Atheists: Get A Life!!!!!

SAM said:
Once again, let me know when atheists build a society that survives
You've been handed several examples, from Navajo to Eskimo to various Chinese and so forth.

Here's another, from the account of a theist missionary to some folks in need of his God: EVERETT: ORIGINAL ESSAY

Another edge to the Pirahãs' challenge was my growing respect for them. There was so much about them that I admired. They were a sovereign people. And they were, in effect, telling me to peddle my goods elsewhere. They were telling me that my message had no purchase among them.

madanth said:
I'm not in favor of deciding such issues as religion, atheism, law, and life in these United States in the court room.
Those continually on the receiving end of absurdity backed by State power are inclined to feel differently. Leave the government out of it, and the court room will have much less employment.
A belief system, should never be so involved in running a country that others are forced to listen and abide by the rules that the belief system invokes.

It's simple, people should be free to believe. But people should also be free NOT to believe and still be allowed to be part of that society. Religion alienates people from the society that governs them if said government is filled with references and laws based on that religion. When you include so much belief into a specific governing body, it will always look at non-believers with a kind of questionable disdain. It will see believers of another belief system as traitors. You can not prove or disprove a belief system, so implementing it at the government level is a disservice to that society as a whole. It leaves some people out and takes away some of their freedom of religion. It's not friendly to try to make part of your society conform to your belief system, and you will have discord.

Imagine if religion was allow to be used in government. There would be people (as there are now) that shun and turn away people of a differing religion in the effort to "save" them. I know, because as a Buddhist I've been subjected to those kinds of things. I've personally been asked to leave a PTA meeting because I didn't put my head down and pray with them at the beginning of a meeting. I didn't do anything but stand there during their prayer time, I was silent and never said anything against it. But someone noticed that I didn't pray, and I was asked by the chair to leave and not return.

Religion is too volatile to use as a hand in a governing body because of the fervor that it invokes in some of it's believers. You can read the news and understand that pretty quickly given the preponderance of current conflicts that include religion as part of the problem. And it's almost always when religion is involved at a government level.
Personality of God, and other notes

Madanthonywayne said:

Reasonable. As to the personality of God, perhaps you might consider his creation. Surely, if nothing else, we can deduce that God certainly has a sense of humor. Also, that he loves beauty, symmetry, and order since we see it everywhere in the universe.

In the first, perhaps, micro- or millisecond after the Big Bang, the nature of the Universe was determined. The power and form of the explosion itself set the boundaries of what elements could occur, and how they might interact through time. Theoretically, having all of that data would allow us to project with reasonable probabilities the course the Universe would follow. With enough computational power—an unimaginable sum, to be sure—one might even be able to predict that you and I would someday have this conversation.

And, yes, that proposition really annoys people who have clung to a myth of free will. But that's beside the point for now.

Philosophers past and present, religious or whatever passes as atheist in any given age, have dwelt for centuries on a peculiar question: Why did God do it this way?

And it's a valid question, especially given what it implies. In the context of Biblical myth, for instance, if God has perfect knowledge, how could He have failed to see what was going to happen at Eden? Now, there is a Christian scholar, Jack Blanco, who claims that the fall of man at Eden occurred according to a divine Plan; indeed, he replaces God's fearful considerations in Genesis 3.22-24

Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever"—therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

—with God's declaration that everything is according to Plan. It's an interesting shift, so if you ever come across Blanco's Bible paraphrase, called The Clear Word, take a look at what he's done.

Most Christians reject this interpretation, though. In the first place, it's nonsense, and undermines any claim to literalism a Christian might otherwise make. I mean, Blanco's own church rejected his paraphrase, at least officially. Among the rank and file, though, there are plenty who are willing to be told what to believe, and who will tell you that "it's in the Bible".

And, certainly it helps settle the philosophical question of why God did things the way He did. Of course, it's like playing bad chess. If you only look one move ahead, you'll fall for the feint. If you look three moves ahead, you might see that instead of striking after his knight or bishop, you're walking into a trap that will close the game on the fourth move. What Blanco did was attempt to disarm an argument raised by critics, skeptics, and atheists for centuries, and he did it by handing them another argument entirely.

That old question seems to be the one of free will. Many Christians imagine, and consequently evangelize, that people have free will. The problem with that idea is that it is exceptional insofar as it is perhaps the only place where so many people will accept that duress equals free will. Imagine if that standard was more broadly applied. There would be no rapes, for one thing. Really. No more. Because if you take a woman by force, hold a knife to her throat, and give her the choice of complying with your instructions or having her life torn out, well, she would be making a free will choice to fuck you and live. Now, most of us would object that a knife to the throat represents considerable duress, but that's just it—if we go with the standard of free will under God in the face of a threat of deprivation or punishment, there's no such thing as duress.

And think about all the problems we could solve. Just kill anyone who disagrees, and it's their own fault because they chose this outcome.

God's only solution to the problem, apparently, is to send a redeemer. Whatever happened at Eden allegedly corrupted humanity for all generations to come. (Apparently, in God's garden, the food has severe genetic side effects. How do y'like them apples?)

Taken as myth, as an allegorical distillation of a human process, the fall of man represents an eventual outcome of will exercised in ignorance. Taken literally, though ....

It's a curious sight to see Christians suddenly backtrack from things they've always believed, claimed, and proselytized. In the age of the internet, one interesting result is that certain theological bullshit has been pushed more toward the fringe. And we see that phenomenon I referred to, an arbitrary assignation of the beginning of history, in effect: some Christians who once preached the omnipotence and omniscience of God back away from it, and pretend that the question of what God doesn't know is just some vicious rhetoric invented by an anti-Christian.

That power and vision of God has been problematic from the outset: How did God, who is timeless, boundless, all-seeing and all-knowing, and who knows what is in a man's heart, fail to see what would happen at Eden? One answer offered over the years is that God is somehow blind to the decisions a man will make, but that only challenges the timeless, boundless, all-seeing, all-knowing aspects of God; the proposition places boundaries on what God is and what He is capable of. Blanco's proposition of the Fall as part of a larger Plan dispenses with that question entirely, but also invites scrutiny of God's character compared to what we are to believe is right and just. Redemption becomes a thin racket, something God designed intentionally for ineffable reasons.

You know, they used to tell the kids—at least, certain Lutherans did—that God was lonely without us, and wanted to redeem us in order to be able to bring us home. It's a lovely sentiment, I admit, and one that also raises human esteem by making them that important to the Universe. But the standard it sets is still suspect, and Genesis itself reflects deliberation in God's punishment. Why put men and women at each other's throats? Why make childbearing painful? With that Loving God excuse, the faithful have raised the question of God's boundaries. What sort of loving God would plan this suffering?

If we set aside the insistence that God is timeless, boundless, all-seeing, and all-knowing, the problem evaporates, although other, smaller complications arise.

The result, though, is that there are boundaries to God's power and knowledge.

Why did God make the Universe as He did? It's the same answer as we find in asking how the Big Bang resulted in what we have today: It's the only way things could be. The symmetry we observe is a necessary result of how the pieces fit together. The beauty we observe is a subjective assessment, even if we set aside the wars fought in the name of God.

Darwin's genius was to look at the same world as every other human in history and see something completely different, to the extent that a hundred sixty years later, the missing links to his theories are still being found. So perhaps it's time that Darwin was given his rightful place, and if kids do have to sing hymns about God creating everything, at least they should be honest hymns and mean everything. Including the parasitic wasp:

It lands on caterpillars,
And eats them from inside.
To make sure that the meat's fresh,
It keeps the thing alive.

All things bright and beautiful,
The Lord God made them all.​

(Mark Steel)

Parasitic wasps, plague, HIV? Plants that can be made into liquor? Tobacco? And what about people? Hermaphrodites? XY females? Homosexuals? Why bother creating these things? If we search for an answer in God's will, we will continue to chase around the mulberry bush. To the other, though, if we recognize that God's creation is as it must be—that is, what one might find ugly, wrong, or distasteful is a natural symptom of creation—certain things start to make sense. The primary objection is not so much to the boundaries of God in and of themselves; the faithful are more than happy to draw those limits where convenient. And, being immersed in the myth, they see no conflict between a boundless God and the boundaries they draw. Since the one defines the other, it's not really a boundary.

The Catholics have given the issue a lot of thought through the years, and have come up with an interesting response. On the one hand, they draw a logical boundary: God cannot undertake "any action that would simultaneously connote mutually repellent elements" (McHugh). One example, of course, is the idea of a square circle. But that limit is not sufficient in and of itself, so the Catholics devise a logical trap. The other impossibility is "any action on the part of God which would be out of harmony with His nature and attributes " (ibid). Of course, since the nature of God is ineffable, that boundary is, in any practical context, completely useless. (And, yes, the Catholics go on to make a holy mess of the idea from there, but that's for another day.)

In the end, God has observable limits even according to the faithful.

And I would suggest that, more than God's personality, the nature of creation suggests the natural limits of what He could create. For instance, to use a fairly basic component of our living experience, diatomic hydrogen. That it occurs at all would seem inevitable. But its stability, completeness, and vitality in living creation? Does diatomic hydrogen reflect God's personality, or is it more mundane, a reflection of how the components work in order to produce specific results?

There is no specific evidence for, say, God's sense of humor. Sure, Robin Williams' old joke about the duck-billed platypus is funny, but it doesn't make for a reasonable theological argument. Just as the nature of the Universe in a Big Bang scenario might be reasonably determined by a proper examination of any given moment, any freeze-frame of its status, so we might do with God. The Big Bang resulted in what it did because of the nature of its rupture, the rate and volume of energy release. In other words, there was only so much to work with.

And God? What reason did he have to demand that the elements must operate in certain combinations in order to produce specific effects? What does that tell us about God's "personality"? Why do we need two oxygen atoms in the molecule in order to live? Or, why does CO kill us while H[sub]2[/sub]O keeps us alive? There are plenty of scientific answers; that's not the point. The philosophical why, the revelation of God's "personality" is the question here. And I would suggest that the answer is that the nature of the Universe tells us little, if anything at all, about God's "personality". Rather, it is a reflection of God's natural boundaries.

But doesn't everyone need to feel special?

Well, yeah. But that's why I used the phrase "those who really need to feel special". I mean, come on ... you can tell the difference, right? How many men's jokes about women revolve around that point? "She's just needy", they say. "She just wants attention." There comes a point at which this human attribute becomes a specific criticism of another. True, we all need to feel somehow different from the crowd, to feel valued. But you and I both know that this impulse is not equally distributed among people.

We might look at one who taxes his relationships with lovers by demanding an inordinate amount of attention and reinforcement. Indeed, we might speculate about what causes it. Perhaps his mother didn't breast feed him, or kiss him goodnight. Perhaps he had a stale sugar cookie when he was nine. Or, to be more realistic, perhaps there was a specific familial alienation that many others don't suffer. Perhaps a string of defining incidents have resulted in certain expectations of socialization.

In psychology, if one invents an invisible friend that cannot be shown to exist, but who dominates one's interactions with the observable world around him, we might call it anything from "fantasy prone" to "delusional" or, depending on the nature of the invention and the person's interaction with it, "neurotic" or "psychotic". But mere diagnosis is not, as you are aware, the whole of such inquiry. Can it be cured or solved? If so, what are its components?

In looking for a static (unchanging) lack, we might well be trying to find what isn't there. The proposition here is that whatever lack compels these inventions is dynamic. Mathematically, instead of looking for a data set of one (2+x=4), we should be looking for something more formulaic and obscure (y=x[sup]2[/sup]+2x+1), where any number of answers suit the formula, but each brings a specific result. (The algebraic equation expresses a means of determining the square of y if y=x+1.) In looking, for instance, to resolve y, that answer depends entirely on what x is. Or, to put it as simply as possible, we're looking to resolve for one variable when it might be useful to rewrite the equation to accommodate more than one.

Furthermore, how can you be so sure that the existance of God has no consequences?

One can't be sure. But between the logical and the intuitive, it's got a better shot than consequentially and myopically assembling arbitrary components. God without consequence is a specifically-tailored solution; it permits recognition of something called God without presuming any of the allegedly ineffable attributes. It answers the question of the beauty of the parasitic wasp, or pneumonic plague, or HIV. (Because it simply is, and it works.) It answers certain theological inquiries, like how a good and loving and just God might create something so observably unjust. (Goodness, justice, and the manifestation of love in one's actions are all human inventions.) And it accords with other monotheistic notions. I might have missed this resolution, for instance, had I not undertaken a brief study of Sufism when I did; "polishing the mirror", as such, is much more effective when one seeks a true reflection—we see in censors and bigots and terrorists what happens when we seek a specific reflection that satisfies our expectations and motivations. We see it in Tertullian and Irenaeus, in Kramer and Sprenger, in Torquemada, Savonarola, Columbus. The specter rose in Salem. Hobbes wrote that the witches burned got what they deserved. Manifest destiny, American slavery, "temperance" societies, Governor Wallace, Donald Wildmon, Tipper Gore, Bill Donohue, Lon Mabon, even Ben freakin' Stein.

(And, of course, lest anyone complain of the injustice of it all, we see it in Osama bin Laden, Hamas rocketeers, and any number of dark-skinned people. There, I've fulfilled my obligation to be "fair" and never suggest anything about Christianity that might be perceived as not positive without taking a moment to criticize Muslims, too.)

But this God, the definition that I accept, is derived from common attributes found in monotheistic philosophies. All I've done is struck away the assertions that correspond with alleged ineffability.

Metaphysically, for instance, what can be said about God? "God exists" is, in metaphysical consideration, too specific, for it rules out God's influence of that which doesn't exist, or exists only in potential. Metaphysically, the only definitive statement one can make about God is, well, "God is".

Beyond that, all else is speculation. And look at the stupidity of that speculation: God blesses every conception and birth, a core assertion of the Christian pro-life movement. Well, that also means that God blessed conceptions He never intended to reach birth. And He also blessed everyone from Adolf Hitler to Harvey Milk, and the guy down the street who has to answer in court for knocking up his daughter. Tell a mourning child that God blessed his mother's killer. Tell him that the murder was good, because God is good, and God's will is good.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, or so they say. But then, Arthur C. Clarke wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Larry Niven, incidentally, turned that one on its head: any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. But it could be that the mysterious ways in which the Lord works are not so mysterious after all. That mystery presumes a personality defining the nature of will. God without consequence has no specific will to define. What happens is what happens. Is it "good"? Depends on how you treat the word. But, to a certain extent, yes, it's good because it is what happens. We speak sometimes of necessary sacrifices, of sons and daughters sent to war who never return. The world is full of those necessary sacrifices. A child, starved to death in the sixteenth century. A president, felled by bad cherries in the nineteenth. Fifty million deaths in Europe during (or even the low-end estimate of twenty-five million) during the fourteenth? Twenty-five million AIDS deaths in under thirty years? Eleven and a half million AIDS orphans in Africa alone? It's all good. We may not like it, but the Universe itself doesn't care. We like to imagine God does, though. And yet,

God is good,
God is great,
God's a big invertebrate.
God made the river change its route
But won't pull the microorganism out.

(Boiled in Lead)

Mysterious ways? It is enough to say that things happen for reasons we do not necessarily comprehend. That's the way life works. A knife stuck in the throat ends a life. An asteroid crashing into the Grand Canyon might end millions. Good? What is good? Subjectively, that's easy enough to answer. But objectively? It's just the way it goes, and if it is in any way good, it is good because that's how things are, and the alternative is nothing at all.

Get rid of all these presuppositions of the ineffable and what is becomes what is. To pray and give thanks for the glorious, giant cosmic rock in the donut seems rather juvenile. Kind of like a frat hazing ritual: "Thank you, God, may I have another!" (Sssssmack!) "Thank you, God, may I have another!" (Sssssmack!) "Thank you, God, may I have another" ....

Seems like such a fundamental idea would have some impact, some consequence. Doesn't it?

Look around. The Universe itself is the consequence. Judgment is a dark myth.

And, practically speaking, if God is really supposed to be all His believers claim, there are better reasons for behaving certain ways than because God says so. After all, God supposedly knows what is in a man's heart, even though he couldn't possibly have conceived of what Adam and Eve were about to do. So if you're doing something to impress God, to affect the outcome, to deserve certain consequences (e.g., salvation), then God would damn well recognize you're putting on a show. Jesus, at least, understood this point, and it is perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of his work that so few people understand. Indeed, the faithful are, for the most part, in it for themselves. I mean, really, salvation is part of the sales pitch: "Don't you want to be saved?" Or, as my daughter's maternal grandparents have taught her to say, "Don't you want to go to Heaven, Daddy?"

The result, of course, is predictable: Anyone who doesn't live in constant fear of God is somehow unfairly deprived.

I'd laugh my ass off if someone said that. I remember being at a party once at some abandoned house. It was cold as hell since it was the dead of winter and (being abandoned) no one had paid the gas bill. Still, the liquor kept us warm and we were having a good time. Anyway, some guy I met there claimed to have raised a demon and said, were anyone to utter his name, he would appear. I asked, "So what was his name?" He refused to say, saying he was afraid. I asked him to write it down so I could say it, he again refused. I told him he was full of shit. I definitely would have said the name had he told me but, sometimes, late at night, I'm glad he didn't. I never did see that guy again.

And good for you. But there comes a point when that the anecdotal fails. For instance, consider me for a moment. That I disagree agree with PETA or certain environmental groups doesn't mean there aren't liberals who do agree. Likewise, that you would laugh at such obvious provocation does not mean others won't be offended.

Ever hear a kid—or an adult—exclaim, "Jiminy Cricket!" Do you know why we use those words? Because they have the initials J and C. It's an alternative to exclaiming, "Jesus Christ!"

Think about it for a moment. "Jiminy Cricket, kiddo! You sure startled me when you jumped out from behind the sofa!" Or, "Jiminy fuckin' Cricket! That gosh-darned hurt when I hit my thumb with the hammer!"

I only make this simple point because your failure to recognize the validity of other people's experiences—that is, the presumption that your individual experience is constant for all people—suggests you're somehow unaware of it. I mean, I suppose the alternative is that you are aware of it, but don't see how customs of modifying speech in order to not offend people's fantasies is relevant to the considerations at hand, but after a while, presuming you so damnably ignorant or full of shit gets as tiresome as some people find the truth offensive.

So just think for a moment. You're a twentieth-century American with ties to both small towns and the midwest. If you haven't witnessed or experienced the discussion of words like "Gosh", "Gol", and "Golly", we need to rush you off to a museum as a candidate for the last true innocent in humanity. So, to simply rehash the fundamentals: "Golly" is okay, but "Gol" is not because it sounds too much like saying, "God". One might point out that "Gosh" has similar phonetics and only occupies a single syllable, but the word has four letters in it, and not three, so it's in the clear.

And, no, it wasn't just Seattle Lutherans. It was also our Baptists, Episcopals, and Catholics at least. And it was also, in my day, east coast Mormons and California Seventh-Day Adventists. Pentecostals, as well. I don't recall knowing any Methodists in my youth, but it's inevitable that I did. What? People don't always make a point of identifying their sect.

But, yeah, the Quakers, too.

So yeah, I'm glad you'd laugh your ass off. There are plenty of things you probably wouldn't guess I would laugh at, but in the moment I do. And life goes on.

But when issues become political, as you're well aware, sir, they demand different consideration. As I said earlier, for those who have spent years reserving their faith expressions so as not to offend common presumption, it doesn't seem that atheists who object to the phrase "God bless you" are asking people to behave any way we haven't been asking people to behave for a while now.

I could go off and make a point of asserting my beliefs every time someone sneezes, or reminding grieving relatives that the untimely and even savage death of a loved one is good because it's part of the Divine Plan, but in truth, what I believe about whether or not God (or a Goddess) exists is not nearly as important as what we do with our beliefs. For instance, you and I agree on a number of larger principles about "America", but what those principles equal for each of us is, quite clearly, different.

Consider a question, please. Jesus instructed his followers:

"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

"Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

(Matthew 6.1-8)

Now, just go and count the Christian bumper stickers, the fish medallions on their cars. Note the graven images of the cross that people wear at their throats. My daughter's maternal grandfather has been known to use the phrase, "I'm a Christian", as if it means something. Like, "I'm a Christian, so you have no right to try to con me", or, "I'm a Christian, so you cannot doubt my integrity." And of that last, it's sadly untrue, but that's another story.

Or think of the prayer demonstrations against abortion or gays, or even against war. And don't try reminding me that it's their right. Of course it is, at least according to the Constitution. It's not a matter of legality, but of integrity.

It used to be that I could frequently be heard to growl, "Jesus won't save you from your driving", whenever some idiot who cut me off in traffic or did something equally reckless and stupid had a Christian medallion or bumper sticker on their car. But that's the thing. It matters more to me that people are human beings. I shouldn't con someone because it's not good to con people. I shouldn't doubt someone unless I have specific reason to doubt. The fact that one is Christian should have no bearing. War is bad? What, does the fact of someone's Christianity somehow make the statement true where it wasn't before? Does the fact of their faith somehow add credibility to the assertion?

Equality, sir. A Christian is just like me in that context. Nothing more, nothing less.

But, yeah. When someone appeals to the authority of an abstract, ad hoc standard that isn't worth observing in their own life, it's cause to doubt. There's a ridiculous bumper sticker out there that reads, "Christians aren't perfect ... we're just forgiven", and some people seem to take that literally. Sometime when you are in a masochistic mood, undertake a discussion of works and faith with a Christian. It might go okay. But you'll find, as we've seen here at Sciforums over the years, a striking number of people who are so set on sola fide, on faith alone, that it's almost as if simply believing that Jesus will save them means they will be saved. Works won't get you into heaven, right? Well, not exactly. When you encounter that particular form of sola fide—you'll find it mostly in what we call the "born again" sector, and it is significantly, if tacitly, present in evangelical politics—try to figure, or get an answer to, whether one's belief in Jesus is supposed to affect their actions. The Bible seems fairly clear on this—Matthew 5.43-48 is but one example—but in practice, no, not really. As I pointed out in our recent discussion of gay rights and the Bible, many American Christians are unwilling to render unto Caesar or love their enemies, and thus are willing to gamble on what they do or do not for the least of Christ's brethren.

And when you catch someone in a lie, it's obviously cause for doubt.

That a person is a Christian? How does that change anything? And why?

So to point this a little ways back toward the topic: Yes, it is annoying that one should go out of his way to remind another of something that the one doesn't actually believe. It's almost—almost—as if these people are trying to shove God into people's lives as a matter of malice. You know, just an arbitrary reason to claim superiority and then try to demonstrate it to others.

We've all got our blind spots, that's for sure. You and I have very differenct ways of thinking about things which implies different blind spots. So while I'll certainly acknowledge the fact that I may have something in common with your acquaintance (friend?), keep in mind that you may too. We're all human. None of us perfect. All quite skilled at seeing what we want to see despite the clear evidence before our eyes.

The only thing I would contest in that is your presumption about me. I have plenty in common with my friend. And, actually, that friend is my father, which I only point out because this particular difference between us had some defining influence. I've recounted the story before, how years later, in my late twenties, he walked into my house one day and apologized. Really, truly, I thought he'd just run over my cat or something. And then he explained what he was apologizing for. And no, it doesn't mean if he'd said I was right we would have known what to do about it. But he fought with his son. Withheld and found himself deprived in response. And that's "tough love", as the phrase has it. But then, to find out that the basis of that conflict—which was more influential than sex, drugs, rock and roll, the keys to the car, or pretty much anything else between a father and son—was pure myth?

Devastating. In the matter of a few years, from his business partners squeezing him out for nepotism and on through the financial disasters of Enron, Global Crossings, and others, enough nails were driven. He could no longer accept the principles he'd advocated.

What he had in common with you is the tendency or will to build a general argument around himself. While he derided this form of exceptionalism as the "Auntie Em" case—e.g., for any general principle, someone can suggest an exception—his way of dealing with it was to project his own Auntie Em onto everyone else. Thus, when I was aghast when one or another shoe company (LA Gear? Reebok?) laid off a bunch of workers while the executives took bonuses worth more than the payroll they saved, he took personal offense at my view of businessmen. "I'm a businessman," he said. "Do I act like that?" And he could never understand that was part of the point. He didn't. He wanted to include himself among the sinister CEOs, or to include them with him. Doing so purified his ambition, made it benevolent.

In his case, when he finally lost that particular rhetorical war, I didn't even notice. But he did. Because he'd staked a lot on it. There were times he didn't know if we would ever coexist at any level beyond forced civility. And if I maintained certain sympathy and devotion simply because he was my father, well, I don't blame him for wanting something more. Hell, there were times I would have liked to have had a father to answer certain questions, but I never asked because I knew I would only get the same answer that confused me in the first place. I never hated him. But how could he know?

If there isn't a large stake involved, it is very easy to continue making certain mistakes. Of course, it's also easy if there is a large stake. But the point is that there is nothing good to be found in trying to manipulate the particular as the general. And yes, if you're lucky, the only person you hurt by doing so will be yourself.

And that, my friend, is exactly what should happen. That's exactly the attitude I favor. Live and let live.

Would have been better if the question had never come up in the first place, but life is what it is.

Does going beyond the superficial help the situation? Do it help to keep the peace? Does it help people get along?

It's an interesting question, and in some cases it cannot be answered because the hypothesis was never tested.

But, yes, it helps. Just like we'd probably get along much better over a beer and a football game, if we learned one another's nuances and mannerisms, if we heard the tone and rhythm of each other's voice.

You say atheists can't be polite because Christians used to burn witches at the stake. Because some Christians still go around trying to ban records, or books, or whatever because they don't agree with their interpretation of their religion.

Here's a great example. At least, I think. I don't know whether to call your assessment superficial or illiterate. Should I reiterate the point, or will you just miss it again?

I say, fuck all that. I really don't give a shit about the history of the situation. I most especially don't give a shit about crap that happened before I was even born. Focusing on slights, even great evils, that occured in the past only ensures that we'll never have peace. What do you want, to turn America into the middle east with everyone fighting and dying over bullshit that happened hundreds if not thousands of years ago? WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT OF THAT?

Explains a lot.

Would you assert that history has no bearing on the present?

If so, well, that definitely would explain a lot.

If not, well, why do you prefer to ignore it?

It reminds me of affirmative action. Because of past discrimination, the government, employers, and schools need to discriminate now. What the fuck?

This is a problem with literalism. So just as a piece of unsolicited advice: Talking points are compressions of larger arguments, not the arguments themselves.

Okay, so here's a question: Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States. Great. Now, what changed?

Is the crack standard suddenly, magically, being proportionately enforced? Will the black people who did five years for possessing less cocaine than I've gotten away with carrying suddenly get a fair chance in the world?

Hey, you know what? We had a war in this country about this. It ended in 1865. Slavery was abolished, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. Everything's fixed, right? Everyone's equal, right? So what was up with Jim Crow? Oh, let me guess, the Civil Rights movement was just about a bunch of uppity niggers like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., trying to make black people superior to whites, right? What's that? It wasn't? What do you mean? Oh, you mean discrimination still takes place? And, what's that? The burdens of past discrimination have not played out yet? Holy shit, what does that mean? Surely it can't mean that blacks are being arrested disproportionately compared to whites for the same offenses. It can't mean they're convicted at a higher rate than whites. It can't mean they face tougher sentences than whites for the same crimes. Surely it doesn't mean entire generations of black people still exist in our culture who were shortchanged by our education system for the color of their skin. So what's going on? After all, we took care of this a hundred and forty years ago.

What? The answer lies in history? Just because you don't think of yourself as a racist means nobody is? Just because you didn't see anyone dragging a black man behind a pickup truck today means it doesn't happen?

How about we try, hmmmm, I don't know, NOT DISCRIMINATING!

Yep. Always a need for sacrificial lambs. Make sure it's other people, though. Be quick, not just. After all, a school or a company shouldn't reflect it's community. Rather, it should reflect the triumph of centuries of injustice.

We might pretend that sacrificing an entire generation of minorities at the altar of supremacism will fix the problem, but that would be a naîve pretense at best. How's that? Oh, well, history suggests with little room for doubt that quick solutions are neither quick nor solutions. One might as well treat a cancerous lesion with a Band-Aid and call it cured.

How about, instead of allowing minorities into colleges they're not remotely qualified for we focus on trying to ensure that they are qualified?

Yeah, sounds like a great idea. Do me a favor, then, and tell your fellow egalitarians to stop complaining about that process as well. Fuck, dude, the Roberts court recently told Seattle schools that minority children deserve to go to inferior schools because there's too many minorities in their neighborhoods. Can't fix the preparation problem, either. It's too hard on the white people.

Or would that be too superficial and ignore the past? I'm sorry, but if progress is to be made we need to be a bit superficial and forget about the bullshit in the past. Otherwise the cycle of hate, recrimination, and fighting will never end.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana)​

Think of discrimination for a moment. Let's go back to, say, Rome.

First it was Roman pagans discriminating against Jews. Then Christians emerged and they, too, faced discrimination. So they discriminated against the Jews, and climbed the social ladder. Becoming empowered, they discriminated first against pagans and then one another; the Gnostics didn't lose because they were wrong, but because they didn't have the same sort of organized mechanism orthodoxy inevitably creates. Eventually, Christians encountered Muslims, and, well, things haven't gone well. Scientists faced discrimination; Galileo was persecuted, Copernicus' work wasn't published until he died, and Darwin kept his theory a secret for fear of reprisal until he perceived no choice but to publish. Indigenous Americans and African blacks were regarded as subhuman. Women weren't people according to the Constitution of the United States until 1920 at least. And in between? Americans have taken it out on Jews, Italians, Irish, Catholics in general, Asians, Hispanics, blacks, women, and now homosexuals. Just to name a few.

Analogy: One day Joe loses his temper and kicks his kid. The child is taken away by the law for his protection. Joe understands now: Don't kick the kid. Some months later, Joe loses his temper and kicks the dog. Even though he avoids prosecution for cruelty to animals, he killed his dog, and now spends his lonely nights thinking back on when he and the kid used to play Frisbee with the dog. A few weeks later, lashing out at misery, Joe kicks his desk, causing it to collapse. His computer is destroyed. He loses his job. Trying to escape from it all, he takes off to Vegas with a friend, but gets in a row at a casino and kicks a security guard. Tired and broken, standing head bowed before a judge as he hears the sentence read, Joe finally recognizes a fundamental aspect of the problem: It's not who or what you kick, but the fact of kicking in and of itself.

If we haven't learned from history what happens when we try to kick a group of people for no good reason, we're just going to keep on kicking.

Something about cycles of hate, recrimination, and fighting go here.

When, sir, did I ever support book burning, the PMRC, or mandating that creationism be taught in school? I do not support such policies and never have. Believe me or not.

I simply think you'll hit your outer limit before I will.

See my statement above. How the fuck are people supposed to get along if they constantly dwell in the past?

I adore the fact that the word ignorant taken at its face value, would seem to mean apathy. (It's real simple to see: ignore-ant.) I wouldn't be surprised to find an etymological link, but I've never looked into it. (It's kind of trivial, after all.) But there is a difference between "dwelling in the past" and "learning from history". You run a business. Ever understaff one of your offices? Did you learn from that? So why not try to drop your labor numbers again. What could possibly happen if you accidentally understaff one of the offices on an important day? What's that? Oh, you already know? How so? Because it happened before? Okay ... why are you dwelling in the past?

It's a new day, didn't you hear? Now that Obama has been elected! What happened to that Tiassa in a good mood we saw for a few days after the election?

What? The fact of Obama's election only means we might hope to start on the important work. Doesn't mean the hard part is done. Besides, the various forces of ignorance aren't letting up. Just because a fox isn't in the henhouse right now doesn't mean I can get rid of the dogs.

In this thread you've made reference to multiple religions. The comment was meant as a good natured jibe in reference to that.

Well enough. Given your superficial outlook, that seems fairly consistent.

I must say that for a guy whose posts are full of insults, you sure are thin skinned when one comes your way. My apologies if you were offended.

Actually, I'm not offended by the remark itself. Rather, I resent the bullshit pretense of civility. You're the one who came out and took a swing at people on behalf of your ignorance. And that's well and fine. Up to you. But there's nothing civilized about advocating injustice, so cram the righteous illusion. You're not fooling anyone.

And look, man, maybe these posts are the best you can do. Would you rather I pity you, then?

I'm not in favor of deciding such issues as religion, atheism, law, and life in these United States in the court room.

Some of it necessarily plays out in the courtroom. Were it not for supremacists, perhaps that necessity would abate.

I prefer the ballot box, or, better yet, that people simply talk things over and put up with each other's little idiosyncrasies (such as religion).

And what happens, incidentally, when the ballot box conflicts with the law? That's one place where the courts come in.

To the other, yes, let's all just talk things over and put up with each other's little idiosyncrasies. After all, that's the easiest way to perpetuate injustice: just put up with it.

You are a writer. This could make an interesting story in which you could make your point much more subtlety. Have you written any fiction?

Seems a little deliberate to me. Maybe even on the level of Kilgore Trout. And, besides, one of the hardest lessons I've learned about writing fiction is that if you have a moral to propagate, get a soapbox, or write an editorial. Even thinking about it right now, the entire discussion of what gets programmed into the computer first seems, well, quite the stick to bash people over the head with.

There is a story I've read that comes to mind. A group of people at some far off monitoring station is installing a robot who will take their place. The station is in a really crappy location and people hate being there so they've very happy to be leaving. But when they're working with the robot to make sure he's capable of doing the job required, he begins expressing the view that he was sent by God to manage the station. Af first, the people are concerned that the robot is insane. But then, a crisis comes up and the robot, despite his theological motivation, performs flawlessly. The people say, "what the fuck. Let him believe what he wants, so long as he does the job" And off they go.

Key words: performs flawlessly. Hint: That's why it's fiction.

Oh, and by the way, when did they put the robot in charge? You know, when did its duty include regulation of thought and expression?

I get the point, but the subtleties won't be ignored. For instance, it's a robot. Would they have treated a person the same? ("Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you ....")

Again, to an atheist, that's all it should be. Yes, I've read what you've said about why that is not the case.

Nigger is just a word. Faggot is just a word. Bitch is just a word. We can certainly go on. Are you a pasty-faced cracker devil?

Look, I don't know if you're aware of it, or if, since it's part of history, you've simply ignored it, but are you aware that it took until 1997 before atheists had a right to serve in public office in South Carolina? Yeah, it would have been nice to have, you know, talked it out, and acted like adults, and all that stuff that keeps such issues out of court, but, you know, it's just a word, so what can we say to those sniveling atheists who don't feel they should be obliged to lie before they even get into office? I mean, really, all politicians lie, you know. So what's one more lie more or less?

It would, at least, be the adult thing to do. Right? Just shut up and take it. Just say the word. Just pretend to believe because it's only fair to the Christians to spare them having to think about it for even a goddamned minute.

However, why not be the adult in the room and act reasonably?

Why don't you?

Yes, I realize, it's always someone else's job. The majority, after all, has earned the right (by proxy of being a majority) to be absolutely childish.

Why not fight injustice without become intolerant yourself?

I'm not sure where to start with that one. So let's just pick something and begin?

There is a curious standard we encounter sometimes in which one who rejects hatred, injustice, or bigotry, is just as reprehensible as the haters, the unjust, and the bigots. In other words, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., were horrible people because they wouldn't just be the adults in the room and just shut up and take it.

There are Christians out there who say that recognizing gay marriage would be a violation of their own Constitutional rights. How does that work? That someone else gets to act according to his own conscience in a way that doesn't hurt anyone else somehow violates a Christian's constitutional rights? And in the '90s, when I lived in Oregon, a mother came before the Salem-Keizer school board asserting that the presence of a book in the school library violated her rights as a Christian. Oh, and let's not forget the long fight in Oregon that started when Christians decided their rights were violated by a public library book that didn't condemn lesbians.

So tell me, sir, what about treating people equally is intolerant? Have you an answer for that? Because in all my years, I have yet to hear one. Okay, strike that. I have yet to hear one that makes any sense.

Let me be honest with you. I've was an atheist for a while. I didn't like the way it felt. It seemed dishonest. I'd still pray when in trouble. It just wasn't me. Rationally, I can certainly understand the atheist perspective. But, and I know it's a weak argument, it just doesn't feel right.

And I dropped atheism for its nihilism. But that fact didn't somehow prove that God exists.

And if it doesn't feel right, it just doesn't feel right. The question of what does feel right, however, is consequential. And I do understand, with their supremacy waning and the prospect of horrible, horrible equality looming ever larger and more real, why some would beg that everyone else just grow up and leave it alone. At least if we stop now, the Christians can still have a little of their supremacy left and continue to pretend it's equality.

Whether their is a God or not, I think mankind may well be wired to believe.

Religion is part of our creative capacity. As an explanation of the unknown, it served fairly well. Indeed, some superstitions have scientific merit; "God says so" is a stupid reason to not fuck your sister. Because it can cause birth defects? Yeah, that's a reason. Because it restricts a family's socioeconomic options, yeah, especially in the old days that was a very good reason. But without the tools to explain things properly, you're stuck with whatever explanation you invent. "Don't fuck your sister, because it can easily bring emotional, psychological, and socioeconomic troubles." Or, "God says He hates it when you fuck your sister."

Think about a fire God. Place the stones in a circle of twelve. In the beginning, yeah, fire seemed a living creature. Indeed, certain definitions of what life is included fire until at least the nineteenth century. (Breathes, feeds, expels exhaust, reproduces, responds to stimuli ....)

Now, considering the primitive tribe, what explanation do you think will work better? A lecture on combustion, or simply explaining that if you don't contain the fire inside the stones, the fire demon will escape and might kill you?

Belief fulfills a psychological need in the modern day. Like I've said, I know atheists who will edge forward in their seat, cross their fingers, or cover their beer on the two-and-two in the bottom of the ninth. When it comes to the bars and sofas through a city, what difference does it make to the players on a field a thousand miles away? None, unless, of course, we want to accept certain Buddhist beliefs about the power of mass prayer. But there are certain things my friends and I simply don't say at a baseball game. Given the season ahead, I'm loath to repeat them even now. But if a Mariner pitcher is having a spectacular day, don't say a damn word about it until after the game. Inevitably, it seems, if you say it, the pitching will immediately collapse. I've seen it before, many times, and once so dramatically that the very next pitch changed a game.

It's probably easily enough explained by a university math professor, but for many, the superstition works well enough. It's the damnedest thing to watch.

But our belief is invested in the things we create, e.g., God. It's not that we're wired specifically to believe in God, but that we have invested our energies, our perspectives, in that particular fancy.

You see? It makes us feel we're in control.

Indeed. Famous last words come to mind. "We're not lost—I know exactly where we are," for instance. Or, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing".

False security is often no security at all. I remember people's faces on 9/11. Some of them really did believe it couldn't happen. And some of them—perhaps coincidentally it was those who were ignorant of or apathetic toward history—really did believe all that noble America bullshit, and couldn't imagine any reason for someone to be pissed off at us, much less so pissed as to go and knock down our buildings.

Gays took comfort in declining HIV rates, and the disease came back strong to the point that in the late 1990s, estimates suggested a full 25% of young homosexual males in Seattle were HIV positive.

Americans of all stripes presume themselves secure in diverse manners. And more often than not, they are proven wrong. When Christians first introduced me to the gay fray seventeen years ago, the thought of gay sex being legal in some places seemed unimaginable. Marriage, certainly, wasn't on the list. Hell, gay rights advocates were content to merely protect library books and make sure prosecutors could still charge people with murder for killing a gay. And the more noise the Christians, who felt so damn secure in their majority, have made about the issue, the more ground they've lost. Yes, they've won a bunch of states in the last several years, but they're only setting up the targets.

Now consider some alternative group of primitive atheists. There is no rain? What do we do? Nothing? WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN, NOTHING? MY FUCKING FAMILY IS ON THE VERGE OF STARVATION AND ALL YOU HAVE TO OFFER IS NOTHING?!? In walks the shaman from a nearby tribe and suddenly he's got a bunch of new converts. People can't stand doing nothing.

It's hard to imagine there are only two options. Dancing and waiting would seem preferable to uprooting everything to take the tribe in search of a more stable water source. Still, though, people insist on living in inhospitable places. It's a bit strange.

And consider the effect on war. Who will fight harder and with more disregard for personal safety? The guy who believes death is death; or the guy who believes that dying in battle will ensure his eternal salvation?

Religion is good for war. You're making a point for me, I think.

Also consider the effect on social cohesion. Religion helps bring people together. It helps define us as us and them as them.

And just like nationalism and other myths, it comes down to what you do with it.

What is at the basis of that common identification, though? We can't say that all Christians are afraid for their immortal souls. Some just presume—contrary to the Bible—they're saved. Others cling to faith for reasons of custom, such as the church being the foremost community they understand outside of family. And, yes, there are still places where people define themselves according to their religion because they perceive no other alternative. It's easy enough to point to Mulsims with bombs strapped to their chest, but the underlying cause for identification is seen among certain Mormon sects, specific Christian cults, and even, to some extent, in mundane associations like political parties and public interest groups.

For all of these reasons, I believe religion offered a selective advantage to those groups of humans that believed and the result is--all these years later---we still believe because it's literally hard wired in our brains. Sure, we can overcome it. Just as we can overcome our natural sexual preference (or can we?)

Well, you get the right orgasm, you'll fuck anything. That's human. Next time a dog tries to hump your leg, just remember you'd do it too.

I don't think belief in God is hard-wired into our brains. Certainly, we have certain creative and emotional capacities, and religion is a fairly obvious place to invest those faculties. It's why someone can be religious about their favorite political party, baseball team, movie, beer, shooting club, corporation—the list goes on.

Alternatively, we may tend to believe because God does exist and we are, somehow, aware of his presence. Maybe it's both.

Well, if God exists, and we can perceive It, then the means of that perception ought to be measurable. Let the creationists know. Their circle-jerk excuse for science might eventually be legitimized.


Bible: Revised Standard Version.

Steel, Mark. "Charles Darwin". The Mark Steel Lectures. British Broadcasting Company. November 4, 2003.

McHugh, John. "Omnipotence." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. January 22, 2009.
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Let me know when athiests manage to build a society that survives.

So far that would be the United States. But saying a society "survived" is always a temporary claim. They way you state it implies eternal existence, which no society will achieve.

And the 'i' before 'e' rule doesn't apply to us.
Eep ! You can't be serious..

She asked "build" a society, not run one. Our founding fathers were atheists who hid under the vague guise of deism.

There is a much longer list of civilizations founded on religion which have not survived. The only anti-religious founding document that I know of has led to the strongest, most prosperous society in human history.

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone upon man
-Thomas Jefferson

Lighthouses are more useful than churches
-Benjamin Franklin

This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it
-John Adams

As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how it has happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed
-John Adams

Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak mines are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson

The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism.
-Thomas Jefferson
She asked "build" a society, not run one. Our founding fathers were atheists who hid under the vague guise of deism.

There is a much longer list of civilizations founded on religion which have not survived. The only anti-religious founding document that I know of has led to the strongest, most prosperous society in human history.

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone upon man
-Thomas Jefferson

Lighthouses are more useful than churches
-Benjamin Franklin

This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it
-John Adams

As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how it has happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed
-John Adams

Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak mines are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson

The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism.
-Thomas Jefferson

Seeing these quotes I can only wonder how religion got such a strong hold.
Cos words on a paper don't build a society. America may have been "founded" [ie replacement of savage natives by nice white people] by people who did not consider slaves and women as human beings. But it wasn't built by them. Mostly it was built by the slaves.
^ what are you up to? trying to disprove that society doesn't work without a religious institution?

i always wondered why christianity was the cause of pulling us into the medieval times. /sarcasm
Obstacles to the Atheist Nation

S.A.M. said:

Once again, let me know when atheists build a society that survives. Given the same people, with the same resources, atheist societies fail where theist societies will succeed. This is history.

It might be helpful if you discuss some of the successes of theistic societies. Many Americans proclaim the United States a Christian nation, but let's face it, we haven't done too well on that score. Most Christians have set aside the Ten Commandments, and in politics, Christianity is most prominently represented by the Old Testament and the Pauline evangelism—e.g., anything but Christ.

We might also consider for comparative purposes Islamic societies. At least since Abi Talib, the ummah has faced mounting questions about the wisdom of its leadership. These days, regimes purporting Islamic faith are widely doubted, and in some cases are disastrous. Iran and the Saud, for instance.

Additionally, we might consider that atheism as we recognize it emerged from religious traditions. It's hard to answer your demand about an atheistic society because (A) they're a minority population, (B) they emerged over the last two hundred years, and (C) the old ways of starting a nation—e.g., force and blood—are generally looked down upon these days. In fact, I'm unsure how, should enough atheists choose to splinter from their society and form a new one, they would go about it. Certainly, with the United States, secession is not part of the discussion. The U.S., after all, has fought two wars over secession, and won them both; the first was to effectively secede from England, and the second was to refute a secession of states.

So do let us know, please, how you think a few million atheists culled from around the world might go about establishing their new nation. I mean, fuck, as far as I'm concerned, they can have New Jersey. Or maybe they could go down to Florida with an order from the UN and "legally" displace or exterminate all the old people. But, yeah, give 'em America's wang and hope they do better by it than we did.
But, yeah, give 'em America's wang and hope they do better by it than we did.

How has that worked out elsewhere? Granted theistic societies may not be perfect, but they do not start with a presumption of being against everyone else. Atheists on the other hand, start with the presumption that everyone else is delusional and want to create perfect monochromatic societies where "independent" thought usually means what they define as acceptable. Everyone else is simply wrong.

Thats probably the major reason why these societies do not function. All the wrong people just build their own society, since there is no space for them in an atheist one.
The relative staying or survival power of a society that generally practices a religion or none is irrelevent. The US constitution and precendents of law created a secular state where religion is separate from the institutions of government. I'm only demanding that we follow the law. We may disappear as a society as a result, although I don't see how. It may eventually be replaced by a theocracy, or collection of separate states with their own laws, I don't care. We have to let this experiment run it's due course.
It already has, the moment the society became a theistic one. You understand that the secularity of American society is based ENTIRELY on its acceptance by theists.
Heh ... heh-heh ... you farted

S.A.M. said:

How has that worked out elsewhere?

It hasn't, as far as I can tell. But that's part of the point. How would you suggest atheists go about building a society, aside from usurping one that already exists?

As to the rest, well, they'll put a lot worse on television, but in my opinion the bit is just a little too deliberate. True, that style works to get attention, but you'll find, I think, that the best, most relevant, and most enduring comedy is at least somewhat sublimated.

Right now, you'd do better to drop trou and fart on a retard.
How do theists rationalize the fact that the world is getting more and more secular at the same time that it is becoming more and more peaceful?

Seems pretty clear to me that religion=evil.
I don't follow.

Its based on the flexibility of theists towards positions other than their own. You'll find the atheists are being pretty inflexible all around. Its the Christians willing to say Happy Holidays, the Muslims exchanging the Christmas present and the atheists saying ban the nativity, ban the hijab.

It hasn't, as far as I can tell. But that's part of the point. How would you suggest atheists go about building a society, aside from usurping one that already exists?.

I'd suggest they start with embracing the concept of coexistence. Its a nonnegotiable aspect of any society

How do theists rationalize the fact that the world is getting more and more secular at the same time that it is becoming more and more peaceful?

Seems pretty clear to me that religion=evil.

You must live in one of those militarist unsustainable societies.
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Its based on the flexibility of theists towards positions other than their own. You'll find the atheists are being pretty inflexible all around. Its the Christians willing to say Happy Holidays, the Muslims exchanging the Christmas present and the atheists saying ban the nativity, ban the hijab.
Atheists do not want to ban the nativity or the hijab. They only want their government not to represent a particular religious point of view. ALL OTHER ASPECTS OF SOCIETY ARE FREE TO DO AS THEY WISH. Do you get it now? I'm completely tolerant of religious practices in all other aspects of life, just not government. You consistently misrepresent my complaint as objecting to all overt displays and representations of religion.

I'd suggest they start with embracing the concept of coexistence. Its a nonnegotiable aspect of any society.

I do coexist, most of my friends are either Christian or some form of theist.