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Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
December 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The Christmas season is revealing a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion.

Some atheist activists are trying to seize the holidays as a time to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as a central front in the war on religious faith. With the dramatic growth of the nonreligious in the last few decades, more atheist leaders are emerging as spokespeople for atheism, but the Christmas rift speaks to growing disagreement over how atheists should treat religion.

On the religion-bashing side, there’s David Silverman, president of the group American Atheists, which raised one of its provocative trademark billboards in New York’s Times Square last week. “Keep the MERRY!” it says. “Dump the MYTH!”
The sign features a picture of a jolly Santa Clause and another of Jesus dying on the cross – a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity.

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

The New York billboard, which will be up until early January and is costing the group at least $25,000, is the latest in a long line of provocative American Atheists signs, which attacked then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s religion during this year’s presidential campaign.

It’s not the only way Silverman is using Christmas to attack Christianity. In a recent TV interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he said the American Atheist office be open on Christmas Day and called for an end to Christmas as a federal holiday.

O’Reilly, in turn, called Silverman a fascist.

Despite Silverman’s knack for making headlines, however, other prominent atheists are putting a softer face on the movement, including during Christmastime.

“I just think the whole war on Christmas story is bizarre” said Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, who has emerged as another spokesman for the burgeoning atheist movement. “I think that any atheist or humanist that is participating in that story needs to find better things to do with their time.”

From his point of view, atheism and religion can happily coexist, including at the holidays.

At the chaplaincy, Epstein has reached out to local religious groups, packaging holiday meals and breaking bread with believers to discuss their similarities and differences.

Sponsored by the Humanist Community at Harvard, evangelical Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, along with a number of atheists, were among those represented at a recent meal packaging event for hungry kids in the Boston area. Around 250 people participated and over $10,000 was raised – including donations from local Lutheran and Methodist churches.
Epstein calls this sort of inter-religious dialogue “healthy.”

“We as a community need to be about the positive and we have so much positive to offer,” he said. “I think that we really can provide a positive alternative to religious holidays that are not meaningful because of their religious content.”
Silverman, for his part, is more than comfortable being negative when it comes to religion.

“We should look at the results - people are listening to us because we are shouting,” he said. “They don’t hear you unless you shout. … Sometimes you have to put political correctness aside. We need to get louder. I believe we are seeing the fruits of that volume.”

As proof, American Atheists points to the way their donations skyrocket after every billboard campaign. “We get donations and memberships because we are taking the stand that we do,” said Silverman, who would not give specific numbers on fundraising. “The donations are flowing in right now. People are loving it specifically because of the billboard.”

Epstein would rather see more emphasis on volunteerism, though he acknowledges that some atheists are drawn to Silverman’s vocal model. Both men said they appeal to different parts of the atheist movement.

“We are GOP and Dem, man and women, black and white – the only thing that holds us together is atheism,” Silverman said. “A movement like ours needs all sides. It needs people who are working to be conciliatory and it needs people who are willing to raise their voices.”

Religious “nones” – a combination of atheists, agnostics and the religiously unaffiliated, have been growing their ranks in recent years. According to a Pew Research study released this year, the fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all as one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The survey found that the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans. According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated.

Though not monolithic, younger atheists, according to Jesse Galef, communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, are more prone to celebrate a secular version of Christmas than to ignore the holiday.

“I am very much in favor of celebrating the secular Christmas,” Galef said. “It is a celebration of the spirit of giving and I think religious divisiveness goes against that effort.”

Other atheists celebrate Festivus, a December 23 holiday meant for atheists looking to celebrate during the winter without participating in a Christian holiday. The holiday, which entered into popular culture through the television show “Seinfeld” in 1997, has gained popularity in recent years.

At the Secular Student Alliance office in Columbus, Ohio, the staff will play Secret Sagan, a nod to the famed scientist, instead of Secret Santa. And instead of Christmas decorations, they put up a Winter Solstice Tree with ornaments from the movie “When the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“We celebrate the holiday season, just not the religious holiday,” Galef said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christmas

soundoff (4,367 Responses)
  1. Thoth

    I've been a non-believer since I first studied ancient civilizations in middle school but I don't understand AA anymore. They are IMO going about things in the wrong way. I celebrate with friends both believers, and non-believers over the holidays. For me it's a time for reflection and enjoyment of humanity. Perhaps a humanist approach might be more reasonable. Religion is deeply embedded in the human psyche, and a banner like this only causes believers to re-affirm their faith as a defense response rather than consider historical, archeological, and scientific evidence. Faith is all about emotion. When you provoke emotion in this manner you are deluded if you think you will get a rational response.

    December 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Lisa

      They are going about it in the Fundamentalist Way, which might just be the point of it all. Nothing enlightens people to the stupidity of their own actions like seeing somebody else do the exact same thing, right?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Banners like this made me do some actual research on what i beleived when I was a christian. It wasnt too long before I was an atheist. Sure, I got angy at first and threw my hands in the air like a raving lunatic, but once I tried to actually justify my beleifs, I realized I couldnt. It works, so they obviously arent deluded. I think you may be deluded if you think you can just nicely ask someone to give up their beleifs, because that usually doesnt work. Getting them to think does.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Gerry

      ReligionIsBS
      You were obviously in the minority of believers who we're too lazy, or too cowed to actually check into the reasons why they believed what they do, right?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "You were obviously in the minority of believers who we're too lazy, or too cowed to actually check into the reasons why they believed what they do, right?"

      Are you this misinformed or just lying. 95% of the religious people currently follow the religion they were taught as a child. LOL. I guess they all did their research and just HAPPEN to follow the religion they were brainwashed into.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Thoth

      @ReligionisBS – well I suppose that's the difference between atheists like you, and me. I don't ask people to give up their beliefs; that's not my place. I believe what I believe and I carry on plenty of respectful debates with people of various religions. So long as people aren't victimizing others they should be free to believe whatever they like.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Agreed, we are different. And I also agree that if somethings not bothering someone, have at it. But I disagree that religion doesnt bother anyone. Ask the families of dead soldiers if the Westboro church is bothering anyone. Ask mulsim women in arab countries if they like acid getting thrown in their face, ask atheists if they like being told they are immoral and will rot in torment forever.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. Oubliette

    @Karen.

    Are you explaining it or excusing it?

    December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Karen

      Explaining, it's not just surfing the web. People take home paper, pens, etc from work and don't think twice about stealing from their employers.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • frank

      Where's the excuse. Someone's got some explaining to do.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Oubliette

      Yes it is a shame. And with that said, I have to sign off now and get back to work!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  3. Colin

    For Paul:

    The belief that an infinitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, chose a small nomadic group of Jews from the 200 million people then alive to be his "favored people" provided they followed some rural laws laid down in Bronze Age Palestine equals Judaism.

    Judaism PLUS a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule he himself made equals Christianity.

    Christianity PLUS a belief that aliens from other planets mated with humans who will one day be gods, that post mortem baptisms send people to a heaven, that the Israelis colonized America and that magic underwear will protect you from evil equals Mormonism.

    I guess Mormons take the gold for utterly stupid beliefs. One can imagine Brigham Young standing on a pedestal, accepting his medal and humbly proclaiming, “If my beliefs are even more ridiculous than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”.

    And to round matters off' " Islam is the belief that an infinitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, whispered the secrets of life, death and everything to an Eigthy Century pedophile in a cave.

    December 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @Colin
      I'm glad you can still crank out awesome posts. You rock!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Colin

      Thanks RH.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  4. Oubliette

    Do any of you people feel guilty for accepting a pay check with the amount of time you rip your employers off?

    December 21, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Karen

      Stealing is common place in the work place.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • IT

      What most people don't realize is depending on the company, computer monitoring takes many forms: 45% of employers track content, keystrokes, and time spent at the keyboard; 43% store and review computer files; 12% monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about the company by employees, and 10% monitor social networking sites. Of the 43% of companies that monitor email, 73% use technology tools to automatically monitor email and 40% assign an employee to manually read and review email.

      We've fired people over their internet use, monitoring will continue to grow because of this problem.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • frank

      Of course more and more people are working from home.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Disqusted

      I agree it's a huge problem and it only demonstrates the lack of integrity in our society. A recent survey revealed 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites every day at work. Of that group, 39 percent spend one hour or less per week, 29 percent spend 2 hours per week, 21 percent waste five hours per week, and only 3 percent said they waste 10 hours or more doing unrelated activities.

      I believe it becomes an addiction and they don't have the self control to wait till they get home to surf the web and they don't view it as stealing.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Disqusted

      "Of course more and more people are working from home."

      and not really "working."

      December 21, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Louis

      When you're doing the Lord's Work all things are forgiven (and permissible).

      December 21, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Huebert

      My job actually allows a fair bit of free time. Therefore I'm not ripping my employer off.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Frank

      "When you're doing the Lord's Work all things are forgiven (and permissible)."

      Is that how the priests justified it? What a lame excuse.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Frank

      "My job actually allows a fair bit of free time."

      So why don't you tell them you have free time so they can give you more work.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Huebert

      Frank

      I work in customer service. Currently there are no customers. I'm sure my employer would love to make more customers appear, but they are currently unable to do so.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Gerry

      Frank
      I don't know about priests, but it sure applies to creationists. Some of the lies they tell... Oy!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Frank

      "Currently there are no customers. I'm sure my employer would love to make more customers appear, but they are currently unable to do so."

      You could always find things to do for your employer to justify getting a pay check from them. I am sure if they knew what you were really doing you would be fired. I am a former business owner who is retired and if you worked for me I would fire you.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • frank

      Some people work from home and spread their work/browsing time across various parts of the day. No doubt that internet usage can be very addictive, but if your job is more task-oriented verses time-oriented, then some of these generalizations are moot.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Huebert

      Frank

      Glad you aren't my boss then.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Frank

      "Glad you aren't my boss then."

      That's fine but you and I both know you have no integrity.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Huebert

      Frank

      That's your opinion. Luckily I never take the opinion of some random d!ck on the internet seriously.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • ChadJr

      @Frank: Prove that Huebert has no integrity.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • myweightinwords

      I spend a fair amount of my time waiting for work to be turned over to me. I pop in here from time to time while I'm waiting. I also put in a fair number of hours before and after regular working hours when I do have work. It balances out, or ends in the company's favor most of the time. They just prefer that I'm here during regular hours so if something comes up I can work on it immediately.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Frank

      Chad here's your example. " I never take the opinion of some random d!ck on the internet seriously"

      His lack of integrity comes because while at work you should be honest about your time and utilize it judiciously. He has already admitted to surfing websites like this that aren't related to work and wasting his time while at work. That is lack of integrity.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • mk

      Even if you don't surf the web, anytime you talk to some one else about something other than work (except if you are on break) or make a personal phone call or are distracted with personal issues, you are "stealing". Anyone who says they have never done this stuff is not being truthful.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Disqusted

      "or make a personal phone call or are distracted with personal issues, you are "stealing". Anyone who says they have never done this stuff is not being truthful."

      There are people who actually don't do those things but you have to make this excuse to justify the fact you're actually stealing. If you are having a personal issue while at work then it's your responsibility to notify your manager to work out the time you've wasted. Personal phone calls should be done on your assigned break.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • mk

      You think there are people who never defy any of these "rules"? I'm betting you can think of one time where you spoke with someone about what they did on the weekend or asked how their mom was doing. If you haven't, you're a robot.

      Okay, now I'm understanding how the issue of wasting work time ties in with the actual topic of this conversation: some people think they are holier than thou.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Huebert

      Frank

      I am honest about my time. My employer knows I'm on the internet not doing anything related to work. They honestly don't care what I do when there are no customers. Since you are so sure you can make accurate judgement about me from a few internet postings let me do the same to you.

      The fact that you believe that you can accurately judge my integrity, especially when you have no idea what my job is beyond the very va.gue "customer service" descriptor, shows me that you are very quick to judge. You also never considered how well I preform at my job when it is time for me to work, I have more customer compliments in my file than any other employee, this tells me that you will place esoteric value above actual value. Over all you sound like a terrible employer. You may have been good at business, but if you behaved like this toward your employees I doubt that any of them liked or respected you. If you behaved like this toward your friends I doubt you have many. This might explain why you are sitting at home angrily posting on the internet instead of enjoying yourself.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Frank, there is a difference between integrity and ethics as well as moral relativism that you are missing.

      Also, the employer-employee relationship is a social contract in a morally relativistic universe. If you've ever had a job where your duty was to be "on-call" or "ready for action" between active periods of some sort, then what the employee is required to do, if anything, during those slow times, is between the employer and the employee.
      When you rent a car, you pay for every minute, not just the minutes you spend driving it. Allowed activity is allowed. Derp.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • mk

      I'm betting Huebert wouldn't be fired if he was a top salesman and made the company a lot of money despite his "downtime" activities.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Frank

      Huebert the fact you immediate jumped in with the insults makes me doubt your claims of good sales person. Plus I bet if your employer knew you were on the internet calling people di cks on their dime you'd find out they would have an issue with what your doing. Loved the fact you accuse me of as.sumptions but yet you started it when you decided to throw an insult thinking it would make me stop writing. You still deserve to be fired because based on your posts here, I am sure your employer wouldn't want to be paying for these types of comments. Unlike you I've earned my retirement the legitimate way.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  5. Colin

    At least when atheists are divided, it is over something tangible and legitimate. Christianity has fractured and splintered over the most ridiculous of questions over the Centuries.

    Indeed, it seems to be very easy to be “deep” or “highly spiritual” in Christianity or any other religious circle. Simply come up with either a meaningless, unanswerable question like “when Jesus was alive on Earth, did he have a soul?” or a self-contradictory phrase like “there are three gods, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit but only one God” and you can keep Christian theologians busy for a millennium or two.

    I am not simply being gratuitously pejorative here. Questions like the ones I cited above about the incarnation of Jesus and the Christian Trinity have literally been at the heart of debate amongst the leading Christian theologians since before Augustine’s time and are the bases for schisms in the Christian faith.

    None of this is intellectual or deep! It’s just self-contradictory or meaningless babble. Any view on such matters can never be proved or disproved for the simple reason that there is no evidence either way. It is all self-generated. All made up.

    From the perspective of the theologians, there must be a comforting security to the fact that one can adduce any theory or view on such matters and be effectively impervious to disproof. It’s all philosophical mastu.rbation at its most base. If philosophy is science without discipline, religion is philosophy with Down syndrome.

    December 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Lisa

      Yup, according to Ned Flanders the Schism of Lourdes in 1573 was over the Presbylutherans' right to attend church with wet hair, but actual Christian Schisms were about as petty. :-)

      December 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  6. The Courts

    Here is what is nice and a fact IT ( ID/creationism) can't be taught in public schools in USA.
    Life Science is Self is it NOT...
    New Standards CREATED by 26 states for 2013

    December 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  7. TheRit

    ReligionIsBS is exactly the type of person I was talking of earlier. Religious wars are based on the idea of having the opportunity the teach people the true way and save their SOULS. So it is kind of a big deal! Now, think about the importance of that to those doing the fighting before you say something ignorant. What are ATHEISTS fighting for?

    December 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      LOL. Best post of the day! "Religious wars kill people so they can know what to beleive...even though they are dead now!" Kind of funny isnt it, religous wars (crusades, inquisitions, fatwas) kill people to teach them a lesson and atheist wars dont kill anyone and try to save idiots from themselves so they' stop killing themselves..

      December 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • John

      " teach people the true way"

      That's why there are so many religions throughout human history and all of them are bogus.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      atheists are fighting to keep you morons from killing each other again. LOL

      December 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Colin

      Well, one thing we atheists fight for is to educate people to the point where they will not fight and kill each other over religious differences.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • snowboarder

      therit – your comment is truly comical. thanks for the laugh.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Jim

      Atheists fighting to keep you morons from killing each other – rotflmao!

      Atheists have killed more people in the past 100 years than religious wars have in the past 3 centuries!

      Now, THAT 'explanation' from the atheists is hillarious!

      "We're stopping you from killing yourselves over nothing so WE can kill you to force you to convert to atheism.

      Maybe you should put that on a billboard, at least it would be accurate and truthful...

      December 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • TheRit

      "Athiests don't kill anyone" Hahaha! Ever heard of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc.? The worst murderers in human history! My point was simply (and i don't support it) that they feel they are fighting to SAVE people. Yes, I do, and always have, seen the irony of it also. Anglo-Saxonism around the turn of 20th century (and continuing on) is no different.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Frank

      "Atheists have killed more people in the past 100 years than religious wars have in the past 3 centuries!"

      Actually they haven't no one kills over atheism, they do kill over totalitarianism.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Atheism doesnt kill people. Christianity obviously does if you look at history. Yes, atheists have killed people, but not in the name of atheism. Religion has killed more people than any other thing/event/occurance the world has ever seen.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Huh?

      "Hitler,"

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

      -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

      December 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Gerry

      TheRit
      The " true way" is an opinion, and people from different faiths, or no faith at all, each have a different opinion on what that way is. You guys plaster your opinions on church sighs for all the public to see. You not only don't care if they offend people, you're banking on it frightening them so much that they lose faith in their beliefs. I don't see any difference between that and these billboards.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Gerry

      TheRit
      Dictators kill loads of people, even Christian ones like Hitler. Now, show us some examples of democratically elected atheists, or Christians who have killed like this.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • sam stone

      TheGit: We are fighting to keep the religionists from codifying their fantasies into our secular laws

      December 21, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Best Christian quote ever,

      "Kill them all, let god sort them out."

      Does that about sum up your position Rit?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  8. Kim

    I preferred the old bus ads that said "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake!"

    Better still, why not just say "Just be good for goodness' sake!" and sign it American Atheists? People would get the message without all the hoopla.

    December 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Jim

      And, people would see a positive side to atheists instead of angry, demeaning people who think they need to 'correct' others because they are supposedly enlightened.

      Your suggestion is akin to a smoker that quits smoking and replaces the habit with something constructive. Unfortunately, the groups and people like Silverman and Dawkins just yell "stop it!" like Dr. Phil and usually give false reasoning and 'information' in order to try to force people to surrender to their personal whim.

      Being positive and giving a reason for (and not a reason against) is what brings long term success.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Lisa

      Jim
      "And, people would see a positive side to atheists instead of angry, demeaning people who think they need to 'correct' others because they are supposedly enlightened."

      You mean, stop acting like capital "C" Christians, right? I'm starting to think that American Atheists is just trying to be satirical, acting like the very Christians that are so intolerant of people not believing exactly as they do.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Primewonk

      But it's still OK when fundiot nutter churches plaster the highways with billboards damning to hell anyone who worships a different version of their god, different gods, or no gods – right?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Jim

      @ Lisa,

      So you're 'defense' is a childish and idiotic reply that you are acting like the 'irrational and hate-mongers?"

      Beautiful...and so constructive.

      @ Subprimewonk,

      Your post was almost as good as Lisa's but not as funny.

      "We HATE fundies" so we will act like them!" And then someone tries to make this behavior "OK" by pretending it is satirical? Talk about irrational and basing belief on a complete lack of evidence...

      December 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • helicohunter

      There is a big billboard in my city by a seventh day adventist. I can't remember the exact words, but it basically threatens damnation if you don't obey "God's law" by refraining from any work on Saturday. Somehow, there's no uproar over that, even though it isn't a belief of most Christians. Why should an atheist billboard cause an uproar? Christians shove their beliefs down the throats of others all the time. Most atheists aren't looking to "convert" anyone- they're just tired of being persecuted. As an atheist, I do belief that Jesus was a real person and was crucified. I just don't believe the virgin birth nonsense or that he had magical powers. He was the MLK of his day. For me, Christmas is a time to show loved ones what they mean to you. It is a time for bringing joy to children and feeling just a little bit better about the world. Christmas can be celebrated with or without Christ. Merry Christmas!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Jim – Again, if the fundiot Christian nutters would stop trying to get their religious myths ensconced in our laws, and taught as science in our schools, we wouldn't have this issue, would we?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Lisa

      Jim
      If Fundamentalists can only see how they act by watching somebody else act like them, then I think that acting "childish" like this is a small price to pay.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Jim

      @subprime,

      Thanks for clarifying that you can't defend the fundies of atheism.

      @ helio,

      If the billboard does say that, it is idiotic and no better than the atheist billboards or other billboards that use fear to 'convince' others.

      Of course, that is NO defense for the supposedly 'rational and intelligent' atheists being morons...

      Attempts to justify through deflection and a moral equivalency argument are worthless and demonstrate the lack of what you (or AA) claim to be (rational, intelligent and not insulting).

      December 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  9. Kevin7Harris

    Atheists are the new FUNDAMENTALISTS! How ironic that vocal atheists have become what they decried! Most claim that sound reason and factual evidence is preferred over emotionalism, in-your-face-proselytizing, and blind faith. Yet, virtually all I see from this new wave of atheism is emotionalism, in-your-face-proselytizing, and blind faith!

    Rather than reason – name-calling, insults, and obnoxious slogans prevail. This is what was supposed to be wrong with the "Fundies"! Are there thoughtful atheists? Sure! And now they bear the burden thoughtful Christians have borne for centuries!

    December 21, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Sorry, but fundamentalist christians dont have a monopoly on billbords and messages. SMH

      December 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      That's right BS! I guess we're getting a dose of our own medicine! I suppose you think that makes it all okay!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Lisa

      So, you've actually noticed how destructive and divisive the Fundamentalist approach is, eh? Have you ever considered the possibility that getting people to actually recognize that was what American Atheists had in mind all along? Satire is one of the most effective ways of leading people to the truth, after all.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Yes, I think the 1st ammendment is OK. You dont? What was your point?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Akira

      Kevin, does every Christian support Westboro and Fred Phelps?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • paul

      I've never noticed Athiests attacking Hanukka, or Eid Al-Fitr, or really any other religion than christianity. Is their problem with God or just christians because last I heard Jews and Moslems worship the same god as Christians. Of course Jews and Moslems aren't taught to turn the other cheek, that was a Christian thing maybe they're afraid of the other two.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Albert

      "I've never noticed Athiests attacking Hanukka,"

      No, we don't have to Christians do that for us. ;-)

      December 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      Lisa,

      Despite clever satire, my observation of the most active and vocal atheists is accurate. In fact, just peruse the responses here for a small sample. Do you really want to defend this?

      Madalyn Murray O'Hair had no interest in being anything but obnoxious, mean-spirited, unreasonable, defensive, and preachy. So it certainly has not been what AA "had in mind all along"!

      What about you? Do you consider yourself open minded to the merits of competing worldviews?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Lisa

      Akira
      Not all Christian churches proclaim that Jesus is the only way to avoid going to hell as a sentence for being a terrible person who did "nothing" to check their sin. They might still believe it, but they don't push it into everyone's faces like Fundamentalists do. Maybe it just takes somebody like American Atheists to give these churches a does of their own medicine for some to realize just how offensive THEIR signs actually are?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      Akira,

      My point exactly! But we have to put up with being lumped in with them! Let's see how thoughtful atheists like having to be lumped in with Bill Mahr, hurtful slogans, close-mindedness, and lack of reason!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Kevin, you didnt answer my question. Do you not like the first amendment? Or were you utterly wrong in your rant?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      BS,

      It's not really a 1st amendment issue. My point is the irony of a movement (The New Atheism) that is becoming what they thought they decried!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      We decry religion, not getting our message out. That doesnt even make sense. You dont think we should be able to use the same mediums as christians? I seriously dont understand what you're getting at. Im not sure you do either.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Jim

      @ BS,

      That is your defense???

      December 21, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Jim, my defense to what?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Primewonk

      In case folks like Paul and Kevin don't get it – we don't see the fundiot Jewish nutters, the fundiot Muslim nutters, the fundiot Hindu nutters, the fundiot Buddhist nutters, etc., trying to get their bizarre religious myths ensconced Ito oir laws and taught as science in our schools.

      If, and when, they do, I promise you that they will be met with the same disdain we hold fundiot Christian nutters in.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      BS,

      I'm not surprised you don't get it. Look at your name (ReligionIsBS)! Does that name signal you are interested in thoughtful dialouge rather than putting up a wall? No! that's what fundamentalists (by today's definition) do! They care not that they are unnecessarily divisive! They are in your face, defensive, emotional, angry, and anti-intellectual. If you don't fit that camp, change your name!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Jim

      BS,

      Your defense of AA being morons like those they have decried as evil and intolerant.

      It is the height of hypocrisy and your defense consists of "well, we're becoming the unconstructive monster in order to replace another unconstructive monster through emotionalism, hatred and idiocy." That is what you're defending with your juvenile attempt to defend through deflection (which is no defense except in high school debate class.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Kevin,
      But religion is obviously BS. They cant all be right. But they can all be wrong. So obvioulsy, at least 99% of them are BS.

      You didnt post anyhthing put whinning nonsense. What are you getting at? Please prove your god exists, or he's BS.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      Primewonk,

      You'll do that with reason, winsomeness, tact, and work! You'll get nowhere being as fundified as the fundies (which I guess in your view are ignorant bizarre people who perpetrate falsehoods and bad public policy)!

      Now why on earth are you defensive at what I wrote? And I hope you realize that you are in essence saying, "two wrongs make a right"! Fundies disdain anyone who disagrees with them and then resort to furious rhetoric rather than reason to shout down the opposition!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Its funny how emotional you guys are getting because someone is questioning your beleifs. Its even funnier that you are getting mad because AA is using the same tactics as fundies! "Hey, dont use billboards, thats what we do! We have a monopoly on billboards!!!"

      Why so upset, if its real, what do you care if I dont beleive and slap my slogan on a billboard. If your religion was correct, it wouldnt be this difficult to defend, would it?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "You didnt post anyhthing put whinning nonsense. What are you getting at? Please prove your god exists, or he's BS." that was for Jim

      December 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Kev and Jims defense of christianity from atheists.

      "Stop, you're tactics are similar to the tactics christian fundies use. Please stop. Its hurfull."

      LOL

      December 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      BS,

      You made the assertion, you back it up! Start with defining "religion".

      All views make truth claims. All truth claims bear the burden of proof. "Religion is BS" is a truth claim.

      You're right about competing worldviews. The major worldviews contradict one another despite minor overlaps. Maybe you can defend your view without throwing up walls which prevent you from getting a hearing!

      December 21, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Kevin.- fundiots (fundamentalist idiots), of the Christian persuation come onto thread after thread and post inane drivel and outright lies. Yet, time after time, they are given actual evidence that refutes their inane drivel and lies. And sadly, rather than learning the facts, these nutters turn around and re-post the exact same lies and drivel.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      LOL. A christian asking me for proof? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!

      You're correct, i cant prove christianity isnt real. Just like I cant prove the tooth fairy is real. But im not the one making the original claim, genius. You are. You are stating that christianity is the answer. I ask for proof, but you have none. So, if you really need to hear it again, here it goes. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. ReligionisBS is obviously not an asseration, becuase its a reply to your assertation. I wouldnt need to say religionisbs if people didnt assert religion as true. By your logic, I also shouldnt go around sayin flying purple elephants arent real, because I cant prove it.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      BS,

      I LOVE for my beliefs to be questioned! Bring it on! I'll be the better for it and may see things differently! BTW, are you willing to do the same thing?

      If I'm emotional, it's because the last thing we need are more unreasonable "fundamentalists"! And now we have a whole new batch, generally known as The New Atheists!

      If I were to put up a billboard, I would say something like, "Know WHY you believe, not just WHAT you believe!" I'd then prominently display "Reasonable Faith.org". (I do a podcast there). In fact, If I get some moolah, I might just do this! But notice it's winsome and inviting yet challenging.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "I LOVE for my beliefs to be questioned! Bring it on! I'll be the better for it and may see things differently! BTW, are you willing to do the same thing?" Yes, I was a catholic who questioned my beleifs, so im obviously willing. And im still willing to beleive in a god if one presents itself.

      "If I'm emotional, it's because the last thing we need are more unreasonable "fundamentalists"! And now we have a whole new batch, generally known as The New Atheists!" Atheists cannot be fundamentalist, that doesnt even make sense. All an atheist is, is a person who doesnt beleive in a god or gods. Some are vocal, some are not. Just because someone rents out a billboard and questions your faith, doesnt make them a fundamentalist. I dont think you know what fundamentalist means.

      "If I were to put up a billboard, I would say something like, "Know WHY you believe, not just WHAT you believe!" I'd then prominently display "Reasonable Faith.org". (I do a podcast there). In fact, If I get some moolah, I might just do this! But notice it's winsome and inviting yet challenging."

      I think that would be great. Id even throw some money towards it.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      But if you did do that, then you would be a fundamentalist by your definintion.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Lisa

      Kevin7Harris
      O'Hair was no more intolerant of other people's beliefs than Jerry Falwell. Sorry if you consider that obnoxious, but she was murdered before the billboard and bus campaigns even began, so I really don't see your point.

      I'm personally open-minded about competing world views but, so far, no belief in the supernatural has struck me as particularly compelling. All world religions teach basically the same morality which just leads me to believe that they are basic human values, not divinely handed down ones.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Kevin7Harris

      Primewonk,

      I know that's true! And the sword cuts both ways! One has to pick one's battles and decide when the brick wall and one's head are not getting along!

      December 21, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Jim

      @ Kevin,

      You need to be hate-filled, argumentative, insulting and snide in order to be taken seriously these days. Being reasonable only gets you juvenile replies from those demanding to be taken seriously as reasonable people.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @Primewonk
      You said, "In case folks like Paul and Kevin don't get it – we don't see the fundiot Jewish nutters, the fundiot Muslim nutters, the fundiot Hindu nutters, the fundiot Buddhist nutters, etc., trying to get their bizarre religious myths ensconced Ito oir laws and taught as science in our schools."

      Muslims are well known for shoving their religion into our laws as well as Jews. Every religious nut with enough money or passion to bribe or otherwise shove their religion into our laws and regulations do so with alarming frequency regardless of sect. There are plenty of people who want special treatment for their religious beliefs that violate the rights of others.
      All it takes is money / influence / extortion / etc. to get special and illegal preferential treatment in some way through corrupt politicians. A special no-bid contract here, a religious rule codified into food regulations there, exceptions to any rule they don't like everywhere.

      It isn't just Christians. It's any nut with money or influence sufficient to the task. Jewish corruption has enjoyed a much longer history in America than that of non-Abrahamic religions because most Christians get all googly-eyed over Jews and they've been trying to make this a theocracy for over 200 years. Muslims haven't had much influence here because most of them coming from the Middle East had dark skin and our country has always had lots of racists in it.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  10. cmc

    I'm an atheist and I think Jesus Christ existed. He was born to his biological parents, had some radical ideas about how to treat one another, he gained a following and the powers that be were threatened by him so they assassinated him. End of story. He didn't turn water into wine or walk on water or rise from the dead. He's just a historical figure that preached love and tolerance. In these respects, he is just like Martin Luther King, Jr. I think for those reasons, celebrating his birthday, just like celebrating MLK Day, is just fine. Bring on Christmas!

    December 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Lisa

      You must be new to this whole atheist thing. "Christ" wasn't the guy's last name, it's a t itle for his divinity in Christian eyes. If you're an atheist then you can think that Jesus the human existed, but being "Christ" implies that he was divine, OK?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Jesus freaker

      His real name was Jesus O. Nazareth. The Nazareth family was very large.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • ChadJr

      @Lisa – prove that Christ wasn't his last name.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • frank

      Oh, dear Zeus, please don't tell me Chad has spawned.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Jim

      Not even a chad that is hanging...

      The word "Christ is the Greek word for Messiah.

      People didn't have last names back then in the middle east as all people who have ANY knowledge of the subject understand.

      Another 'thinking' atheist who gives the intelligent atheists a bad name....

      December 21, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Lisa

      Jim
      Jews wouldn't have thought that any messiah would be divine. That would be blasphemy, like the pagan beliefs in demigods such as Hercules. Lots of people, and even Israel itself, were called "messiah" in the OT.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      cmc I recommend you read C.S. Lewis "The Burden of Glory" In it, Prof. Lewis describes how your description of Jesus cannot be true. Taking simply the things that Jesus said himself, one must either take him as a lunatic or as the Messiah. He cannot be simply a good man who had some neat ideas. He either is what He says He is or He is not. There is no middle ground.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  11. snowboarder

    we enjoy a secular christmas

    December 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  12. Tolerant Catholic

    John – I get that you disagree. I'm not asking you to do, or believe, anything. But if I want to believe that there is an afterlife, or that we should love one another, or that the great white buffalo is watching over me, why do you care?

    December 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      because some idiots like to try and make their nonsense laws, thats why we care. We also care because we know our history. See the crusades, witch burnings, dark ages and inquisitions. Will religious people stop asking this question? You already know the answer.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Colin

      Two points. First, loving your neighbor has nothing to do with any religion and second, we don't care what you think. We care what you teach the next generation before they are too young to know any better and the laws you pass based on your silly superst.ition.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • John

      "But if I want to believe that there is an afterlife, or that we should love one another, or that the great white buffalo is watching over me, why do you care?"

      So will you be voting to allow gay marriage? That will answer your question.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Colin

      Actually, three points. A great white buffalo is slightly more probable than the god you believe in. At least the species exists.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Xmas

      Jesus, Tolerant, because you and your lot never stop at your church door, you are compelled to spread your silly belief system onto others; Paul made that pretty clear when he got the scam up and running.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Tolerant Catholic

      ahhhhh, OK, I get it. We're not talking about atheism, but anti-theism. I can't spend all day debating the good/harm done by religious people vs that done by atheistic regimes of the last hundred years, so I'll just wish you all a very merry Tuesday and get back to work.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • John

      "so I'll just wish you all a very merry Tuesday and get back to work."

      Tuesday? So you're surfing the web at work? Isn't that stealing? ;-)

      December 21, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • LinCA

      @Tolerant Catholic

      You said, "ahhhhh, OK, I get it. We're not talking about atheism, but anti-theism."
      Really only the theism that intrudes on the freedom of others.

      You said, "so I'll just wish you all a very merry Tuesday and get back to work."
      A sincere "Happy Holidays" will suffice.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  13. Victor

    Many Christians celebrate Christmas differently, and for deeply held reasons. Does that expose a great divide?

    December 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  14. loremipsum2011

    This article is inaccurate and uses loaded language. Dan Merica's work is unsophisticated and feels like a holiday hatchet job for popular appeal, read coin in his pocket. Atheists are only one group against Christmas. Secularists are in this discourse which includes people of all religions and philosophies, and they are much greater in number than atheists.Also, there is no "war." There is opinion, but nobody is armed. Merica's overstatement is so shrillit is matched only with Bill O'Reilley's accusing atheists of fascism—a supreme act of hypocrisy. In fact, democracy is at work. Freedom is at work. America is a diverse country, and lively discourse is not a war. War is a war. The NRA's ability to obstruct gun control is much closer to a war because people keep dying. But secularists are not killing. THey are using the same "violent" strategies the religious have long uses. I see more billboards for Jesus and prolife messages, nobody calls that a war.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  15. joe

    they are confused about themselves so they want to spread their misery to everyone else.DO A PAGAN FESTIVUS, THEY MIGHT CHEER THEM MORONS UP.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • mk

      Joe must be a true christian.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Christmas is basically a pagan festivus. Do some research on what you beleive, dude.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Jim

      @ religionis bs,

      You might want to be the one to do the research and stop telling others they should since you're comment demonstrates a historical ignorance.

      The pagan festival that Christmas, was 'put in place of' was not on the 25th, it was on the 17th. There was no supplanting of any pagan festival.

      In fact, we know that the dating of Jesus' birth happened because of bad calendar 'synching' between different calendars in ancient times.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Google saturnalia and yule. BURN!

      December 21, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Joe,

      The pagan festival that Christmas, was 'put in place of' was not on the 25th, it was on the 17th. There was no supplanting of any pagan festival.

      That depends on where in the world we're discussing. Yule takes place on the Winter Solstice, generally December 21st. Saturnalia, as I understand it, begins around the 17th and goes on for days. See, nearly every culture in the world has a holy day in what we call December. There are a multitude of reasons, largely based on observation of nature and the changing of the seasons.

      In the darkest time of the year, people the world over are holding to the light. In the sparsest time of the year for fresh food, people bring out their stores and celebrate the fact that the winter tide is turning and spring is soon to come.

      Christmas was put in December because it reflects these same themes and it was one way to ease tensions with the populations they were attempting to co-opt.

      In fact, we know that the dating of Jesus' birth happened because of bad calendar 'synching' between different calendars in ancient times.

      That was part of it sure, but most scholars will tell you that it is most likely that the man known as Jesus, provided that the story of his birth is true, was not born in the dead of winter.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Jim

      BS,

      Your name is self-describing.

      Goodness, even Wiki knows the original date of the pagan holiday...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

      Versnel, "Saturnus and the Saturnalia," p. 141; Palmer, Rome and Carthage, p. 63.

      You might want to do just a bit of research before making ignorant claims that take about 3 seconds to debunk.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Jim

      @myweight,

      The claim is that Christians 'stole' the holiday which is not true and is verifiable. The original holiday was for 1 day and did grow and change the number of days over time but, as the record shows, Christmas was not a replacement for the holiday.

      Your claim to, 'most scholars' is partially true at best. Well over 90% of scholars know Jesus existed (and even the Romans referred to Jesus (Tacitus) so it is not a question of if Jesus existed and was crucified under Pilate. The burden of proof is on those who make the claim that he didn't when there is ZERO evidence to support the iclaim and plenty to prove Jesus did live.

      As to the incorrect dating, I'm confused by your response since in my response to BS, I'm saying it is incorrect (December) by the very statement that the dating is a mistake. So, your reponse is puzzling as though you need to attempt to make it appear that you are correcting something that is already corrected.

      Most likely, Jesus was born in Oct/Nov on our calendar when the texts are studied. In the end, it matters none when Jesus was born though.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • sam stone

      wow, joe.....how insightful. congrats on that "forming thought" thing. you are not there yet, but i think you can get there

      December 21, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Jim *sorry I got your name wrong the first time*

      The claim is that Christians 'stole' the holiday which is not true and is verifiable. The original holiday was for 1 day and did grow and change the number of days over time but, as the record shows, Christmas was not a replacement for the holiday.

      That is only if you are speaking specifically about Saturnalia. My point is that Christmas, as it is celebrated here in the US, is actually a hodge podge of beliefs and traditions taken from many, many cultures. This is the way of religion, the way of traditions. They grow and change over time. They take some of what came before and adapt it to suit what is now.

      It isn't "stealing" as much as it is...appropriating? Not sure that's the right word either. Maybe amalgamating?

      The point is that both sides are fighting over ridiculous things. It doesn't matter whether the Christmas tree started in Germany or England or wherever. It doesn't matter if the date of the holiday is 12/21 or 12/17 or 12/25. It doesn't matter if the celebration is for the return of the sun or the birth of a son, or to give presents or not give presents. It doesn't matter who did which part first.

      When we fight over that, we are completely missing the point.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @myweightinwords

      "That was part of it sure, but most scholars will tell you that it is most likely that the man known as Jesus, provided that the story of his birth is true, was not born in the dead of winter."

      The history is convoluted. My research on the subject is almost non-existent, but here are a couple of data points that are relevant to me:

      "St. Ephraim the Syrian (ca. 306 – 373) taught that the date of the conception of Jesus Christ fell on 10 Nisan on the Hebrew Calendar, the day in which the passover lamb was selected according to Exodus 12. Some years 10 Nisan falls on March 25."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annunciation

      Christmas falls nine months after the Annunication – so December the 25. Of course there is nothing to support this claim. The Annunication continues to be a very big holy day in Orthodox traditions.

      As of the inst!tution of the Anno Domini in 525 CE, New Year's day was moved to March 25 and remained so for the medieval period.

      These dates worked really well for coopting pagan holidays – particularly the Celtic and Gaelic calendars with Samhain and Yule.

      The Gaelic Pagan Year
      Date ............................ Solar cycle ........... Gaelic .........................Christian

      March 20/21 ................ Vernal Equinox .… Ostara ........................ Annunciation (3/25) also Lady Day
      April 30 (Eve) /May 1 .................................. Beltane (Mayday)
      June 20/21 ................... Summer Solstice .. Lithia (Midsummer) ..... St. John the Baptist (6/24)
      August 1 ..................................................... Lughnasadh (Lammas or wheat harvest)
      September 22/23 .......... Autumn Equinox ... Mabon ....................... St. Michael (Michaelmas) (9/29)
      October 31 (eve) / November 1 .................. Samhain .................... All Saints/Hallows Day (11/1) All Souls Day (11/2)
      December 21/22 ........... Winter Solstice ..... Yule .......................... Christmas (12/25)
      February 1/2 ................................................ Imbolc ....................... St. Bridget (2/1)

      Easter largely replaces Beltane – even though Easter moves around a lot in the solar year.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  16. Miskatonic

    I had a little Shoggoth
    I conjured up one day.
    I used an Elder Sigil
    So Shoggoth and I play.

    Shoggoth, Shoggoth, Shoggoth
    With mouths and psuedopods.
    Shoggoth, Shoggoth, Shoggoth,
    Foul creature of the gods.

    One day while we were playing
    My monstrous pal broke free.
    I'd dropped the Elder Sigil,
    Lil' Shoggy turned on me.

    Shoggoth, Shoggoth, Shoggoth
    He ripped me to shred
    Shoggoth, Shoggoth, Shoggoth,
    We played and now I'm dead.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • jaimie

      Slavery is bad. It says so in the bible. Or does it?

      December 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Which God?

      Miskatonic. That's a pretty good poem. Into Cermonial Magick?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  17. mama k

    I stated on page one that I would love one of the theists here to tell us what we historically know with all certainty about the origins of the four gospels. That to put any kind of weight to such writings, we should certainly know quite a bit about them. That it seems that, beyond the specific story being told, we don't seem to know much about the writings themselves.

    The responder there mentioned a fragment of John and Clement, St Irenaeus quoting scripture around 150. He then mentions internal consistency and "no contradictory writings by any of the people named in the gospel (specifically Alexander and Rufus)".

    And I still don't get it. I'm sure some would argue about internal consistency, but so far, I don't see much about the writings of these stories that should cause someone to take them seriously.

    The responder goes on to ask "Now do you know how much we know about Plato and Aristotle's writings, or anything from Caesar?"

    I don't have a problem with the fact that we may know just as little from Plato, etc. My response to that is – 1) it's OK to simply claim we don't have much proof of Plato – we just can feel confident that most likely, some human came up with the words that we can still read from a physical source; and 2) how much do you think the world would be rocked today, if it were suddenly discovered that Aristotle's writings actually came from someone else verses a major discovery that would positively refute the four gospels. I think both of those are unlikely given that there is so little remaining from those times, but my point is, the latter would obviously have a much bigger impact.

    So for something so important, I still would like theists to explain why there is any reason to believe the stories in the four gospels by first explaining the validity of the writings themselves.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Jim

      Your question is one that requires far more space and time than is allowed on a board mamma k. That doesn't mean that it is an invalid question by any stretch but anyone who understands the historians' craft working in the antiquities realm understands that your question cannot be answered on a board but requires books being read, not incomplete synposis and debate.

      This goes with all of history really and is not just an issue with the Bible or religions in general. We know Hannibal trashed the Italian boot but we have two completely irreconcilable accounts of his route. Does this mean it didn't happen? Of course not but the historian understands this situation and would not try to 'explain' the situation in a environment such as a board on a nwes site that is not set up for in-depth discussion.

      In the end, all that happens in the situation you are encouraging is uninformed 'debate' that leads nowhere.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • mama k

      Is there a limit of space and time here in the Belief Blog?? News to me.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  18. YuleBSorry

    This is a bogus site...clean comments I made defending CHRISTianity were removed. It's a sad world now that defending your religion has become an object of political correctness...Seems like a contradiction of terms...Freedom of Religion is Freedom of Speech...Too bad this website cannot see that....

    December 21, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • midwest rail

      There are no 1st Amendment issues involved when commenting on a private corporation's website.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • LinCA

      @YuleBSorry

      You said, "This is a bogus site...clean comments I made defending CHRISTianity were removed. It's a sad world now that defending your religion has become an object of political correctness...Seems like a contradiction of terms...Freedom of Religion is Freedom of Speech...Too bad this website cannot see that...."

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
            arse             as in Arsenal
            bastard
            bitch
            clit
            cock           as in cockatiel
            coon           as in cocoon
            cracker
            cum             as in circumstance
            cunt
            douche
            effing
            fag
            ftw
            fuck
            goddamn
            homo         as in homosexual
            hooters
            horny
            hump
            jackass
            jap
            jism
            kinky
            kooch
            necrophilia
            nipple
            nigger
            orgy
            pis
            poon           as in spooked
            porn
            prick
            queer
            rape         as in grape
            sex           as in homosexual
            shit
            slut
            smut
            snatch
            spic         as in despicable
            tit               as in constitution or title
            twat
            vag           as in vague
            whore
            wonderful us
            wop
            wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      December 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      How come I use words like that and never get censored? And how did you post and not get censored? Are you an admin? Serious question, ive always wondered why some people put periods inbetween wrods. I know the theory, but i dont use it and i never get censored.

      December 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • LinCA

      @ReligionIsBS

      You said, "How come I use words like that and never get censored?"
      That would surprise me. Are you sure?

      Do me a favor, please. Copy the sentence below and post it as a reply in this thread without modifying the obvious "bad" words:
      "I should have a constitution right to post whatever bullshit I want, without having to circumvent the fucking filters"

      You said, "And how did you post and not get censored? Are you an admin?"
      No admin. I practice what I preach. The secret is in the source.

      You said, "Serious question, ive always wondered why some people put periods inbetween wrods."
      *words
      Maybe you are saved by atrocious spelling. :)

      You said, "I know the theory, but i dont use it and i never get censored."
      As near as I can tell, you'd be the first.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Primewonk

      The puny dumbass WordPress filters have no power over us.

      Come to the dark side and you too can post whatever you fucking want.

      Plus, we have cookies!

      December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Testing xx

      December 21, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      LinCA, why are you getting angy? It was a serious question. LOL. Paranoid, dude?

      MYou didnt answer my question. In your post, you posted all the banned words without the periods. Why did it work? HONEST QUESTION. Try not to blow a gasket.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @LinCa,

      we can add xxx to the list as well.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ReligionIsBS,

      there is a technique to subvert the word filter. Your approach so far has been a tad agressive.

      Please ask nicely.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ReligionIsBS,

      have you verified the accuracy of LinCA's assertions regarding the word filter?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Uh, whaterver dude. Not that big of a deal to me.

      December 21, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Instead of a period, just insert a bit of html like (without the dots) and it will not show up as a space or a character and voila, ze filter she is beat, eh?
      And the word looks okay and posts okay. Try it.

      LinCA is just being a secretive dick for some reason. He has no monopoly over the information. Consider it my Christmas gift to you.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      LOL
      The html that you can't see was just the two switches for boldface type - a "b" with side arrows and a /b the same way.
      I don't have time to fiddle with it to show you exactly. Keep fiddling and you'll get it.
      There are other ways, too. You should be free to post what you want. I'm not going to be a dick about it like some people.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • LinCA

      @ReligionIsBS

      You said, "LinCA, why are you getting angy?"
      What makes you think I'm angry?

      You said, "It was a serious question."
      My reply was mostly serious, except for the spelling jab (but I put a smiley face next to that to indicate I was only janking your chain). If, for some reason your posts are unaffected by the filter, you'd be the first as near as I can tell.

      You said, "LOL. Paranoid, dude?"
      Nah.

      You said, "MYou didnt answer my question."
      I did, just not very clearly.

      You said, "In your post, you posted all the banned words without the periods."
      In my second post I said that I practice what I preach. What I preach is not "putting periods" in the offending words, but "putting an extra character in". Any character, or characters, will do. The period is merely an example of an easy character to insert.

      You said, "Why did it work? HONEST QUESTION. Try not to blow a gasket."
      I use non-printing html tags (like Rational Humanist so clumsily tried to explain).

      When I said that the secret was in the source, I referred to the page source. If you look at the page source in your browser, you'll see the characters I use. But because the are non-printing, it takes a little extra work to show them.

      But, just for you, here is the trick:
      Typing "consti<b></b>tution" will print as "constitution", and
      "<b>bold</b>" will print as "bold", and
      "<i>italics</i>" will print as "italics"

      December 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • LinCA

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You said, "we can add xxx to the list as well."
      Will do. Thanks.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Rational Humanist,

      @LinCA, is happy to share. That's who I learned from. Any issues here started with a pretty outrageous claim.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yeah, I got bitten by trying to use xxxx as a null entry in a column of data. I had included links to the source of the data but removing the links didn't fix anything. It was driving me nuts.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @non-GOP
      The list LinCA posted did not originate with him. He gets his jollies from posting it in that format, however, as I have seen him do it many many times, trolling people like you who just want to know what's going on.

      He is able to share because others like me were willing to share. I did a lot of work on that list and prefer that people don't dick around with it but just lay it all out for everyone regardless of whether they are fundies or not, but I have no say over how other people share the information.

      I don't like people who think it's cute to fuck with other people who are just trying to post without good reason.

      I have as much right to give LinCA shit as anyone else. If you got something to say to me, spit it out. I don't have much more time today to educate people, so either shut the fuck up or spell out what the hell you're talking about.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Rational Humanist

      You said, "The list LinCA posted did not originate with him."
      True. As near as I can tell the original list came from a poster by the name of Sum Dude.

      You said, "He gets his jollies from posting it in that format, however, as I have seen him do it many many times, trolling people like you who just want to know what's going on."
      Yup. I wouldn't call it trolling, though. The information in my replies will give them all the information they need to figure out why their posts don't show, and in a form that is easier to read (and copy) than with other characters in the words.

      You said, "He is able to share because others like me were willing to share."
      Bullshit. It doesn't take much to figure out why posts get rejected, especially when the blog was still set up to inform you your post were flagged for moderation.

      You said, "I did a lot of work on that list and prefer that people don't dick around with it but just lay it all out for everyone regardless of whether they are fundies or not"
      That may be true, but I've never seen you share it with anyone, unless you post it under a different handle. You certainly not the only one that works on it and maintains it.

      You said, "I don't like people who think it's cute to fuck with other people who are just trying to post without good reason."
      A little hypocritical, don't you think? You use the same technique as I do to get words past the filter. A technique, I might add, I've used since early June 2011. Did you come up with it yourself, or did you learn it from someone else's post?

      If you are interested, you can find it here:
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/08/my-take-why-anthony-weiners-public-confession-failed/comment-page-1/#comment-487753

      Note that I explained how I did it in a reply to a question about it, just a few posts down.

      You said, "I have as much right to give LinCA shit as anyone else."
      You do. But it would be nice if you actually had reasonable case to make.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @LinCA

      I am Sum Dude you twit. You are one of those insecure flashy types that overcompensate for low self-esteem issues.

      As to the beginnings, only t.it, cu.m, and a few others were known back then and Reality was usually the one to let people know, in a helpful way and not like a pr1ck, the few tips that had been gathered by trial and error.

      Just having a "awaiting moderation" message did nothing to indicate what the problem was, so you are really sounding stupid in saying it would have been obvious. It wasn't.
      And I noticed that when you came on the scene back then, you had just as much trouble as everyone else, so you are just talking out of your ass as usual.

      By now, most people know you're a dick, so I don't feel a need to make it any more obvious than it is.

      As to calling me a hypocrite, you don't say what I am a hypocrite about.
      As to your link to yet another pr1ck post of yours, I already knew how to bypass the filter three different ways at that point, so I don't understand what you think you are proving here.

      Flash-in-the-pan. That should be your new name. All flash and no substance and no science knowledge worth speaking of.
      Willfully ignorant, you think you can bluff your way past me in physics. Well, I've already proven you are a know-nothing who clings to his ignorance because to admit it would be to destroy the facade you wear all the time.

      Ta ta, O slimy one. I'll be back to see your response later, maybe after the apocalypse, but I know it's going to be lame and stupid as you sidestep and try desperately to cover-your-ass with layers of bullshlt. :twisted:

      December 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Rational Humanist

      You said, "I am Sum Dude you twit."
      Anybody can make that claim. So, whatever. But even if you are, how the fuck would I know if you change your handle?

      But even if you are Sum Dude, what made you change your mind about others posting "your list"? On May 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm, Sum Dude said, "When I set out to make that list over a year ago, I had no idea that CNN would continue to use this deliberately stupid filter for so long. I'm glad people continue to use the list."

      The funny thing is that Sum Dude's post was on a thread where I had posted the list. Making it clearly an endorsement of my post, which, coincidentally, also had the list formatted without visible breaks in the words.

      You said, "Just having a "awaiting moderation" message did nothing to indicate what the problem was, so you are really sounding stupid in saying it would have been obvious. It wasn't."
      Maybe not for you.

      You said, "And I noticed that when you came on the scene back then, you had just as much trouble as everyone else"
      I never claimed that I didn't on occasion struggled to get posts past the filters. I still do, sometimes.

      You said, "By now, most people know you're a dick, so I don't feel a need to make it any more obvious than it is."
      I couldn't care less what you think. You are obviously barely capable of holding a coherent thought in your head. I do suspect that believers like yourself will find me less than pleasant sometimes. It comes with the frustration of having their precious beliefs challenged, without being able to refute the challenge.

      You said, "As to calling me a hypocrite, you don't say what I am a hypocrite about."
      You are a hypocrite for crying about other people using what you claim is your work while doing the same yourself. Because unless you can show that you used html tags to circumvent the filters, prior to the one that I showed, I will assume that you are using my finding to dress up your posts.

      You said, "As to your link to yet another pr1ck post of yours, I already knew how to bypass the filter three different ways at that point"
      Care to share a link to a post that actually shows that?

      You said, "so I don't understand what you think you are proving here."
      No surprise there.

      You said, "Willfully ignorant, you think you can bluff your way past me in physics."
      Still stuck on getting your ass handed to you, I see. You still fail to grasp the basic concept that, unless you can show that your physics applies everywhere, it doesn't prove what you think it does.

      But like any believer, you have the absolute right to stick your head in the sand to protect the delusions you hold so dear. Stupidity isn't illegal. It is even surprisingly common among people that are otherwise pretty intelligent.

      You said, "Well, I've already proven you are a know-nothing who clings to his ignorance"
      Keep telling yourself that, if it makes you feel better about yourself.

      You said, "Ta ta, O slimy one."
      What grade are you in? Have you made it out of elementary school yet?

      You said, "I'll be back to see your response later, maybe after the apocalypse, but I know it's going to be lame and stupid as you sidestep and try desperately to cover-your-ass with layers of bullshlt."
      Have you figured out how to use a mirror yet?

      December 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      *yawn*

      December 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • .

      "*yawn*" = I am too stupid to respond

      December 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Gentlemen,

      I appreciate all your contributions to 'the list' and I hope that people appreciate mine – for there are some words that I have contributed too.

      At this point it is essentially in the 'public domain' at least in so far as the belief blog is concerned.

      Now that the Mayan apocalypse is past, we can celebrate the solstice knowing that most of our posts will continue to be published in spite of the wordpress filter.

      Now perhaps 'helpful hints' will drop by and join the party.

      December 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @nonGOPer
      Just for kicks I will tell you that I did the first Helpful Hints, but someone else continued the tradition, I'm happy to say.

      @.
      I see a lot of WHAAAAH in your post. I foresee you will become an even bigger idiot in time.

      @LinCACA
      Back then, I was just being polite as I already did not like the way you changed the list, so your claim of hypocrisy fails, punk.

      I have no problem with actual sharing of the list, but by removing the dashes/dots, your intent to act like a nine-year old became quite clear to me, especially when you showed it in your responses to your pinheaded trolling.

      As far as physics goes, you look really silly with your ass in your hands, I must say. My ass? Firmly attached.

      Thanks for showing your inability to face the music. It makes me yawn, however. Fundies who cannot face the facts are a dime a thousand here, so I see no reason to continue trolling you, no matter how easy you make it for me.
      You are more like Chad than most other people here. Just think about that. You'd make a great couple. kisskiss

      December 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Rational Humanist

      You said, "@LinCACA"
      You are clearly not out of elementary school yet.

      You said, "Back then, I was just being polite as I already did not like the way you changed the list, so your claim of hypocrisy fails, punk."
      Sounds like a cop-out to me and in the process you seem to be admitting that you are the prick you accuse me of being.

      You said, "I have no problem with actual sharing of the list, but by removing the dashes/dots, your intent to act like a nine-year old became quite clear to me, especially when you showed it in your responses to your pinheaded trolling."
      Some people prefer the list without the dots and dashes. To each his or her own.

      You said, "As far as physics goes, you look really silly with your ass in your hands, I must say. My ass? Firmly attached."
      Your massive fail was in logic and not (necessarily) in physics. No matter how valid your physics arguments are, your fail is about the applicability of those arguments.

      You said, "Thanks for showing your inability to face the music."
      It would be easier if you had an actual valid argument.

      You said, "It makes me yawn, however. Fundies who cannot face the facts are a dime a thousand here, so I see no reason to continue trolling you, no matter how easy you make it for me."
      All you do is dance around the issue that you can't seem to address. Makes me wonder why you choose to bring it up on this thread.

      You said, "You are more like Chad than most other people here. Just think about that."
      Considering that Chad is 100% convinced that his imaginary friend exists and you are 100% convinced there is no possibility of that, the two of you are far more alike than I am to either of you.

      Like I've told you before, I've met some dense believers on this blog, but you seem to be one of the rare examples of a non-believer that has a hard time grasping simple concepts. Maybe you should do yourself a favor and quit while you're behind.

      December 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      It's always entertaining to see your responses. Your reply is, indeed, extremely lame and does indeed sidle away from having to refute any of my points in physics. I remain unimpressed as well as unsurprised by your response.

      "Oh, he refuses to believe my baseless assertions! He must be stubborn! He must not understand my simple-minded and ignorant view of physics! O what a big baby he must be to not read my mind and see how wrong he is!" LOL

      Please. You are not a physicist or even any sort of scientist, that much seems clear.
      Like any ignorant fool, you refuse to even debate physics with me in any way even though that is the main source of our conflicting viewpoints.

      If you were any sort of rational scientist, you'd take a much different approach and our arguments would never have taken this direction. You're not even trying to be polite....or honest, so I feel quite justified in saying hostile things to you.

      You clearly do not understand, nor do you appear able to wrap your head around my level of certainty.
      To a willfully-ignorant person like you, I must appear quite the crazy person to claim knowledge and certainty that you cannot even touch or conceive of, as it is beyond you.

      That's okay. I rarely encounter anyone with my particular mix of fields and IQ, so I tend to have arguments where the ignorance and knee-jerk reactions of the other party is the main stumbling block to useful communications.

      No biggie. I am alone up here and used to it. Your angry reactions are understandable, yet unjustified, as you would see if we were to get past these obstructions and hash things out in a better way.

      It can be hard not to feel like insulting you, for you make baseless assertions and flash into anger when I probe these areas seeking dialogue. You make vicious insults at me instead of trying to dialogue. Again, this is not new for me.

      What have I done to you, really? Very little. Your stubborn refusal to even consider my point of view is telling.
      I have been where you are. I used to be a strong agnostic like you. But after considerable analysis over a period of years, I have discovered that my previous agnostic stance was wrong due to a lack of good information and lack of analysis.

      Now I know better.
      But you likely cannot handle such a claim on my part. You will either continue your low-brow style of ridicule, or you may feel like trying to start a dialogue.
      Well, I am pretty tired of the way you repeatedly respond like an angry teenager.
      Why should I even bother talking to someone who only responds with cruelty and rudeness and refuses to discuss things calmly?

      You tell me.

      December 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • LinCA

      @Rational Humanist

      Holy fucking shit! You are full of yourself, aren't you?

      You said, "It's always entertaining to see your responses. Your reply is, indeed, extremely lame and does indeed sidle away from having to refute any of my points in physics."
      Let me see if I can dumb it down for you. Whether your physics proves anything is irrelevant. It is irrelevant because it doesn't apply in all possible situations. If it doesn't apply in all possible situations, it won't prove anything with 100% certainty.

      You said, "Please. You are not a physicist or even any sort of scientist, that much seems clear."
      From where I'm sitting, it appears you didn't even make it past high school. Your inability to grasp simple logic is beyond pathetic.

      You said, "Like any ignorant fool, you refuse to even debate physics with me in any way even though that is the main source of our conflicting viewpoints."
      Like I've said before, whether your physics argument proves anything is irrelevant. Debating physics, and whether it proves anything, is immaterial to the question at hand.

      You said, "If you were any sort of rational scientist, you'd take a much different approach and our arguments would never have taken this direction."
      On the contrary. Establishing the boundaries within which your theory is valid, is very much part of science. You seem to not know the first thing about it.

      You said, "You're not even trying to be polite....or honest"
      You may want to read back on this thread, or even the earlier one. Your memory seems a little hazy on who's being polite, or honest.

      You said, "so I feel quite justified in saying hostile things to you."
      Do what you can't help yourself from doing. No skin off my back. I don't have to live with you. You do.

      You said, "You clearly do not understand, nor do you appear able to wrap your head around my level of certainty."
      You fail to see that the area where you think your "certainty" applies, doesn't encompass all possibilities.

      You said, "To a willfully-ignorant person like you, I must appear quite the crazy person to claim knowledge and certainty that you cannot even touch or conceive of, as it is beyond you."
      No, I don't think you are crazy. You feel that you know everything there is to know. You feel that everyone who doesn't agree with you is inferior. You prefer to use personal insults to try to bully your opponents.

      You are an asshole that is completely full of himself. You are a schoolyard bully.

      You said, "I rarely encounter anyone with my particular mix of fields and IQ"
      ROTFLMAO

      I guess that even at the most prestigious science labs they need janitors. But here is a news flash for you, just because they do science where you work, doesn't mean you are a scientist.

      You said, "I am alone up here and used to it."
      You mean down there, I'm guessing?

      You said, "Your angry reactions [...]"
      I'm not angry. Flabbergasted at your insistence without any substance, but not angry.

      You said, "[...] are understandable"
      I'd be surprised if you understood anything.

      You said, "as you would see if we were to get past these obstructions and hash things out in a better way."
      I'm willing to get past this. Are you willing to admit that your physics doesn't apply everywhere, and that that means you haven't established, with 100% certainty, that there can't be any god?

      You said, "It can be hard not to feel like insulting you, for you make baseless assertions and flash into anger when I probe these areas seeking dialogue."
      You haven't been seeking dialogue. You have yet to respond to my challenge to your assertions. You are only interested in a monologue. You seem comfortable using insults to try to get your point across.

      It doesn't work. I suspect that a lot of others may simply tune you out. I sure hope never to have to meet, or heaven forbid <sarcams>, work with you.

      You said, "You make vicious insults at me instead of trying to dialogue. Again, this is not new for me."
      After a while of trying to have a dialog, I suspect you have that effect on a lot of people.

      You said, "What have I done to you, really? Very little."
      Again, please read back on this thread.

      You said, "Your stubborn refusal to even consider my point of view is telling."
      Unless you have an argument to persuade me, I have no reason to change my view. I've tried numerous times to get you to look at, and address, the hole in your argument. You have yet to do that. The ball is squarely in your court.

      You said, "I have been where you are."
      You don't know me. I doubt you've been where I am. I doubt you have the ability to get there.

      You said, "I used to be a strong agnostic like you. But after considerable analysis over a period of years, I have discovered that my previous agnostic stance was wrong due to a lack of good information and lack of analysis. Now I know better."
      So you chose to become a believer. Fine. You have that right.

      You said, "But you likely cannot handle such a claim on my part. You will either continue your low-brow style of ridicule, or you may feel like trying to start a dialogue."
      I've suggested a number of times to look at the guy staring back at you when you look in a mirror. It still applies.

      You said, "Well, I am pretty tired of the way you repeatedly respond like an angry teenager."
      Must be your perception since I'm neither.

      You said, "Why should I even bother talking to someone who only responds with cruelty and rudeness and refuses to discuss things calmly?"
      Again, look back at the thread and evaluate who's been rude.

      You said, "You tell me."
      You will have to start by telling yourself. I, apparently, have not been able to talk any sense into you.

      December 23, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @LinCA
      Wow. You really have it bad. LOL

      Of course there are things that physics does not currently cover. But then we never really talked about that, did we?
      No.

      But what you still fail Fail FAIL FAIL to understand is that......wait for it.......there is no indication whatsoever in any field of science that anything even remotely resembling a "god" or ANYTHING supernatural exists at all.

      Not even the slightest suggestion where your tiny head could fit.

      Within this continuum, there are NO GODS. Physics isn't currently covering anything outside this continuum, but as far as some outside "creature"....there is no place in physics where any outside force / energy can even FIT.

      So when you're done playing with yourself and telling yourself you are wonderful, maybe you could take a moment and realize that when I pasted those DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS, you blew right past them.

      Zero outside energy.
      Zero variables that could even suggest an outside agency that has any influence whatsoever on this continuum.
      Zero place for your "god" to fit.
      Zero place for any possibility, no matter HOW REMOTE or TINY, that a "god" could exist anywhere in science.
      ANYWHERE.

      It is clear from your continual harping on your egotistical view of me and your worthless arguments that you still remain as stupid and as ignorant as any primitive caveman who thinks his ignorance is a basis from which to argue.

      You will probably never get it and never understand why.

      I'd bet you'll keep patting yourself on the back over your clearly erroneous arguments. Go ahead. I'm sure you're good at it.
      LOL

      December 24, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @LinCA

      Don't bother responding anymore. You're such a big baby about this I am fed up with trying to talk sense to you.
      Just the fact that you keep writing those humongous whiny posts tells me that you and Chad would indeed make a cute couple.

      You think you're right.

      But I know I'm right.

      And that's it.

      December 24, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • LinCA

      @Rational Humanist

      Now we're getting somewhere.

      We are not talking about whether there are any gods. We are not even talking about whether they are even likely. We are talking about whether there is a possibility they could exists, anywhere.

      Your argument, in a nutshell, is that in this continuum, physics excludes the possibility of gods.
      Now, there are two possibilities, you are either correct, or you are incorrect. Let me explain why it doesn't matter which one it is.

      First the obvious one. If you are incorrect, the argument is over as an incorrect argument doesn't prove anything, and we are agnostic about it. Rational people are, anyway.

      Now, if you are correct, and no outside energy or force can fit, that means that no information from outside can penetrate. If no information from outside can penetrate, we can't know anything about anything outside of our continuum. If we don't, even can't, know about anything about it, we are agnostic about it. Rational people are, anyway.

      According to your argument, we must be agnostic about anything outside our own universe. We therefor must be agnostic about the existence of gods.

      Same result either way.

      You said, "You think you're right.
      But I know I'm right.
      "
      Exactly. You are a believer. You allow for no other possibilities, because you think you know you are right. You are not a scientist, you are a delusional believer.

      You said, "And that's it."
      And yes, that's it.

      December 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • mama k

      Well this is interesting. I would think it would be very easy to have a disconnect in such an argument as these last two posts when certain things are not laid out on the table, so to speak. So as not to make assumptions, I would assume that both LinCA and Rational Humanist are both speaking about god as a deity in general and not trying to necessarily ascribe to such a deity attributes traditionally associated with the God of Israel. Please correct me if I'm off base here.

      But I think more than that, noting where both have used bold case, it seems that the assumptions about time on each point needs to be clarified. I see "are", "exist", but in some cases time constraint is not specified for a certain point in argument. Would both agree that "are" and "exist" with respect to a possible deity means future, present and past? Either way, what are your reasons for defining the time constraint the way you do?

      If one thinks of a possible entity (that for lack of better name on one side of the argument is called "deity" or a "god") outside of the current universe where current universe laws cannot describe such an entity, then isn't it possible for the existence of such, even if such an entity only existed outside, for instance, before the beginning, but not in the present and not in the future? I've wondered about this sometimes thinking maybe something before the big bang that was capable (in a way we do not understand and that don't conform to current-universe laws) of affecting the beginnings of life – possibly in many places in this universe, but who's purpose was simply to "seed" the universe, but not be present in the universe. I know it's a wild idea, but since we don't know so little about before the big bang, how can we lay claims about what might have been intended to survive the big bang to effectively give life a kick-start. Of course I only use "intended", "capable", and "who's. But I in no way intend to suggest that such a force is in man's image, nor necessarily intelligent.

      But aside from my crazy ideas, I think it would be good to agree on the notion of when and for how long on each point, and which do those time constraints apply to – inside/outside. But maybe you have already agreed on those assumptions and I missed it.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @mamma k
      Those are good points. I freely admit that I often type so fast that some words, sentences, arguments, etc. get garbled a bit.
      As to the time thingy, well...

      Perhaps I could put it in a slightly different way and maybe you'll at least see what I am trying to spell out to everyone.

      The definition of a "god", "deity", or even the definition of "supernatural" all require unexplained phenomena of a type that can readily be ascribed to one of those three words as being indicative of same.

      The definitions of a "god" or even a "deity" require, as part of the definition, quite a lot in terms of being able to accurately use those words as part of a description of whatever it is you are talking about.

      In this case, this continuum is closed to all outside energy and 100 percent of all known reliable data do not even suggest the merest possibility of any "inside deity" existing in any way, shape, or form.
      A so-called "outside deity" that cannot effect the inside of this continuum, cannot be labeled a "deity" at all, or even any sort of "god".
      As to anything "supernatural", physics, along with every other branch of science, show that anything "supernatural" has never existed, is not existing in any way, and so will continue to "not exist" for as long as the physics of this continuum stay the same.

      So, to review:
      1. Nothing supernatural has ever been shown to exist in any branch of science.
      2. Nothing supernatural exists in physics. Examples include conservation of energy laws, where nothing is lost or gained, no matter how small the "extraneous" event you might imagine existing as the "slightest possibility" or anything like that. There is quite literally no place in the math, multi-dimensional or otherwise, for anything that can be labeled "supernatural" to even FIT.
      And, if we review any or all reliable data, we see that this holds true at the quantum level, the atomic level, and at the macro level – throughout space and time, no matter how far or near or large or small, there is ZERO indication of anything being produced, influence, biased, communicated, or anything from outside of physics in this continuum.

      3. To be a "deity" or a "god" certain things must exist as part of the characteristics of such a "being", as well as the human factor, in which this "being" must have the "right stuff" to even qualify as either a "deity" or "god".

      No being, hypothetical or otherwise, who exists outside of this continuum and clearly does not interact with this continuum in such a way that they would also qualify to be labeled a "deity" or "god" should be labeled as such.
      Why? Because they don't qualify.

      There are no gods that exist anywhere. No beings that can be labeled "gods" or "deities" exist – whether it be inside this continuum or outside of it. We have proof. It's called the sum total of human knowledge, and everyone is free to examine any of it and question any of it.
      I spent quite a lot of time working on the questions that "religion" raises as a matter of course and found not only "religion" wanting, but also found that modern science has essentially "ruled out" even the merest possibility that anything like a "deity" or "god" could even exist given all the scientific knowledge we now possess.
      Same thing with "supernatural" stuff. It doesn't exist and never has. Any claim to anything ANYTHING supernatural can easily be debunked using logic, reason, and scientific FACTS.

      With nothing supernatural and with a closed continuum, there is nothing that can even be remotely posited as a "god" or "deity". Solid stuff here. The biggest problem is in clearly communicating these things using words that are rarely looked up by people. They use words they don't really understand and it makes for bad communications.

      Let me know if this long-ass post clarifies anything for you. I can try saying it differently some more, but I am not always communicating well. Communicating is not one of my talents, as I know only too well.

      December 25, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • mama k

      I think you've made your point clear, Rational Humanist. You mention this closed continuum, with respect to energy. But, I guess my question regarding that is (and not regarding necessarily any deity), what if before big bang, there are one or more different laws that are not present is this universe. Isn't that a possibility? Do we really know enough to rule that out? Do we presume to know everything regarding energy and physics before the big bang? I think what I was trying to express before, it is within that possibility that we might consider the affecting "force" (not what we now would call energy) of some unknown kind seeding the universe and then "dying off" shortly thereafter leaving no trace. And I should have said before, not only would I not try to ascribe to such an "unknown" and "only-before" theoretical "law" that it be man-like nor necessarily intelligent, but also not necessarily a singularity. Just maybe something that had a capability that would not presently be understood. Just a whacky idea. Of course I realize that, for such a crazy thing to be true, it seems the "dying off" part would have to occur only under the laws that we presently think we are limited to.

      December 25, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @mamma k
      Sure, I'm not talking about what came before the Big Bang, so feel free to speculate about that stuff to your heart's content.
      – except any creature / being you want to speculate about clearly does not affect anything after the Big Bang,....
      ... so saying this continuum might be some sort of "super-matrix" program or something ultra-über-complicated is not something that has been completely ruled out.

      ....but considering how physics works and what we can see of this continuum, there is no indication at all that any "intent" is a reasonable thing to assume at any point in the process of evaluating this continuum and how it may have begun.

      If there was some sort of "living" thing that somehow put things in motion to create this continuum, it does not show up as a controlled intent at any scale we can see.
      For example: Let's say there was some 12-dimensional scientist who was able to affect or manipulate the relevant "branes" or dimensional precursors that one would need to create a continuum like this one.
      The problem immediately becomes one of scale.
      Due to the fuzzy nature of quantum-level physics, and taking into consideration the essential random* nature of everything we see at the quantum level up to the macro/ cosmic level, there is a strong indication that our continuum has all the "intelligent intent and control" of a random fart from a random frog.
      Our continuum runs like a fine watch. No energy or influence can be seen at our level within this continuum.
      Everything follows physics and if this "12-dimensional" scientist I imagined for the sake of argument has any influence at all on the internal workings of this continuum, it is more likely to be along the lines of dimensional energy on a continuum-wide scale – i.e. he/she/it has created this continuum to manipulate it at their level and not ours....and would still not qualify to be a "god" or "deity" to people like us within the continuum.
      In fact, due to the lack of any visible involvement or influence at any level we can see and measure and examine, .....there is more reason to speculate on non-intelligent / unintentional causes to the Big Bang than otherwise.

      12-dimensional frog farts could be just the very thing to create this continuum, so to speak. There are no gods at all here.

      December 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • mama k

      RH: ".....there is more reason to speculate on non-intelligent / unintentional causes to the Big Bang than otherwise."

      Yeah – this makes sense to me. And most of the rest you wrote, RH, makes sense as well. Except possibly for this part:
      "except any creature / being you want to speculate about clearly does not affect anything after the Big Bang,...." which makes sense, but I'm still wondering if it is too restrictive.

      Maybe what I was thinking falls into the same category that you illustrated with frog farts, but let me give you a more specific possibility and then please let me know if you think it's the same, different or if you have good reason to think it's impossible.

      Let's say that before big bang there were unintelligent "things", and lots of them that maybe were not even what we would call alive nor inorganic in the present universe – and let's say they could exist under different laws applicable to before the big bang (or before the last big bang). And let's suppose that these things didn't contain life, but, under their own laws, were capable of eventually seeding life, through future generations of themselves – each generation adapting to the changes occurring in the universe that would come from the big bang. And if very well might be that there isn't any intent, but rather just part of some more overall before-and-after "nature" if you think of all the laws of before and after together. So let's say for lack of a better name, these things seeded the new universe after big bang with something called "aftergotes" for lack of a better term.
      These "aftergotes" had capabilities that would prepare for seeding the new universe with the most primitive of life forms, again without actually yet containing life. Part of that capability would be of course being able to survive the conditions just after big-bang. And say they seeded another set of many "things" called "sonsofaftergotes". And so on, and so on, until the new universe cooled enough that the things we are only able to detect now (as the most primitive elements of life) are finally born from the last stage of "gotes". (And where each stage of "gotes" would have died off after it had "spawned" its next level of "gotes".) Again, not a planned thing, but something more natural, but still originating from before big bang. So there wouldn't be any evidence anymore of these "gotes" – at least not any near us where this area has already been "seeded" for life. So I'm not talking about any matrix, but simply several, possibly many generations of "things" had capabilities that more corresponded to laws before big bang but that were able to traverse through big bang, and eventually kick start life (and die off once life. (And of course, undetectable by us so far now.) Anyway , just more crazy rambling from me, but I would love to know if you think there are obvious reasons why such a scenario would be impossible.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @mamma k
      Well....
      If you replaced the word "life" with "physics", it would be sounding much better for one thing, because physics is what causes everything in this continuum, including the chemical feed-back loops we like to call "life".

      But I noticed your description of how these 'gotes' do their thing ...sounds like a sort of meta-dimensional cascading thing where dimensional stuff branches and grows like a Mandelbrot set?

      But where is the pattern, so to speak, that would give its influence or bias to how physics works in this continuum in such a way that we could point to it and say "see the pattern"??

      There is no bias in physics to show any contrast, so if your 'gotes' are homogenous and essentially non-interacting with the physics in this continuum, or even if they were quarks at the end, or be the laws of physics themselves, or perhaps the quantum foam as it expands?
      Or energy itself and how it works?

      Yet there is nothing to differentiate against to resolve the question, so then it would be a moot possibility at best, i.e. everything is a tentacle tip of a giant 10-dimensional octopus and we just don't see it because we are inside of a quark or something.

      Fun to imagine but not likely to be a productive line of inquiry.

      But that doesn't mean that this continuum is not inside of a giant hyper-quark that was produced by a 12-dimensional frog fart, either. So if you kept it along those lines, where we cannot actually rule it out, then anything goes.

      Really, life is just a chemical feedback loop at its most basic.
      Parts of what you say almost sound like you're trying to go for an "argument from complexity" that Intelligent-design nuts like to use so often on here.

      Physics is simple, but there is a lot of it that appears complex, like how a mountain is just simple atoms in a large pile that looks good in photographs and people say it was designed to be beautiful when it wasn't.
      What appears to be complexity is just tiny, very simple, basic things in a big messy pile.

      Without a contrast to examine, any homogenous meta-dimensional effects that occur in this continuum in basically random ways is not indicative of anything in particular and so cannot be used as a solid base to gather data. You'd be gathering random statistical data without any reference points to use as a framework to define the data.

      So...as a meta-dimensional sort of thing – why not? We cannot rule such things out, but only as long as they remain essentially non-existent and non-interacting with our continuum.
      But the life thing, eh...no.

      Frankly, I'm glad we don't have a bunch of 12-dimensional frogs hopping around and farting all the time where we can see.
      It would be pretty distracting, I'm sure. lol

      December 26, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Correction – where I wrote "remain essentially non-existent and non-interacting with our continuum." that should read, instead, "remain essentially 'non-existent', i.e. non-interacting with our continuum."

      December 26, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • mama k

      RH: [ "But I noticed your description of how these 'gotes' do their thing ...sounds like a sort of meta-dimensional cascading thing where dimensional stuff branches and grows like a Mandelbrot set?

      But where is the pattern, so to speak, that would give its influence or bias to how physics works in this continuum in such a way that we could point to it and say "see the pattern"??" ]

      Yesh – I think I understand your questions, RH. I'm don't think I was thinking meta-dimensional, but still all in the same dimension, and having a capability left over from before-big-bang laws, but able to exist and affect current universe (in a generational manner). And since this is 100% conjecture, I would have to also attribute these things with being invisible, leaving no trails of themselves as they die off, etc. Of course my gut instinct is to think something like this is not possible. And not only impossible, but if my scenario were true, I think we would have seen some kind of evidence for it by now. But just as when a theist tries to limit possibilities to support their religion, it also seems to me too limiting when someone claims there can be no affecting force outside of known physics and laws since we know virtually nothing before big-bang. As you can see, my wonderings are not about something in man's image, but rather some other possible thing/set of things/non-singuar-thing/???. I do also think when we wonder about life, sometimes we are too limiting on possibilities on an internal level as well, and that there may be just as much if not more still unknown about the building blocks of life as there is about the universe. Again, not really in regard to religion, but more in regard to blanket statements about the nature of life as if we knew everything there is to know. It is fun to wonder, but I do realize that's all it is.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @mamma k
      Well, I'm not saying we know everything there is to know about physics, so there is plenty of room for new discoveries.

      And it is not impossible that this continuum represents just one step in a dimensional progression, process, event, or whatnot.
      So, yes, there could be underlying causes or precursors that we can't even begin to imagine about, but as far as what we've got -now-, things look pretty straightforward in terms of known physics that we can expect any new discoveries to be fairly straightforward as well, with a relative measure of confidence.

      As to the nature of life, we know enough about it to make lots of different blanket statements. If there was some magical property or type of energy that only life-forms had, we would be all over that stuff like mud on a pig trying to figure it out.

      Feedback loops exist everywhere. If you want to hypothesize about information loops being a possible aspect of your "gotes", I see no reason at the moment to dismiss it in that way.

      Retention of information loops might be a way to suggest some sort of afterlife or a way of influencing chemicals to come together to form "life", ...but an afterlife made up of raw data is not really an afterlife unless the data is put into a new brain of some sort that can process the data from the previous "life", otherwise it would resemble a random bit of information dispersed into the universe.

      As to influencing chemicals to form life, we can do it ourselves without thinking about it. So there could be a sort of analogous process in how this continuum's physics function in a general way, perhaps having to do with particular aspects of atomic structure or rare patterns of atoms that produce a secondary effect or are a secondary effect of some quantum influence beyond what we already see.

      Hey, I don't want to get anyone depressed over this stuff. There is enough weird stuff in physics and possible dimensional things like branes and so forth to imagine quite a lot of different possibilities that are actually possible due to our ignorance and human levels of science knowledge.

      Hey, you might have something there.
      A repeating brane cycle is not out of the question here. or any cycle where we cannot see the other parts of the cycle, like a progression of different types or resolutions of 'gotes' or whatever.
      It's all open season on the stuff we don't know about, so go to it and have fun.
      Have a happy new year, mamma k. Don't let anyone get your "gotes". :D

      December 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • mama k

      Oh, there's nothing to be depressed about for me, when wondering about such things, RH. I wish I had earlier in my life since I enjoy so much now hearing about new possibilities. I think that's the important thing for me is to remain as open-minded as possible. You have a Happy New Year, too, RH.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  19. lolol

    ahhhhh another christianity bashing article for the insecure atheists...

    December 21, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • cedar rapids

      except it wasnt was it? it spoke about how it looks like some groups are in fact going too far instead of just enjoying the seaon but you took it as another excuse to moan about christian bashing.
      lol indeed.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  20. Rich

    "Religiously unaffiliated" isn't the same as atheist or agnostic. Recent polls showing the "religiously unaffiliated" increasing are being misused to artificially pump atheist/agnostic numbers. Not that they aren't necessarily growing; they just aren't growing that fast.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Jim

      Correct Rich.

      When one actually reads the polls, we see that a majority of the unaffiliated are spiritual which is the opposite of the intended meaning of 'news' sites such as here. Atheists and agnostics either lie outright about their numbers or they don't erad these polls and remain ignorant.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Albert

      "Atheists and agnostics either lie outright about their numbers or they don't erad these polls and remain ignorant."

      Doesn't the Bible condemn lying?

      December 21, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Jim

      Absolutely Albert but that is secondary. The polls clearly demnstrate that the 'religiously unaffiliated' are in the majority, spiritual (supernatural) and only a smaller minority are unaffiliated due to unbelief in the supernatural.

      Either people are lying because they read the polls and are not being truthful or, they are ignorant because they didn't read the polls. Attempts to 'grow' the atheist and agnostic numbers by lumping in those who believe in some type of God is dishonest.

      http://www.pewforum.org/unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx#who

      Beliefs and Practices

      In terms of their religious beliefs and practices, the unaffiliated are a diverse group, and far from uniformly secular. Just 5% say they attend worship services on a weekly basis. But one-third of the unaffiliated say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives. Two-thirds believe in God (though less than half say they are absolutely certain of God’s existence). And although a substantial minority of the unaffiliated consider themselves neither religious nor spiritual (42%), the majority describe themselves either as a religious person (18%) or as spiritual but not religious (37%).

      December 21, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jim,

      "Atheists and agnostics either lie outright about their numbers or they don't erad these polls and remain ignorant."

      ………………………………Pew-07 … Pew-12 … PRRI-12
      Atheist ……………………….… 1.6% … 2.3% … 6.7% (with Agnostic)
      Agnostic ……………………….. 2.4% … 3.4% … n/a

      Atheism is certainly growing. It is certainly not 20%.

      Even Pew (which is arguably the best source) does a pretty crappy job of sorting out the 'unaffilliated' category. The global survey is a real mess, particularly regarding Chinese folk religions.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Reposted ....

      The Pew numbers for the unaffilliated are interesting. (Percentages are for the whole population.)

      Believe in God or Universal spirit:
      Yes, certain ....... 6.0%
      Yes, uncertain ... 7.6%
      No ....................... 5.4%
      Dont' know ......... 1.0%

      Religious ............................ 3.6%
      Spritual but not religious .... 7.4%
      Neither ............................... 8.4%

      Atheist and Agnostic ......... 5.7%

      It's clear that the 20% is a very mixed bag.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.