs, that's where my tolerance ends.

I find it extremely disturbing that anyone would think they have any more right to the beautiful land mass known as Tennessee (or any other area contained in what is referred to as "the bible belt") than anyone else for ANY reason at all, whether because of the color of their skin, their gender, their hair color, or whether they talk to invisible people and engage in the symbolic cannibalism known as "communion".

The flyer in the image on this page is the perfect example of bigotry in its most insidious, vulgar form. It is extremely disturbing and vile to anyone who values human beings in general to imply that those who are not in the majority shouldn't choose to live in such a beautiful place as Tennessee.

As someone who has had people who used to be dear friends from childhood turn their backs on our friendship in favor of their superstitious practices which they believe precludes them from continuing a beautiful friendship with someone who does not share their desire to engage in superstitious beliefs, practices, or the studies thereof which teach one that they must do those things, I can tell you that I have every reason to be thoroughly alarmed and disgusted.

I am regularly criticized and even ridiculed by people, some of with whom I am friendly, for being so "militant" and "extreme" and making "incessant posts" and going on "atheist rants".

Nevermind that I don't criticize and ridicule people who post frequent prayer requests for things ranging from illness to job interviews and everything in between... (I usually post encouraging words and practical suggestions for finding quality health solutions and job interviewing techniques and refrain from any commentary on the prayer aspect of the request.) These people nonetheless find that my self-expression of why superstitious things make no sense to be less valid than the self-expression of those who are superstitious.

Sometimes the things I post may seem rather cruel. Sometimes they seem to ridicule and belittle those who practice superstitious rituals as a part of their belief system, but those people who know me and love me realize that my posts are not aimed at those who are merely religious, but rather at those who believe their religion entitles them to attempt to control others and force them to adhere to their religious views via legislative action and encroachment upon the rights of others.

Your right to your superstitious beliefs and symbolically cannibalistic rituals ends where my right to worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster begins. Your right to pray in school ends where others' rights to allow you to pray silently or privately without forcing them to listen to it over a loud speaker begins.

Compared to many atheists I know, I am not militant at all. What I consider to be militant is someone who refuses to have anything whatsoever to do with anyone who is religious or believes in any god or gods, including family members. I believe that to be as ridiculous as a former friend of mine who severed our friendship going back to middle school because I refused to stop expressing my disgust for bigoted behavior in religious people when I see it.

So back to your question: Why do I live in "the bible belt" even though I don't believe in your god? Because I like the view. I may not like the fact that the place is infested with superstitious people who regularly practice bigotry as though it were a virtue, but it doesn't make the mountains any less beautiful.

Of course, there is another reason why I choose to stay here despite the fact that many religious people would like to see all non-believers leave so they can have the place to themselves... It's because I believe it is my responsibility to make sure that this beautiful area of North America remains open to ALL human beings, not just those who hold the belief that their superstitions are superior to anyone else's or that they are better people than those of us who value actual, real, flesh-and-blood human beings over invisible friends.

To that end, I am a brave soldier.

I may not wear a uniform. I may not receive a salary. I may not get any respect from my government or from many of my family or friends. I may not hold a special rank or title. But every day, I'm on the lookout for threats to the freedom of not only people like me who are not believers, but also people UNLIKE myself who ARE believers of a different variety than those who are in the majority in this area often referred to as "the bible belt".

To do that, it is necessary that often I am a disruptor. I am a bucket of cold water in the face of those who engage in the delusion that the world works the way they believe it works simply because that is what they have decided to believe. I am a painful electrical jolt in the solar plexus of those who are content to exclude those unlike themselves from receiving respect and the ability to participate equally in receiving benefits from the government into which they have paid simply because they have found joy in living and expressing physical affection with someone who has the same genitalia as themselves.

Do I get death threats from people who call themselves "Christians"? Yes. Often.

Have I lost friends because I insist on standing up to the bigotry of those with whom I am friendly when I see it? Absolutely.

Does that make me any less relentless in demanding that people stop and take a good long look in the mirror of truth regarding the harm that their superstitious belief system has wrought in the past and continues to bring in the present? Fuck no.

Sometimes I'm a real cunt when it comes to ridiculing the ridiculous. I try not to hurt the feelings of those whom I love and make sure I express the fact that my ridicule is only aimed at those who use their superstition as an excuse for their own bigoted opinions, but I'm learning not to lose too much sleep over the fact that I may inadvertently offend some of those people who don't engage in such practices, and the reason why can best be summed up here:

If that doesn't explain to you why I choose to live in an area that I find quite beautiful despite the fact that it may be overrun with bigoted people who masquerade as morally superior individuals under the guise of religion, and why I choose to serve as a militant soldier fighting for the rights of ALL people to live here if they so choose, regardless of whether they engage in symbolic cannibalism of a zombie raised from the dead or not, then you are far beyond help and all I can do is pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that he will touch you with His Noodley Appendage and cure you of your mental infirmity.



  1. Very well written. Love it. And I've been to Tennessee IS beautiful. :)

  2. Hang in there - from what I read up here in Eastern Canada, Tennessee needs help. What is it about the Appalachians that breeds ignorant, raving fundies? We have our share here as well. I follow the happenings in the States with some dread, because Canada is becoming more conservative and less open-minded as well. The US is, as far as I am concerned, going through what we will go through in the not-too-distant future. The fundies are all ready trying to claw back the gains that free-thinkers and sectarians have made. May you find strength in his great noodliness!

  3. I was born in Nashville and have lived in Tennessee my entire life. I've traveled to a lot of different places and never found anywhere I'd rather live. My family moved to this area in the late 1700's, so I'm pretty sure I have just as much right to live in TN as this bible thumper.

  4. Hehehehe . . . I'm with you on this one, Angie -- and I live in the mountains of Greeneville, TN!

  5. Kudos for efficiently phrasing what I have long felt regarding religion and those who cling to it. I'm sure the religious atmosphere isn't quite as intense up here in Maine, but the sentiment is not lost on those of us living elsewhere!

  6. Moved to Georgia from New Jersey about 5 months ago. So far I haven't encountered much bigotry because I don't acknowledge a divine presence. That is not to say there is none, I have been questioned about how I can live and can see disgust from individuals when they know I am an Atheist. Then I go with my father to church on major holidays (I go because he likes the company and I know he appreciates it) and I hear the priest spout hate of all different kinds from the altar and all I can do is be thankful I can see objectively see how he sounds and realize how much better people could be without their minds being tainted. Keep fighting the good fight.

  7. If only Christians were more Christian, i.e. Christ-like. I think many would find this article by Andrew Sullivan interesting in that regard:

    A key quote from that article applicable to this blog post: "Above all: give up power over others, because power, if it is to be effective, ultimately requires the threat of violence, and violence is incompatible with the total acceptance and love of all other human beings that is at the sacred heart of Jesus’ teaching."

    That is, in my view, the more people like the person who put the sign in the post office try to push those who don't believe exactly like them "out", the less they are really Christian. Me, I'm agnostic bordering on atheist. But if one is going to have a religion, one ought to at least try to conform with the teachings of its leader. Once again, however, it's not really about spirituality or existential questions, but power, politics, money and greed.

  8. I am the one who left the flyer at the post office on Broadway.

    The reason I left the flyer is because I see Christian pamphlets (some I leave, but also those of others) left at the post office crumpled up or torn to pieces, and was hoping those who do that would see the flyer. Most of mine are for other Christians to urge them to a holy life, since most in Tennessee are Baptists who believe in "once saved, always saved", and also because I expect mostly Christians here in Knoxville rather than atheists. I moved here from Boise, Idaho eight years ago (not the first time) which is not in the Bible Belt, but I expect this region to be Christian.

    The question wasn't meant to imply that only Christians have a right to live here, but why would atheists want to.

    Angie, if you don't mind me asking, why did you become an atheist?

    1. I didn't become an atheist. Like you, I was born an atheist, meaning that I was born without belief in any god or gods. I was indoctrinated growing up, but outgrew it once I learned critical thinking skills.

      Asking why an atheist would want to live in "the bible belt" is like asking why an African American would want to live in the south. You assume that either a) the south has the monopoly on religious bigotry and it exists nowhere else on earth or b) the area known as "the bible belt" has nothing to offer beyond religious bigotry. Neither option is accurate or reflects an intelligent ponderance.

      Perhaps the more interesting question is: Why did you become superstitious and begin believing in invisible beings, and why did you choose the Christian version over all the hundreds of others so similar?

    2. Did you expect your parents to be flawless, and when you discovered they were only human and imperfect, you assumed they were hypocrites and lost confidence in Christianity? This is one reason many abandon the belief of their childhood.

    3. Nope. My parents taught me to think for myself. My father was a gay Cheistian until he died of brain cancer in 1985 at age 38.

      The only thing that led me to reject religion was common sense.

      I reject your god for the same reason you reject all other gods... You are an atheist regarding all gods but one, I just believe in one less god than you do. ;-)

    4. I almost missed a chance to reply to the star of the show.

      Gilligan: what in the world possessed you to mail out such a thing? Do you realize how completely hateful and ignorant that flyer came out to be?

      "The question wasn't meant to imply that only Christians have a right to live here, but why would atheists want to."

      Perhaps they have family who live here, and have lived here, for hundreds of years. Perhaps they have careers, families and homes that they do not wish to abandon simply because people like you send out hate filled flyers harassing them. Is it really so hard to believe that someone whose beliefs are in the minority in an area would still want to stay by their home?

      Does your religion not claim that you are required to convert as many people as you can to the "love of Christ"? I'm sure you've seen the "WWJD" things all over... do you never think about that question? If I were a Christian, I sure would. And knowing what Jesus stood for, knowing how he acted in his life and what he did... do you really think he would send a flyer to people saying 'Why are you even here?' And tell me: do you really think that will convert anyone? That someone who knows nothing of Christianity would look and say "Wow, this sounds like a religion of love and acceptance! I should go with them!" I find a hard time believing that...

    5. Gilligan,
      Your response to her answer nonsensical because her parents being flawed and imperfect has no bearing on Christianity or her belief in it. YOU know your parents are flawed, yet YOU still believe, so let's not be silly.
      Second, you have made something up in order to support your understanding of atheists. Not one atheist that I have ever met, not one atheist that I have ever written to, not one atheist that I have ever read ABOUT has ever claimed that their atheism came from finding out that their parents were flawed and imperfect and began assuming that they were hypocrites. So it seems that is something that you assume is true because you can't possibly think of a rational reason NOT to believe. That is called being intellectually dishonest, and creating a strawman.
      I would ask that if you have questions, or curiosities that you be honest in voicing them. If you wonder how an atheist could rationally become an atheist, then ask. DOn't make things up and pretend that you know that your reason is very often true. Because it was nonsense.

      Very interesting conversation, but if you are going to have it, you have to have it with all possible honesty.



    6. Gilligan:
      I live here because I have family here, with known roots dating back to the 1800s. I haven't been financially able to support myself on my own due to a poor economy. I love the tranquility of the area I currently reside in, but I cannot stand the rampant bigotry that Angie describes. I only put up with Baptists because they make good barbecue. Recently, my family and co-workers (mostly Baptist) discovered I am an Atheist. I have been one since a very young age, and it has made life much easier for me. Rather than trying to live by a two-millennial old doctrine of belief, I tend to stick to the laws of this country, and I freely follow the teachings of many famous men. I refuse to follow any one religion because there is always some aspect of life, either of mine or of others, that is frowned upon or condemned. There is always a spiritual aspect to each religion which I find laughable, because as a man of no faith in the unknown, I cannot entrust my well-being to forces un-provable. Ever since this recent "outing", my life has been made difficult by these so-called "men of faith". Hell on earth is as real as they wish to make it for me. Many question my morals and sexuality. Others wish to see me back onto "the right path". The only birthday present I received this year was a Bible from a family member. I'd love to just leave this place because of them, but that would accomplish nothing. I intend to challenge all of their convictions until I stop breathing.

      The fact that you have left this sign in a public forum shows you are uncomfortable with dissidents of your faith living in the same region as you. Can you not walk the same ground, drink from the same fountains, ride the same buses as us? People like you irritate me to no end, Gilligan. I don't murder people. I treat others in the ways I would expect to be treated for similar situations. I don't promote hatred, I only preach higher learning and empower the self-esteem of others. Is this not enough for you?

      Where the fuck else are we supposed to go while we still live? Do you propose that a government relocation program be established, or some form of segregation be implemented? How do you propose to test the faith of suspected non-Christians? Would you have snakes shoved down our throats, to see if the hand of God keeps them from shredding our insides, as the missionaries of the 1300s once did? Burn us at the stake to see if we survive?

      If you believe that all of the disasters that have occurred anytime since Christ's death were the result of the continuing sins of man, I suggest you take a page out of the Amish's book; take all of your family and friends to a remote location, establish a commune, and live on until your descendants are reduced to inbreeding to sustain the culture of your god's design. Maybe the government will consider you as a candidate for extra-planetary colonization.

      Be brave, future space-preacher.

    7. J Burgoyne: I brought up imperfect parent because of a paragraph in a book by David Wilkerson in which a father was talking to his teenage son about Jesus, and the son replied "Buzz off, old man, you are a phony".

      Also, atheists are all the time using high profile scandals like Fred Phelps, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Bakker, Catholic Priests, etc. as an EXCUSE to reject all religion. These make up a TINY number of professing Christians. Maybe they should roll their car into a lake because there are SOME crooked car dealers as well as SOME crooked mechanics. We should also do away with law enforcement because SOME police officers are corrupt. And if you collect coins, you should throw your collection in the dumpster because SOME coin dealers overgrade or overprice coins.

      Also, take a look at my blog:

    8. In response to the (single) post on your blog (created just for this reason) I have this to say, since it will no doubt be erased by you:

      You don't need to hear about a scandal to think that the belief there is an invisible sky-daddy who made man from dirt and woman from a bone is silly. That story would remain ridiculous and unbelievable even if all those who believed in it had a clean record.

  9. As I posted on in regard to the 'Christian' Missionaries of Hate in Africa:

    One of my concerns is simple: that the unequivocal biblical condemnation of homosexuality should lead Christians of good will and scholarship to see the Bible for what it is, a tribal manifesto mired in the culture of its times and tribes. Instead, those folks continue to proclaim their scriptures are from God. To do this they must abandon logic, reason, and honesty.

  10. There is great overlap between agnostics and atheists, depending upon how you define the latter. To me an atheist is simply someone who thinks it highly unlikely that the god of orthodox theism exists.

    An agnostic who simply says, 'gee, I don't know; I suppose one belief is as good as another,' is a coward, or an intellectual fraud, or simply hasn't looked at the issue very carefully. There are many patently false beliefs, dangerous beliefs. We do not have to be 100% certain the beliefs are false, to make a careful judgement that they are indeed false.

    1. That might possibly be one of the most ignorant views I have ever heard. I have no proof, one way or the other, as to whether some supreme being exists. There is absolutely no way to disprove many religions, so instead you are stuck forming beliefs on a lack of proof. I have no proof God exists, but then there was no proof dark matter existed 500 years ago. Did that make dark matter non-existent until technology had caught up to the point that we could learn about it? I have no proof we don't reincarnate, nor do I have proof that we do. All I can do is say "I don't know", which is the most intelligent and non-religious option available to you.

      To call someone who refuses to jump to base assumptions and live entirely by faith (either faith a supreme deity exists, or faith that one doesn't exist, as Atheists try to push) as a "coward, or an intellectual fraud" is possibly one of the most ignorant and borderline idiotic statements I've ever heard. That level of intolerance will not get you far in life, especially when it makes you sound an awful lot like a rabid Christian Preacher. :)

    2. The difference between dark matter and a belief in an invisible deity is that dark matter was based on supporting evidence in science and is provable. The idea of a god or gods is not based on any supporting evidence whatsoever (only hearsay by those who had no idea where lightning came from at the time) and is also not provable. That's the huge difference between the two, and is why it is laughable to even mention them together in the same sentence.

    3. Dark matter is provable NOW, but it wasn't 500 years ago. So, does that mean Dark Matter did not exist until science attained the ability to create supporting evidence and prove it?

      Nothing outside the realm of what we can currently prove, with our meager scientific ability, exists? It is all completely idiotic to even think about, since we, the oh so mighty and all knowing humans, haven't discovered them yet?

  11. I stand by my statement. Man up and call yourself an atheist. =o) The burden is on he who alleges. Are you also 'open' to the idea of fairies, demons, astrology, the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, the thousands of superstitions in the world?

    Is lightning cause be Zeus throwing thunderbolts? It's possible to so broad minded one is flat headed. Evil is being done in the world right now, today, in the name of religion. To stand idly by and say 'golly gee' I don't know is a false intellectualism.

    You sound like some college sophomore who still thinks all ideas are equal.

    One of the many differences between an atheist and a 'rabid christian preacher' is that the former does not condemn children to hell, does not kill abortionists; call for the death of homosexuals, fight innumerable wars, practice genocide, ad naseum ad infinitum.

    1. Again, you are asking that I live a life based on faith, and that is simply not something I can do. Faith that there is nothing beyond this world to me is no different than faith that there is.

      You mentioned several ridiculous faiths in your post, and I will admit that I am inclined to a bit more skeptical of some religions more than others (wicca, for example). But I am also prepared for the universe to prove me a fool should I take up faith in one direction or another.

      As someone who valued life above all else (and why not, if this is all there may be with nothing after?), I have no problem condemning moral injustices that are committed in the name of religion. I don't practice those religions nor believe in them, so I have no reason to think I should sit quietly by as such cruelties are carried out. But it doesn't require me to have faith in one way or the other to do so.

      I can't quite figure out whether your quip about college sophomores is there to suggest that my actual age and education (Masters, if you are curious) should make me more jaded or more likely to succumb to faith based beliefs.

      The rhetoric that a rabid atheist produces can be just as harmful. It can lead to churches being burned, extreme religious intolerance in the form other's beliefs becoming borderline outlawed, and even violence towards those who do live by a faith other than that of the belief in no god at all. I consider both just as evil, just as cruel, and just as wrong.

    2. Everything is a matter of 'faith'. no one can prove anything to some absolute standard. Scientists and mathematicians call it probability. Why be more skeptical about Wicca than Christianity?

      You have apparently already assigned higher probability to some religions or beliefs, than you do for others. What is your basis? No one is suggesting you make some absolute statement of faith or unfaith. We simply deal with probabilities. Do you think Christian Theism 50% as likely as no god? Do you have a 50 - 50 belief in the Bible being the inerrant word of 'god?' If so , I will agree I am wrong, you are an agnostic. Do you believe ALL beliefs are of equal value, are equally probable or improbable? If so I will agree I am wrong, you are an honest agnostic.

      On a strictly probability basis, do you think it more likely than not that there is no god of the nature proclaimed in the Bible, then you are an atheist.

    3. You may or may not have me there, depending on your view on the matter. I'll let you decide.

      Any agnostic will lean, in some conscious way or not, to being SOMETHING, simply because that is what society pushes us towards (believe in a god or don't, but believe SOMETHING). If I were to sum up several of the major religious beliefs in the US in 3 words/contractions, it would be the following:

      Christians: Jesus is Lord
      Muslims: God is Great (technically only 2 words: Allahu Akbar)
      Atheists: There's no God
      Agnostics: I don't know

      Now, why do I feel skeptical of some more than others? I suppose because some make disproving feel a little easier. Wiccans believe we have some innate magical power, am I right? The ability to do what some would call magic. This requires what would be modern day miracles: tangible things I can see and touch. And yet, they cannot be produced. Some religions believe in things that are actually tangible, to some extent or another, and that makes it easier for me to say "I honestly do not believe what you believe". To that extent, I can say I honestly don't believe in those Televangical shows where they "heal" people... only to find out they aren't healed. At least that I KNOW is a sham.

      Some religions believe in reincarnation. Sweet Darwin, I hope they are right. Some believe in an afterlife. Some believe in nothing at all. Personally? I'd rather be reincarnated as a rich kid, or go to Valhalla. Those are my hopes. But at the end of the day: I just don't know.

      COULD the Bible be the word of God, if God exists? Sure. If God exists, he could have decided to be a total douche (Old testament) and then have his kid come down and fix it all later. I don't have to have faith to know Jesus Christ existed, at least. Tacitus took care of that, and he was as anti-christian as you can get. Hell, Jesus was probably an alright guy. Old timey Hippie.

      But here's the thing: I could never become an Atheist because of the requirement to honestly believe there is nothing. But I don't. When something good happens, I say "Thanks". To who? Eh, who knows. Buddha for all I care. But if someone, or something, out there helped me get to that moment in my life where that good thing happened, I feel the urge to say thank you. Even if their only role was to spark the big bang and walk away, since that eventually lead to me being here. And if no one is there? I wasted 2 seconds of my life. Whoopie.

      I accept there could be nothing. I accept that, in the end, none of the other religions are right and Atheism is the one, true religion, and we are all just going to cease when our time comes. But again: I don't know.

      "I don't know." That is my mantra. My battle cry. I repeat it until the day someone can prove anything otherwise.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Since my post somehow keeps getting removed, I'll need to repost it :)

    I don't want anyone to misunderstand. I am certainly not suggesting the OP is cowardly or hypocritical enough to remove it purposefully just because it is critical of the post. Likely just a technical issue, thus the reposts. :)


    Posts like this are why Atheists get the bad names that they do. You were on to something... at first. But after your 4th or 5th paragraph spewing out bigoted and condescending rhetoric for a religion you don't like or believe in, it became a little tiresome to continue.

    This sort of post is the perfect example, as an Agnostic, of the problems that I have with many full blown atheists: you come across as more of religious zealots than most Baptist preachers I've ever met. By way of "Fire and Brimstone" sermons, I have to give this a +1. But by way of being an open minded and well written response to religious bigotry? You failed miserably there. Replying to bigotry with yet more bigotry is a pointless endeavor which will run you, your opponents, and everyone who has to listen to both of your mindless drivel completely ragged.

    I know this will fall on deaf ears. Most rabidly religious people tend to get offended when their beliefs are questioned, but I'll toss it out anyway: next time you are confronted with this sort of hatred, try replying in a more level headed and open minded way. You could have written an exceptionally amazing piece with this, had your personal hatred not seeped out of every word and line. And perhaps, if you confront such hatred without venomous rhetoric of your own, you might lose a few less friends for being so "militant".

    Perhaps I'm a little put off because I came here expecting to find a well written and educational piece on an open minded reason to live in the Bible Belt as a non-Christian that I could bring up in a discussion, but instead was only confronted with a religious sermon. I'd say I'm more disappointed, than anything.

    1. And remember Chris S. - you are an atheist with regard to all gods but the one you seem to allow for the possibility of - I just allow for one less possibility than you. I'd be more than willing to believe if there was credible enough evidence to even qualify the idea for a theory by scientific standards. Until then, it's right up there with the tooth fairy and Santa Claus in the probability range...

    2. I allow for the possibility of all Gods. Who knows who is waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.

      And who knows, there could be a tooth fairy- but since all parents have already admitted to portraying such a character, I can honestly say that if it did exist, it hasn't appeared to anyone. We could get to the toothy gates of heaven and fight that faerie sitting on a throne, judging us based on our oral hygiene.

      I have no way to disprove that, either :) Just have to wait and see

    3. So technically, I guess that makes me not an atheist at all, since I don't completely disbelieve anything. :) I think your statement just proved my point for me. Thank you for that.

    4. Chris, her statement proved nothing for you. All you need to be in order to claim status as an atheist is to withhold positive belief. If you don't hold a belief in any other god, then you are an atheist with respect to that god. Allowing for the possibility is called skepticism. You suspend belief until such time as it is shown to be true.

      Welcome to atheism my friend for all but one god....



    5. "for all but one god..."

      You didn't read any of my posts did you? Regardless of that, let's continue:

      "All you need to be in order to claim status as an atheist is to withhold positive belief."

      Burgoyne: Incorrect. In a perfect world, sure that would be true. But you just described an agnostic. (Thats me! =D). In THIS world, Atheism is defined as the following (lets use a couple of sources here...)

      "Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, which implies that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own." -

      a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. -

      Definition of ATHEIST
      : one who believes that there is no deity -

      That is a BELIEF that there is nothing, a FAITH in a lack of supernatural, not just a lack of belief in something. Agnostics are characterized by a lack of belief, a lack of faith, in there being either some supernatural existence, or there not being one. Atheism, on the other hand, is almost theistic in its belief that there nothing at all, and anyone who believes otherwise are incorrect. Sounds a lot like monotheistic religions, neh?

      This, of course, puts agnostics in a bad spot, as they don't believe anything at all. We live a faithless life, unlike theists and atheists. Of course, it makes congregating a little difficult. What are you going to do: get together and talk about how much you don't know?

  14. I'm guessing you'd be just as annoyed at my militant stance of ridiculing those who believe in the tooth fairy as adults as well?

    But wow - I'm flattered by your willingness to devote so much of your day to this little cunt's blog that you hate so much! Seriously! It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside! I can only imagine how much time you'd be willing to set aside for me if you actually LIKED my blog post! (*squeals with delight at the thought*)

    1. The only person who has called you a "cunt" or said they hated you was... you. Dramatic, much?

    2. As one who once owned a cunt coloring book, I don't view the word cunt as derogatory. Please quote where I claimed to hate myself, as I don't recall saying that.

      If faith is required simply to acknowledge that one finds no reason to believe in a god or gods, that means faith is also required for you not to believe that I can squirt liquified gold out of my nipples or that I am myself Angie Golden Rain, goddess of the nipply gold treasure kingdom!

    3. "If faith is required simply to acknowledge that one finds no reason to believe in a god or gods..."

      That is an agnostic. That requires no faith. But to actively believe those Gods absolutely do not exist DOES require faith. And that directly conflicts with what Atheism should be.

      Agnosticism was created because current "atheists" appeared with their religious zealotry and claimed the word. In a perfect world, Agnostics would be called Atheists and the current anti-deity religion that is identified by the term "Atheism" would be called something else.

    4. I'm afraid you do not understand the meaning of the words "atheism" and "agnostic".

      The "a" in "atheism" means "without", not "anti".

      Anti-theists make the claim of absolute certainty that there is no god or gods.

      Atheists, on the other hand, allow for the same possibility that there is a god or gods as they do for the possibility of the tooth fairy or any other invisible being that man has written and/or told stories about.

      Agnostics take the possibility that there may be a god or gods rather seriously, and often waffle back and forth on whether they thing there is or is not.

      These are three VERY DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT words with very different meanings than most people imagine them to have.

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  16. Plus one from the state of Missouri. I've spent a great deal of time considering moving somewhere with better human beings. The fact is, I grew up in the Ozarks region, and I'm strongly drawn to the flora, fauna, and unique topology. Even though my stomach turns when "we" vote for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage or cast our electoral votes for dubyah, the natural environment of a place is more important than the people living there. I will spend time in the former to get away from the latter wherever I go.

  17. "Agnostics" literally 'Know Nothings" can be even more fun to play with than believers. The pseudo intellectualism of "Since I know nothing, I can believe in nothing, reject nothing" is impossible to defend.

    1. Just as Atheistic zealots can be a lot of fun to play with. "Religion is bad! Faith is bad! Come believe with us in the faith that there is no God! Convert as many to our belief as you can preach it openly to all!"


    2. I don't think we've met, Dan Arnold, but I agree 100%! Well said!

  18. Great article, perhaps a little strong but I understand why you feel that way, Atheists are just now really able to come out (in the south anyway) without feeling like they could be in danger for their lives, and I'm not sure that is true everywhere in the south. Part of the reason I think so many of us Atheists have such a strong reaction to the religious is we have had it shoved down our throats for so long and been made to feel like something is wrong with us if we don't believe in the communal fairy tales, people are now starting to question more openly. I think there have been many of us (non believers) for a long time, I just think the internet has allowed us to realize that we are not alone in feeling that religion can be insane and makes no sense when looked at from a rational point of view.

    1. Your comment reminded me of something that happened to me after I first moved to TN 5 years(from Los Angeles).

      I was standing at the check-out counter of a restaurant with a co-worker when she asked me if I was a Christian. I replied, "No. I'm a non-believer."

      She spun around, to check if anyone overheard me, then whispered, "Don't say that out loud."


    2. C: That sounds about right! LOL

  19. Thanks Angie. Enjoyed your blog. A friend on my silly Facebook group, Wisenheimers: Atheists and a Baptist, sent your 'Why I live in the Bible Belt' to us.

    I note Chris S has avoided my queries about probability and 'absolute knowledge.' =o) For what it's worth my doctorate is in jurisprudence. I was a lay missionary to Japan 40 years ago. One of my gripes is that most religionists do not even understand their own scriptures, or history.

    1. I'm relatively certain I replied to you. :) Please scroll up!

      Still, from the complete devotion to your faith it appears I may have crashed a religious gathering of some sorts. Your conviction for your faith is rather strong, and now that I think about it, I suppose I am being intolerant of your beliefs. Coming in and pointing out the hypocrisy in your religion is no better than busting into a christian church and doing it to them.

    2. Dan, I agree. Similarly, Chris S doesn't seem to understand the difference between anti theists who claim absolutely that there is no god or gods, atheists who simply put the possibility right up there with the tooth fairy, and agnostics who take the possibility rather seriously but don't know for sure.

  20. Wow. This post is definitely one of the most disappointing things I've had the displeasure of reading lately. You claim to be an open-minded, human-loving little soldier fighting for the good of all, yet you didn't miss a single chance to bash Christianity (and, in a more roundabout way, other religions) to the most venomous extent you could manage. This post is even more bigoted and full of bile than the flyer it was meant to counter. :( Unfortunately, I also often encounter this sort of behavior from other atheists, and I must agree with a comment posted earlier: it smears their good name. I'm very sorry that you feel you have been targeted by religious zealotry (and yes, that flyer is very cruel in my opinion), but becoming a religious zealot yourself makes you just as bad.

    On another note, that quote you posted made me laugh. It's like when hardcore feminists (and I am a female, by the way) try to point the finger at men for being horrible and evil because "In the past, women couldn't go to college! We couldn't hold property! We were mistreated and kept from a decent education!" Well, guess what? That's the past, not the present. Women have been able to hold property, vote, and become educated for a good long time now; the argument is invalid against current members of society. The exact same goes for the argument you posted about all the atrocities committed against atheists in the past. Yes, it was horrible and should not be done again, but how many people alive today do you know who have torn atheists' limbs off? Kept them from being published? Kept them away from good colleges or jobs? Yes, you have groups or individuals who put social pressures on atheists - just like Christians, wiccans, agnostics, shamans, deists, or members of any other religion do. Do you honestly believe that Christians don't get those same odd looks or berating speeches in certain situations? I saw it often in the science and mathematical departments of the college I attended; people who went in as a Christian were plagued day in and day out, publicly ridiculed, and looked down upon unless they converted to atheism. Do you really believe agnostics aren't being pummeled day in and day out from all directions as "wishy-washy" people who must be forced to choose a side? Everyone in today's society has problems with religion. If you want to make it better, approach it not based on what happened in the past, but what is happening today - and for heaven's sake try to actually be open-minded and helpful next time. Your own time and others' is much too precious to waste on the sort of bigoted bile posted here.

    1. Sadly, you are severely mistaken that I am referring only to things that happened in the past.

      Within the past three months here in Tennessee, a high school girl was prevented from having her work published in the school newspaper because it "promoted an atheistic world view". It made national news.

      Also in national news: Atheists are not allowed to hold a position of leadership in the Boy Scouts of America, and neither are homosexuals.

      These are not things in the distant past. They happen every day in real time. THAT is why EVERYTHING I said is relevant TODAY and it is why those of us who are well-informed continue to fight against such idiocy.

      Bigotry would be if I advocated persecuting all religious people. I get along fine with religious people. It's the bigoted religious people I don't tolerate. I am under no obligation to tolerate bigotry from anyone, religious or otherwise, and the idea that I am myself being a bigot simply because I refuse to tolerate bigotry from others is laughable.

    2. Not being bigoted? You could have easily communicated your distaste for Christian religious acts without calling all Christians "cannibals". In fact, your point would have been communicated much more effectively had you taken almost any stance other than the anger-laden one you decided upon. To return venom with venom only causes more strife and never helps to clearly convey your point; fellow atheists will thumbs-up you just because they agree with your underlying system of beliefs but anyone else will only be pushed farther away from your point of view and will become even more convinced that all atheists are "evil" and filled with hate, which is bad for everyone involved. In short, you are hurting your fellow atheists by having posted in this way.

      The little girl not having her work published because of its religious views is a terrible thing. However, the same thing happens in reverse - I know someone who failed an entire biology test because, although they also presented the textbook answer to a question regarding evolution, they also happened to indicate afterward that the textbook had not entirely convinced them that certain parts of it were true. The atheist biology professor took deep offense to this small, offhand comment and, rather than working with the student to explain what the textbook had failed to adequately demonstrate, she instead elected to try and flunk the student out of her course. As I said, everyone gets hate - but neither of these cases are anywhere near as bad as, say, cutting peoples' arms off, and cases such as this are much more likely to cause an outcry (you did say the little girl's story made the national news, didn't you?) such that they will be remedied.

      I do not, however, agree with you fully as per the Boy Scouts of America. That group was founded specifically on the premise of a certain religion, as were the Girl Scouts of America (from the oath: "to serve God and my country..."). These groups are basically glorified youth groups such as churches might have; they are just very well-established youth groups. Should these organizations branch out to embrace other religions? I think that would be a good step. Should they preach religious tolerance toward others (and actually practice it)? Absolutely! But I don't believe they can be forced to do so, given their founding, any more than I would expect an atheist-founded group to be forced to allow non-atheists to hold a position of leadership within their groups.

      You'll get much more respect if you post about current events like these rather than falling back on quotes that list things which are more horrible but not at all practiced in today's society.

  21. Chris, you have never addressed the question of whether you believe on a more likely than not basis, that is, 50.00001% there is or is not a theistic version of god. Are you right there on the border at 50-50, just don't have a clue? C'mon pal. Take a leap of 'faith.' =o)

    1. I thought I covered that rather well in my reply...

      I have no idea how to quantify my beliefs in a percentage. I suppose I could sit down and quiz myself for a few hours, and then based on those answers see whether I am 33% more likely to believe there is a diety than is not.

      I could just say "I would be 50-50!" in the hope of winning some brownie points, but honestly I don't know. I personally feel that I would be equally as surprised if there were nothing, than if there were something.

      If you asked me compare "Some deity/afterlife" vs "No deity/afterlife/supernatural", I guess I would be 50/50. If you asked me to compare a SPECIFIC religion, say Wicca (since Ive already picked on them once) vs No Deity/afterlife/supernatural, then I would lean towards the atheism.

      I didn't spout out numbers because they would just be me BSing, basically.

    2. Is it really that bad for someone to try and judge the world analytically rather than by gut feeling? Although not an agnostic myself, I agree that it is completely impossible - currently, anyway - to prove or disprove the existence of a "God" in the universe. If something is impossible to prove, why should we force someone to make a 50/50 coin toss to determine their "faith"? Doesn't seem as though there is anything to be gained by it, except either making another mark for 'your team' or 'their team'.

  22. I simply see it as absurd to cop out with 'I don't know' in terms of e.g. of Christianity or Islam, both of which claim God perfectly inspired, without error, their relevant scriptures, which are full of misstatements of fact and internal contradictions. To say 'I don't know' is the same as claiming one is open to belief in fairies (dental or otherwise) and a host of superstitious beliefs.

    BTW, we all make these judgments on a daily basis. We do not KNOW the bridge will hold us up when we cross the chasm, we do not 'know' the bridge is even there, but we make a calculated guess and stake our lives upon that judgment.

    I'll go out on a limb of judgmentalism and suggest those who just don't want to take a stand are those who were raised in a particular belief and just can't can't let it go. It is natural to be hesitant during this transitional state between belief and reason. I will try to be more kindly and understanding about the struggle. =o)

    1. Then we shall have to agree to disagree. Your conviction in your religion is admirable, and you stick by your faith well. I wish you luck converting more people to your religion, though I doubt you'll get many with the rhetoric I have seen here, but I wish you luck. :)

      While I am sorry to hear your intolerance of people who refuse to live a life based on religious faith, as you do, I cannot say it is any different from any other religion and as such should not single you out any more than I already have. As for me, I shall continue to wait for proof before choosing to believe in something. Just as I cannot say there is no life somewhere out in the cosmos, simply because we lack evidence for it (and lack evidence against it), I cannot say whether there are invisible people in the sky, trees, grass, or the core of the earth. And I'll welcome the knowledge of whether your religion, Gilligans religion, or the Mormons turns out to be correct.

      I suspect many of my posts will be "lost" within the next day or two, but that is to be expected. The same would happen if I posted such things on a Mormon board, as well =D

    2. Though I can understand on how the idea of living a life without religion, without faith, can be difficult for people to understand. People cling to the concept of faith throughout their lives, even if it is simply faith in nothing. Because the idea of a life without faith, believing only on what is tangible and having the courage to admit what you don't know for certain, can be a truly terrifying thing. So I don't hold it against believers.

      Plus, they could be right.

    3. Atheism is a religion like "off" is a television channel...

  23. Really Chris, to call atheism a religion or to say 'they could be right' displays your religious bias. You are not an agnostic, You believe these various religions are plausible. Fine, but don't call yourself an agnostic. You do a disservice even to that wishy washy label.

    You have obviously not investigated mormonism or Islam or Christianity to say they 'may' be right. Just carefully read the first chapter of Genesis, or the first book of the Qu'ran, or Nephi I. If you read them and have no problem saying just as likely as not, I'll shut up, and agree it is pointless to have a reasonable discussion with you.

    BTW, even Mormon scholars agree the Book of Abraham has been exposed as not representing the text J. Smith claimed. I have corresponded with Mormon scholars and they agree. They simply change their view and now say Smith meant 'inspired by' when he said 'translated.'

    As far as Christianity goes, the debunking is not new. A hundred years ago Robert G. Ingersoll exposed it as well as any one You can read his expose for free (or for 99 cents on Kindle "About the Holy Bible" Ingersoll

    1. Actually, I believe atheism qualifies as a religion, as well. It is a belief adopted on the faith that there are no god(s) or afterlife in this world at all, despite having no proof for or to the contrary. If atheists could disprove every single religion - including the extreme simple Deism-offshoot of "I think a God exists. The end", then it would not be a religion because it would not be dependent on any sort of faith. However, since mankind has not developed the technology to disprove the existence of an afterlife nor the presence of a godlike figure somewhere in the vast, vast universe, atheism is a religion.

      It's certainly defended with the intolerance and zealotry of a religion, in any case.

    2. ag·nos·tic
      a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.
      a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
      a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic: Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality


      Again, its fine. You are devout in your religious beliefs that there is no God, no afterlife, and no supernatural. And regardless of a lack of evidence in either direction, your faith allows you to believe it wholeheartedly. And who knows, you might be right! I guess we'll find out when we get there.

      Though, unluckily for you, your religion states you won't get a chance to say "I told you so" in the non-existent afterlife. :)

  24. Shannon, I agree one cannot prove a negative. That is why statements of religious belief, or any belief, that are not falsifiable are not arguable. There's just no point in discussing such non falsifiable beliefs. But that is a far cry from according them the same kind of deference we give to scientific theories that have a body of experimental data to support them. Gravity and evolution are theories, but they have been proved to the point it is not incorrect to call them facts. Certainly there remains some theoretical, mathematical, abstract notion of doubt, but they have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the level of proof we need before we find someone guilty of a crime. If Chris's intangible, fuzzyheaded notion of proof is accepted, one who ascribes to it could never sit on a criminal case, he could not even sit on a civil case where the burden of proof is mere probability.

    "The moon is made of green cheese" Is that statement likely to be false? 50-50? Or just plain absurd?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Edit: Grammatical error :)

      Any yet, according to your intangible, fuzzyheaded notion of proof, anything for which we have no proof of is immediately false and everyone should agree with this. We have no proof of God, various other gods, reincarnation, faeries, satyrs, or anything else. Therefor they absolutely, positively, do not exist. That is faith. Under the same construct, anti-matter did not exist 500 years ago. Atoms did not exist 500 years ago. OF COURSE THEY DID! Buuuttt... there was no tangible way to prove their existence, so it was obviously a false way of thinking.

      Man, doesn't that sound an awful lot like what happened to Galileo? Doesn't that almost sound like... oh god... whats the word... religion?! =D

    3. I fear you will not convert me to your religion, as faith is something I lack. Under the same concept, I shall not convert you FROM your religion (mainly cause I have little to convert you to, other than the truth that we don't know what awaits us in the afterlife).

      Arguing faith (or, in my cast, lack thereof) is a pointless endeavor that could take years.

      For what its worth, if your religion is right then I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world. Its better than some other ones out there!

    4. Saying the moon is made of green cheese is a statement that can actually be tested, and so does not make for a very good example. The moon is physically present and, due to technological advancements, within our reach. We can send people up there to touch it and take pictures of it, and bring little pieces back. We can thoroughly test to see whether the moon really is or is not made of green cheese.

      The presence of a God and/or afterlife, however, cannot be tested for. I never said Christianity or any other "there is a God and/or afterlife" religion should be given more credence than atheism, but I do believe that all of these religions exist on the same level of "not knowing" - including mine. They are all religions because they are all dependent on a faith that something does or does not exist, something that we have no means of proving or disproving. Once again, I am not agnostic, but throwing up your hands and honestly proclaiming "I can't even test this, much less prove it!" is probably the most logical thing a person can do at this point if they really do take all faith out of the equation.

      We can experiment with gravity. We can dig through layer after layer of earth to find ancient fossils that can be used as a test against the theory of evolution. But we cannot even begin to experiment with 'God' - and any experiments attempting to prove or disprove an afterlife would probably be far too inhumane to be practical. In the end, it becomes guesswork; we believe what feels right. It may go "Hey, I like the thought that I'll be reincarnated; this could work," or "You know, the thought of one God out there seems plausible to me" or in your case "You know, none of these 'religions' sound right to me. I can't prove them wrong but I really just don't feel like they're the right way to go." We go with whatever we think is most sound based on our past experiences, social pressures, or even just what we most hope is correct - but not one of us can fully and logically test all of our beliefs for correctness.

    5. Again, there is no more faith required to be without a belief in a god or gods than there is to be without a faith in any other claim of supernatural invisible deities such as the tooth fairy or any of the hundreds of other gods out there.

      Anti-theist is what you are mistaking for an atheist.

      Atheist you are mistaking for an agnostic.

      Your definition of agnostic is equal to a religious person who has some doubts and isn't quite sure if they believe. Those are not the definitions of those three words.

    6. This is similar to when homosexuals proclaim that "gay" holds only the meaning of "happy" or "joyful" or "homosexual", even though the majority of people today use the term in a very different way, which I'm sure you've heard before. Even though they are not wrong about the actual definition of the term, the word "gay" has come to have an understood meaning far different from the one it originally had.

      In another example, "Mr." was once an abbreviation for "Master" and "Mistress" once meant something along the lines of a governess or tutor before becoming derogatory and then, finally, evolving again into the simple gender-denoting form we are familiar with today. The original meaning of "atheist" and "antitheist" may be just as you've said, but those words have most certainly evolved since they first were coined; humans do that to language. I mean no offense to your belief system; I am simply using the words as they have come to be most widely understood by the general population.

      However, I do stand by my point of view that faith is required to announce, with complete certainty, that there is no god or afterlife of any kind. You don't know. I don't know. Nobody knows. Hence, it is faith, gut feeling, or whatever you want to call it.

      Perhaps my definitions of "faith" and "proof" just differ from yours. I deal primarily with mathematics and coding logic, which has led me to think about things in a certain way (I know this, I don't know this, I know this with x% certainty). You can also say "I use birth control, therefore it is a fact that I will not have a child"; however, it is not a fact, it is a percentage of certainty. You have faith that the birth control will work; sometimes, it doesn't, and someone has a child anyway. The statement "I know" in this case actually means "I believe". There are many things in this world that people use faith for without wanting others to think that faith is involved.

  25. Beautifully said, Angie. This state makes me laugh my ass off, I've been handed flyers and bibles, offered visits by priests, and even had exorcisms suggested by some people. Will share with other like-minded individuals.

  26. 'I believe i the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe and plays an active role in the universe and in my life today.' Are you agnostic re: that statement? I don't have any problem saying I am an atheist regarding the FSM. To do otherwise would be to play the fool in some vain and misguided attempt to appear 'scientific.' You may suppose any number of outrageous beliefs. The mere fact that some have the backing of history or tradition does not make them any more worthy of our credulity than the FSM.

  27. I see what you are saying there, and agree minus on thing: The authors of the FSM already came out and said specifically it was a hoax for the sake of being a hoax.

    Seems like proof to me.

    1. The fact that someone is delusional doesn't mean that what they say has any more credence than someone who KNOWS what they are saying is false... Outrageous claims are outrageous whether one believes what they are saying is true or not... this is why the FSM and any god or gods are on equal footing.

  28. Prove it. =o)

    Seriously, the FSM is an analogy. I think that is obvious, isn't it. I mean, Until they admitted it was a hoax AND you prove they really admitted it AND you prove the ones who admitted it are the ones who invented it, you didn't really believe it did you?

    I mean you were never 'agnostic' about the FSM, were you?

    Why be agnostic about agnostic about ANY religion? About any claim that has no evidence to support it, or more importantly, contradicts what we know about science? String theory, dark matter, a spheroid Earth, even before there was evidence to hint at confirmation of such notions, there was never a broad scientific basis to reject them as conflicting known science. And, they were falsifiable.

    Religious belief (to the extent it relies on the supernatural, 1) conflicts with science, and 2) is not falsifiable.

    Surely we can agree that religious belief that relies on demons and angels and invisible spirits with personalities flitting about, hither and yon, are in a different class than propositions about particle physics and evolution

  29. Confusion that atheism means a belief that there is no god vs. a simple lack of belief stems from a misunderstanding of the meaning of the prefix "a". This might provide clarity for some:

    "a" means "without" - it does not mean "anti"

    Anti-theists believe there is no god or gods.
    A-theists are without a belief in any gods.
    Agnostics think there's a possibility that there may be a god or gods.

    An atheist finds it possible but so unlikely as to not warrant taking the possibility any more seriously than any other magical being men have written or told stories about thought history... Especially given the lack of understanding of what hallucinations were at the time such claims originated...

    1. Thus my bother with most modern day atheists. Despite their name, they are as theistic as most monotheistic religions. They preach. They have faith. They try to convert. They congregate. You even have people who claim to the title "Reverend" in the name of atheism. That is, to me, quite obviously religious belief. It has become so normal, so mainstream, that even dictionaries and define atheism as a "belief in no deity" as opposed to "a lack of belief".

      IF your definition still held true, and in an ideal world it would, all agnostics would be atheists, and agnosticism wouldn't exist. It shouldn't exist. But instead what you have is true atheists being called agnostic, and the term atheist being used by anti-deity theists. And of course, any theistic organization would eat this up and urge them right along, because nothing helps a religion more than having another, equally rabid, religion saying they are wrong. Strife is a preacher's best friend, and no sermon is complete without an evil enemy to preach against!

      THAT is why the tone of your post, and much of your overall rhetoric, bothered me so. Everyone keeps saying I am an atheist. You should be correct. SHOULD BE. But in the definition of what an atheist is today, and a definition of what your post made atheism sound like, I am not. Thus, I get stuck with the term agnostic, which is where the last bastion of refuge where people without faith go.

    2. Again, you are extremely confused about the definitions of these words.

      The definitions in many dictionaries are based on the misunderstandings of the mostly religious people who write the definitions for the words "atheist". They have actually added words that are not indicated by the roots, thus changing the original meanings of these words, and there are scholars who are attempting to get this rectified.

      The root word meaning of the prefix "a" has not changed just because someone incorrectly applied it when defining the word "atheist" in a dictionary commissioned and written by religiously controlled universities and organizations. There has actually been much written on the subject.

  30. Ok, now you have hit a post where I can agree with much of what you say, though my overall statement still stands and my lack of faith untouched =D

    "Surely we can agree that religious belief that relies on demons and angels and invisible spirits with personalities flitting about, hither and yon, are in a different class than propositions about particle physics and evolution"

    Agreed. But remember: we can prove particle physics and evolution. Sure, the notion of angels and devils and all that IS silly to me. I'll give you that. BUT... it is only silly because I cannot prove it. Much like alien life. I have no proof that they exist but man its a big ol' universe out there. Hard to disprove it. Since I can't disprove it, I cannot be honest with myself if I said I disbelieved, actively believing that there really is nothing like that out there.

    Maybe agnostics are just wired differently, that we think in a way almost inconceivable to theists and atheists, but to me their existence could be, or could not be. But for as long as I have no proof, I can't come to a conclusion in any direction.

    "I mean you were never 'agnostic' about the FSM, were you?"

    I can't honestly tell you I would have been one way or the other, because I heard about it with the introduction that it was a hoax. I missed the FSM train and learned about it a year or two after its conception. So I went into that information knowing "this is a hoax". So I never had the opportunity to come to any other conclusion than that. I'd like to say it would be obvious, but I'd also like to say I'd throw myself in harms way to save another human if that opportunity would appear. Never done it; don't know if I would.

    "Religious belief (to the extent it relies on the supernatural, 1) conflicts with science, and 2) is not falsifiable."

    100% agreed. Which is, again, why I cannot be a full blown atheist. If you hate that I call myself agnostic, despite that being what agnosticism is, then call me... apatheistic. I don't know, I CAN'T know, until the end, so I really don't care. Then, when I die, I'll have all the proof I could ever need. And maybe no consciousness to realize it. Or maybe an eternity a lake of fire to think about it. Or super hot valkyries bringing me mead to explain it to me.

    1. Im sure its obvious but I intended this post for Dan. It didn't properly reply.

  31. Shannon, you appear to subscribe to the Humpty Dumpty version of the definition of words, that the question is 'who is to be the master' you or the word. i do not so subscribe. To adopt your ridiculous notion of what words mean would destroy language.

    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

    Atheism may have attributes you do not like, but it is not a religion. Tho' many if not most atheists have their own moral code, it is not one imposed by their atheism. Atheists do not believe the universe has a purpose. Atheists certiainly do not believe in the creation of a universe by a 'superhuman agency.' We do not believe in 'devotional and ritual observances.'

    Shannon, here's a dime. Call your mother. Tell her you are coming home. Your educational deficits are too great to allow you to receive any more instruction at this advanced level.

    Frankly, Shannon, your arguments parrot those of religionists who argue against atheism. What separates you from them, is that they have the honesty to declare they are religionists. You want to masquerade as . . . what? A know nothing? An agnostic who refuses to take a stand? C'mon, tell us your belief system. But don't tell us to use words dishonestly, that smacks of Christian apologetics. The first refuge of a Christian apologist is to redefine terms.

    1. "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies,..."

      Describes current atheists to a T, as they have believe with all the fervor of a zealot that they are right in their convictions and there is absolutely no supernatural. They are evangelical in their preaching and as forceful in their attempts to convert those who don't believe as them as any christian I have ever met.

      "usually involving devotional and ritual observances..."

      I would say that faith in a religion, particularly an anti-deity religion such as current atheists, is quite certainly devotional.

      "and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

      Well, everyone has a moral code, so this applies to everyone.

      So... I'm sorry, I'm lost here... was your point to PROVE that current atheists are indeed religious? Cause you did an excellent job, my friend.

      Your pathetic attempts at condescension are only amusing, seeing as sadly you flail about for any hope of a straw to grasp. Your posts are at least funny, if nothing else.

    2. However, I have come to expect such venomous and pointed attacks from religious people who have their beliefs challenged. :) It's a terrible thing to have someone appear in front of you and tell you that your religion is wrong, huh?

    3. I think you're the one who needs to examine the way in which you interpret words. Atheism does not require a moral code to be considered a religion; as per the definition you yourself posted, religions "often" contain a moral code. "Often" and "always" have two different meanings. In fact, everything beyond "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe" can be considered to be 'the usual' but not 'necessary'. If you really stretch it, you can lump in the bit about "especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies". Atheism, as I understand it, seems to be the belief that there is no god, the universe does not have to serve any "purpose", and then specifics as to the cause and nature of the universe vary from atheist to atheist (some atheists I have met argue about things such as the "big bang theory", for instance). So yes, by the very definition you presented, atheism can very easily be considered to be a religion - a "belief" about the universe being a certain way (in this case, godless and possibly purposeless in the sense that most theists would think of the word 'purpose'). I am sorry that you felt so offended by my post that you had to berate my intelligence; that was certainly not my intention. Hopefully I have now made myself a bit more clear and have explained my point of view in terms you can understand. :)

      As for my own views, I neither love nor hate atheism. I neither love nor hate agnostics or theists, either. You asked for my views so I will give them to you: technically, I am a theist. My beliefs come closest to Deism but I don't fully agree with them, either. In the shortest possible description, I believe that there is a God, that he/she/it may or may not have created the universe, and that he/she/it cares about our well-being. I believe God has no direct influence on our daily lives and do not speculate whether this is due to a choice or a lack of "power". I also believe that it is not possible to know whether or not we will have an "afterlife" until we have actually died, and I am fine with this.

      Why do I believe this way? Because I want to. I can't prove a God doesn't exist, I can't prove God does exist; therefore, being the selfish person that I am, I choose what makes me most happy. Why does it make me happy? Because of old people. I like to think that when people who have no one else to talk to (because their friends have all died, for instance) pray, that there is a presence out there that listens and cares. Loneliness makes me sad; therefore, I choose to believe in a supernatural being that can provide comfort against that loneliness even when no human being can or will. I have no expectations of others to adopt my way of thinking; why must others insist that I adopt their way, when they have just as little proof as I have?

  32. Sorry Chris. There is no point in discussing this issue with anyone obtuse enough to equate atheists with those who believe in super human agencies and claim the universe has a purpose.. Please do not take my future silence as acquiescence in such absurd remarks. Good luck to you.

  33. I was actually going to suggest the same thing. Arguing with a zealot such as yourself never ends well, and you seem rather fervent in your anti-deity beliefs. I have no intention of converting to any religion, much less yours, and thus we will forever be at a standstill. Or arguing infinitely throughout the night.

    Have a good day, and I'll say that I would rather your religion be correct than mormons or christians, at least. :)

    1. This, by the way, goes for all.

      My stance is simple: I do not live a life of faith, and have no intention to change that. I will not have faith that there is a diety, dieties, faeries or otherwise. Nor will I have faith that there is no deity, deities, faeries or otherwise. I do not feel as if I need faith in my life to get by day to day, and no amount of badgering from people trying to get me to convert from being agnostic to christian, atheist, muslim, or anything will work.

      With that said, we shall agree to disagree. Perhaps this post will also be deleted in the future, but for now I will say to please not take my silence to future replies as acceptance of your religions, just as I don't take Dan's lack of reply as acceptance of my lack thereof. I am simply uninterested in an infinite argument with people of faith, having none to work with myself. Good day to all!

  34. Atheists have "faith" that there is no god or gods at the same level that a mathematician has "faith" that 2 + 2 = 4.

    1. Certain theists claim to have "faith" on that exact same level - they believe what they do so completely that they feel it is laughable to deny it. Faith without proof is still faith no matter how strongly you feel about it.

      Again, experiments can be performed with relation to mathematics. Just ask any linear algebra student and you'll hear endless droning about "proofs" and how much the student likes or hates them. Unfortunately, there isn't enough to work with for anyone to assemble facts and proofs about deities or the afterlife (or lack of both); if there were, no one would have debates like these and the world would be a much friendlier place.

    2. The reason why your analogy is invalid is that with deities you are making a claim without any scientific basis or supporting facts whatsoever. The only thing that is there is someone's declaration.

      Math? Not the same. Has science to back it up.

      To say that there is "faith" involved in finding an unfounded claim with nothing to back it up laughable is like saying that every single imaginary fantasy should be treated as being equal to math or physics or science. There is a HUGE difference between something not yet proven but provable and backed up with supporting evidence and something that someone just comes up with from their imagination and then declares and expects everyone to believe blindly.

    3. Because, as I've stated before, there is faith involved. I don't believe in the claims about Nibiru (not sure on the spelling), but I also can't prove it wrong; I have faith that those claims are false. You may not like it, but faith is involved whether you are an atheist or a theist. You may find theism as laughable as you like; theists may find your beliefs laughable, as well. Finding something that you cannot prove or disprove to be so ridiculous as to incite amusement does not change the fact that you can neither prove nor disprove it.

      Math not being the same is exactly the point I was trying to make. We can test, experiment, and prove math. Theology? Sure, some theologies make claims that can be logically examined, but most of the basic claims aren't able to be "put under a microscope and scrutinized" as it were, and it is petty to make the assumption that something is wrong when it isn't even technologically possible right now to perform experiments with regard to that thing. Now, if you can find some way to examine the universe in such a way as to absolutely determine that there never was and is not any god or gods, and that there is no "soul" or "reincarnation" or what have you that allows for the possibility of an afterlife, then I will concede that no faith is involved in being an atheist. Until you can make an actual, logical argument about something as basic as the existence of a deity and/or afterlife, however, you are relying on faith just as much as the theists you claim to be nothing like. You have a percentage of certainty in your belief that does not add up to 100, just like a theist.

      I'm very sorry if this bothers you, but I just can't see how you can argue that 89%, or 33%, or even 99.9999999% is equal to 100%. People might round up for ease but from a mathematical standpoint these numbers are still not equivalent to one another.

  35. Interestingly, there is an article on the page you linked to about the Crossville, TN courthouse allowing a statue of the FSM in his noodly goodness back in 2008:

    ...back in 2008.

    So whomever left this ridiculous sign in 2012 clearly does not know the history of his/her own state.

  36. Correction of above: to make the assumption that something is wrong beyond any and all doubt. My point is not that atheism is wrong, but rather that it relies on the faith of the individual as much as theism does. My apologies for not reviewing my post appropriately before hitting the publish button.

  37. Shannon: Again, atheism doesn't claim there is no god or gods beyond any and all doubt. That would be ANTI-THEISM. There's a HUGE difference. Sadly, few people, including many who call themselves atheists, understand the meanings of those words.

    One more time:

    Anti-Theist: claims they believe there are no god or gods to a conclusive fact

    A-theist: realizes there is no way to know to a certainty, but puts the likelihood of their being a god or gods as being on par with the tooth fairy

    Agnostic: thinks there's a more than remote chance that there is such a thing a a god or gods but isn't 100% sure

    Again, there's no "faith" required in order to dismiss something, which is what true atheists do if you adhere to the original meaning of the word "a" meaning "without belief". We don't have faith that there isn't a god or gods, we simply find no reason to have faith that there is.

    Anti-theists you could say have faith that there is no god or gods, because they don't simply dismiss it, they declare that there is no such thing.

    1. *there*, not "their" being a god or gods...

    2. I would feel left out if Dan returned and I didnt :)

      Again, your definition is what agnostics are. Finding no reason to believe because there is no proof, and yet not disbelieving either. And yet, your post speaks on the concept of the christian God as if he absolutely does not exist, and anyone who believes otherwise is a total fool. You are so venomous in your post that it comes across as total religious zealotry, which gives atheists a very bad name.

      Considering there is no proof that the Christian God doesn't exist, would it not require theistic faith to make such claims? Or does anything we can't prove with modern science simply not exist? Like life on other worlds, perhaps? That's an awful lot of worlds out there to claim are lifeless purely because we cant prove it yet. And of course, it would hypocritical to claim you are open to THAT, despite a lack of evidence, but not open to the concept of some supernatural force when faced with the exact same lack of evidence.

  38. Shannon, the problem I think you are having is to put speculative belief systems of religion on the same footing as scientific theories which are falsifiable.. IOW, religious speculation does not even get into the stadium of argument.

    Take one example you mentioned, the 'soul.' This concept is an invention of man, not just the religious, prior to our knowledge of how the brain works. Consciousness was a mystery, as was the sense of self. So the concept of a soul developed to explain it, just as Zeus throwing thunderbolts explained lightning.

    Now we know that the basis of thought, consciousness, the mind rests in the electro chemical reaction between neurons. A simple experiment proving the 'soul' (consciousness) has a physical rather than a supernatural basis: Drink alcohol. =o) If the soul is separate and apart from the body, consumption of alcohol should not effect it.

    1. And here I thought you weren't going to participate anymore... You make a good preacher, Dan! I knew you wouldn't let us down. =D

      You speak of the soul in the Christian sense. But what about the Buddhist sense? If you reincarnate, everything about you is lost. So doesn't that make everything about you transient, while the soul is immortal? Can you now disprove the existence of the soul in that regard, when it has no bearing on your physical being?

      So once again, nothing has been disproved. But this is where the difference between atheism and agnosticism exists.

      If you ask the question:

      "Is there a god?
      A) Yes
      B) No"

      A theist would say A) Yes
      An atheist would say B) No
      An agnostic would say "I have no proof of A or B, so I refuse to answer". Of course, this pisses off the first two groups who vehemently defend their beliefs in their own answers.

      What atheists are supposed to be, and what they have become, are two very VERY different things.

      This thread does a great job of explaining my view on the matter. :)

    2. Nope. Not true. An atheist would not say "no". An atheist would say "I find no reason to say yes."

      Your oversimplification of the matter shows you do not understand the nature of atheism. Atheism is not based on claiming yes or no. It is based on recognizing that not all ideas are equal and that just because something can not be proven false does not mean it warrants equal credibility in the mind.

      Again, you are referring to ANTI-THEISTS when you claim the answer would be "no".

      Further confusing the issue is that many people who identify as atheists mistakenly mis-assign the label to themselves, because they do not understand what atheist actually means and stands for compared to anti-theists.

      Many people claiming to be atheists are actually anti-theists.

      Just because someone claims to be a doctor doesn't mean they are. Similarly, those claiming to be atheists who misunderstand the meaning of the word are misrepresenting it the same way you are.

      Atheist: without belief. Does not say "there is no god" but rather "I see no reason to believe there is a god. I allow for the tiniest possibility, but it's so tiny that it's right up there with the tooth fairy."

      An anti-theist says: "there is no god and I do not allow for any possibility whatsoever that there could be one".

      You seem to be desperate to make atheists into religionists so you can feel more comfortable - that doesn't change the fact that your understanding of atheism is inaccurate.

    3. So, according to your statement just now, and based on the theistic rhetoric you used in your blog post above, you are labeling yourself not as an Atheist, but rather an anti-theist? Because your blog that we are replying to (and many of Dan's comments as well), as venomous and theistically charged as it was, certainly does NOT fit the description of atheist that you just posted and in fact fits the description of an anti-theist perfectly.

      Now that you have more clearly defined your stance for me, I see that I was mistaken in my labeling of you. I mistakenly thought you guys considered yourself atheists, while stating anti-theistic rhetoric, when in fact you are openly anti-theists. In that case, this was all just a big misunderstanding! My qualm was not with your religious beliefs which you and Dan have been repeating over and over on this post (a belief, a faith, in there being no Supernatural), but rather thinking you were claiming to be atheists while quite clearly being very theistic in your views. Now that I know that isn't the case, and you are actually anti-theists, it makes far more sense. And again, considering your religion could possibly be right, I have no reason to say anything against it!

      Thank you for clearing that up for me. :) It was certainly a confusion for a while, hearing atheists spouting religious speak and demanding what was basically faith that there is no deity. The idea of an atheist living by faith was... odd to me.

      And it gives me some hope that much of the atheistic community is just misunderstood and, like you guys, are just anti-theists being wrongly labeled. Perhaps the difference between atheists and agnostics isn't as large as I was starting to think. :)

      Thank you for that!

    4. Your reading comprehension is quite lacking. You clearly are confusing factual statements that reveal the ridiculousness of religious behavior as a claim to know that there's no god or gods/goddesses. Nope. Never said that.

      Show me one statement where I say that and I'll start calling myself an anti-theist so you can, as a closeted religious person posing as an agnostic, attempt to make me appear as ridiculous as a religious person by claiming I have "faith".

      And yet, even if one had "faith" that there's no tooth fairy or invisible sky god, how does that equate to the faith that there IS such a thing?

      It doesn't... Because one is faith in something that has never ever even come close to having any supporting evidence whatsoever. The other is faith that it is extremely unlikely that things cooked up by ancient people who didn't know where lightning comes from are safely ignored. My money is on the latter being accurate.

    5. "It doesn't... Because one is faith in something that has never ever even come close to having any supporting evidence whatsoever."

      Which one? The lack of any supporting evidence that over 90% of the worlds population, made up of religious people, are completely wrong? Or the lack of evidence that any of these religions are actually right.

      At the end of the day, neither side has any proof the other is wrong. That means both sides require living by faith that there is nothing. You say "Show me proof" that you have faith there is no God? The whole point of the comments here are to point out how venomously zealot like your blog is in pushing your belief in no God/Gods. We wouldn't even be here if, on multiple occasions, you didn't not only downright insult believers of all faiths but also get downright evangelical in your pushing of your own.

      You described, in the previous comment, your post to a T. You even went as far as to say "Many people claiming to be atheists are actually anti-theists."! And now you are saying "Oh! No! That applies to anyone but me! You just lack reading comprehension".

      Awesome :)

    6. The number of delusional people who believe bullshit does not increase the probability of said bullshit being anything but bullshit. You don't need proof that people who believe bullshit are wrong. You need proof that what they believe is valid, and even 100% belief does not achieve that.

      The truth is not determined by democracy. It is determined by evidence. There is no more evidence for a deity when billions of people believe it than there is if only one believes it.

      There is, however, plenty of evidence supporting a lack of belief as being valid.

      I recommend perusing this link:

      If believing that god doesn't exist requires faith, then believing that an insane person hallucinating isn't really seeing what they believe is real, such as teeth appearing in the walls trying to eat them alive, also requires faith. LMAO

  39. Very nicely written. My only gripe would be accepting the title of "militant atheist." Unless that is, you have truly taken up arms against religion.

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. Edit: Grammatical Error

    These two links reminded me of a couple of posters on here, lovingly referred to by normal Atheists as "Born again atheists" =D

    1. I'm not sure what you mean by "normal atheists", but let me assure you, sitting quietly and not believing is not enough in a world that seeks to persecute, exclude, and vilify people who don't believe in invisible sky-gods.

    2. Normal atheists would refer to those who don't feel the need to shove their beliefs down other people's throats or demean other people for having faith. The article did a great job of describing that, though. :)

      Anyone so religiously obsessed with being an Atheist not only ruins the term for the rest of us (thus Agnostics are born...), but vilifies the rest of us on everyone else' behalf just on principle. "Born-again atheists", as the article so lovingly refers to them, are as bad or worse than most fire and brimstone Christian preachers.

    3. Demeaning those who attempt to restrict the rights of the rest of us based on superstitious writings and belief systems springing from them is not only appropriate, it is necessary to protect even those who are critical of us for doing so from having their rights trampled by the religious who seek to control others through legislation.

  42. I found this article interesting because one of the perks of leaving Ohio was getting away from that element of the Conservative lifestyle. It's hard to live in an area that questions why you are there in the first place because it is perceived to be inhabited by a large group of people dissimilar to one's self. A lot of people on both sides have a proprietary attitude towards their cultural surroundings, usually because they insulate themselves against different groups. If they perceive their neighborhood/city/county/state/etc as containing a homogeneous group, they will act hostile to the occasional person they have contact with who doesn't. I've experienced it firsthand many times in the Midwest and witnessed that type of clash rather strongly in Seattle. One thinks that Seattle is a den of rabid Liberalism because it belongs to the West Coast. When in reality it is surrounded by very Conservative areas that are constantly battling over taxes, public use of land and transportation funds, and social programs. At least that is my Liberal point of view.

  43. "A lot of people on both sides have a proprietary attitude towards their cultural surroundings...."
    OTOH, I live in a similar area, in conservative Eastern Washington, but I rather enjoy the contrast. Tho' I don't like the assumption we all share their views, I enjoy the discussions it provokes. I find that most Christians have not done their homework about their own faith. At the beginning of their arguments they use the Bible and science to support their beliefs. When those efforts fail them, invariably they all fall back on one thing alone: they believe because they believe and 'it works' for them. IOW, they have deluded themselves into believing their faith is supported by science and that scripture is perfect and from their god.

    1. I lived in Spokane when I was young before moving to Knoxville.

  44. Gilligan: The idea that anyone needs an excuse to NOT believe in a sky-daddy who came down in human form and sacrificed himself to protect us from... HIMSELF is laughable. And your analogy about driving a car into a lake because a mechanic is dishonest? Ridiculous. We KNOW a car is real. We don't have to have faith in a car because we didn't just pull the idea of a car out of our ass. We drive cars. We know they are not imaginary. I don't NOT believe because of anything religious people do. I simply find the things those people do to be more evidence of why people who believe in invisible friends ain't so bright....

    1. The three analogies are still valid because creation IS evidence of God. And rejecting Him based on the behavior of a FEW Christians IS like rolling your car into a lake because of a crooked mechanic.

      To reverse what my flyer asked: Why would someone *raised* in the Bible Belt wish to become an atheist? I can understand an atheist from up North or out West who moved here wishing to stay, because like you said it is beautiful here.

    2. @Gilligan: (Part 1 of 2)

      "Why would someone *raised* in the Bible Belt wish to become an atheist?"

      I'm going to ask you a question that I'm sure you'll jump to answer, but I honestly want you to think about this: have you READ the bible? No no no. I know what you are thinking. "Is this guy dumb?" Maybe, but bear with me. Have you really read it, from cover to cover? Every word, every line, and not just what your preacher quotes during his sermon?

      In particular, have you read the Old Testament? ESPECIALLY Genesis - Deuteronomy (the Torah)?

      I grew up as a Christian. My parents never beat it down my throat, in fact religion was rarely spoken of in our household. I was not baptized until I was 10 years old, so that I could CHOOSE to be baptized, based on my own beliefs. I chose to do it. I went to a predominantly non-denominational/slightly baptist highschool. I was an extremely devout Christian during this time, and believed whole heartedly in God as my lord and savior. But, despite having spent my entire life in christian schools, ONLY christian schools, from pre-school to 12th grade... I never read the old testament in its entirety, and without someone there telling me what it is "supposed" to mean.

      When I entered college I went through all levels of hell as a Christian in a predominantly atheist environment. But, being a bit argumentative (can you tell from the posts here? =D) I constantly learned more and more about my faith in order to hold my own against those atheistic zealots that decided they needed to shove their beliefs down my throat.

      This is when I finally read the Old Testament.

    3. @Gilligan (part 2 of 2)

      I began... noticing things. Seeing more and more things in the Old Testament that just didn't jive with what I believed. So I read more. Became nearly obsessive in my reading of it, learning all that I could. And then I realized something. I'm about to say something that you will find offensive. Something you may even quit reading my post over, but I'll keep going anyway: God, in the Old Testament, is an asshole. And every time the Israelites did anything remotely cruel or unjust to the people they ran across... they justified it later with "God told me to!". God told them to take someone's land, kill all the men and then keep the women for raping? REALLY?! (I beg of you: neither take my word for it nor shrug it off as BS. GO READ IT. Every one of those books).

      I was in shock. This is the loving God I've devoted myself to? But it can't be wrong, because if any part of the Bible is suspect then ALL of the Bible is suspect. And since our entire faith was based on that 1 book, this was a problem. This, unfortunately, lead me to even further thoughts:

      In this generation alone, where Christianity has spread to its farthest points around the world, only 33% of the world is Christian. Barely 10% is Atheist and Agnostic, and we fall under the "other" category with wiccans and the rest. :-P Are all of those people, the other 67% in this generation alone, going to hell? And what of Christians? Most Christians don't even live the life they are required to, so not even 33% are going to make it to heaven.

      Of course, this got my thinking farther: In Japan, they have Shinto beliefs. I don't claim to know all about it, but as I understand it has multiple gods, believes in spirits, etc. What if I had been born in Japan? I would believe in Shintoism, possibly, as much as I believed in Christianity. I would believe my religion was right just as much as I, at the time, had believed Christianity was right. As an American, I viewed Christianity as being THE religion, and everyone else was wrong. I never stopped to think that others felt the exact same way about me! And had I been born anywhere else, I never would have considered converting.

      But this is just our generation. What if those numbers for Christianity drop more every generation back? What if, of all humans who have ever lived, only 10-15% go to heaven? You cannot get to heaven without accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior (or, before him, living according to the Old Testament's rulesets), and man... its kinda hard to do that when you've never heard of him. Would a loving God send all those people to hell?

      So I got to wondering: who is right? Are any of the religions right? Are none of them? I suddenly realized I had no proof in either direction. No proof shintoism was wrong or right. Or christianity (though I truly hope it isn't). Or Islam or Buddhism or any of them. And I have no proof that none of it exists. And thus the conundrum.

      So... why am I an athiest/agnostic in the Bible belt? In simple thought: I read the Bible. And that was the worst thing I could have done for my faith.

    4. For now, I’ll try to address one of your poits: The Israelites driving people out of their land.

      I assume you’re referring to Joshua destroying the Caananites. They were an extremely wicked people, including sacrificng babies to Moleck. God gave that people CENTURIES to repent, but they refused. Some who have read about them were surprised God didn’t destroy them sooner than He did.

      As to women being raped, they weren’t. They became the wives of the Israelite men.

    5. They became wives of men who RAPED them because the law said after you rape them they are your wives. Read your fucking bible jackass. It's all right there.

    6. SEE the links below:

  45. Shannon I enjoyed your replies, I did not feel you were condemning but expressing an intelligent point of view.
    The use of religion, faith and beliefs seemed to be pointed at ALL Christians are alike. I am a follower of Jesus Christ (who has been proven to have lived on Earth 2000 years ago). The churches today are filled with many unbelievers claiming to be Christians. They are practicing Religion not a faith in God. They think attending a church service will get them eternal life and it won't. I see them portraying they are better or superior to others. I don't agree w/the posting of the Bible Belt flyer. A true follower of Christ will love you no matter your beliefs or unbelief's. My son dated an Atheist a few years ago. I didn't say he couldn't date her because she was Atheist. She hurt him painfully in how she played with his feelings for her, almost to the point of suicide! I in turn do not judge ALL atheist by her actions, nor do I believe anyone should judge all follower's of Christ by how some Christians behave.
    If I am reading the posts correctly, you don't believe in a god because there or no facts to prove that an invisible God exists? Jesus is quoted saying, "if you have seen Me you have seen the Father." Jesus poured out Love, Healing to thousands that came to Him. He ate w/unbelievers, He showed no partiality. "The fruit of (His) Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: against such things there is no law" Gal. 5:22-23. This is the Jesus I follow, not preachers, religions, churches, etc. It is hard to believe that God can make Himself invisible to us because we can't do it ourselves? The stars are invisible to us in the day light, but we believe they are there because we see them in the dark. When I see the tiniest of wild flowers and the magnificent trees in the Amazon, the stars, sun, planets and their order of orbit;I know humans can't make these things and I believe a superior being has created them. The miracle of a child developing in the womb of a woman from something you can't visually see w/the eye, in itself is almost unbelievable until that child is born.
    Even the Native Americans worshiped the Sun god,they acknowledged that man can't make something so remarkable.
    We all believe or have faith in things we deal with everyday. Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow? If you do, then you have faith the sun will continue its position as it is suppose to keep us in orbit by its gravitational pull, as well as the other planets will continue in their position of orbit.
    We believe our insides will continue to function in a way to keep us alive, whether we understand it or not. To me to believe something is to have faith in it. So, we all have our belief in what we know and somethings we don't understand.
    There are many so called Christians, that do not know the Bible and don't study it, that is like a football team going out to play on a field without knowing or read the rules of the game. They wouldn't last too long in the game. You could begin to read the rules and not understand them, until you actually get out there to interacted in a game.

    I believe the Scriptures weren't written to be condemning, but to be a guide for right and wrong in Love. Keep us from being hurt by making bad decisions and the consequences. To me it is an instruction book on how to live. Each auto that is made has a manual on how to operate that vehicle. If you don't know where to put the gasoline or the oil and mix them up in the engine, there definitely will be consequences for the lack of knowledge. Are you going to blame the designer of the vehicle because it the engine was destroyed because you didn't read the owner's manual and put sugar in the gas tank?

    You can choose to believe the owner's manual and follow it, or you can ignore it and pay the consequences.

    I have lived in beautiful Tennessee all my life and love it.

    1. One of the reasons why professing Christians around here only "practice religion" is because of the dominant belief in "once saved, always saved", which leads to a easy believism or sinning religion.

      These three verses should help:

      "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." - Romans 6:15

      "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." - 1 Thessalonians 4:7

      "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" - Hebrews 12:14

    2. Quoting a superstitious holy book has no more credibility with me than if you quoted a comic book.

  46. Ran across this and was just blown away with all the hate on agnostics just overflowing on this page and the rabid atheists screaming there is no such thing. Though of this video and figured I would share.

  47. Here is why that is a load of bullshit:

    I've heard all that pseudo-logic before. We all have. Doesn't add up.

  48. Agnostic theists: entertain the possibility that there is a god or gods based on no evidence whatsoever

    Agnostic Atheists do not entertain any possibility because there is no evidence and because it is an outrageous claim.

    What can be supposed without evidence or any plausible theory can be dismissed without evidence or any alternate supposition.

  49. Can't really know if there's a tooth fairy, either, but I don't consider myself an agnostic when it comes to a lack of belief in the tooth fairy any more than I would regarding a lack of belief in any god or gods.


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