Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just a Shout Out

This is another blog I've recently stumbled across that I am enjoying. I particularly enjoyed the post discussing angry atheists because I share every one of her sentiments on the subject. Atheists have a valid reason to be angry.

28 comments:

Lynn Kinsey said...

After checking out a few posts I realized that this girl isn't very educated formally it seems. She has many opinions based on her own experience, but not very well rounded. I think her blog seems arrogant as she doesn't allow comments. She just wants a platform to vent her own feelings I think. For example, when she talks about the guilt, punishment, and anguish that she now doesn't have to feel since she is godless, I think is a perfect representation of her own experience but not anyone else's per se. I think if you are going to make blanket statements like that, you need to educate yourself on all aspects of religion and ALSO the people and how it affects them and their lives. As far as the Harry Potter stuff goes, she is just again voicing her own opinion on homosexuality in a way to belittle anyone else's feelings. She just seems a bit close-minded. Not a blog I would enjoy reading.

Ginny said...

I think her blog seems arrogant as she doesn't allow comments.

She allows comments. There are HUNDREDS of comments from both theists and atheists on that particular post I was referring to. I wonder why you aren't seeing them.

I think she comes across educated and highly articulate. It's amazing how perspectives can be so different.

pussreboots said...

I see the comments too and I agree, it is a well written and educated post. Thanks for the link to the blog.

Lynn Kinsey said...

Well, she is basically venting about many different things that she sees as "injustices". There are many things that I could agree with, but wonder where she gets her info. For example...she says," And I'm angry that Christians still say smug, sanctimonious things like, "there are no atheists in foxholes." I feel this is labeling all Christians with her wording, when it would be more effective to address the group that actually feels this way. For the ones that do? Well they are just stupid. Nuff said.

"And when she writes: I'm angry that almost half of Americans believe in creationism." I don't know what the purpose of being "angry" about this is. This is like stating that I am angry that half of America is Republican. I mean, isn't this kind of fascist? Why doesn't she just be honest and say, "I am intolerant of anyone that doesn't believe the way I do".

Especially when she writes:
I'm angry at preachers who tell women in their flock to submit to their husbands because it's the will of God, even when their husbands are beating them within an inch of their lives.
This is either very misinformed, or she is singling out some extreme fundamentalist group. I have never been taught this or felt this way. If a man is beating you, God wouldn't want this for your marriage and by all means get out of it! Duh. lol

"I'm angry that so many believers treat prayer as a sort of cosmic shopping list for God."
Not all believers in God believe in this sort of prayer. But I agree with her for the ones that do. I find it silly to pray over your checkbook! (and arrogant)

"I'm angry that children get taught by religion to hate and fear their bodies and their sexuality. " I was never taught this by religion. Again a blanket statement. She needs to be specific about who does this if she is going to accuse.

"I'm angry -- enraged -- at the priests who molest children and tell them it's God's will. I'm enraged at the Catholic Church..." Again, I am angry about what Charles Aurthur Stiles did to that little girl, but I am not going to hate all men that look like him because of his actions. I don't particularly like the Catholic faith and think there is much corruption, but I am not going to say that all priests and all Catholics are this evil. Take a look at the public school system and you will find this as well. It isn't just Catholics.

"I'm angry that huge swaths of public policy in this country -- not just on same-sex marriage, but on abortion and stem-cell research and sex education in schools -- are being based, not on evidence of which policies do and don't work and what is and isn't true about the world, but on religious texts written hundreds or thousands of years ago, and on their own personal feelings about how those texts should be interpreted, with no supporting evidence whatsoever -- and no apparent concept of why any evidence should be needed." This isn't entirely true. Stem cell research for example is going in many different directions and they are looking at adult stem cells for use, not just embryos. Scientists want to find what is best. http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics4.asp
And just a side note, I went to a private Episcopal school, and in the third grade was taught sex ed. Big deal. I was never taught what she touts.
So I am not sure where she is getting her biased information, but she is just flat wrong.

"I get angry when religious believers make arguments against atheism -- and make accusations against atheists -- without having bothered to talk to any atheists or read any atheist writing. I get angry when they trot out the same old "Atheism is a nihilistic philosophy, with no joy or meaning to life and no basis for morality or ethics"... when if they spent ten minutes in the atheist blogosphere, they would discover countless atheists who experience great joy and meaning in their lives, and are intensely concerned about right and wrong." Again, she is generalizing here. Here she is stating a specific "hate" in that she doesn't like it when anyone basically doesn't try to see both sides before passing judgment. However, this is what she does to others so it is a bit hypocritical. This is also about being educated and understanding the Atheistic side of humanism.

"I get angry when religious believers base their entire philosophy of life on what is, at best, a hunch; when they ignore or reject or rationalize any evidence that contradicts that hunch or calls it into question... and then accuse atheists of being close-minded and ignoring the obvious truth." This is again very general and vague, as well as having a lack of understanding of what "faith" is to many. Of course I question. I question everything including my faith. Life is always changing and is not as narrow-minded as her ideas.

"and I have better things to do with it than debating with people who pretend to care about evidence and reason but ultimately don't." I think this is more of a question of perspective. What I may see as evidence and reason may differ from someone else. Is there tolerance in that? Sure if you want to be tolerant. She obviously isn't.

This is funny:
"I'm angry that I have to know more about their fucking religion than the believers do. I get angry when believers say things about the tenets and texts of their religion that are flatly untrue, and I have to correct them on it." This is about ignorance or misunderstanding. I see this kind of thing all around. It isn't just about religion or texts. This is about putting herself as superior over others and having no tolerance I think. Just like Russell is quick to point out Mom's error in the Lion's story. Humans are all fallible, lets not forget that and replace it with arrogant superiority.My question, do all Atheists read all religious texts, not just the Bible? There are so many religions out there. Or are they just attacking the ones with power? How about Scientology? What do Atheists feel about that?

"And I get angry when believers act as if these offenses aren't important, because "Not all believers act like that. I don't act like that." As if that fucking matters." Well, I think it does matter. Because in the same token, not all Atheists are as angry, mean-spirited, and intolerant as this woman.

And best of all:
"Which brings me to the other part of this little rant: Why atheist anger is not only valid, but valuable and necessary...Because anger has driven every major movement for social change in this country, and probably in the world." Isn't this putting herself in the "religious martyr's" position? ha ha Maybe she should learn that "anger" isn't necessarily productive. A group of "angry" people I don't think are as effective as a group of "driven, ambitious, thoughtful, and purposeful" ones. So maybe the problem here isn't that she gets mad at the atrocities in the world as we all do, but that her undiplomatic way is what puts some people off. It just doesn't come off as justified, but instead as immature, intolerant, uneducated, and just ranting.
She doesn't want to be considered "close-minded" but that is exactly how she portrays herself. The definition being: Intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others; stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas.

The bottom line is to not hide behind terms like "Atheist or Christian" but instead let us all just take responsibility for our words and actions and be more humanistic whether theistic humanism or atheistic humanism, and not "hate" people. Not all people are bad, and for the ones that are, lets address that individually.

Anger? Well I get pissed off too about things that are unjust. But I don't feel the need to blame whole groups of people, especially "religious" ones for all of the atrocities of the world. People are people, and with the many beliefs that are out there, I think that Atheists should not let themselves be bundled up under one definition, just as they shouldn't bundle up all Christian or religious believers under one hat.
Bottom line, get over yourself lady and instead of being angry, act. Learn about not just what is "bad" in the world and blame it all on one group. Find something that really needs changing and change it instead of just bitching. lol

Sharon said...

I found her long wordy post on "angry atheist" a bit boring and repetitive. I found myself skipping past long sentences, looking for something interesting. It could have been condensed down, formatted differently and still gotten her point across. Other than that, she is entirely entitled to blog away...about her anger or whatever else. I find "poodles" a much more entertaining writer/poster.

Sharon said...

Lynn's comment that breaks down her various "angers" and addresses them is EXCELLENT! You are so right, Lynn...this woman is behaving in the exact manner in which she professes to hate in others.

Good comment, my girl!

Ginny said...

As far as the Harry Potter stuff goes, she is just again voicing her own opinion on homosexuality in a way to belittle anyone else's feelings

I'm not sure I understand your line of thinking here. True, she is voicing her opinion but what is wrong with that? That's what we all do on our blogs and in every day life. Besides that, what she is voicing is something many humanists agree with.

And whose feelings has she belittled in her Harry Potter post? People who disdain gay folks or people who find the gay lifestyle unacceptable?

How gay people are treated in this society is anti humanistic and deplorable...criticism should be lobbed at those who think gay people are bad or whatever.

For example, when she talks about the guilt, punishment, and anguish that she now doesn't have to feel since she is godless, I think is a perfect representation of her own experience but not anyone else's per se.

How do you know? How many atheists have you sat down and spoken to on the subject? She makes a valid point here and what she is expressing is not uncommon among atheists.

For example...she says," And I'm angry that Christians still say smug, sanctimonious things like, "there are no atheists in foxholes." I feel this is labeling all Christians with her wording, when it would be more effective to address the group that actually feels this way. For the ones that do? Well they are just stupid. Nuff said.

Well she is basically talking about fundamentalist Christians or the kind of Christians that always give atheists a hard time.

I guess coming from an atheist perspective I automatically understood this. I know she didn't mean ALL Christians do this.

And when she writes: I'm angry that almost half of Americans believe in creationism. I don't know what the purpose of being "angry" about this is.

Maybe because from an atheist's perspective creationism is ultimately dangerous to humanistic values, reason, our environment, and a myriad of other things. I think it's something to be upset about.

For example: Every single creationist I've ever interfaced with doesn't give a flip about the environment because they think God will take care of our planet...so we shouldn't worry about such things.

Sorry but that is flat out nuts and yeah it makes me angry. If it's true that almost half of our American society is of that vain, we are in dire trouble and then it won't matter who believes what. But for the record, I don't know if her statistic is correct. I haven't researched it...I hope she is wrong.

I mean, isn't this kind of fascist? Why doesn't she just be honest and say, "I am intolerant of anyone that doesn't believe the way I do".

Well basically she IS saying she is intolerant when she says she is angry. But I think we could fall into a semantics trap here with the word intolerant.

In any case, I don't see any intellectual dishonesty here and I think she has a good reason to be intolerant in the vein of her post. It's faulty to think that we should always be tolerant of others. Not all groups deserve tolerance, but again we could fall into a semantics trap here over the word tolerance.

Especially when she writes:
I'm angry at preachers who tell women in their flock to submit to their husbands because it's the will of God, even when their husbands are beating them within an inch of their lives.
This is either very misinformed, or she is singling out some extreme fundamentalist group. I have never been taught this or felt this way. If a man is beating you, God wouldn't want this for your marriage and by all means get out of it! Duh. lol


You would be surprised at how many harmful messages are being sent to congregations regarding this subject. There are preachers out there who are sending very dangerous messages to women. I had a good friend who was in a dangerous marriage and her preacher told her(and I was there to hear it)that it was her own fault because she wasn't submissive enough to her husband. Boy that man got an earful from me as you can well imagine! lol

"I'm angry that children get taught by religion to hate and fear their bodies and their sexuality. " I was never taught this by religion. Again a blanket statement. She needs to be specific about who does this if she is going to accuse.

You and I can count ourselves amongst the lucky on this one. We grew up in a very liberal religious environment...thank goodness! A very large portion of religious society has an unhealthy attitude towards sexuality unfortunately.

The whole "Abstinence" campaign for example is based on religiosity and arguably harmful.

"I'm angry -- enraged -- at the priests who molest children and tell them it's God's will. I'm enraged at the Catholic Church..." Again, I am angry about what Charles Aurthur Stiles did to that little girl, but I am not going to hate all men that look like him because of his actions. I don't particularly like the Catholic faith and think there is much corruption, but I am not going to say that all priests and all Catholics are this evil.

Not once did she say all Catholics are evil. She singled out the priests who are doing the molesting in her first sentence. She is rightfully enraged at the Catholic church for all their cover up of this very rampant problem.

I get angry when religious believers make arguments against atheism -- and make accusations against atheists -- without having bothered to talk to any atheists or read any atheist writing. I get angry when they trot out the same old "Atheism is a nihilistic philosophy, with no joy or meaning to life and no basis for morality or ethics"... when if they spent ten minutes in the atheist blogosphere, they would discover countless atheists who experience great joy and meaning in their lives, and are intensely concerned about right and wrong." Again, she is generalizing here. Here she is stating a specific "hate" in that she doesn't like it when anyone basically doesn't try to see both sides before passing judgment. However, this is what she does to others so it is a bit hypocritical. This is also about being educated and understanding the Atheistic side of humanism.

Have you ever listened to Christian radio here in Texas? I have spent a lot of time listening to it and I'm telling you she isn't just blowing hot air here or unfairly passing judgment.

And I totally disagree that she is being hypocritical because most atheists put a huge amount of thought and reasoning into their philosophical outlook which entails understanding religion very well, which means you have to look at the other side very carefully to understand why you believe the way you do. Ugh, I hope that made sense lol.

Furthermore, I bet if you put a bunch of atheists in a room and an equal amount of Christians in a room and did a study, you'd find that the atheists know more about religion than the Christians do.

Granted I'm sure there are some atheists out there who haven't put any thought into it, but I think generally speaking atheists are atheists because they have thoroughly picked religion apart and didn't just make some snap judgment one day.

Furthermore, there are tons of Christians out there who don't even know what an atheist is or think atheists are satanists because that is what they are being told by their religious leaders who they trust. I've gone to many different churches over the years and I've heard this message from the pulpits over and over. It's sickening.

Even Bush Sr. said atheists are not patriotic and shouldn't be thought of as citizens. This stance is one that stems from ignorance and is jaw dropping.

Anyway, I can't go any further with this now because I have to be somewhere. I hope that you are not getting upset with me and my opinions here, but I feel it necessary to voice them so you can understand why I feel the way I do. I certainly don't want to go down the same road we've been down before that caused a big rift between us. I just want understanding. I think it's ok for us to disagree but understanding would be nice. :)

Oh and I probably didn't articulate myself well at all and I apologize for that. It's late in the day and my brain is tired and I didn't get to spend much time on this post.

Kazim said...

Lynn wrote:
"And when she writes: I'm angry that almost half of Americans believe in creationism." I don't know what the purpose of being "angry" about this is. This is like stating that I am angry that half of America is Republican.

To this I would say that being a creationist is not itself the problem; it is a symptom of a larger problem, which is appallingly bad science education in the United States. It's not a coincidence that we rank near last in science education against other industrialized countries, and also rank second to last in acceptance of evolution. See this chart, for example.

At least we beat Turkey.

No matter what creationists want to believe, evolution is pretty much a universally accepted scientific fact -- notwithstanding a few noisy outliers like Michael Behe. The issue with creationism is not that people don't have the right to believe whatever they want. Of course they do. What the poster finds worthy of anger is that so many people have beliefs about science that are factually untrue.

This, in turn, is a symptom of a long-term effort to undermine scientific understanding, and shows up in our school performance. General lack of knowledge lowers our ability to improve our standard of living. It hurts our competitiveness in the world. And it's replaced with an increasing dominance of religious extremists in government.

Widespread belief in creationism is a symptom of this, not itself the problem.

Lynn adds:
I mean, isn't this kind of fascist? Why doesn't she just be honest and say, "I am intolerant of anyone that doesn't believe the way I do".

That doesn't make much sense. How is it fascist? The author isn't proposing to outlaw creationism. All she's done is express outrage that so many people are, in fact, ignorant when it comes to science. I don't see why she can't feel this way without saying we should take them and round them up in re-education camps or something.

To the charge of intolerance, Ginny responds:

Well basically she IS saying she is intolerant when she says she is angry. But I think we could fall into a semantics trap here with the word intolerant.

In any case, I don't see any intellectual dishonesty here and I think she has a good reason to be intolerant in the vein of her post. It's faulty to think that we should always be tolerant of others. Not all groups deserve tolerance, but again we could fall into a semantics trap here over the word tolerance.


While I agree with the intent behind what Ginny said, I think it's important to clarify what type of "intolerance" you mean. Depending on context, "intolerance" can mean anything from "being repelled by" to "actively attempting to suppress or destroy." I would agree with Ginny that in many cases, there is merit to the first meaning. But based on your "fascism" comment, I think what you mean is the second. And I don't think either of us, or Greta Christina, has any intention of suppressing anyone's beliefs.

Everyone has the right to believe what they want, but I think even you would agree with me that beliefs in themselves are not always worthy of respect. As I said in an older post of mine, people believe all kinds of things that are flat out dumb. People once believed that black people were inferior to white people, and segregation or even lynching was right. Fundamentalist Muslims believe that women are property, and that they must not go out with their heads uncovered for fear of angering Allah. Some people believe the holocaust never happened.

I don't respect those beliefs. I don't particularly tolerate them either, and I won't hesitate to call someone who still believes those particular things very bad names. Wouldn't you?

Ideas should be respected or not based on their merits, not on some misguided notion that every belief is equally valid.


Lynn, much of your criticism of the rest of that post is based on repeated assumptions that Greta is always speaking of "every Christian" when in fact she is not. Many of the sentences you picked out start out in this way:

"I'm angry at preachers who..."
"I'm angry that so many believers..."
"I'm angry that huge swaths of public policy..."
"I get angry when religious believers..."

I don't see how you get from these very particular clauses to "I think all Christians do these things." Nowhere does she say it, and nowhere does she even imply it.

And if you don't believe that the behaviors she describes are common and problematic, I can only repeat Ginny's suggestion that you listen to Christian radio once in a while. Of course these are not your beliefs, but I think it's a mistake to assume that the kinds of behavior described are not widespread, mainstream within a certain group of the population, or disproportionately influential on our public lives.

It was a mere two days after 9/11/01 that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson climbed on their religious soapbox to blame the (clearly religiously-motivated) attacks on feminists, gays, the ACLU, and anyone trying to "secularize America." This would be easy to dismiss if Falwell and Robertson were a couple of crackpots in a bunker whom everybody laughs at. But when Falwell died last May, the Republican candidates couldn't rush fast enough to lavish praise on him.

So please don't tell me that Greta's examples are limited to some tiny, marginal cult of extremists.

Tattooed & Atheist (T&A) said...

"I'm angry that children get taught by religion to hate and fear their bodies and their sexuality. " I was never taught this by religion. Again a blanket statement. She needs to be specific about who does this if she is going to accuse.
----------------------------------------

Well good for you! You are fortunate. I see you are or were an Episcopalian. Makes sense, after all it is a religion based on removing the parts of Catholicism that Henry VIIl didn't like.

However, Catholics, Baptist, Mormons and a lot other Christians do teach these things and if you aren't aware of it well.... To quote you: "She has many opinions based on her own experience, but not very well rounded."

Aren't you exhibiting the same tendencies that you so eagerly labeled her with? Seems to me you are.

Joe said...

Hell, Ginny, I liked and linked to Greta's post with a short commentary on my blog.

Ginny said...

I can only repeat Ginny's suggestion that you listen to Christian radio once in a while.

Russell I never once suggested that Lynn listen to Christian radio.

Sharon said...

I have a question? Are the Atheist using the term "creationist" and Christians as interchangeable identities?

Not sure, but I think many Christians do believe in evolution.

I was taught evolution in school. Never did I hear a word about any other explanation as to the origin of our earth/mankind, etc.
Apparently, things have changed in this regard...and the science taught in school has changed, also.
We also said the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "one nation under God", and had a prayer at the beginning of the school day. Well, that was done away with but you get the idea.
We still learned about Darwin and evolution in science class.

The first time I was aware of any Atheistic ideas or people was when Madeline Murray (think that was her name) took the use of school prayer to court. I didn't pay too much attention to it at the time. I could see her point, but it just did not come up in conversation in my home. In fact, religion was rarely discussed in my home growing up. We went to Sunday School, had a "blessing" before dinner, and that was about it.

I recall saying to my sister, Linda, after Daddy died, that I did not ever feel he was all that religious. She corrected me and said that he was. That could be, but as a member of the Methodist church, and on the board and all, he just did not speak of it at home. Neither did Mom. Now, my grandmothers were a different story...they kept the "Daily Word" on their nightstands, and I knew they were more on the religious side. But, I never heard either one really talk about it.

Anyway, based upon my experiences growing up, in a home that was definitely NOT fundamentalist, I was aware that there WERE people that belonged to churches that DID have strict ideas about how to live. I grew up rejecting these faiths. I thought they were overboard.

I wasn't aware of the strength of the Southern Baptists until I was an adult. I'm sure you girls will recall the time I "escaped" from just such a meeting after the close of a summer Bible school one of you attended. I was furious at how they turned this parent night meeting into a "come to Jesus" meeting...and got up and LEFT in the middle of the whole thing! This was a Baptist church.

I guess I just am not exposed to fundamentalists all that much. I know they are out there, but I avoid them if at all possible. I expect them to leave me alone, and vice versa.
Of course, I am not an Atheist..so am not fighting for my stance to be heard.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I did find Christina's blog a little long winded and ranty.

As to her education, I am highly educated, but you wouldn't know that from my blog.

Her evidence? I am comfortable in what she is saying because the information she is presenting is in line with evidence I have read in the past, I don't think she is far off base.

Is she "preaching to the converted"? Possibly. If I were intending to sway others to my opinion I might be inclined to foot note a post.

On hate of the body/sex. Yes this is taught, or was taught 1988 in Australia, in my Catholic School - some of this teaching was explicit some of it in the way "such things" were talked about.

I can quite clearly remember being told that Masturbation was self abuse - nor was this teaching restricted to my school, but part of a larger systematic teaching (we had a nun and priest travelling around to all Catholic Schools in the NT, promoting the rhythm method and telling us masterbation was bad and that we should not think lurid thoughts about girls.

I felt guilt over masterbation until I was in my early 20's as a result of this indoctrination.


Lynn, the "crackpot" Christians in your country seem to have an extraordinary and disproportionate effect/control/influence over your government. Greta's sentiments are largely aimed I think at this group.

Unfortunately I don't think these groups are as marginal as you would seem to believe?

They actively push to undermine the very strengths on which American Democracy is founded, this should be of grave concern to every rational person regardless of faith or lack their of.

Do you not see the danger? The persecution of military personnel? The rewriting of history, the portrayal of America as founded on Christianity? etc.

Kazim said...

Sharon:
I have a question? Are the Atheist using the term "creationist" and Christians as interchangeable identities?

Not sure, but I think many Christians do believe in evolution.


No. A creationist is specifically someone who rejects evolution for religious reasons. So when you're talking about Christians who believe evolution, you are not talking about creationists. Neither you nor Lynn is a creationist, as far as I know.

Kazim said...

Ginny:
Russell I never once suggested that Lynn listen to Christian radio.

You did bring up Christian radio as a point of reference, though. Consider it my own suggestion that Lynn listen to Christian radio, if she wants to get a feel for what Greta is talking about.

Ginny said...

Hi all, I just wanted to say very quickly that while I welcome healthy debate, I hope it stays friendly. These types of talks can degenerate so quickly because it's a passionate subject.

My sister(Lynn)and I have suffered a rift in our relationship because of our differences philosophically and I don't want her to feel attacked like she has in the past when the subject has come up.

Lynn is a very intelligent individual and I respect her opinions and her right to think what ever she wants even if I disagree with her.

Ok...returning you back to your regularly scheduled program...

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Ginny,

I respect where Lynn is coming from.

She has some valid points about the article.

So Lynn,

Please don't feel attacked at all, I think we are all reasonable here.

Only handful of Christians I know are like the people the Greta talks about - which speaks more to my choice of friends than anything about Christianity

Even here in Australia the Christian Right interferes in politics and state education.

Can I ask if you feel attacked by this piece by Greta?

Ginny said...

Hell, Ginny, I liked and linked to Greta's post with a short commentary on my blog.

Hi Joe. Actually I think I found her blog from your link :).

Ginny said...

I recall saying to my sister, Linda, after Daddy died, that I did not ever feel he was all that religious. She corrected me and said that he was. That could be, but as a member of the Methodist church, and on the board and all, he just did not speak of it at home. Neither did Mom.

I remember once it became known to GM and GD that I was an atheist, it really upset GM. I don't know if GD was equally as upset, but I don't think he was.

I wanted so much for GM to understand where I was coming from because I didn't want her to be so upset and I wanted her to know that I had a darn good reason for not believing. However I knew she would NEVER understand my point of view which I found kind of sad.

I wasn't aware of the strength of the Southern Baptists until I was an adult. I'm sure you girls will recall the time I "escaped" from just such a meeting after the close of a summer Bible school one of you attended. I was furious at how they turned this parent night meeting into a "come to Jesus" meeting...and got up and LEFT in the middle of the whole thing! This was a Baptist church.

I remember this mom, and I remember you explaining to me what a fundamentalist "born again" Christian was. I thought they sounded scary and crazy! I think I was about 10 or so at the time.

I guess I just am not exposed to fundamentalists all that much. I know they are out there, but I avoid them if at all possible. I expect them to leave me alone, and vice versa.
Of course, I am not an Atheist..so am not fighting for my stance to be heard.


I can understand this. Many people who are like you feel the same way. I think fundamentalism goes largely unchecked because mainstream America for the most part doesn't see the threat...thinking they are a fringe group with no power.

I strongly feel it's a mistake to think this way and why I'm so outspoken on the subject. First and foremost I'm a humanist and I don't think these are exclusively "atheist" issues.

Sharon said...

Ginny,

You are probably right about most Americans not realizing the threat that fundamentalist Christians pose to this country. I certainly haven't felt threatened by them. On occasion, I'll get one at my door, but I am polite and just tell them I don't have time.

I have worried about their influence on our govt. from time to time and hope that the next administration will move away from these groups, and dilute their power in govt. I see it as no different than the fundamentalist Muslims that control the Iranian govt. or any other Middle Eastern country where a form of extremism in the Muslim faith has sway over their politics. The Taliban comes to mind when they controlled Afganistan.

I also have serious doubts about whether or not these country's leaders really *do* believe as they profess to, or if they are simply going along with the "power of religion" in order to have political power. I have thought that about Bush, for instance. And the Iranian Pres. It's convenient for them to use the power base of these religious groups so that they might advance their own agendas. I could be wrong...it's just a thought I've had.
Growing up, religion and govt. were much more separated than now, politically speaking. The only time I ever heard it coupled together as a youth was when Kennedy ran for Pres. and many did not feel that a Catholic could be elected to that office. He ended up being a very popular Pres. for many.

The far-right political base has recently been a strong influence on the outcome of elections. I am hoping a more moderate candidate will move the entire country more to the middle and away from the far-right base.

Sharon said...

Russell,

No, I am NOT a creationist...as I firmly believe in Darwin and Evolution.

Lynn Kinsey said...

Russel,

When you say:
"To this I would say that being a creationist is not itself the problem", this is my point exactly. So she needs to be more specific.

"All she's done is express outrage that so many people are, in fact, ignorant when it comes to science." Yes, fascist isn't the appropriate term and I do apologize. I think the reason I have a hard time with this is because I don't agree with the battle to have it one way or the other. I believe that evolution and creationism should both be taught and don't understand why this can't compliment each other. Btw, I was taught both in school, and never did "not" see this in any schoolbook as I was growing up. Maybe things have changed, but the statistics that the Atheist council provided were a bit strange. By saying that only 15% teach both, and a full 20% reject evolution science, that is a backwards way of saying the large majority teaches evolution in American schools, which is really a good thing, right? There are over 300 million people in America, and although I do understand that most Americans would like for both to be taught in schools, I am not sure I understand why this hasn't actually taken place, except for the fact that many of our current politicians are still old school fundamentalists. Even as a Christian, I hope this will change. I also hope they will finally ratify the ERA into the constitution. Many don't even realize that isn't in there officially.

No semantics here, I mean intolerance in the definition of "unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs"
I guess her tone alone shows an intolerance, and she does specifically target religion in the broad sense as well as believers. To me that is pretty specific in grouping all of us together in terms of accusation.

In the beginning of her post she does use the actual term "Christian" four times and then continues to the rest. Only in one section does she single out the Catholic Church, and the rest is as you say:
"I'm angry at preachers who..."
"I'm angry that so many believers..."
"I'm angry that huge swaths of public policy..."
"I get angry when religious believers..."

To me this is specific enough. It is simply common knowledge that "preachers" and "believers" are terms used to refer to Christians. I am sure that is what she means and is inferring. I do not think she is talking about Jews, or Muslims.

I think more than anything that I have read so far, this sums it up for me and helps me to understand the "atheist" standpoint the most.

When Ginny writes:

"I can understand this. Many people who are like you feel the same way. I think fundamentalism goes largely unchecked because mainstream America for the most part doesn't see the threat...thinking they are a fringe group with no power.

I strongly feel it's a mistake to think this way and why I'm so outspoken on the subject. First and foremost I'm a humanist and I don't think these are exclusively "atheist" issues."

Ginny and all,
Here ye Here ye - Great statement Ginny!
I agree with this because I feel that I am a "theistic humanist". I guess what stops me in my tracks and what may put off many is trying to understand the need for a person who doesn't believe to have a label. I think that the label "atheist" or "a-theist" or "anti-theist" is pretty much saying, "I don't believe and am against those that do". At least I think that might be why it is perceived as a negative thing. As far as fundamentalists go, I am in complete agreement. I do not like it when people use that against others and I guess what it comes down to is I am an "angry Christian". lol So how come the "angry atheists" and the "angry-Christians-who-are-not fundamentalists" don't just join up and fight the problems together instead of fighting each other?

I feel this has been a good debate and has opened my eyes up to different points of view. I believe in God. I probably always will because for me it is a very personal and spiritual belief. I don't cram it down anyone's throats and maybe I could be considered a rebellious Christian. lol I guess the bottom line is, Greta's post was a "rant" and wasn't specific where it needed to be and was too generalized in some aspects that groups all "believers" into one movement. When discussing many of her points of anger, if it was worded differently and possibly clearer as many here are describing, it would come off differently. As far as atheists go, I interestingly enough have many of the same views, except that I do believe in God. This again goes back to humanism in its most basic form I think. As a biology major, I am not a creationist, but do not reject God as the ultimate artist in this whole thing. In Germany I was loosely part of a group that were Lutherans. It was an interesting group, but I do not follow all of their beliefs. I left a bad marriage and don't feel that I am going to go to hell for it, or be cursed to a miserable life etc etc. I believe in a God that wants me to be happy and certainly understands that we are fallible and sometimes make huge mistakes. I guess I am the minority here, more than I realized. And come to think of it, I have been looked at funny by people who ask me what church I attend and I say, "none". When thinking back on things, it has happened many times to me that people have invited me many times to their churches and seem to want to "recruit" me. I have made it clear to them that I don't really believe in going to church. I think they must find me very strange, and not a "real Christian". lol I remember seeing the show "Wife Swap" once, where this Baptist woman was just freaking out over this guy and was being a total idiot. I guess I should be angry too if that is the majority. I just have not seen it as the majority. I guess there are other things that get my feathers ruffled. Like the Catholic Church paying for 20% of the impoverished people in our country because the government doesn't feel they are adequately qualified to handle poverty. President Bush gets me riled up. Can't stand the man! lol Education in general, not just science, that is totally failing our children. I guess I get angry about many of the same and other issues. I wrote a paper on poverty and it is pretty sad. If anyone wants to read it go here: http://undergradexperience.blogspot.com/2007/04/english-injustice-in-land-of-plenty.html

Ginny said...

I am an "angry Christian". lol So how come the "angry atheists" and the "angry-Christians-who-are-not fundamentalists" don't just join up and fight the problems together instead of fighting each other?

See this is what I want to know! Anyway, excellent post Lynn.

As far as Christina's post, yes it is a bit of a rant in part, but I expect that because after all, she is an angry atheist. :)

Lynn Kinsey said...

Touche!

And, yes, her post has certainly accomplished a positive thing...opening the lines of communication to find a productive end.

Sharon said...

Creationism should be taught in a church setting or church-affiliated school. It is a theory based upon religious text from the Bible. I see no place for this in the public school.

It isn't "science" per se, but rather an explanation of the beginnings of the Universe, and life on Earth from Biblical accounts in Genesis. It is based upon literal belief of the Biblical text.

I can only see this being discussed in a school setting such as a World Religion class.

Kazim said...

Lynn, I know we've said it before, but I just want to repeat that you and I probably agree on very many things. So what you are saying comes as no big surprise to me. Also, I read your paper and found it very interesting.

Anyway, I want to make something clear when it comes to outspoken atheists like Greta or -- let's be honest -- me. When we come across as "angry," we are really not angry at God (whom we don't believe in) or angry that there are believers who think differently than we do. As far as I'm concerned, people can believe whatever they want. I don't need to accept those beliefs as correct, and I don't feel like it's necessary to shy away from discussions about the disagreement.

But what really concerns me is a very specific strain of public fundamentalism, which takes the form of an insistence that people should all embrace the same religion or else be considered an evil person. And I'm not just concerned about it for the sake of non-believers. When religion becomes a matter of public importance, people who have the wrong KIND of religion get the shaft just as much as we do.

Usually when people bring religion into politics, they count on the 80% or so of Christians people to assume that because you all subscribe to the same general notion of Christianity, other Christians are automatically trustworthy. Unfortunately, when you dig beneath the surface a bit, you find lots of explanations about how some people are not "true Christians" if they don't share the same priorities. And when you get to that level of detail, a lot of fundamentalism is as much about keeping fellow believers in line as it is about shutting down atheism.

That's why I think you're right, that there should be more "angry Christians" joining up with us angry atheists to recognize that the real danger is not a particular set of beliefs, but extremism in general.

Sharon said...

Extremism in any venue isn't of any real threat UNLESS they gain political power.

Examples that come to mind that became VERY dangerous:
Hitler and Nazism
Stalin and Communism
Some Muslim extremist
Other Communist regimes
Some Christian extremist (i.e. the Salem Witch Trials)
(I only named those that actually *kill or killed others to advance their beliefs)

It's human nature to reject what other's believe in favor of what you believe. Tolerance isn't exactly natural in humans. It is something we have to be taught.

I guess tolerance isn't always the best course of action, when confronted with extremism...it is up to society to establish a "norm" and allow freedom to believe, yet keep the extreme from ruling power. This "society" should be made up of peoples from ALL camps of moderation.

Lynn Kinsey said...

Mom, I think Russell is trying to point out that the amount of power and influence that the fundamentalist Christians have in our nation including politics is much more than people realize.