The Raving Theist

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Sweeney, Unsaved

August 19, 2005 | 22 Comments

We win!!! Comedian Julia Sweeney responds to criticism of her atheism and her Biblical analysis over at the comments section of The Dawn Patrol. And she doesn’t pull any punches.

For background, see here and here.

Not so coincidentally, I’ve been posted about (and guest posted) over at The Patrol this week, although not about Ms. Sweeney. Scroll down Dawn’s site if you’re interested.


22 Responses to “Sweeney, Unsaved”

  1. hermesten
    August 19th, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

    I read her response and as many of the subsequent comments as I could before I felt the overhwhelming urge to do something more spirtually and intellectually satisfying and read the nutrition label on a bottle of water. If these people represent more than a tiny fraction of the people in this country then we are in serious fucking trouble; these people aren’t merely stupid, they’re insane.

  2. Crosius
    August 19th, 2005 @ 5:49 pm

    The way the poster a few comments down talks about the foolishness of, “Dismissing the existence of demons a priori,” worries me.

    It’s only possible to dimiss the non-existence of a thing a posteriori. Before enlisting Latin for purposes of credibility, a writer ought to open a dictionary.

    Plus: its an argument about the existence of demons.


    Crazy people are driving on the same highways as me.

  3. Bob
    August 19th, 2005 @ 8:54 pm

    I couldn’t read the whole thing. The other commenters were too stupid and batshit insane for me to bear it.

    Hermesten, these people and others who fail to question them do make up a signifigant portion of the population. We are very screwed.

  4. Mookie
    August 19th, 2005 @ 11:41 pm

    A common quip non-evangelical atheists (or those wishy-washy agnostics) say is: “Well, at least their beliefs aren’t hurting any body.”

    With folks that believe in demons, and believe that some dude can scare them out of one organism, and put them into another (of a different species!), how is this not hurting people? Sure, the belief by itself is not harmful, but we rely on other people being aware of and true to reality. We need them to see things in a similar way we do, otherwise things get very confusing. In the case of Andrea Yates (and other such wackos), this non-real belief led her to kill her kids. Some would cite a pre-existing mental disorder as the cause, and not the belief in the supernatural. Fair enough, but what about all those “sane” religious folks? What excuse do they have for finding demons and ghosts and puppykillers?

  5. GodlessHeathen
    August 20th, 2005 @ 3:24 am

    hermesten said “If these people represent more than a tiny fraction of the people in this country then we are in serious fucking trouble; these people aren’t merely stupid, they’re insane.”
    Unfortunately, they do, hermesten. They represent 70-some percent of ‘Merica today.

  6. Phil
    August 20th, 2005 @ 7:37 am

    I was amazed that, at Julia’s suggestion that Jesus could have simply destroyed the demons without killing someone else’s pigs, a Christian — a Christian, people! — had the gall to say: Yet you expect Christ’s audience to believe that the demons were destroyed without any visible evidence whatsoever!

    A Christian, believing something without any visible evidence whatsoever? Yes, that would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it?

  7. GenghisDirt
    August 20th, 2005 @ 11:28 am

    hermesten said “If these people represent more than a tiny fraction of the people in this country then we are in serious fucking trouble; these people aren’t merely stupid, they’re insane.”
    Well, according to a 2004 Gallup poll, about 45% of Americans believe that “God created human beings… within the last 10,000 years or so.”
    In an unrelated CNN/Time poll, about 80% believe that “…the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms”.

  8. Angi
    August 20th, 2005 @ 11:58 am

    OK> Christians are idiots. And they say you are idiots for not believing in God.
    How hard is it to admit the other side includes some people who are intelligent? Can’t we disagree with intelligent people?

  9. Mookie
    August 20th, 2005 @ 2:32 pm

    Yes, some religious people are intelligent. But there is obviously a limit to this intelligence. Take two people with the same IQ (100, say), the same educational background, same wits, all things being equal, and say that the only difference is that one is religious, the other is atheist. The one that is atheist is smarter than the religious one. Why? Because the atheist’s version of reality is more consistent with objective reality. How smart can a person be if they believe in puppykillers and Flying Spaghetti Monsters? How can we not question the intelligence of a person who reacts to beings and forces that have no basis in fact, that have no bearing on the world around us, and are really just a bunch of fairy tales?

  10. Jennifer
    August 20th, 2005 @ 2:56 pm

    I agree Mookie. Faith precludes critical thought. If your definition of intelligent is a capacity for learning then Faith becomes a pretty serious hinderance.

    August 20th, 2005 @ 4:44 pm

    I left a comment as ethical atheist…..urging her to not concede to others beliefs.

  12. Roman
    August 20th, 2005 @ 6:03 pm

    they banned me and my proxy….and deleted my post…

  13. Rob
    August 20th, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

    She hasn’t banned me yet. I’m starting to feel insulted. :-)

  14. Roman
    August 20th, 2005 @ 6:38 pm

    i’m abortionman here btw, and they banned me after i started rambling about the expansion of spacetime, positrons being expelled from black holes, and how christianity is retarded

  15. MBains
    August 20th, 2005 @ 6:57 pm

    I’m sorry TRA but some of those people commenting that “Julia” is missing the “facts” that the pigs didn’t just jump off the cliffs themselves so OBVIOUSLY Jebus made them do it by sending suicidal demons into them… {sigh…} well they just make you seem a little less um… Raving.

  16. hermesten
    August 21st, 2005 @ 10:34 am

    Godless, Ghengis, Angi, et al, by “these people” I meant specifically those commenting on the referenced blog, not Christians in general. I think you can believe that God created human beings in the last 10,000 years and still not be as wacky as the people in question –though granted, you have to be in denial.

    As far as intelligence and belief goes, I don’t think one precludes the other: there are obviously smart Christians around, like Frank. However, I do think that if you took a group of people of low intelligence, that you’d be likely to find a lot of Christians in the group and probably not any atheists. In other words, because it’s more likely you have to ask questions and challenge the popular “wisdom” to become an atheist, it’s not a position that most dumb people are likely to come to.

  17. Debbie
    August 21st, 2005 @ 11:41 am


    When the subject has come up about my atheist beliefs with religious friends we quickly give up on any attempt to discuss the issues because they, without any apparent sense of embarassment, just say something like, “You can point to all these things you consider absurd in our religion, but we KNOW that it is true, and nothing science can show will change our mind.” And they do this with a happy smile on their lips and out of politeness I don’t tell them that their behavior is indistinguishable from mental illness. There are of course nutjobs who deny the true age of the earth, evolution and other proven scientific theories but most Christians accepts these, even though it is in apparent conflict with the ‘revealed truth’ of their religious text.

    Most often they keep this lack or rationality out of their lives and so I don’t think it would show up in IQ tests. However, rational thought does train the mind and show I would expect a strong corrleation between lack of strong religious belief and IQ.

    A couple of interesting links related to this:

  18. Jennifer
    August 21st, 2005 @ 12:04 pm

    Debbie I agree and would take it a step further. To the PC atheists out there that think that the embracing of Fundamentalist religious beleifs does not preclude intelligence. Lets round up some Fundamentalists and have them build a space ship and then see who is willing to ride in it. Would knowing your surgeon thought the earth was 6,000 years old and that Moses parted the Red Sea give you pause?


  19. hermesten
    August 22nd, 2005 @ 10:31 am


    The experience with religious people you describe seems to be about the same as mine. I also believe that “rational thought,” or “critical thinking” is a skill that must be developed and excercised; and it requires continuous effort and discipline. And like any other skill, the people who use it the most are the best at using it. I also see plenty of evidence that potentially intelligent Christians have attenuated critical thinking skills and are more prone than they should be to accept things that are obviously questionable or obviously implausible –such as internet hoaxes and urban legends.

    I think there are different categories of “belief” that relate differently to “intelligence.” When some survey says that “X” percentage of scientists believe in God, there is an assumption by Christians that this means X percentage are “Christians.” Christians frequently assert that Einstein believed in “God,” and, without any conception of what Einstein meant by God, they assume he meant the same God they do. I suspect that the rejection of religious dogma, like the Bible, is highly correlated to intelligence, and that rejection of the notion that the Bible is the literal word of God is very highly correlated to intelligence.

    “Would knowing your surgeon thought the earth was 6,000 years old and that Moses parted the Red Sea give you pause?”

    Yes, and unfortunately, living where I do, this question is not merely academic. A surgeon treating my father once caught me reading “The Age of Reason” in the hospital waiting room and confronted me with the hoary Christian canard that Thomas Paine was an atheist. I was concerned not only about his ignorance, but whether someone this self-righteous could give his best care to the father of someone who was reading the work of a notorious “atheist.” On the other hand, another doctor who ran a pain clinic with his doctor wife caught me reading some Stephen Jay Gould, and we had a long and very satisfying discussion about evolution and atheism.

  20. Frank
    August 22nd, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    “Would knowing your surgeon thought the earth was 6,000 years old and that Moses parted the Red Sea give you pause?”

    As you all know me to be a Christian, my obvious answer is no. But it does warrant comment that there are many doctors and surgeons who are strong Christians and believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. My wife recently required a biopsy and we investigated the medical community where we live for recommendations about the very best in the field. The top names given to us (as not just the best here, but as leaders in their respective fields of medicine nationwide) were Christians. I think it is a bit of a leap to judge the medical ability of a Christian doctor as more questionable than that of an atheist doctor just because he or she believes in God. But, hey, that’s just me.

  21. hermesten
    August 22nd, 2005 @ 2:44 pm

    Frank, lest my comments be misunderstood, I’m not saying that an atheist doctor is necessarily a better doctor than a Christian because he is an atheist –the Christian doctor might well be better. Of course, there is also the question of what is meant by “Christian” doctor, and I suspect that the percentage of fundamentalist doctors is much smaller than the percentage of fundamentalists in the general population.

    My concern isn’t that a doctor who believes in Jesus won’t cut as good as a doctor who doesn’t. My concern is with how religious belief might affect treatment under various conditions –in ways that are both unconscious and explicit. Personally, I wouldn’t want to go to a fundamentalist doctor if I was a homosexual. I wouldn’t trust a “Christian” doctor to prescribe the morning after pill for my wife. With a “Christian” doctor, I’m not sure all medical options would be on the table if my wife, for medical reasons, was considering an abortion. When my wife was nursing, she worked for a “Christian” doctor who didn’t give anesthesia for child birth because God intended women to suffer the pain of delivery. Who knows what other wacky ideas a theist doctor has about the intentions of God?

    If you’re an atheist living in the Bible Belt, it’s pretty hard to avoid “Christian” doctors. I’ve encountered a few I wouldn’t go to under any circumstances. Most of the doctors I go to I assume are “Christian” but I don’t really know, since religion is never a topic of discussion. But I have serious concerns about doctors who make their “Christianity” an issue, and generally speaking, if a doctor sees fit to tell me about his religious beliefs without a good reason relating to my treatment, I won’t go back. Also, I don’t think we’re that far away these days from a time when “Christian” doctors will refuse to treat non-believers.

  22. Debbie
    August 23rd, 2005 @ 5:12 pm

    I’d like to know if my doctor wouldn’t recommend certain treatments because of his personal beliefs. I’d also want to know if my surgeon was a Jehovah’s Witness ;-)

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