Are You a Sympathetic Atheist?

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 7, 2009 in General Atheism

sympathy girl and dog

Sabio Lantz at Triangulations has a post defining the term “sympathetic atheist”:

“Sympathetic Atheists” are Atheists who share (“feel together”) with many Theists the value of community, moral training, reflective living and feel religion can do well to encourage these ends and yet a Sympathetic Atheist also remains critical of many of the specific doctrines and beliefs of Theists.   Thus, Sympathetic Atheists feel religion can serve good purposes if used well but also can serve terrible purposes if used poorly.  Sympathetic Atheists try to avoid unfocused criticism of religion as a whole.

Below is Sabio’s list of traits for the sympathetic atheist. Can I affirm all of them?

  1. “Not all practice of religion is wrong.”
    Does this mean “morally” wrong? If so, then I agree. Some religious sects are benign. And there’s nothing morally wrong with believing in God.
  2. “I try hard not to criticize religion in general but try to remain focused and specific in my criticisms.”
    Sometimes I criticize “believers” or “religion” in general, but the context is that I’m criticizing theistic belief for a lack of rational warrant. I try not to speak as if believers are less moral or rational than non-believers in general, because I don’t believe that’s true. So yes, I affirm this.
  3. “Religion can but does not always nurture community, encourage reflective living, encourage moral living, offer comfort, and offer rich metaphors to serve those functions.”
    Duh, yes.
  4. “I strongly support the criticism and resistance to many religious beliefs and practices. However, we must be careful to criticize the specifics of a religion and not generalize. And we must be careful to criticize the idea and not the person.”
    Uh-oh. I disagree with “we must be careful to criticize the idea and not the person.” In some cases, we should criticize a person. For example, I think we should criticize one very specific religious sect – creationists – for morally evil intellectual negligence. Creationists generally lack some desires that a good person would have, and thus deserve moral condemnation – along with encouragement to acquire those desires.
  5. “I am outraged by many religious beliefs and actions.”
    Yup!
  6. “I believe Atheists should speak out loudly again these beliefs and actions when possible.”
    Yup!
  7. “I feel atheists are often oppressed and I feel sympathy with religious people who are oppressed when they are harming no one.”
    Yes.
  8. “I do not believe in any gods.”
    Correct.
  9. “I do not believe in ghosts, spirits, angels, demons or the like.”
    Correct.
  10. “I hold a naturalistic view of the world.”
    Correct.
  11. “I strongly value the scientific method.”
    Correct.
  12. “I have beliefs which I can not prove.”
    Correct.
  13. “Many of my beliefs and attitudes were obtained through trust.”
    Correct.
  14. “I make many irrational decisions.”
    Correct.
  15. “I am often deceived by my own mind.”
    Correct.
  16. “I act against my own moral values, probably more than I imagine.”
    Correct.
  17. “There is far more that I do not understand than I do understand.”
    Understatement of the year.
  18. “The world holds many wonders for me.”
    Yes.
  19. “I can be lonely, sad, fearful, proud, angry and slothful like all other humans.”
    Yes. Though, I can’t remember the last time I felt lonely…

So while I’m 95% a “sympathetic atheist,” I disagree with one phrase in #4.

Now, I’d really like to know: How many of my readers are currently sympathetic atheists, according to this list of affirmations?

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabio Lantz December 7, 2009 at 6:58 am

Hey Luke, the emphasis of my post was to contrast with those atheists who categorically disparage all things religious — Those who reflexively feel repulsion at any activity or thought attached to some religious sentiment.

I doubt that any atheist really goes that far, but the spectrum is broad. So my post was to help clarify the issue.

As for #4, I should have had my lawyer proof read my post. :-) I see your point. Maybe you could buy into number 4 if I left that last phrase off. But I did say “we should be careful…”“and you seem to agree with it in part by saying “In some cases, …”. So maybe our statements are just emphasizing the different sides of the same insight.

However, I am curious about resent throwing around of the term “accommodationalist”. For it seems all “accommodationalists” would be “sympathetic atheists” but I am not clear if the reverse is true. It seems a pejorative atheist-in-house term used to establish atheist orthodoxy. Sneeze — sorry, my allergies kicked up ! I love taxonomy, and doing it on ourselves is even more enjoyable.

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Josh December 7, 2009 at 6:58 am

I am not. I mean most of those things describe “atheist”, rather than “sympathetic atheist”… so even while I can agree with the majority of that list of criteria, it’s no question that I’m not a sympathetic atheist.

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Kip December 7, 2009 at 7:03 am

I agree with 90% of the list. Although, I disagree with your statement: “And there’s nothing morally wrong with believing in God.” I think this falls into the “securing your beliefs” category that Alonzo has written about, because it supports a lot of other beliefs that cause harm. An analogy: considering the analogy Alonzo has about the farmer who does not secure the load in his truck, a belief in God would be like believing your all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good friend does not want you to secure your load, and will punish you if you do. We can condemn the farmer all we want for not having the desire to secure his load, but the fact is, his belief in God(*) will not allow him to desire to secure his load. They are incompatible.

(*) Specifically, his belief in a certain characterization of God, given particular interpretations of the Bible & such.

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Kip December 7, 2009 at 7:10 am

Or, another way of putting it: there is probably nothing morally wrong with being a Deist, but there is probably, under a lot of circumstances, something morally wrong with being a Theist.

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Jeff H December 7, 2009 at 7:47 am

Judging by this list of criteria, I think I’d be a sympathetic atheist. I’ll bet that if the term gets used more often, it’s going to get shortened to “sympatheist.” I mean, really, seven syllables is just too long to describe oneself :P

As far as the morality of holding beliefs…I hesitate to say that it can be morally wrong to believe in God. I tend to think of morality as necessarily dealing with other people, and a belief is an internal cognitive thing. Now, if that belief causes the person to act out in violence (or whatever else) against others, we can call those actions immoral. But is the belief itself immoral? I’m not entirely sure, but I’d at least be wary of saying yes.

EDIT: Of course, I should add that if we are using desirism to evaluate it, I suppose that it would be classified as immoral. But I’m not a desirist…

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Haukur December 7, 2009 at 7:55 am

No, I’m not a sympathetic atheist – but that Sabio fellow has an interesting blog so following the link wasn’t a waste of time :)

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Kip December 7, 2009 at 7:59 am

Jeff H: EDIT: Of course, I should add that if we are using desirism to evaluate it, I suppose that it would be classified as immoral. But I’m not a desirist…

Jeff, according to my understanding of Desirism, what would be immoral is the failure to not “secure” certain beliefs. The beliefs themselves are not immoral, but when they lead you to commit immoral acts, then the failure to not make sure those beliefs are justified is immoral. If you are not acting on those beliefs, then it doesn’t matter. Thus, a “Deist” belief in God would probably not matter. But, a “Theist” belief in God would.

(FYI: Alonzo Fyfe, and apparently Luke, don’t see it this way. I think they are wrong.)

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brgulker December 7, 2009 at 8:35 am

Luke,

Preface: I grew up in a creationist home, and my parents are two of the most moral, selfless people I’ve ever met.

Creationists generally lack some desires that a good person would have, and thus deserve moral condemnation – along with encouragement to acquire those desires.

What specifically do you mean here? What desires do they lack specifically?

Have you written about this previously?

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Summa December 7, 2009 at 9:13 am

“I can be lonely, sad, fearful, proud, angry and slothful like all other humans.”Yes. Though, I can’t remember the last time I felt lonely…”

Loneliness is one of the deepest human emotions. Notwithstanding pathy, it is generally among the various states one experiences in response to profound loss. The prisoner who loses his freedom. The lover who loses his companion. The husband who loses his wife. The mother who loses her daughter. The list goes on.

Forget that Luke hasn’t even experienced the full range of human emotions yet and therefore can be said to have a very immature paradigm about the human condition (not a knock, but a fact),I’m far more interested in the purpose of loneliness.

I.e. To those atheists who have ever experienced deep loss and suffered severe loneliness, I ask: WHY should we be literally burdened with this painful condition? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Of course I know full well God’s purpose for it as part of our design (and could write a book on it), but what about materialism? Why should a primate who lives for nothing more than procreation care if he has a companion to share his Flintstone-sized drumstick with?

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Summa December 7, 2009 at 9:21 am

Luke: “There is far more that I do not understand than I do understand.Understatement of the year”

Which is precisely why you should have stopped at the Agnostic Bed and Breakfast before you tore off like a madmen to the Atheism Hotel and Casino. You are an extremist Luke. Atheism was not a progressive state for you, it was refuge from religion. Not from God. From religion. I don’t look down on you or decry you, friend. I feel for you.

Listen, we both know I have added a lot of color to your otherwise colorless virtual home (save for the paradoxical blue sky background), but all good things must come to an end. I will check back here occasionally, if for no other reason than to read your parting thoughts to your readers after you come to the conclusion that life is not life at all without God in it.

God bless you, friend.

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Kip December 7, 2009 at 9:30 am

Summa: Your self-righteous condescending arrogance makes me sick.

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Summa December 7, 2009 at 9:44 am

Kip/Luke (and all your other pseudonyms here on your blog): The difference between my arrogance and yours is that mind defends reason, and yours pines for its mutilation… and what’s even worse is that you don’t even know it.

“The last chapter has been concerned only with a fact of observation: that what peril of morbidity there is for man comes rather from his reason than his imagination. It was not meant to attack the authority of reason; rather it is the ultimate purpose to defend it. For it needs defense. The whole modern world is at war with reason; and the tower already reels.

The sages, it is often said, can see no answer to the riddle of religion. But the trouble with our sages is not that they cannot see the answer; it is that they cannot even see the riddle. They are like children so stupid as to notice nothing paradoxical in the playful assertion that a door is not a door. The modern latitudinarians speak, for instance, about authority in religion not only as if there were no reason in it, but as if there had never been any reason for it. Apart from seeing its philosophical basis, they cannot even see its historical cause. Religious authority has often, doubtless, been oppressive or unreasonable; just as every legal system (and especially our present one) has been callous and full of a cruel apathy. It is rational to attack the police; nay, it is glorious. But the modern critics of religious authority are like men who should attack the police without ever having heard of burglars. For there is a great and possible peril to the human mind: a peril as practical as burglary. Against it religious authority was reared, rightly or wrongly, as a barrier. And against it something certainly must be reared as a barrier, if our race is to avoid ruin.

That peril is that the human intellect is free to destroy itself. Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought. It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, “Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape.” The young sceptic says, “I have a right to think for myself.” But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, “I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all.”

Peace out, young brother Luke. I hope when reality hits it is not as painful for you as it was for me.

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Andy Walters December 7, 2009 at 9:50 am

Hey Luke!

Yep… this reader is a sympathetic atheist.

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Walter December 7, 2009 at 10:26 am

I consider myself to be a sympathetic agnostic. I don’t have a problem with the more liberal faiths. It’s dogmatic believers that I have little sympathy for.

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Kip December 7, 2009 at 10:33 am

Summa> “Kip/Luke (and all your other pseudonyms here on your blog)”

You’re a loony.

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Aeiluindae December 7, 2009 at 10:34 am

I find it entertaining that I agree with all but one or two of the statements on that list and I’m a theist, more specifically a Christian, with all the stereotypes that brings. We’ve got a lot more common ground then we realize.

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Fortuna December 7, 2009 at 11:04 am

Summa;

I.e. To those atheists who have ever experienced deep loss and suffered severe loneliness, I ask: WHY should we be literally burdened with this painful condition? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Of course I know full well God’s purpose for it as part of our design (and could write a book on it), but what about materialism? Why should a primate who lives for nothing more than procreation care if he has a companion to share his Flintstone-sized drumstick with?

Primates have evolved as social creatures, owing to the benefits of mutual cooperation. We feel instinctually drawn to the company of other humans because those of our ancestors who felt similarly were more likely to survive and reproduce.

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Lorkas December 7, 2009 at 11:09 am

Summa: I.e. To those atheists who have ever experienced deep loss and suffered severe loneliness, I ask: WHY should we be literally burdened with this painful condition? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Of course I know full well God’s purpose for it as part of our design (and could write a book on it), but what about materialism? Why should a primate who lives for nothing more than procreation care if he has a companion to share his Flintstone-sized drumstick with?

This is a question for an evolutionary biologist!

A clue to the answer is that we’re a social species. Why do you think it is that pet dogs seem “lonely” at times, while pet cats nearly never do. Think about how a dog reacts when you come home after he’s been alone all day vs. how a cat reacts. You can see the difference here as well–dogs evolved as a social species, while cats are solitary hunters.

Social species tend to survive better in groups than alone (after all, their selective environment almost always includes other members of their species working together), so it makes perfect sense for a social species to evolve a negative emotion to associate with being alone just like it makes sense for evolution to produce a negative sensation to associate with any animal’s body being damaged (i.e. pain). The point is, damaging your body makes you less likely to survive to produce offspring, and for a social species, leaving your group tends to make you less likely to survive to produce offspring.

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Josh December 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

Lorkas,

To be fair, that’s a pretty adaptationist account of human emotion. I’m more likely to think that the pain we feel when we lose a loved one is a “spandrel”, i.e. was not actually the subject of evolution, but is a by product of the fact that we form strong social bonds.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 11:37 am

Primates have evolved as social creatures, owing to the benefits of mutual cooperation. We feel instinctually drawn to the company of other humans because those of our ancestors who felt similarly were more likely to survive and reproduce.

What is this “feel” thing you speak of brother fortuna? I am a primate. What good have I with a conscience? And what great invisible force deemed me fit to possess it? Surely there must be a cause for this “instinctual” phenomena that is part of my genetic make up!? Please complete your thoughts and free me from this miserable state of confusion! I am literally DYING to know why I **AM** brother fortuna!

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Lorkas December 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

Josh: Lorkas,To be fair, that’s a pretty adaptationist account of human emotion.I’m more likely to think that the pain we feel when we lose a loved one is a “spandrel”, i.e. was not actually the subject of evolution, but is a by product of the fact that we form strong social bonds.  

I was speaking about the loneliness we feel when we’re not around other human beings. You’re right that other phenomena related to that emotion are probably not adaptive in themselves, but a byproduct of things that are useful for another reason.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

Kip: Summa: Your self-righteous condescending arrogance makes me sick.

I must say this doesn’t make any sense. Whilst the chap may be a zealot, he is anything but self righteous. In fact he is the antithesis of self righteous. He clearly believes his GOD alone is righteous, not himself. So your condemnation of him is irrational.

Seriously if I were to judge this summa bloke, I would judge him to be an idiot (of the Dostoevsky brand), but definitely not self righteous.

The only true self righteous type is the type of person who can’t conceive of an intelligence or superior order beyond what they can conceive. The religious idiot is actually the sane one in that he freely admits he is an idiot and confesses his lot of beliefs are predicated on faith. The non-theist on the other side of the coin is the insane one for he neither will confess he is an idiot (Richard Dawkins is making a a strong push to have “atheists” re-monikered as “brights”) or acknowedlge the fact that his “reason” is also a leap of faith.

That distinction is so easy to see it’s astonishing how blind people are to it.

Both theist and non-theist have great faith. It’s just that the atheist has faith in himself and the theist has faith in something else he freely admits is more intelligent and superior to him in every way.

You may call the theist many things, but self righteous should never be one of them for the theist by his very nature thinks essentially nothing of himself.

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Mike aka MonolithTMA December 7, 2009 at 11:58 am

Nice post, Luke! I can definitely relate to quite a bit on that list.

“Kip/Luke (and all your other pseudonyms…” What’s the deal with trolls accusing bloggers of using pseudonyms to post comments? This isn’t the first time I’ve seen that tactic.

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Kip December 7, 2009 at 11:59 am

Sir Jerome Kern: I must say this doesn’t make any sense. Whilst the chap may be a zealot, he is anything but self righteous. In fact he is the antithesis of self righteous. He clearly believes his GOD alone is righteous, not himself. So your condemnation of him is irrational.

Not true.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Lukeras: we’re a social species. Why do you think it is that pet dogs seem “lonely” at times, while pet cats nearly never do. Think about how a dog reacts when you come home after he’s been alone all day vs. how a cat reacts. You can see the difference here as well–dogs evolved as a social species, while cats are solitary hunters.

Social species tend to survive better in groups than alone (after all, their selective environment almost always includes other members of their species working together), so it makes perfect sense for a social species to evolve a negative emotion to associate with being alone just like it makes sense for evolution to produce a negative sensation to associate with any animal’s body being damaged (i.e. pain). The point is, damaging your body makes you less likely to survive to produce offspring, and for a social species, leaving your group tends to make you less likely to survive to produce offspring.

Oh bloody hell. “it makes perfect sense for a social species to evolve a negative emotion” Bah! What in the world is this “negative emotion” you speak of brother Lukeras? Emotion?? What in the world purpose have I, a bewildered APE, have for a bloody conscience!? Give me woman and food now! Umph! Umph! Umph! Me don’t want evolve! Me want to get jiggy and eat only! Stop evolve and let ape eat and hump hump! Why must I evolve! Why must I change!? Why are things changing on me ? What is this force that keeps changing everything! What is progress!? Why must I progress?! What is momentum!!?? What is inertia???? What is advancement!! ? What is motion!!?? Why why why why must everything MOVE!!!!????? I am getting dizzy! Let me APE off this dumb dumb planet and let me hump and eat in peace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Fortuna December 7, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Sir Jerome Kern:

What is this “feel” thing you speak of brother fortuna?

In the context of this discussion, the feeling we’re talking about is the sense of disquiet one feels at being isolated.

I am a primate. What good have I with a conscience?

Lots of things really, but the question upthread was why do primates such as ourselves feel lonely when we’re isolated.

And what great invisible force deemed me fit to possess it?

There is no such force.

Surely there must be a cause for this “instinctual” phenomena that is part of my genetic make up!?

Yep, natural variation put through the filter of natural selection.

Please complete your thoughts and free me from this miserable state of confusion! I am literally DYING to know why I **AM** brother fortuna!

I don’t know why you are, though I am familiar with some of the details of the how.

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Walter December 7, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Sir Jerome Kern:

You may call the theist many things, but self righteous should never be one of them for the theist by his very nature thinks essentially nothing of himself.  

Yeah, sure.

Most of the conservative theists that I know are the epitome of self-righteousness.

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Kia December 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Oh bloody hell. “it makes perfect sense for a social species to evolve a negative emotion” Bah! What in the world is this “negative emotion” you speak of brother Lukeras? Emotion?? What in the world purpose have I, a bewildered APE, have for a bloody conscience!? Give me woman and food now! Umph! Umph! Umph! Me don’t want evolve! Me want to get jiggy and eat only! Stop evolve and let ape eat and hump hump! Why must I evolve! Why must I change!? Why are things changing on me ? What is this force that keeps changing everything! What is progress!? Why must I progress?! What is momentum!!?? What is inertia???? What is advancement!! ? What is motion!!?? Why why why why must everything MOVE!!!!????? I am getting dizzy! Let me APE off this dumb dumb planet and let me hump and eat in peace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, yes the venerable *change* argument. While it may seem offense to the young atheist, it’s a classic problem posed by those who don’t buy evolution lock, stock, and barrel. It is a positioned rooted in the brilliant works of Aquinas and furthered by his many apologetic subscribers. At last it is both compelling and difficult for even the most learned atheists to debate, and for that reason remains required reading in the even the most highly exalted institutions of higher learning.

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Moshpit Mike December 7, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Yeah, sure. Most of the conservative theists that I know are the epitome of self-righteousness.

Yeah sure, unlike the Four Horsemen of pompousness dDawkins, Dennet, Harris, and Hitchens right?

Give me a break.

The theist ALWAYS argues for the righteousness of GOD, not himself. He is also quick to add that the ONLY way he EVER capable of ANY righteousness is by way of GOD’S GRACE, NEVER his own. To call a Christian arguing for the righteousness of God “self righteous” is retarded to the point of incoherent. At the very least it is ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM in its most extreme form and should be laughed off this web site with extreme prejudice

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Walter December 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Moshpit Mike:
Yeah sure, unlike the Four Horsemen of pompousness dDawkins, Dennet, Harris, and Hitchens right?Give me a break.The theist ALWAYS argues for the righteousness of GOD, not himself. He is also quick to add that the ONLY way he EVER capable of ANY righteousness is by way of GOD’S GRACE, NEVER his own. To call a Christian arguing for the righteousness of God “self righteous” is retarded to the point of incoherent. At the very least it is ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM in its most extreme form and should be laughed off this web site with extreme prejudice  

Ever heard of Calvinist Christianity? These folks believe that they were especially chosen by God before the universe was created. Yes, I think many theists are self-righteous.

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Atheist Annika December 7, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Ladies and gents! May I call some order to this virtual court! I urge you all to stay true to the spirit of this website and exercise some “common sense” here.

We must make perfectly crystal clear here: it isn’t the audacity of the theist we find so repugnant, it is the audacity of his ARGUMENT.

I agree with the previous poster: Just because Socrates poses offensive idea X does not mean Socrates himself is offensive.

So let’s stay clear on this and remember the IDEA of a self righteous God is what offends us, not the person imploring us to believe in his righteousness.

Keep it logical, friends!

Cheers,

Anniak

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MoshPit Mike December 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Walter said: Ever heard of Calvinist Christianity? These folks believe that they were especially chosen by God before the universe was created. Yes, I think many theists are self-righteous.

You are mistaken, pal. They don’t believe “THEY” are “ESPECIALLY CHOSEN.” Where do you get your information?

Whilst Calvinists believe there exists an ELECT that God has chosen to save, nowhere do they assert THEY and ONLY THEY are the elect. Calvinism is sincerely WRONG on this point, but that doesn’t make them self righteous.

Get your facts straight there buddy boy

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Paul December 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Moshpit Mike: The theist ALWAYS argues for the righteousness of GOD, not himself.

Setting aside the ridiculous presumption -

Research indicates that the righteousness of God interestingly reflects the righteousness of the individual speaking for God.

So I am clear, the research shows that God is attributed a personality from the person. Not that the person is they way he/she is because of God.

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MoshPit Mike December 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Paul said: Research indicates that the righteousness of God interestingly reflects the righteousness of the individual speaking for God.

Forget research. Get your head out of the books and have a look at life guy. :)Practical application!

OF COURSE God’s righteousness is reflected ***BY** the individual **WORSHIPING** His God. How could it not be? If the worshiper has goodness, he is reflecting God’s goodness, not his own, and he readily will admnit that. I challenge you to find a bonafide Christian who thinks HE, himself, is righteous apart from God.

Also, the worshiper does not–as you naively posited–”speak for” God. He only proclaims his God’s WORD, and, through the saving grace of God, and by his own good works and faith, he reflects a half of a half of a half of a half of an atom of His God’s GOODNESS and righteousness.

So I am clear, the research shows that God is attributed a personality from the person. Not that the person is they way he/she is because of God.

What flipping research are you on about mate? What do you care more about? Reality or research about reality? Please. Pull your head out of your bum and work with me here you poof. Honestly. Ok yes, I concede some Christians give God this personality and frolick around with him in the park like he was a common beagle pup. Fine. Are you happy now? Great, so let’s move on shall we? The Christian who knows the basics of his faith and routinely yields to its tenets is in AWE of God and fully accepts he is NOTHING without God. He takes Jesus’ declaration “You can do nothing without me” to heart and hands ALL of his goodness over to His Creator, never taking the glory for himself.

For the love of chicken wings mate that is why so many atheists (like this sincerely wrong atheist gal: http://leavingreligion.com/) will tell you she go sick and tired of being humble and handing all the glory over to God. Read her article about “things coming together.” She is skipping happy that she can start taking credit for everything.

So you can try to invent your own reality to make yourself feel better about your identity crisis all you want by assigning false attributes the theist, but the reality is that HE aint the one that gets you up in a bunch. Like Annika said, it’s not HIS audacity.. it’s the audacity of his belief that you should BOW DOWN and worship the Creator of the universe like he does. And there is nothing self righteous about that skippy. I’ll give you pathetically humble, but self righteous is delusional.

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Andy,

Thanks for chiming in!

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Atheist Annika December 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm

MoshPit Mike said: but the reality is that HE aint the one that gets you up in a bunch. Like Annika said, it’s not HIS audacity.. it’s the audacity of his belief that you should BOW DOWN and worship the Creator of the universe like he does. And there is nothing self righteous about that skippy. I’ll give you pathetically humble, but self righteous is delusional.

Yes precisely. The ridiculous ad hominem attacks on theists is what continues to toss the atheist ship about like driftwood in a stormy sea. If we are ever to gain some traction, we must concede we simply loathe the idea of worshiping ANY bloody thing! We must also concede that the idiot theist *is* in fact humble because he *is* on his knees in reverence, and we are *not* and we refuse to be. Does that make us self righteous? Of course it does you bloody fools! What kind of donkey’s saddle would say we are humble because we revere the cold, detached, lonely, mechanistic universe we believe has no author?? Only a certifiably insane man would declare such a thing.

Let’s get right down to brass tacks here: Anyone who could be humbled by a materialist universe is *NOT* a man of reason… HE IS MAD!

Cheers mates

Off to the pub for me

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Lorkas December 7, 2009 at 1:40 pm

If you would bother to read the comments here, you’ll see quite clearly that I disagree with Luke quite often, if you’re trying to imply that the blogger and I are the same person by calling me Lukeras. It’s actually pretty rude of you to give Luke credit for my contributions here, and doesn’t particularly make you look intelligent besides.

Even if Luke was using some pseudonyms to post comments on his own blog, it just makes you look like a crazy conspiracy theorist when you propose such without evidence. If you are a Christian, please think about how Christ-like it is to make wild accusations against others on no evidence whatsoever.

If you’re just trolling (which it seems to me you are, given that no one really makes comments as stupid as the one you made in response to my previous comment unless they are trying to bait someone), then fuck you.

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm

brgulker,

Click the links in that text for your answer.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 2:22 pm

OUch, Lorkas! What a caustic defense for an innocent man.

Now now Lorkas. Relax. It is a well known practice of budding bloggers to use pseudonyms to give their blog the appearance of popularity. It is also a well known practice of budding bloggers to pose arguments between their various pseudonyms in an effort to ensure there is some variance in their viewpoints (I.e. all the pseudonyms posting “Great post, Luke!” would be a bit too obvious).

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Beelzebub December 7, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I would call myself a sympathetic atheist, although I don’t think I used to be; I have mellowed over time. Certain religions seem to be harmless or close to harmless, though as a practical matter it gives people one more opportunity to balkanize themselves into groups, and for humans, this is often perilous. The religious conservative at this point will accuse me of wanting to make humanity into one-size-fits-all banality, but I don’t think this is true. We can all be distinct individuals with differing opinions without formalizing them into institutions. This seems to be our mentality, however. We learn from high school (or its equivalent) that you can’t be X unless you are a member of club X, and if you have a keen interest in X and are not a member of club X, club Xers feel some offense.

Not all religions are created equal, and Christianity is more morally egregious than many. I can have sympathy for the sweet Christians who appear evidently embarrassed by doctrines of hell, and so on. I feel for them — because they’ve truly been saddled with something that could have been quite beautiful if it hadn’t been for the ugliness at its core. There is no excuse for the kind of psychological terrorisms practiced by the Christians (and the other monotheisms), which brings me to…

I also still get pissed when I think of religious indoctrination of children. Here I think Bill Maher (the comedian) is spot-on. Theists don’t know what I don’t know, and I don’t know — so don’t teach it to children like it’s known truth, that is abuse. Teach them religions, or preferably religionS, fine, but with the proviso that these are half-baked notions that nobody is sure about.

Hope this has conveyed the extent of my “sympathy.”

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Michael Thackray December 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

re: self-righetouesness

I think the basis stems from the idea that most Christians presume that they are doing the ‘right’ thing and seeking God by living a christian life, and so naturally think that any atheist/agnostic is doing the wrong thing by living a secular life.

This is the self-righteous aspect that I fiercely resent.
Especially considering that my apostasy stemmed from a desire to know God and Truth beyond some subjective and ambiguos religion, and the grief and cost my apostasy has put me through so far.
I have prioritized God and the Truth to the point that I needed to reject the faith of those closest to me, that I had so deeply invested in, and am now condemned for it.
This is the bullshit, and this is why I think people like Summa can go shove it.
Because you know what, If God does show up, he knows I’ve done all in my power to find him. He knows my apostasy occured because I took seeking him seriously. If that’s not good enough for him there is nothing more I can do.
I won’t resent him for it (he’s God, he’ll do whatever he wants) but I won’t try and hold any illusion that I am the one to blame.

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Michael Thackray December 7, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I’m a sympathetic ‘agnostic’ (paranthesis because I am still interested as to who/what/how/why/when God is)
because I realize that I don’t know anything, and religious people don’t either, they have just been tricked into thinking they do.

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Jeff H December 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Luke, is there any function on WordPress for requiring some sort of registered account in order to post? I suspect that the multiple people suddenly accusing you of having several pseudonyms, in fact, one person with several pseudonyms. I won’t go so far as to claim handwriting analysis, but their writing styles seem to be the same. (Using asterisks and capital letters to indicate emphasis, as well as some similar phrasing.) Obviously requiring people to register won’t keep all the trolls away, but it does provide some deterrence. Just a thought.

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Paul December 7, 2009 at 4:27 pm

MoshPit Mike: So you can try to invent your own reality to make yourself feel better about your identity crisis all you want by assigning false attributes the theist, but the reality is that HE aint the one that gets you up in a bunch. Like Annika said, it’s not HIS audacity.. it’s the audacity of his belief that you should BOW DOWN and worship the Creator of the universe like he does. And there is nothing self righteous about that skippy. I’ll give you pathetically humble, but self righteous is delusional.

Oh the irony

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Jake de Backer December 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Jeff H

I was thinking along similar lines earlier today when I said to myself: “My, what a suspicious influx of seemingly British, off-putting, pseudo-pithy Theist’s we’ve inherited the past few days.”

I’m sure it’s all coincidence.

By the way: “Great post, Luke!”

J.

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Jeff H,

People can always just register with multiple email addresses if they want.

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 5:29 pm

By the way, the following usernames have all posted from 69.237.113.129, an I.P. in Texas:

Mark, Summa, Sir Jerome Kern, Atheist Annika, MoshPit Mike, Kia, and Tipper Gore.

Tipper Gore wrote of Summa: “This Summa fellow has a proclivity for psychoanalysis. Strangely he appears to be rather good at it… Luke you should extend him an invitation to write an article on your blog explaining what proof he has for God…”

I think it was “Mark” and “Summa” who accused me of posting under multiple names…

Lame…

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Michael Thackray December 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm

that is truly hilarious.

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 5:55 pm

More goodies:

He also has Atheist Annika and MoshPit Mike agreeing with each other in a circle on this thread.

Sir Jerome Kern wrote in response to Kip’s description of Summa as self-righteous: “I must say this doesn’t make any sense. Whilst the chap may be a zealot, he is anything but self righteous. In fact he is the antithesis of self righteous.”

I love it when he poses as an atheist, though: “Keep it logical, friends!”

After Mark wrote his “goodbye post” on ‘Reasoning about Ethics,’ Summa made his first post the next day on ‘Prophecy and History.’

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Hermes December 7, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Well, Luke, honesty is for the little people not those already right by dint of a holy association.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Two can play this game.

I have started a new blog called Common Sense Theism. I respectfully request all commenters here who claim to be unique web site visitors please follow the link below, and add a short comment to the article you will see that includes your commonsenseatheism comment name. I will then check my admin console and see if each person indeed has a unique ID. If every commenter here ends up having a unique and verifiable IP (proxies will be discarded) I will GLADLY post an apology to Luke.

http://commonsensetheism.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/common-sense-ip-check/

Thank you for participating.

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Mark / Summa / Sir Jerome Kern,

That’s not going to prove anything. Somebody would have to be dumb enough to deliberately reveal themselves to you.

Furthermore, why do you withhold apologies until you’ve proven that nobody ELSE is dishonest? Shouldn’t you apologize for being dishonest, and then hope others will do the same if they have been dishonest?

As you now know, I can see the IP from which all comments are posted. The only other person I know of who has posted under multiple usernames is IntelligentDasein / Bill Maher, and while I can’t remember if he has announced that fact on this blog, he did so in personal emails to me, and he never pulled anything stupid like agreeing with his alter ego to prop himself up.

I haven’t even banned you for this obviously dishonest behavior. I’m hoping you will see the light and change the way you do things. I don’t actually care about an apology, but it would be nice to see you be more honest.

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Beelzebub December 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm

That Summa was Mark was pretty obvious, but I never guessed Annika! Sir Jerome, you are sooo busted.

I suppose there was a little red flag when Annika parted with Cheers mates, it’s off to the pub…

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I haven’t even banned you for this obviously dishonest behavior. I’m hoping you will see the light and change the way you do things. I don’t actually care about an apology, but it would be nice to see you be more honest.

You have GOT TO BE kidding me. Dude! Dishonest??? Could I have made it ANY more obvious I was the same person?? The British parody, the caps for emphasis, the same exact word choices? I HONESTLY thought you would be sharp enough to pick up on the sudden burst of British comments without having to check IP addresses. I was jokingly (and bombastically!) giving you a taste of your own medicine and now you portray me as DISHONEST? Give me a BREAK. Dishonest. Yeah ok.

And you are wrong, my IP challenge WILL prove something. It will prove I am wrong about you and that all these one name wonder posters on your web site that are so quick to agree with you without ANY reservations whatsoever (almost like they are bots) are in fact REAL

I can’t believe you didn’t pick up on the lame names I used Atheist Annika? MoshPit Mike? Come on man. Really??

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Jeff H December 7, 2009 at 7:51 pm

lukeprog: By the way, the following usernames have all posted from 69.237.113.129, an I.P. in Texas:

Mark, Summa, Sir Jerome Kern, Atheist Annika, MoshPit Mike, Kia, and Tipper Gore.

Tipper Gore wrote of Summa: “This Summa fellow has a proclivity for psychoanalysis. Strangely he appears to be rather good at it… Luke you should extend him an invitation to write an article on your blog explaining what proof he has for God…”

I think it was “Mark” and “Summa” who accused me of posting under multiple names…

Lame…  

Good detective work, man :D I wasn’t entirely sure who was who, but I knew something fishy was going on. Too many people suddenly assuming you had alter egos, and too many ridiculous arrogant assholes assuming they knew everything about everyone else. I’ll admit that this specific comment thread has been entertaining…what with three or four different people in an ironically masturbatory circle-jerk.

Sir Jerome, I see no reason for any of us to prove ourselves to you. That’s ridiculous. And besides, it would be foolish to reveal….*rips off mask* that I AM ACTUALLY LUKE!!! Muhahahaha! You have all fallen prey to my devious plan of…er…reading extra comments that you thought were from someone else! Bwahaha! Wait until I unleash my auto-blogger ray upon the world, where it will inundate the entire Internet with pointless, meaningless drivel and….

*cough* Sorry. Got a little carried away there.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm

PS: so far not a single commenter has posted a comment to my web site challenge. http://commonsensetheism.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/common-sense-ip-check/

This is very odd because usually the one name wonders fall out of the sky the moment I post on Luke’s site. Gosh where are they when you need them

I love how people are so quick to put up websites and invite uninhibited debate and so forth but then the moment someone comes along that presents a unique challenge to their views they start posting their IP address, saying they will ban them , et al. Hilarious. What’s worse is that I wasn’t abusive, profane, vulgar, threatening or anything of the sort. I was just sharply and boisterously provocative and suddenly I’m a marked man. Some objective blog.

Want to test someone’s ideologies? Do as I did and push the ideologies to their extremes and watch what happens. You KNOW you’re onto something when the man who generally posts a two line comment suddenly posts a two paragraph comment with a lecture on ethics.

Beautiful

:(

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Sir Jerome Kern,

This just gets more and more surreal. People like you really exist… sheesh.

When you said, “If every commenter here ends up having a unique and verifiable IP… I will GLADLY post an apology to Luke” – what was it that you planned on apologizing to me for?

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Jeff, ah come on man, amuse me. Post to my blog and let me check your IP. Will only take a you a second. Indulge me in a little detective work of my own. Come on

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drj December 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm

People on the internet sure do some strange things sometimes.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 8:08 pm

When you said, “If every commenter here ends up having a unique and verifiable IP… I will GLADLY post an apology to Luke” – what was it that you planned on apologizing to me for?

Huh? I will apologize for speculating that you are posting under multiple nyms on your web site… IF I can verify all the names I SUSPECT you post under are indeed associated with a unique IP. I won’t count proxy IP’s though. I have been an internet security expert since 1996 (my line of work) so I will know if someone is doctoring their IP :))

Come on what’s the harm in people participating ? Why should you be the only one who gets the luxury of looking at IP addresses?

Hey I’ve got an idea. I know how we can end this dispute right now. Enable IP address display on your site for about 10 minutes and let me view all the previous posts really quick. Come on man. You have totally clowned me on your site when there still exists the possibility that you yourself deserve a little clowning in return. ;)

Just having a little fun here.

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Hermes December 7, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Sir Jerome Kern: You have GOT TO BE kidding me. Dude! Dishonest???

Sybil, thou protests too much.

Sir Jerome Kern: Beautiful

:(

Well, I’m mixed. Part of me is laughing at you. The other part is … no, wait! Never mind. To quote someone with a greater depth of character;

“What a maroon, what an ignoranimus. Hahahaha!” –Bugs Bunny

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Hermes December 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I’m betting the next stage will be the attack of the IP proxy servers — and the same BS. What integrity — right Mr./Ms. security expert?

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 8:16 pm

“Hermes” Well, Luke, honesty is for the little people not those already right by dint of a holy association.

Hermes you listed whywontgodhealamputees.com are your web site. Is that YOUR website?! If yes, wow, nice to meet you. Hugely popular web site that has been mentioned in major trade pubs. Very nice.

As for honesty, there was nothing specious about my dorky British comments and equally dorky nyms. I was only having a little fun… which appears to be prohibited here.. :(

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drj December 7, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Sir Jerome Kern: I have been an internet security expert since 1996 (my line of work) so I will know if someone is doctoring their IP

Claims like this are all too common on the internet and almost always a sure fire guarantee that the one making the claim is in fact, NOT an internet security expert, and totally full of exrement.

BTW, an “internet security expert” probably wouldnt refer to a strange IP as “doctored”.

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Hermes: I’m betting the next stage will be the attack of the IP proxy servers — and the same BS. What integrity — right Mr./Ms. security expert?

Huh? No. I only want to verify IP addresses. Come on hermes, Luke showed you my IP,. let me see yours. WHat’s the harm of a little IP between bloggers? :)

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Come on Dr J. Let me see your IP. What’s the harm? Will only take you a few seconds. ;)

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 8:22 pm

You guy(s) are no fun. :(

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Hermes December 7, 2009 at 8:23 pm

No Sybil, WWGHA is not my site. The link is just advertising. I do go by the same avatar there, though.

That said, guess what Dr. Seuss? I don’t sockpuppet there, here, or anywhere. To do so would be so unfair, unmoral, and unconscionable. How’s that for fun? Deception and lying? Not so much.

As for sharing IPs, I don’t swing on that vine. I might catch crazy or worse.

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Michael Thackray December 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

this is all too hilariously depressing.

You are I think one of the most paranoid, self-justified, hypocritical trolls I have ever encountered on the internet.
And I frequent youtube…

Your angry embarassed and lashing out. I do wonder if you’ll ever wake up to yourself…or if that’s even possible for you. I do wish I could meet you in real life.

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Michael Thackray December 7, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Also,

$100 big ones that he’s a republican. anyone?

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Sir Jerome Kern December 7, 2009 at 9:00 pm

No Sybil, WWGHA is not my site. The link is just advertising. I do go by the same avatar there, though.

Ah, “advertising,” huh? Interesting.

That said, guess what Dr. Seuss? I don’t sockpuppet there, here, or anywhere. To do so would be so unfair, unmoral, and unconscionable. How’s that for fun? Deception and lying? Not so much.

Oh but you do “sockpuppet”. You associate someone else’s website with your comment nym.

“Unconscionable.” Yeah ok Luke. Chill with the hyperbole. LOL

As for sharing IPs, I don’t swing on that vine. I might catch crazy or worse.

Ah I see. You don’t “swing on that vine” huh? That’s interesting, I think you do. :)

Look, I emailed Luke and told him I was done posting here because honestly it’s not thought provoking and overall has been a waste of my time. I’m the only one who adds anything of contrasting value to what Luke posts.. the rest of the comments are all either sterile applause or superfluous validation.

On a closing note, I get the funny feeling that this whole thread has primarily been between my nyms and Luke’s nyms. How funny is that? It’s pretty funny.

I apologize to Luke for borrowing his little pulpit too long. Didn’t mean to get him up in a lather.

PS: yes I readily admit I’m a bit crazy. Crazy in love with debate, satire, humor, and just having a good time in this life. I stand accused.

Unconscionably yours,

Mark

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lukeprog December 7, 2009 at 9:11 pm

God, I hope this is over.

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Michael Thackray December 7, 2009 at 9:28 pm

hey Luke,

isn’t it funny that we’ve discussing this blog with yourself and us nyms for like 2 years now. You (we) must really have a lot of personalities in your head.

ah that was fun

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Hermes December 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Crazy paranoia. Can’t do much with that. No fruit from that fruitcake.

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Hermes December 7, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Sir Jerome Kern: I readily admit I’m a bit crazy. Crazy in love with debate, satire, humor, and just having a good time in this life.

Unrequited?

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Jake de Backer December 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Sir Tool Bag,

Apart from the pompous, self-aggrandizing (“I’ve added the color to this colorless site”. Yea, like a pile of shit hurled at a plate of drywall.) I didn’t see you contribute anything useful to any of the post’s unfortunate enough to have been stained by your comments.

As per your claim that this site is in place so that we can engage in some godless intellectual orgy, you obviously haven’t read much, as Lorkas mentioned, we disagree frequently and often without achieving any resolution.

Now, after standing exposed as the fraudulent piece of wasted human parts you are, you want us to feel compelled to “prove” anything to you?

“You have GOT TO BE kidding me. Dude!”

I can only hope, after the last dozen attempts in the past 8 hours to solicit people’s personal IP’s (And I mean why not? You seem like an honest guy…) that you will take your suitcase of imbecilic personalities to the next town and hock your odious wares on a less discerning crowd. You cunt fuck.

Go fuck yourself,

J.

Luke,

I realize this may not be in compliance with your “avoid personal attacks” policy, but since you and I (and evidently, every other posting atheist here) are one in the same, it’s simply a matter of granting myself permission to post it anyhow.

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Derrida December 8, 2009 at 1:57 am

16 out of 19

I do think that believing in God is a bad thing, because the evidence is so good that it should be clear to any rational person that there are no gods. One should always strive to the truth, otherwise you’re apt to draw incorrect conclusions about the world, and that often leads to a diminished well-being.

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Omgredxface December 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

Sir Jerome – There are millions of Atheists in the world…is it really that hard to believe a couple hundred of them stumble onto this website and share the same views as the author? And no, i also will not be clicking on your link, just asking something like that is extremely childish.

/ignore Summa …damn didn’t work

“young earth creationists are guilty of a moral failing that makes them worthy of moral condemnation.”

*I still don’t think the above statement validates the below
“Creationists generally lack some desires that a good person would have, and thus deserve moral condemnation – along with encouragement to acquire those desires.”

You may want to reword it? Change the word good to…I have no ideas, guess its not to big a deal.

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Jeff H December 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Sir Jerome Kern: Look, I emailed Luke and told him I was done posting here because honestly it’s not thought provoking and overall has been a waste of my time.

Hmm, not thought-provoking, eh? Wow, I wonder why…it’s hard to be thought-provoking when ridiculous pseudo-trolls are dumbing the whole discussion down.

I’m the only one who adds anything of contrasting value to what Luke posts.. the rest of the comments are all either sterile applause or superfluous validation.

I give credit when credit is due. But if you look at any post regarding desirism (also known as desire utilitarianism), you’ll see plenty of argument. Go ahead. Take a look at maybe like a month ago or something, see for yourself. Of course when a delusional trollbag comes firing in stupid, baseless accusations, people tend to unify against the idiocy. So you might see a little more agreement than usual in the posts you’ve muddied up.

On a closing note, I get the funny feeling that this whole thread has primarily been between my nyms and Luke’s nyms. How funny is that? It’s pretty funny.

It’d be funny if it were true. But unfortunately it’s getting a little disturbing.

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Fortuna December 8, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Poser McSockpuppet is just a little butt-hurt from having been smacked down on the “seven reasons to be godless” thread.

If you’re still reading along Poseykins, have you found a way to reconcile free will and omniscience yet?

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unkleE April 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Luke, this is such an interesting thread I can’t resist a belated comment or three.

1. I appreciate the sentiments in your original post. I realise you got the phrase “sympathetic atheist” and the questions from elsewhere, but I think “sympathetic” is the wrong word. I would prefer “humane” (Dictionary: “characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion; marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns”), and use the same questions to ask “am I humane?” I am glad you are (or at east try to be).

2. Those who think otherwise tend to not see the bigger picture, I think. It sounds strong-minded and principled to refuse to have any “tolerance” for theism on the grounds that “there is probably, under a lot of circumstances, something morally wrong with being a Theist”. But of course many christian theists would say the same about atheism – so where would that get us? It may work for an individual to hold such a view, but if we all did it our society would be much more angry and less peaceful. Tolerance (respecting a person and their right to a viewpoint while disagreeing with them) is a necessary requirement of a pluralist society, and it is unfortunate that, in their enthusiasm, some atheists think it is OK to dispense with it. It’s just commonsense!

3. Like Aeiluindae, I can then ask myself: “Am I a humane theist?”, using the same questions (just making the appropriate change to questions 8, 9 & 10). And I find I agree 100% (though I don’t always live up to those ideals). Unlike you, I have no problem giving assent to Q4, although, as in the subsequent discussion between you and Sabio, I recognise that it is often difficult to attack ideas and not attack, or appear to attack, the person. I think the only difference between us in behaviour (rather than belief) is that I think I would prefer to back off on an argument than give offense – I’d rather stay friends than win – whereas I think you think the argument is sometimes worth the aggro.

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