The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

My Word

July 11, 2006 | 137 Comments

Atheists were once barred from testifying in court as untrustworthy. John Locke, in his Letter Concerning Toleration, explained: “[p]romises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist.”

I have pledged to never malign God or Christianity again on this blog. Although I first announced the policy in here, the decision did not originate in the dispute underlying that post. The post merely presented an opportunity to act upon a very specific and unambiguous promise I had made to a friend in an e-mail two days earlier.

Many of you, as atheists, would not have made that promise in the first place. But I did, and (for whatever reason) I intend to keep it. My question now is this: Would you break the promise if you had made it? Would you ask me to break it?


137 Responses to “My Word”

  1. reconciled
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    NO. You have to stand for something, and being an atheist you have to uphold your promise or been seen as exactly what the christians say an atheist is, but why in your position would you make such a promise?

  2. Thorngod
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:37 am

    I would never make such a promise. It seems to me very unwise, foolishly restrictive of my personal liberty, and is furthermore not the sort of promise another tolerant person would require.

  3. MilitantAtheist
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:40 am

    How in Jeebus’ name can we be expected to answer that question without ANY background information?

    I think the more pertinent question is: Would we have made that promise in the first place?

  4. a different tim
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:48 am

    I think it depends on what you mean by “maligning”. I think it’s absurd to refuse to even state that you’re still an atheist because that would be “maligning” Christianity (which seems to sum up what you were saying a few posts ago. I’ve quoted it already but can find it again if you like). No wonder the theists are overjoyed – they have already mounted assaults on art and culture (see the controversies over “Jerry Springer the opera” and “Behzti” in the UK by claiming they are offended, and your stance just plays into their hands.

    Saying your beliefs are not the same as someone else’s is not maligning them, and claiming that it is is tantamount to cancelling freedom of speech.

  5. noah nywno
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:49 am

    I would say it depends on the situation and the intent of your promise. Keeping your word, though important, is not always feasible given the realities of life. I don’t know if that applies to you or not.

    If your intent is not to offend anyone, you may fail in that just in MAKING the promise. You have too think long and hard about what it is you are really trying to do and ammend your promise appropriately, if needed to better realize it’s intent.

    Just my opinion, but your intent and your feeling behind your promise should be more important than mere words.

    Good luck.

  6. benjamin
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:16 am

    Do you desire to break your promise? What does the friend to whom you made the promise think? Is it a big deal to him or her? It’s not an impossible promise to keep, so I would keep it if it was important to your friend. On the other hand, if your friend gave you permission to act on your own desires once more, I would go for it.

  7. Lily
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    Malign and criticise are not the same thing. A promise not to malign anyone is a good thing and I would never ask you to break it; nor would I. But honest, constructive criticism is a positive good, usually (I won’t say always for fear that someone, somewhere will find an instance where it wasn’t).

    It is hard to speak in generalities but I will take a stab at it. If you promised to stay away from certain subjects, I have no problem thinking that you should keep that promise. After all, as a blogger, the choice of specific subjects to address is entirely up to you.

    If you promised never to criticise (as opposed to malign) any matter touching on religious belief, I would be sorry that you had done so. But I wouldn’t break the promise.

  8. a different tim
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:27 am

    Well, to reiterate, this is what I have trouble with.

    RA said: to announce I am still an unbeliever would effectively declare that I believe that the views I have vowed not to disparage are lies.

  9. a different tim
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:29 am

    Sorry, posted before finishing. I’ve mentioned this before. It’s not only nonsense, it’s dangerous nonsense.

  10. June
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:35 am

    I get it!
    TRA is staggering back to reality after one hell of a bender, shielding his eyes against the glaring light of truth, stammering “What have I done? What did I promise? How do I get out of this mess?”

    OK, time to reprogram TRA’s brain. TRA, TRA, listen to me. It’s OK. We understand. We all promise BS in the heat of passion. It means nothing.

    As an atheist, you can NEVER malign God, since he does not exist, which you proved in your manifesto.

    As a theologian, you remain free to (gently!) point out the logical holes in Christianity. Start by repeating daily that – without a God – all god-based religions are illusions. You cannot malign an illusion.

    As a lawyer, you know that a promise without consideration is not enforceable. Another illusion.

    And the blogworld will get a huge chuckle out of this trip of yours. They expect shenanigans like this from you.

    Now dry yourself off and get back to work.

  11. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    I think it is unjust to hold anyone to a foolish or impracticable promise. I find your promise foolish and (given your project) impracticable. So yes, I would break the promise (though depending on the circumstances I might want to make amends to the person I made the promise to).

  12. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    I think it is unjust to hold anyone to a foolish or impracticable promise. I find your promise foolish and (given your project) impracticable. So yes, I would break the promise (though depending on the circumstances I might want to make amends to the person I made the promise to).

  13. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    I think it is unjust to hold anyone to a foolish or impracticable promise. I find your promise foolish and (given your project) impracticable. So yes, I would break the promise (though depending on the circumstances I might want to make amends to the person I made the promise to).

  14. PhalsePhrophet
    July 11th, 2006 @ 11:01 am

    How can you be true to yourself and your unbridled passion for atheism and keep this promise? Perhaps the one you promised cares enough about you and your passion to forget the promise and release you from its burden? Regardless, it would be a great loss to have The Raving Atheist go silent or even slightly toned down.

  15. Erik
    July 11th, 2006 @ 11:08 am

    If I were the promisee, I would not hold the RA to such a silly promise.

  16. Joe Ellison
    July 11th, 2006 @ 11:17 am

    Personally, I find that this whole “promise”, and the posts which have followed it, are an attack on atheists, and especially insulting towards the people who have followed this blog for awhile.

    An honest, straightforward person could make the oath “I will not malign those who hold religious faith” without refusing to admit to having made a stand on the issue. You can disagree withouty passing judgment; you can comment on the positive aspects of your own position without having to compare them to others; you can hold yourself above petty insults and cheap digs.

    What you CANNOT do, and continue to claim integrity, is to insult people with passive-agressive comments. You CANNOT jerk people around by refusing to make your position clear and expect to maintain anyone’s respect.

    Atheist, agnostic, full-blown fundamentalist… you can hold any position you like. What you shouldn’t do is make your non-declaration of a position into a weapon, which is what I see here.

  17. Forrest Cavalier
    July 11th, 2006 @ 11:27 am

    RA, was it a contract, a promise, or a sacred covenant?

    For the first two, the reasons and conditions that led to the formation can change, more information can be revealed, etc, and that can relieve you of the obligation, or even make it harmful to continue.

    Sacred covenants, if you allow that they exist, are binding perpetually if properly formed. (Which requires consent, full awareness, etc.)

    If you were to answer which it is, you will reveal the current state of your (a)theism. So I expect no reply from RA.

  18. ako
    July 11th, 2006 @ 11:49 am

    If I were in a situation like that, I would very carefully examine the original promise, and talk to this friend about what their intent was in asking this of me, and what results they hoped to achieve. Depending on the results, I might ask them to release me from the promise. Alternately, I might hold true to the intent with a less rigid interpretation. For instance, I got the impression that the promise was not to malign Christianity, and it was your interpretation that saying you believed it to be false was an insult. But I could be wrong about that.

    Alternately, if I had honestly agreed not to make statements of belief on a blog of mine about atheism, I would most likely change the subject of the blog. Turn it into something other than religion or philosophy, so I’d have something to blog about where I could espress a view. Failing that, I’d shut it down, not being able to continue.

    Of course, this is all assuming that I’m reasonably correct about what the promise acutally is. If you promised to keep the blog going about atheism without maligning or criticizing anyone or anything or saying anything that would indicate if you think their is a god, then you’re screwed.

  19. Nightfly
    July 11th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    It’s not yet established that this promise was given in response to a request. It was made via an email to a friend, but that doesn’t mean that the friend asked for such a promise. RA may have simply volunteered it.

  20. El Judio Bravo
    July 11th, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

    I read my way to the bottom of the comments to find the last one said what I felt. Ask to be released; it’s the only way I could ease MY conscience.

  21. Choobus
    July 11th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    RA, you are holding yourself to a certain ideal in terms of character. This is admirable in and of itself, but you are a hypocrite, because your claims to honesty and integrity are tainted by your actions; you are blatantly dishonest regarding the nature of your epiphany. Furthermore, the very nature of this website still projects your former attitudes. If you truly eschew them why do you not update the site to project the new and improved RA? You say catergorically that religious devotion trivializes American law and politics. How is that not maligning religon? I say it isn”t because it happens to be true, but it certainly contradicts your oft stated goals. You leave only three reasonable conclusions regarding your peculiar state: you are a hypocrite and a liar, your are a fool or you are a joker with awful timing. Neither of these is worthy of the RA we used to know. I implore you, hurry up and bang whichever Christ-babe it is that has got you so confused so we can all get back to normal (and for Christ’s sake, use protection!)

  22. Aaron Kinney
    July 11th, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    I think its silly that you made that promise, and totally undercuts the whole point of your blog. The title of this blog alone runs contrary to the promise you made to your friend.

    Should you keep your promise? Yes. Should you have not made it in the first place? Yes. Now that you have put yourself in such a bind, is there a point to your blog anymore? I dont think so.

    Im so dissapointed, RA. Yours is the first atheist blog I ever read. Yours used to be my favorite atheist blog. Many of your readers have noticed a gradual slide/change over the past year or so, and now our suspicions have been validated.

    But you made your bed, now lie in it. You might as well come out with it and admit your conversion to Catholicism or whatever the hell you have been hinting at believing in.

  23. heathen lifer
    July 11th, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

    I can’t see someone offering a wholesale promise like that thinkingly – or someone asking for it. If your friend asked for such a promise, it should only have been to not malign their religious views IN THEIR PRESENCE. Anything shows a lack of respect for you. Is a person who would own your brain capable of being anything close to an actual friend??

  24. HomoCyclist
    July 11th, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

    Promises were made to be broken.

  25. maledictus
    July 11th, 2006 @ 2:15 pm


    RA is a Lawyer, so he knows better. What he promised was not to deny the earth is flat, not to support that it is round, and, I think, no to propose that it is a cube. To sum it up, no to speak about the issue. I suppose that he is not even allowed to speak about the earth existence. The problem is he is taking a course on geography.

    It’s not funny that a lawyer ask us how to deal with a contract he signed?

    RA, show the e-mail you sent to your friends and I wil deliver it to my lawyer and I wil send you his opinion.

    About the reason RA made his commitment, I speculate this:

    Some atheist and liberalsha have thoght, e.g. Einstein, that without religion it is dificult to control the madness of 6 billion of believers who will never accept atheism. So, to attack religion may be worse than no to attack it. The grip priest have on the populace is stronger than that of the courts, the National Guard and the police.This idea has its merits when you remember what happened after Luther rocked the boat, or when the Ruski took Afganistan out of the Bronze Age, or what is happening in Iraq. See Holu: is him an ignoramus, or unintelligent, was he not raised in atheist environment? (he is from Kiev). Well, I’m sure Holu will take his Khalasnikov to defend his faith if he thinks it threatened.

    It is our surrender? Yes It is. But maybe is not a bad idea if the alternative is losing your skin, and there is always the opportunity of negotiating a conditional surrender. On the other hand, there is hope. Religions can become civilized: compare present catholics with their comrades of the XV century.

    But this is only my theory about the suspicious way RA is behaving. I will resist in my foxhole until the penultimate man.

  26. ako
    July 11th, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

    I think there’s a reasonable chance of TRA having a real moral dillema here, precisely because it is a promise NOT a contract. In a business exchange or similar formal agreement, I consider my obligations to be no more than the stated. For instance, if I signed an agreement not to disparage brand X detergent, I would hold to my agreement. I wouldn’t consider myself ethically obligated to refrain from criticizing Brand X toothpaste, praising brand Y detergent, pointing out company X’s poor worker safety record, discussing the water pollutin hazards of laundry detergent in general, etc. Whether I would do those things or not would depend on the situation, but I wouldn’t feel constrained by the contract to interpret it as broadly as possible.

    A promise is a different matter. Between friends, it can be a test of mutual respect. This is one reason why people adhere to the spirit of agreements, not just the letter. A narrow interpretation indicates you are not undertaking the task wholeheartedly as a kindness, but grudgingly as an obligation. This could also be an explanation for TRA’s extremely (and in my opinion, excessively) broad interpretation of not showing disrespect.

    None of us posters have much information to work with, but it looks to me like TRA specifically interpreted the “don’t malign Christianity or Christ” promise to include not expressing disagreement. If I’m right, a conversation with whoever inspired the promise about what the intended meaning was would help add clarity and focus to the issue. TRA would have a definite idea of the intent behind the promise. The friend would have a chance to consider how this agreement was affecting the blog, and if it was what they hoped to see. And the terms of the agreement could be clarified, changed, or possibly even abandoned, without betraying to friendship.

    Failing that, I think the best bet for TRA is to pick a new topic to blog about, and redesign appropriately. That way, he could offer substantive view on something without breaking his vow. Trying to continue as is, writing short opinion pieces about religion and atheism without offering opinions on atheism or religion simply does not work.

  27. maledictus
    July 11th, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

    “I intend to keep it”

    Then why the questions?

    The anwers will indicate only how seriously each of us take our promises, which I don’t think it is a very relevant issue, and as stated, it won’t change your position.

    In the life of an atheist there is point of not return. That’s why I think you are not a convert. Of course there are a few exceptions but I don’t think this is the case. Is like any other adult converting to Santa Claus.

    The Titanic is sinking. I’m watching with Celine Dion in the background. Of course with some nostalgia.

  28. Nokot
    July 11th, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    “Would you break the promise if you had made it?”

    I try to make promises such that I will never have the temptation to break them. I woudln’t have made the kind of promise you did unless I … well shit I have no idea why I’d ever make a castrating promise like that. Oh wait, it isn’t so castrating is it? You only promised, “I will never write another bad word about Jesus or Christianity on The Raving Atheist.” *wink*

    “Would you ask me to break it?”

    If I were to answer selfishly, yes! You write with a wit and humor that I enjoy. On the other hand, I generally avoid asking people to break promises. Then again you wouldn’t need to break your promise at all, would you?

  29. Lily
    July 11th, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

    In the life of an atheist there is a point of no return? Oh, brother!

    Pure wishful thinking. Each and every one of us is a free moral agent until the day we die.

  30. maledictus
    July 11th, 2006 @ 5:23 pm


    Doyou think that some day you will believe once again that Santa Claus is going to bring you gifts in Christmas?

    Easier, do you think that some day you will accept that earth is flat?

  31. Lily
    July 11th, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

    Take a deep breath, Mal. Do you have, like most everyone else, the capacity to learn, grow and choose your own path? If so, you cannot know what the future holds for you, much less for anyone else.

  32. Brian Macker
    July 11th, 2006 @ 6:17 pm

    Depends on whether you were under the influence or not at the time you made the promise. Sure there are promises you can break, such as the promise to count to one thousand after a bank robber flees the scene.

    Why do you continue with this “honor amoung atheists” theme. Who appointed you my representative anyway. Atheism is not a positive (as opposed to negative) philosophy. It is merely the absense in a belief. I fully expect many atheists to be absolute bastards. I do remember a while back you crossing the line of good taste at one point with some nasty post. I didn’t think it represented my views or anything I would have done. It certainly didn’t spring out of your non-beliefs. You had other issues apparently. I chalked it up to a mistake. We all make mistakes.

    Perhaps now you are realizing that your pledge was a mistake. Did you really want to live the life of a saint? I don’t personally think that being mean is the right way to behave but sometimes we slip up. You have essentially pledged to be infallible. It’s a promise you cannot keep, and therefore invalid in the first place. This is only one of the reasons I said that I thought you had “lost it”. Anyone with a minor amount of wisdom would know that this promise was soon to be broken. One can promise to try perfection but not to achieve it. It would have been better if you had pledged to aspire to some standard, not achieve it.

  33. June
    July 11th, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

    Lily, you are a free agent until you die. Do you think that some day you will accept the teachings of Astrology?

  34. Lily
    July 11th, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

    Not so long as I am learning and growing.

  35. Curious Onlooker
    July 11th, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

    I once had someone sell his soul to me for a carton of sushi. He had run out of money, and desperately required some kind of currency to make up for this deficiency. The school doesn’t accept souls as valid currency, but I do. I bought his sushi for him in exchange for his soul.

    I later learned, much to my chagrin, that this was not a valid transaction; my Christian friends informed me that a true Christian cannot sell his soul simply by a verbal contract. More to the point, once you’ve put your faith in God, apparently you can’t make that kind of promise to anyone else. Only if you are a heathen may you sell your soul to another agent.

    Similarly, no one can force you to promise that you will not “malign” Christianity in anyway by invoking your promise. You’ve committed yourself to freedom of speech; there is no compulsion but that of your own will preventing you from breaking this promise.

    So when you ask if I, as an atheist, would break a promise once I made it… I guess it would depend solely on the consequences. For example, if, by breaking the promise, I would alienate myself to a certain Pro-life group comprised entirely of Christians who don’t take kindly to slights on their religion, and if this group was important to me, I might not break the promise.

  36. Some Guy
    July 11th, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

    I think this train of thought follows the whole “Atheists are pig-fuckers” mindset. I’m sure some atheists can’t be trusted. But I’d imagine just because a random stranger believes in X god doesn’t mean that you can trust them to babysit your children while you leave for the weekend.

  37. CycloneRanger
    July 11th, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

    I would not ask you to break such a promise, nor to make one in the first place. I will ask, however, what you believe–or at least, why you refuse to tell us. Isn’t the free exchange of ideas of fundamental importance to both the philosophy of atheism and the religion of Christianity? I can understand and respect an honest conversion to theism, if that is what has happened, but why won’t you tell us? Somehow I doubt that you are afraid of ridicule, having given and received so much in the past. Why, then, will you not be honest with us now?

    I don’t mean to criticize, as I know nothing of your personal situation, but it seems to me that a willingness to discuss varying ideas and opinions is perhaps the most important component of progress.

  38. maledictus
    July 11th, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

    It seems to be, dear Lily, that there is a point of no return for you in matter of Astrology, so long a you are learning and growing.

    Well, it happens that for me, there is not a big difference between religion an Astrology. So the only way for me to convert is that I cease of growing and learning. And let me tell you that I’m no sure that even in that case I will convert, if only because of what I have learned until that point. I suppose the same happens to you with Astrology.

    Sure I was prognosticating about RA, but this prognosis is based in his past behavior. It is the same as saying that is very difficult t that Lily converts to atheism. But I would say that is easier that Lily becomes an atheist (she is growing and learning) than RA a believer, unless he have ceased of growing and learning. And even in that case I’m no sure.

  39. Andrew
    July 11th, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

    That better have been some hot hot Christian sex, RA.

  40. Choobus
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:08 pm

    yeah. I hope you did anal…..

  41. trudy
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

    Brian Macker wrote:

    “Atheism is not a positive (as opposed to negative) philosophy. It is merely the absense in a belief.”

    Occasionally I happen upon a blog that is defined by its negativity. No matter how witty and talented the author I will usually not return to that web-site. I much prefer it when others share with me the well springs of joy and delight which they have discovered.

    I expect that The Raving Atheist’s posts will become more varied, more interesting and funnier now.

    I suspect that the Raving Atheist has choosen something to do something more difficult and challenging than that which he was doing before. Rather than promoting his views by tearing others down, he is working at building something up. Why should we believers have the monopoly on kindness, truthfulness and trustworthyness?

    Why should we have all the love, joy and solidarity?

    Why be upset that RA will no longer give you your hatred fix?


  42. Pansy Moss
    July 11th, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

    Am I allowed to answer this even though I am not an atheist?

    From my perspectivem which may be totally biased because I am not a atheist, but having a set of morals is not limited to believing in God. And having a set of guidelines to which you feel you can live by and look yourself in the mirror each day I am nt sure is limited to those who believe in God either.

    I don’t think you can keep (or honestly make) evil promises for example “I promise to never tell anyone that you murdered someone…” In other words, promising to keep a promise for the sake of keeping a promise may not necessarily be noble. A less dramatic example is when my husband and I are not sure how things are going on a weekend, and my children want to do some type of event and tell us to promise. We usually don’t.

    But getting back to the original scenario, you made this promise because somewhere inside you thought it was the right thing to do. For whatever reason, deciding to do what is right, and sticking to it is difficult, that is why we have to consider it and decide as opposed to just doing it. It builds character.

    For what it’s worth, people who do not stick to promises, or do not make commitments to try to do something right, or people who incessantly malign the other side (sadly, myself included at times) are a dime a dozen. Someone who, regardless, of POV, shows respect for the fact that the people who think differently are human beings with intelligence and feelings is someone who shines and gains respect.

  43. R and All
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

    “Well, it happens that for me, there is not a big difference between religion and Astrology.”

    I agree that there is little difference between religion and astrology, but what religion truly is, in my opinion, is mythology. For the same reason that one does not believe, nor will ever believe, in Zeus et al, one does not believe in the trinity or allah or moroni. Actually, the greek/roman concept of numerous gods with human traits makes a lot more sense than a single perfect god, given the state of the world.

  44. Thorngod
    July 11th, 2006 @ 11:33 pm

    Well, there is one pre-eminent God, but there is also Jesus now, and H.S. And there were always the angels–or perhaps they only came into being during His creative phase. And Mary’s up there, too, according to the original Church, acting as intercessory, since J.C. is no longer approachable.

    They’re all singing and eating cake. Hey! That means they must have toilets, too! That’s it! That explains it: That’s where all the shit is coming from.

  45. Andrea
    July 12th, 2006 @ 1:33 am

    If you’re using “malign” as in, be unnecessarily mean, fine. You can handle that. But if malign in this context means “criticize” or “analyze” then just shut down the blog.

    Promises like this are too black and white to keep for very long. You made the promise under one set of circumstances, so when the situation changes (and situations always do) you’ll be forced to go through the whole thought process again except with guilt on top of it. Breaking your word might make you look unreliable to the person you promised, but promising something as strange as this makes you unreliable to everyone who reads the Raving Atheist expecting, well, to find some good ranting and raving.

    What you could have done was just continue to write well and not say anything about your new plan and just see if anyone noticed. And who would actually want you to completely erase a big part of your life anyways? Do what you want, I’m just saying, it’s weird.

  46. Michael Bains
    July 12th, 2006 @ 4:28 am

    Lots of thoughtful and quite well-considered comments today.

    We make promises for many reasons; most of them self satisfying, even if intended for the benefit of others. What do you want from the person? Upon this further consideration of yours, is it worth it to you to adhere to your promise, or would any harm to them by breaking the promise be less than that incurred by yourself in keeping it. That’s entirely up to you to determine.

    It’s your call, RA. You made the promise. The person to whom you made it has never had anything more than influence over your emotions and reason (assuming this is all legit.) Break your promise and lose a “friend”, or at the least, hurt an acquaintance’s feelings. Keep the promise and, if you are sincere in it’s principal requirements, you will be lying and hurting yourself and your integrity.

    As even more of the folk here have suggested, all ya hafta to do is tone down the potty mouth and grosser parodies, if you sincerely would like to adhere to the SPIRIT of the promise.

    Such would certainly decrease the humor value of your site, but that’s your readers’ problem to assess if you so decide.

  47. Choobus
    July 12th, 2006 @ 4:35 am

    “Lots of thoughtful and quite well-considered comments today.”

    You’d better not be talking ’bout me, Willis.

  48. Michael Bains
    July 12th, 2006 @ 4:57 am

    No way man! I’s ascared you’d be puttin’ one o’ dem evil atheist fatwahs on me, and I ain’t got no deathwish.


  49. The Poer of Greyskull
    July 12th, 2006 @ 6:55 am

    By even saying that you don’t believe the Islamic religion is true you are insulting many muslims. How does it feel? Are you ashamed? Get some balls man, and stop pussy-footing around and trying to be everyone’s friend.

  50. sdanielmorgan
    July 12th, 2006 @ 7:32 am

    Tell us why you made the promise.

  51. Xianghong
    July 12th, 2006 @ 8:36 am

    It’s impossible to comment on whether we would break the promise since most of us, as atheists, would never have made the promise in the first place.

  52. woody
    July 12th, 2006 @ 8:42 am

    RA.. It’s all about respect. Do you respect the person you made the promise to? If not then it was pointless in making a promise in the first place, if you do, then stick to it. This however, has nothing to with atheism in general, it’s more about you, your acquaintance and your blog. I don’t believe for one minuet that you made this promise without consideration for how it would effect you and what you can do on this site. You made the choice, well done… Now stop going on and on and on about it and either change the name of the site to ‘Friendly none offensive atheist’ or hand the blog over to Choobus and get on with your life…!

  53. severalspeciesof
    July 12th, 2006 @ 8:58 am


    This question: “Would you break the promise if you had made it?” drives me crazy, unless it’s in a game I’m playing with friends. I don’t come to this site to play games, so until I read somewhere else that you’ve stopped this ‘game’ or there has been a significant change here, I’m pretty much gone (but that’s no promise). I understand that these types of questions can be useful, (I have enjoyed your ‘Question of the Day’ area) but only with more background/information included. Why was the promise made in the first place?

  54. June
    July 12th, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    This question really asks whether there is some moral code that we must follow. For true atheists, the answer is of course NO — there really are no stone tablets floating in space with rules carved on them. But still, promises are useful measures of someone’s character. We do judge those who keep their promises to be more trustworthy than those who don’t.

    TRA’s original promise was to write a raving blog, based on some excellent, explicitly stated “assumptions” that “There is no God” and so on. Quoting TRA from his post of July 21, 2002 [which you can still find in the archives]:
    “… I will usually be raving against the modern monotheistic (or triune) Judeo-Christian-Islamic God, having (in various permutations) the characteristics of being, conscious, all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), all-good (omnibenevolent), immaterial, transcendent. immutable, immortal, infinite, omnipresent, disembodied and eternal…”

    Now he has made a different promise. If God could break his covenant, why not TRA? As long as he keeps up the quality research and writing on atheism, I’m there.

  55. Samurai Sam
    July 12th, 2006 @ 11:23 am

    I would answer “No” and “No” to each of those questions, unless you could demonstrate a greater good for violating them. I agree with Andrea above: if maligning means that you’re mocking Christianity or its god the way, say, PZ Myers does, then I think you do have to stick to that promise. Personally, I see no problem with mocking Christian fundamentalists, even though I am friends with (and the son of) several. But I’m also old-fashioned enough that I consider it important to keep your word when given, unless you have a compelling reason not to do so.

  56. maledictus
    July 12th, 2006 @ 2:40 pm


    it wouldn’t be logic that past promises take precedence over new ones?.

    New promises, contradicting existing ones, wouldn’t be invalid?

    Coherent behavior doesn’t demand that youl first drop an extant promise when you are going to promise something contradictory.

    If you arre in a trap about promises, it is not valid to flip a coin to decide?

  57. June
    July 12th, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

    I was trying to tickle TRA’s lawyer brain: An earlier promise can preclude or invalidate a later promise. For example, I cannot contract to sell the same house twice; the second promise to sell is simply void or invalid, and so there is nothing to “break”.

    Of course, TRA is free to make contradictory promises every other day. But he will be a promise breaker, if that is important to him.

  58. Andrea
    July 12th, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

    June said: If RA goes back on his word “he will be a promise breaker, if that is important to him.”

    Everyone’s a promise breaker, who cares. Moral priorities must be ranked because everything is important. When people break promises it’s usually a sign that it wasn’t feasible in the first place. In the social context, problems often start when people say things they don’t mean just to make someone else happy. Sounds noble but it’s dumb because then the person making the promise is frustrated and the promisee is worried he’ll be resented.

  59. Pansy Moss
    July 12th, 2006 @ 5:12 pm

    In the social context, problems often start when people say things they don’t mean just to make someone else happy.

    Oddly, I have never made a promise that I thought there was a chance I could or would not keep.

    Mr. RA,

    There is something I am sure you realise, but I will say it anyway. When you made that promise, and the current trend you have been moving towards, you have gained a great deal of respect among Christian bloggers. I know you have been a topic quite often recently on St. Blogs. There has been some speculation as to whether there has been a conversion on your part or not. But really, I do not think many of us “care” that much about that aspect. Just simply, you have earned a great deal of respect because you have made a concerted effort to show respect.

    Going back on a promise, I would assume, would be to appease a crowd that has no value in what respect is. The ones who get it, simply understand why you made a promise, and why you cannot (or in the very least would be troubled over) going back on your word. Understanding this has nothing to do with being Christian or atheist, but understanding what it is to have character.

  60. Liquid
    July 12th, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    Jesus christ man, the raving atheist has become the sheepish agnostic it looks like to me.

  61. Solid
    July 12th, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

    I imagine that the RA may have a new girlfriend that may either be religious herself….OR she is all about religious tolerance and holding the belief that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. Either of these girlfriends may very withhold sex or other nice things hostage over the RA unless he agrees to make this silly promise.

    Devo style! *wupshhhh* whip it, whip it good…bow now now now now now

  62. June
    July 12th, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

    But Pansy, what’s the point of gaining the respect of a community that (according to TRA) trivializes American culture?
    TRA can no more go back to religion than you can go back to believing in the stork or in Santa Claus.

    Sure, TRA may change his tactics, be politer, hope to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But can you imagine him now squirting out the inane GodSquad drivel that he has despised for years? He will be ripped to shreds!

  63. Lily
    July 12th, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

    I have no doubt that RA is shaking in his boots at the thought of being shredded by y’all.

    That is, if he can bring himself to think of anything but the lust he feels for some “hot Christian babe” and, well, us girls know that men are animals who can’t control themselves and can be manipulated sooo easily. I mean, country, family, friends, career… what are they compared to 10 minutes with a new woman??

    I have been amusing myself for the last 20 minutes or so taking a count of the promise keepers (!) vs the promise breakers vs the unwilling to say. By my count, out of the 32 unique commentors it breaks down like this:

    Keep promise:9
    Break promise:9
    Unwilling to say: 14

    Of the 14 unwilling to say, approximately half are arguing that RA shouldn’t have made the promise and that he should either look for ways around it (fulfilling the letter but not the spirit of the promise) or ask to be released.

    Interesting. Locke would, undoubtedly, find support for his opinion in this, as it is quite shocking that fully half of you don’t think promises should be kept (quoting HC above “Promises are made to be broken”) and it dovetails nicely with a thread that y’all started in the forums on March 20 (Atheists found to be the least trusted minority in America). Way to go guys! (Religion? I don’t need no stinkin’ religion to be moral).

    You rock, as always, RA. You have made a wonderful decision and it hasn’t dulled your wit at all. Still as clever as ever!

  64. Andrea
    July 12th, 2006 @ 8:04 pm

    Lily, half of us do not think that promises should be broken, it’s more complicated than that. Outside of whatever’s going on with RA, in general, things change. Sometimes promises can’t be kept or shouldn’t be kept. Of course people should stand by their promises but it’s unrealistic and unfair to say that a promise should never be broken. As for what’s happening on this blog, I think it’s just a joke, he’s just having fun to rile people up. Or maybe the promise is real but it has an expiration date (hopefully tomorrow).

  65. Lily
    July 12th, 2006 @ 8:21 pm

    I know that half of you did vote the right way. Still, half didn’t which is huge. What stands out in all the “should break it; should look for a way to get out of it” messages is the utter lack of moral reasoning; the utter lack of any sense that there is anything wrong with doing whatever you want and to hell with the promise.

    One really egregious answer went so far as to say that if RA respects the person he made the promise to, he should probably keep it. If not, break it. Need I comment on the morality of that?

    This is, soberly speaking, hilarious in light of the numerous forum threads in which the atheist brotherhood indignantly proclaims its moral rectitude– a moral rectitude far superior to that which is derived from the principles of Christianity.

    Or it would be hilarious were it not so sad.

  66. Appalled Atheist
    July 12th, 2006 @ 8:48 pm

    Wow, has this blog gone soft. RA, please for the love of G…er…for the love of Choobus, PLEASE just pick a side. Shit, at this point I wouldn’t care if you come out of the Xian closet, but this non-disclosure is awful.

  67. Kreme
    July 12th, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

    This is, soberly speaking, hilarious in light of the numerous forum threads in which the atheist brotherhood indignantly proclaims its moral rectitude– a moral rectitude far superior to that which is derived from the principles of Christianity.

    yeah, because everyone always infallibly follows every principle, right? Wrong, RA can go back, and discuss this promise with whomever he promised to begin with. He can speak to the person, and it can be agreed to that he can forgoe the promise for valid reasons. He didn’t make the promise to us, and RA does not represent all Atheists, so long his moral rationalizations don’t hurt anyone, he can do what he wants. I’d be more shrewd of his promises in the, but if it’s understood by all parties why he changed his mind, then so be it. Why he continues pining over this friend I don’t know. What it has to do with the subject of this site, I also don’t know, but it is coming off somewhat capricious.

  68. maledictus
    July 12th, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

    “What stands out in all the “should break it; should look for a way to get out of it” messages is the utter lack of moral reasoning”

    What if you promise to someone no to pray to god any longer for unknown reasons, and then you are crying and whining because you have to honor your promise, and you ask your fellow christians wether or not to honor the promise.

    Would it be a utter lack of moral reasoning if your fellow christians, who don’t know why you made that promise because you don’t want to inform them, ask you to reconsider a pledge that goes against your freedom, agaisnt your beliefs and against the salvation of your soul?

  69. ako
    July 12th, 2006 @ 11:28 pm


    Do you lump everything other than a flat out “keep the promise, no matter what” as demonstrating a lack of moral reasoning? Because I’ve seen a lot of arguments for and against keeping the promise, and nearly all of them on both sides involve considering the moral issues involved.

    Weighing issues such as the letter vs. spirit of the promise, honesty vs. respect, possible prior commitments in the basic assumption thread, the value of being true to your own beliefs, and possible obligations to the readers constitues moral reasoning in my view. These are all legitimate questions, and I’m glad they were raised.

    I don’t agree with all of the views expressed above, but many of the posters I disagree with seem to be carefully weighing the situation from an ethical perspective, and I can recognise and respect that. Do you honestly feel that the posters who held different views from yours were not considering the moral issues at all?

    If not, I suggest you consider your phrasing in the future, before making such a broad statement.

  70. Thorngod
    July 13th, 2006 @ 12:39 am

    LILY, Your Promise tabulation was interesting but not really germane. While I side with you and with those atheists who value honor, I would not claim that honor is more prevalent among atheists than among “believers.” Atheism is nothing other than rejection of religion. It does not entail any other necessary nuance of definition. While I and others can make a strong case for a more honest world without superstition, I confess that I am not convinced that the human race could thrive without its illusions.

    Furthermore, while morality is not an adjunct of atheism, it is likewise not properly a province of religion. Religion usurps morality and attempts to deny that humans can be moral (or as moral) outside the fold. But morality is a naturally evolved requirement of social existence. There is morality among the other primates, among elephants and wolves, and the origins of morality can be detected in virtually all higher forms of life.

    The ongoing quarrel among posters here is largely one of morality–the question whether or not RA is obliged to keep a particular promise. My personal opinion is that a promise usually should be kept. But it isn’t that simple, and several here have pointed out possible extenuations. [“I know I swore, but was I sober when I swore?”] And considering the circumstances of the promise and the dispute, one could expect divergent views among the atheists and a virtually unanimous vote on the other side.

    By the way, among those in our society who promise “to love and cherish ’til death do us part”–about ninety percent of whom are “believers”–more than fifty percent fail to keep the promise. And you might also consider doing a tabulation of honorable and dishonorable members in your Sunday School class.

  71. Chris Treborn
    July 13th, 2006 @ 1:29 am

    All you atheist who don’t like what RA is doing I have a suggestion for you: instead of crying like babies why don’t you go to one of your porno websites, or whatever it is you like to do when you’re not abusing theists here. It is so telling that when someone says they will refrain from rudeness and try to be decent atheists freak out! Why do you love being scumbags so much? Maybe you should make Choobus your king and let him speak for all of you.


  72. Brooks
    July 13th, 2006 @ 1:35 am

    I can only imagine how nice everyone would be if this were a christian blog and the author seemed to be teetering on atheism. The passive-aggressiveness would probably make my head explode. :-)

  73. Gathercole
    July 13th, 2006 @ 3:18 am

    Good idea, Chris, let me put it on my schedule:

    9-10: Visit porno websites
    10-11: Abuse theists
    The rest of the day: Teach English to immigrants and international students

  74. bernarda
    July 13th, 2006 @ 3:21 am

    When it is a dumb promise, there is no reason not to break it. Try promising never to lie and see how long that lasts.

    In the film, “The Wild Bunch”, one of the main characters challenges the leader of the gang who wants to deliver stolen arms to a vicious warlord. The leader says, “We gave our promise”. The character replies, “It is not giving your promise, it is who you give it to.”

    Your absurd promise is in fact given to the jesusfreaks and godophiles.

  75. Andrea
    July 13th, 2006 @ 6:08 am

    Tonight I read some of RA’s posts from the past few weeks that I missed while travelling. Part of me is disappointed in some of the comments here too. Without speaking on behalf of anyone else – to me, nothing is more frustrating than when I am being serious and no one takes me seriously.

    But then, he did ask if we would break the promise, and the comments in this thread are no more offensive than comments to any of the other posts. Of course people are going to be joking around and saying “I wouldn’t have made the promise in the first place” – who can give good answer without any information? Why bother asking if none of our responses can help you?

    Since I have no idea what’s going on in the background (and apparently no one else does either, see quote of the day “I will not tell you why I will not”) I’ll just take everything at face value and continue reading the blog to see what happens. Clearly he’s trying – succeeding, in fact – to make positive changes, and I don’t need to know the precise nature of the bothersome negativity to say that I support his efforts.

  76. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 6:09 am

    Ah, just when I thought I might have to explain morality to you, along comes Bernarda and explains it all:

    … ” The character replies, “It is not giving your promise, it is who you give it to.” Your absurd promise is in fact given to the jesusfreaks and godophiles.

    Ergo, no need to keep it! Remind me, Bernarda, never to lend you money or my new pressure washer.

    Thorn wrote: Furthermore, while morality is not an adjunct of atheism, it is likewise not properly a province of religion. Religion usurps morality and attempts to deny that humans can be moral (or as moral) outside the fold. But morality is a naturally evolved requirement of social existence.

    Religion does no such thing. We have had this conversation too many times for me to repeat it. But if you were right, how would you explain the failures you point to later in your message and here in the little experiment RA tweaked your noses with?

    Ako I simply cannot agree with this: Weighing issues such as the letter vs. spirit of the promise, honesty vs. respect, possible prior commitments in the basic assumption thread, the value of being true to your own beliefs, and possible obligations to the readers constitues moral reasoning in my view.

    No, it doesn’t. These are the things you consider prior to making a promise. Not afterwards.

    Do you honestly feel that the posters who held different views from yours were not considering the moral issues at all?

    Yes. Or else, they were unable to articulate them.

    Now in all of this I do not want to say that a promise can never be broken. If you promise to commit an illegal act, that is invalid. If you are drunk, ill, etc. you haven’t made a promise with full understanding of what it entailed (please don’t bother to throw legal/contractual issues at me. We are talking about something else here). If it is no longer possible to fulfill the promise… etc.

    And none of this is invalidated by the fact that theists fail to keep their promises. The difference is that we know that it is a moral failure (a sin!). A rather large subset of you apparently doesn’t.

  77. Pansy Moss
    July 13th, 2006 @ 6:11 am

    But Pansy, what’s the point of gaining the respect of a community that (according to TRA) trivializes American culture?
    TRA can no more go back to religion than you can go back to believing in the stork or in Santa Claus.

    You do not have to agree with someone’s beliefs or buy into them to show them respect. Anyone who has some belief system, be it Catholicism, atheism or Kabbalah or whatever feel their beliefs are the right one, and everyone else’s are wrong. If that were not the case, they would not pick that particular belief system. You can can address this in many ways. You can rant and rave about how stupid everyone else’s beliefs are until no one wants to be around you anymore. You can pay off a bunch of celebrities to be your belief spokespeople. You can go door to door handing out literature about how your beliefs are the right ones. You can keep your beliefs in your heart and try to live them out by example, or in your own family life practices.

    Mother Teresa said:
    “There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people…”

    (I realise I am on dangerous territory quoting Mother Teresa here, but I think you can get the postive gist of what is being said without believing in God. TRA is pro-life, so I think he fully comprehends the concept of all people having dignity.)

    Mother Teresa was not a wishy-washy Catholic. She fully believed in her faith, but she didn’t feel that showing people of other beliefs full dignity and respect compromised her faith at all. On the contrary, it helped her live a more fulfilling life.

    There are a lot of injustices in society-too many. But sometimes ranting and raving about them for too long takes on a life of its own.

    Besides, I don’t think RA is someone who really feels that people like Ashli or Dawn, or whoever he made this promise to, are people that trivialise American culture.

  78. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 6:17 am

    You sound like a really thoughtful person and I find that really heartening! I think the comments here have made most of us lose sight of the original post.

    RA is not asking for advice nor is he indicating that he feels the slightest doubt about what he has done. I find it quite telling that that has been the immediate assumption of the commenters here.

    Rather, he asked if the atheists here, having made such a promise, would break it or woulld advise him to. We see the result.

  79. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 7:23 am

    Lily said:

    “And none of this is invalidated by the fact that theists fail to keep their promises. The difference is that we know that it is a moral failure (a sin!).”

    Horseshit. I’ve known maybe every type of Christian there is. The Army, living in 4 different states and having visited many more, and the internet has exposes us to just about every type of person you could possibly care to meet.

    With, maybe, the exception of the Amish, I have NEVER met a Christian who was willing to admit to ANY kind of wrong doing (conversion tactics not withstanding.) Every Christian I have ever met, caught in any kind of dishonesty or other moral failure, has tried to justify it in some way. Admitting wrong usually only comes when there is no other possible recourse (ie. someone might go to jail.)

    Now, I’m not saying atheists are any different; I think it is human to try and justify wrong doing. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. But the idea that Christians somehow know when they’ve sinned is bullshit, plain and simple.

  80. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 7:43 am

    Nonsense, Noah. You haven’t met every type of Christian there is. There is only one type of Christian: Jesus Christ. Everyone else follows him.

    None of us do it perfectly. And given the millions of Christians all over the globe– past and present, I think it is easy to see that you haven’t even met a convenient sample much less a statistically significant one.

    Now, how many of those you do know did you catch in wrong doing or moral failure? How many of them, despite what they may have said, actually did not know that they had sinned? (Hint: Answering this rests on your ability to read their hearts and minds.)

    But the idea that Christians somehow know when they’ve sinned is bullshit, plain and simple. No, this statement is. It is utterly meaningless.

    Only a low IQ non-reader could not know when he has sinned–it is all spelled out. Now the low IQ non-reader will not be able to reason analogically, e.g. x is a species of y. Y is wrong. Therefore x is wrong. But if he has been taught that lying is a sin, it is silly to suppose that he won’t know it, even if he won’t admit it.

  81. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 7:58 am

    I’ll give you that my sampling is too low to judge all Christians. And I certainly haven’t caught every Christian I’ve ever met in wrongdoing. I’m just saying the ones I have caught have almost always tried to defend it somehow. I’ll also add that I think that it’s become the status quo for Christians in this country (especially when it comes to political issues.)

    As for their IQ or interpretation of scripture, take that up with your fellow Christians (in fact, I wish you would). I don’t care HOW the read, I just care that they are honest, and they aren’t.

  82. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:12 am

    Poppycock, Noah. And unworthy of thinking human being.

  83. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:15 am

    I’ll take that as a concession. It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from those who are wrong.

  84. June
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:17 am

    “While I and others can make a strong case for a more honest world without superstition, I confess that I am not convinced that the human race could thrive without its illusions. ”

    Well said, Thorngod.

  85. euclidschild
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:55 am

    Either break the promise or close the blog. This was once the homepage on my desk top, now i visit once a week. I enjoyed your previous style. Your blog also helped me make the jump from still questioning to finally knowing. I’m married to a christian and I don’t ridicule her personally, but I will still criticize the silly actions of christians, when they make the news, to her. I believe that the promise that I made to her 16 years ago is a little more binding than the one you made in an e-mail.

  86. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 9:43 am

    Feel free to take it as a concession, if you want to Noah. I do not argue with children or those blinded by prejudice. That includes the Phelps types of this world and, apparently, your type. The rest of us can identify an idiotically overbroad generalization when we see one. And ignore it.

  87. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 10:17 am

    Oh, so now I’m Fred Phelps because I dare to call Christians on their lack of honesty?

    Funny, I don’t recall ever saying atheists should protest outside of Christian funerals or that they deserve to be the victims of terrorists because they are Christian. The only people I know who say things like that are, well, theists.

    All I’m saying is that it would be nice if more Christians practiced what they preach. They don’t.

    Is that overbroad? Maybe, but well deserved.

    Sorry, but if you think that in the U.S. Christians aren’t being dishonest on a wide variety of issues, your the one being childish.

  88. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 11:11 am

    This is the last time I am going to bother to respond to you on this subject.

    You have no way to know whether or not a slight majority, an insignificant subset or a substantial majority practice what they preach. You do not know even .00001% of the Christians in this country. You certainly don’t know them well enough to make accurate judgements about their honesty or anything else. It is blind, ignorant prejudice to pretend otherwise.

    It is blind ignorant prejudice to accuse someone of dishonesty because you don’t agree with his political views.

    Just as Phelps is blinded by ignorant prejudice, so are you and anyone else who makes such wild overgeneralizations. Enjoy the company you are in.

  89. June
    July 13th, 2006 @ 11:22 am

    “Why do you love being scumbags so much? Maybe you should make Choobus your king and let him speak for all of you. ”

    ChristReborn, so you think it is easy being a scumbag. Do you know how the price of scum has gone up? And try to find a good bag — it’s just impossible!!! Who has time to shop between visiting bars, casinos, brothels, porn sites, and atheist blogs?

  90. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 12:05 pm

    Who said anything about calling people dishonest because they hold they hold different political opinions? I would say Strawman arguments are pretty dishonest, Lily. I’m talking about clear instances of Christians engaging in dishonesty for political gain.

    Dover comes to mind, as does Kansas’ science standards (or lack-there-of).

    Now, do these situations represent the veiws of all or even most Christians. Maybe not. But I did’t hear alot of Christians decrying lying on the stand in the case of Dover. Most just accused the judge of judicial activism.

    So maybe I’m wrong about most Christians; I can accept that.
    Maybe they’re not all dishonest; they just remain silent when dishonesty is in their midst.

    It’s easier to hurl personal attacks againt atheists on atheist websites.

  91. Choobus
    July 13th, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

    All hail King Choobus!

    Treborn, you are the best Christian ever.

  92. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

    Noah, you are lost in your own little world, aren’t you?

    Let’s see, the citizens of Dover, many of its Christians among them, threw the alleged liars off the school board. Many local Christians were quoted in the newspapers criticising the board. How do I know? I just checked Lexis-Nexis to see if my memory was correct. It was.

    Now, where did you go to hear what Christians, in general, thought about Dover or Kansas? How do you know they tolerate dishonesty in their midst?

    Can you name one even remotely well-known evangelical or Catholic or mainstream Christian journal that did not criticize the bad faith shown by some of the board members? I didn’t think so. Even Christianity Today, the voice of mainstream Evangelicalism and generally supportive of ID, criticised the board members on its blog. I imagine that it did so in its editorial pages but I don’t have access to them.

    Since I decided to try and penetrate the fog of bigotry around you one more time, let’s look at what you called my “dishonest
    strawman argument”: Who said anything about calling people dishonest because they hold they hold different political opinions? I would say Strawman arguments are pretty dishonest, Lily. I’m talking about clear instances of Christians engaging in dishonesty for political gain.

    Lets parse this: If someone wants to gain something politically, he may be said to be advancing his issue. I say that it is preposterous to claim “Christians engage in dishonesty for political gain”. Perhaps some do. But all? The majority? Where is your proof? Where is the evidence that even makes such a charge plausible? Could the evidence be the positions themselves with which you disagree?

    If you deny that, it is time to put up or shut up. I want some evidence that all, most, many or, even, a lot of Christians engage in dishonesty for political gain.

    And finally, find just one post of mine that hurls any accusations or makes any personal attacks on atheists. I attack bad ideas and ill-informed opinions, as you have just experienced.

  93. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

    1) Comparing me to Fred Phelps IS a personal attack. If you want to attack what you see as my bigotry against Christians, fine, but comparing me to Fred Phelps is an extream and dishonest attempt to win an argument through rhetoric as opposed to facts. It is the new “Hitler Fallacy.” Pointing out my lack of research on the subjects on which I speak, on the other hand, is perfectly legitimate.

    2) Your right, I should do better research BEFORE I bring up a particular instance of Christian dishonesty. But I would argue that no mainstream Christian journal or even Christianity Today SEEMS to represents the veiws of most who call themselves Christian. Maybe they should, but I have no control over that. In a media where Sean Hanity, Bill O’Riley, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell get away with denigrating secular humanists and “evolutionists” on a daily basis, how can I NOT think that. Anne Coulter has the Number 1 book in the country, a book that, by her own admition, exists specifically to denigrate “evolutionists”. All of them attacked the Judge in Dover without addressing the dishonesty of the defendents and I would guess they have a much wider audience than Christianity Today. I hope I’m wrong.

    3) Your Strawman argument is just that. Even if I’m wrong about everything else, I never argued that people are dishonest because they disagree with me. Period. Even if I am unfairly holding ALL or MOST Christians responsible for the actions of the few, I never said people are dishonest just for disagreeing with me. Period. To say I did is a strawman argument and, thus, dishonest.

    4) For the record: not ALL, or even Most Christians are dishonest.

  94. R and All
    July 13th, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

    post 86-This is the last time I am going to bother to respond to you on this subject.
    post 90-Since I decided to try and penetrate the fog of bigotry around you one more time…


  95. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

    R and All,

    On the contrary, changing ones mind is not lying.

    It may speak negatively to her resolve, but it’s not lying.

  96. R and All
    July 13th, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    OK, she didn’t lie, she broke a promise.

    One’s word should be one’s bond.

    Or can’t we believe her unless she uses a magic phrase, such as “I swear to god I won’t…”

  97. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

    Well, Noah, now we are getting somewhere, indeed. But a little more work needs to be done.

    Let’s see, you said:

    I would argue that no mainstream Christian journal or even Christianity Today SEEMS to represents the veiws of most who call themselves Christian.

    You don’t know this. You do not know nor have you read any Christian magazines, have you? Can you name ten popular magazines out of the hundreds that are published?

    Had you even heard of Christianity Today before today? It was founded 40? 50? years ago by Billy Graham and has flourished ever since. It does represent rather well the views of a substantial number of Evangelicals. Now, since we are not a monolith, it ought to be self-evident that no magazine or scholarly journal will represent all Christians 100%.

    You blame the media. Of course. What sells? A thousand Christian missionaries quietly teaching school, building roads and installing wells in the 3rd world? Or rabble rousers? (And then there are those like the NYT which will not put Christian books on its best sellers list because Christian books outsell everything else published in America. Nothing secular would ever make a top ten list, if Christian books were not excluded (this does not extend to Christian themed books published by major secular publishers. So again, you do not get a clear picture of what Christians think and are doing).

    Re: no. 3. I think I made myself clear. You may not have meant to be interpreted this way but it was inevitable. I would read your own post (#77) in regard to this.

    Re: no. 4. Mission accomplished. You really knew this all the time, didn’t you?

    I am sorry this was so painful for you but it had to be done. If it makes you feel any better I didn’t liken you to Fred Phelps. I said that you were blinded by bigotry. Phelps is blinded by bigotry. Drawing your attention to that is a way of making you understand how grotesque it is to dismiss a whole class of people as inferior or dishonest, etc. no matter who does it.

  98. PhalsePhrophet
    July 13th, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

    As I have said before, “ Hypocrisy is a prerequisite for religious belief. Lily, you are the queen of hypocrisy here. Most Christians ARE dishonest: either to themselves or to their god, let alone the rest of us. The priests are having sex with the boys, the reverends have sex with anyone (Baker, King, Swaggert), the preachers kill their flock (Jones, Keresch), and the rest spew righteousness from the pulpit and then go and do otherwise. That’s just to get started, not to mention the Phelps, Benny Hinns and The Mormons who swap kids for Jesus.
    As for the work in the third world countries, that is the biggest lie. They are there to serve their God, not for any other reason. Granted, they must perform some beneficial service like roads and schools or risk rejection from the natives. Most of the time, they are not welcome and need to bribe their way in with food, clothes, medicine, or improvements in the infrastructure. Once infiltrated, they set about telling the locals that their beliefs are wrong and Christianity is the true way. They influence local politics and hold their good deeds hostage if they don’t get their way.
    Religion is built on lies and cannot exist without them.

  99. noah nywno
    July 13th, 2006 @ 7:35 pm

    Sorry Lily, not buyin’ it.

    There is NOTHING in post #77 that suggest I belive people who disagree with me politically are dishonest. Post #77 merely mentinons that, in my admitedly limited experience, Christians more often try to justify their wrongdoing rather than admit wrong.

    As you just have. Your strawman argument stands.

    Second, and again, if you wanted to point out that I was unfairly stereotyping Christians, you could have done it with out bringing up a man who believes inocent people deserve to die if they live in countries that don’t offer the death penalty for homosexuals. The fact that you did leaves me with the conclusion that your intent was to associate me with him.

    So your “Hitler Fallacy” stands.

    Now, I don’t expect you to admit your wrongs. That’s between you and your conscience. Maybe next time we can discuss this “Christian humility I’ve heared so much about.

    In any case, thank you for making my initial point for me.

  100. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

    Oh dear. You’ve had a relapse, Noah. You were doing so well.

    You missed the point. You are fighting admitting that you were wrong. No strawman here.

    Unfair stereotyping is unfair stereotyping. So no fallacy. Hitler or otherwise.

    Humility doesn’t include letting a teachable person persist in foolish error.

    I tried.

  101. June
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:17 pm

    Lily, I am puzzled by your saying or implying that not keeping a promise is a sin. Obviously, it does not break a Commandment or a Law. Also obviously, promises are large and small, serious and trivial, formal and informal, and so on.

    Without knowing any details — how did TRA’s promise to tone down his blog language turn into a massive moral commitment, a matter of personal character, compared to marriage vows, to West Point’s honor code, to “sinning”?

    Frankly, when it comes to sinning, it seems to me that a “good Christian” calling us scumbags and telling us to go visit porno sites is a lot closer to a nasty offense against God than our ribbing and mocking TRA (which we used to do a lot more of on this blog).

  102. Lily
    July 13th, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

    Yes, breaking a promise does break a commandment or a law. Many of them. Try the Golden Rule for one.

    You missed the post wherein I explained that you and far too many of the other atheists missed the point … the trap RA laid for you. He wasn’t asking for advice or expressing doubt about his course.

    What he did (after quoting Locke on the untrustworthiness of atheists) is ask whether you would break a promise you had given to a friend. And would you advise him to do likewise. You all did not cover yourselves with glory and confirmed Locke’s contention (as well as the opinion of the people polled recently (the Minnesota poll) that you are the least trustworthy minority in America.

    For the serious vs trivial issue, see my post #74 (2nd to the last paragraph).

    Christians are not a monolith, anymore than Americans are or high school teachers or nurses are. There are weaker and stronger Christians. Christians who are advanced in wisdom and understanding and those who are beginners. No Christian has any business calling anyone a scumbag or encouraging him/her to sin. And yes, that offends God.

    We have a name for that sort of thing. We call it sin. It must be repented of and the person who sins must, with the help of God, do all that is humanly possible to root out the anger at and/or the lack of respect for other human beings, who are, after all, made in the likeness and image of God.

  103. R and All
    July 13th, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

    Lily, what collossal arrogance you display. You think Noah is “teachable,” you know what god looks like, you know what offends god, you are confident that RA laid a trap and everyone else fell for it (not being as smart as you), and you intentionally disregarded all the thoughtful posts here so you could could claim that atheists are worthy of being the least trusted minority in America. All this from a person who apparently respects truth so little that she is willing to believe a bunch of superstitious crap known as christianity.

  104. Cap'n Awesome
    July 13th, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

    Break the promise, pussy.

  105. Cap'n Awesome
    July 13th, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

    Break the promise, pussy.

  106. Cap'n Awesome
    July 13th, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

    Break the promise, pussy.

  107. Thorngod
    July 14th, 2006 @ 9:15 am

    Wow! Sonofabitch!!! A recent poll indicates that atheists are the least trustworthy group in America! And rest assured that those polled were a reasonable cross-section of the populace, which is about 92 percent “believers.”

  108. June
    July 14th, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    Ouch, indeed Thorngod.

    Seems that atheists are less trustworthy than terrorist, mass murderers, cannibalists, child rapists, sodomite priests, Presidents who lie to their country, Christian husbands who beat their wives into submission, and Republicans.

    That last one really hurts!

  109. noah nywno
    July 14th, 2006 @ 9:48 am

    I could have sworn I heard something about blind prejudice.

    I guess those or us in the Fred Phelps click have plenty of company.

  110. Lily
    July 14th, 2006 @ 11:03 am

    LOL!! How the heathen do rage! (Sorry for quoting scripture). I am going to make my first blanket, but elegant and scholarly, generalisation about atheists (as represented here on this blog only)–

    Y’all can’t read! Y’all can’t read! Y’all can’t read!

    Proof 1. You didn’t get RA’s little joke. Even after having it pointed out to you. (Whereby I probably ruined some witty follow-up, I now realize.)

    Proof 2. I specifically said that your lack of trustworthiness in this poll confirmed the opinion of those people polled in Minnesota.

    Nothing was said about their reliability as to representing the whole of America or, even, Minnesota.

    Proof 3. Noah is still trying to believe that he wasn’t shown the error of his prejudice. Whether I am blindly prejudiced or not about any matter, has nothing to do with the comprehensive review I undertook (for his good and for the good of others here) of the utter groundlessness of his accusations.

    Proof 4: I never said that poor Noah was in the Phelps clique. I said he was as blindly prejudiced asa phelpser. The distinction is not subtle. If you find that insulting… well, duh!!

    Proof 5: Y’all are sore losers. Oops that is not a proof of lack of reading skills but something else. To be addressed in another more appropriate venue.

  111. Brian Macker
    July 14th, 2006 @ 11:27 am


    Brian Macker wrote:

    “Atheism is not a positive (as opposed to negative) philosophy. It is merely the absense in a belief.”

    Why be upset that RA will no longer give you your hatred fix?


    I cannot fathom how you got that out of what I wrote. Are you bigoted against atheists? You know that the word positive and negative have multiple meanings. Negative doesn’t mean “hate”. Try one of the other definitions that make sense in the context of my post. I did you get upset at the hatred of chemists when they were discussing electrons? Were you disturbed in math class when they discussed the negative numbers? Are you aware that when you use a word in front of another it is called an adjective, and that sometimes the two words together make a word phrase. Thus “negative philosophy” is like “negative rights”. You do know that negative rights is a good thing don’t you? It means the right to be left alone as long as you are peaceful. It doesn’t mean the right to hate or something ridiculous like that.

    What is really amazing is that I provided the defintion right there in the sentence. Atheism is not a positive philosophy because it merely is an absence of belief. The definition of the word phrase, “negative philosophy” as I am using it means the absense of something. Sort of like a negative charge is caused by a deficit in the number of protons. A positive philosophy might be something like “I believe in UFOs”, while a negative one is “I don’t believe in UFOs”. Although in fact the opposite of a positive philosophy is really not a philosophy at all. I only added the term negative philosphy in the parenthesis as an afterthough to clarify. I was trying to stress the fact that I wasn’t talking about optimisim vs. pessimism, or hope vs. despair.

    If I’m about hate then how come I get responses like this:

    Your seeds were in the mailbox when i got home last night.
    i have to admit i cried a little. Seriously. Winter-sowed a few, some are incubating in the unheated basement, a few are proudly displayed in their little pots inside a zippered plastic sweater bag on the coffee table. I was babbling on at work today about the Coolest Thing that happened …
    this Complete Stranger sent me the Greatest Seeds Ever … and my co-workers were nodding & smiling little frozen smiles & i could tell they were touched & happy to see me so excited but they just couldn’t figure out what i was so excited about, especially when i got to the part about it taking four years to see a flower. … but the Flowers will be So Amazing and Worth It! Anyway, thank you from the bottom of my muddy little heart. This is just great. I already did two good deeds today in your honor.
    more to come. i figure one for each seed?

    If there is anyone looking for a hatred fix in our interaction it certainly isn’t me. Some of my role models are “Johnny Appleseed”, “The Good Samaritain”, and “The Little Dutch Boy”. I actually act on such stories, though I don’t normally advertise the fact. You’ll have to look into your own heart as to why you assume atheists are motivated by hatred. We aren’t.

    Just because some of my other role models are from stories like “The Emperor’s New Clothes” doesn’t mean that I’m filled with hatred. I’m sorry it makes you angry that I can’t believe ridculous stories like Noah’s Ark are really true. I think it is perfectly acceptable to be sarcastic about such stories and notions that they are factual. I’m also sorry that you cannot see the magnitude of evil inherent in a being keeping a torture chamber where he can torment souls for eternity, and why such a story, and it is only a story, does not appeal to my better emotions. Nor yours.

    I don’t know how you can think if your mind constantly equivocates between different meanings of words.

    BTW, I do have a positive philosophy that I live my life by. It however does not go by the name “atheism”. I am an atheist, like I am an anti-UFOologist, and an aleprachaunists.

  112. Thorngod
    July 14th, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

    Come on, Lily! Do you really imagine that I misread “the Minnesota poll” as a national pole? I made no direct reference to either you or to that particular poll. I was merely ridiculing it with a reasonable hypothetical one. If a national poll were taken, I’m confident the result would be as we both separately implied.

  113. jahrta
    July 14th, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

    Theists want to believe that atheists are filled with rage, and are inherently “immoral” because if that wasn’t the case, it undermines their entire religion and the basis of the teachings of the church (i.e., that a person has to have god in their lives in order to be good, productive, moral or happy).

    Those who paint us as rabid, untrustworthy currs only do so out of the need to preserve their retarded beliefs. If they ever woke up to the fact that they’ve wasted their entire life on a pile of utter bullshit, they might just off themselves.

  114. Lily
    July 14th, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

    Oh, sorry Thorn! You are right.

    I can’t read! I can’t read! I can’t read!

    Now I feel better. Cleansed, as it were.

  115. bernarda
    July 15th, 2006 @ 2:55 am

    The so-called golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    It is amazing that jesus freaks think there is something new in xtianinsanity. Socrates and Confucious, to name but two, said the same thing.

    Unfortunately, the real xtian rule–also the rule of all other religions–is “do unto others before they do unto you”.

  116. Lily
    July 15th, 2006 @ 3:50 am

    Yawwwnnn! Funny, how you picked the two names I have used over and over and over to make that exact point. Over and over again. Just in the last month– here on the front page. Why do you feel the need to make it, as though it were an original insight of yours?

    Unfortunately, the real xtian rule–also the rule of all other religions–is “do unto others before they do unto you”.

    Can you offer a single bit of evidence for this? Not gross overgeneralizations but an actual verifiable example of this?

  117. June
    July 15th, 2006 @ 9:30 am

    Here is another possible solution to TRA’s recent philosophy puzzle.

    Perhaps the real trap TRA set was for theists.
    There is really little comfort for theists in quoting John Locke, considering that he
    – argued for separation of church and state
    – said there is no place for reason in religion
    – said religion is the ungrounded fancy of man’s brain
    – said the church cannot prohibit what is lawful.

    Kind of blows cold air up Lily’s skirt, doesn’t it?
    Especially since the quote TRA offered says explicitly that promises have no meaning for atheists, why do theists keep huffing and puffing about sinning and eternal damnation for an atheist who breaks a promise?
    It’s like arguing against abortion with a woman who is not pregnant!

  118. bernarda
    July 15th, 2006 @ 10:17 am

    Poor Lily, “Unfortunately, the real xtian rule–also the rule of all other religions–is “do unto others before they do unto you”.

    Can you offer a single bit of evidence for this? Not gross overgeneralizations but an actual verifiable example of this?”

    Only 2000 years of xtianity. From the beginning and especially at the time of Emperor Constantine, the xtians sought to destroy “heretics”.

    There is the 100 years war, the 30 years war, the Cathar war, the Inquisition, the genocide in the Americas. You can go on and on and on. Xtianity is one of the most murderous religions ever. It continues its crimes against humanity.

    As John Adams said, “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it 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?”

  119. Lily
    July 15th, 2006 @ 10:51 am

    Like I said, gross overgeneralizations only. Not a speck of evidence. And no admission of your thoughtless plagarism, Bernarda. What a dismal performance!

    June, that is, soberly speaking, so hilariously off the rails that it gives new meaning to the expression “grasping at straws”.

  120. June
    July 15th, 2006 @ 11:55 am

    I have another theory [oh joy].

    TRA has been invited to join the GodSquad, to add an even more “balanced” view. As part of that, he had to sign an agreement not to directly malign JC and his cult.
    And so he has proposed a kinder, gentler, honey-not-vinegar atheism. The giveaway to the joke is his rule that he would submit offending posts for approval. How will that work? I guess we will see.

  121. Mary Cambidge
    July 15th, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

    Look, I will confess to all of you that I am a Catholic. That should make some of you decide that I am an insane, myth-worshipping moron. OK, then.
    My personal opinion is, that if this promise was due to someone or anyone, pressuring you to say that you cannot be anti-abortion and also atheist, that this promise is not really what I would call a promise. You can be both anti-abortion and atheist. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing some pull towards theism–particularly Christianity, it would seem to me, that you should admit this.
    If this is the case, I would ask the atheists that frequently post on your blog (to attack you) to go elsewhere–after all, surely atheism should allow that some people go elsewhere and seek their own path, without worrying about it or blasting one for so seeking. If, indeed, atheism is reality, then one should find it without anyone else feeling called to bitching, moaning, or insulting the one who is seeking–surely is should be obvious to all.
    Once again, I am happy to say that I am a Catholic, but bear no malice towards atheists. Must say, some of my best friends are athiests! LOL! Please don’t flame –JOKE, guys, JOKE!
    Best of Luck to you RA, wherever you finally land.

  122. Thorngod
    July 15th, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

    Welcome to the fray, Mary C. Would you please clarify for me just exactly what you intended to say in the lengthy sentence that begins, “If, indeed, atheism is reality, then….”
    I am not sure what you meant.

  123. bernarda
    July 16th, 2006 @ 9:48 am

    Lily is a riot, “Like I said, gross overgeneralizations only. Not a speck of evidence. And no admission of your thoughtless plagarism, Bernarda. What a dismal performance!”

    I pointed out specific historical evidence of what a bunch of blood-thirsty maniacs xtians have always been and for her it is generalizations.

    But wingnut xtian extremists also don’t have a very good understanding of vocabulary. It makes me laugh when they use the word “plagarism”‘(sic) without having a clue as to its meaning. Many times I have seen the extreme rightwing throwout this accusation as seemingly the worse insult they can throw.

    Of course wingnuts ignore the real plagiarism of their fascist nutcase buddy Anne Coulter. But the Lilies seem to think that qiving an identified quotation is plagiarism. Well what can you expect from people ignorant or dumb enough to believe in the easter bunny jesus?

    Numbskulls like Lily should get an education and get a life.

  124. Lily
    July 16th, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    Unfortunately, Bernarda, you are not a riot. You throw around wildly inaccurate claims which, if presented to a historian, would get you laughed out of the room and call that evidence. Oh brother.

    I can’t take you seriously anymore. You express yourself in a particularly nasty way that is far more suited to the forums than to the front page but you don’t actually make any arguments or add to the discussions here.

    I am not going to encourage you any further.

  125. bernarda
    July 16th, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    Jesus freak Lily, “You throw around wildly inaccurate claims which, if presented to a historian, would get you laughed out of the room and call that evidence. Oh brother.”

    I did not throw around any inaccurate claims. Why don’t you look up the 100 years war and the 30 years war and the other crimes against humanity done throughout the history of cretinism, oh, xtianity.

    But as cretins don’t read anything but the bible, it is not surprising that they don’t know anything. If they ever learned anything, they would not be cretins.

    Lily, you don’t encourage me, except maybe to help me alert fence-sitters as to the absolute stupity of cretinism, oops, xtiany. Lily, you are sick and should seek treatment.

  126. June
    July 16th, 2006 @ 2:46 pm

    I see we are back to demanding “precise scientific evidence” to back up well-known historical facts. Well — as Sam Harris points out in his marvelous book “The End Of Faith” — religion has hobbled humanity for thousands of years. For just one example of Christian against Christian, read the history of England starting around 600 years ago with Henry VIII.

    England was powerful, well isolated from Europe, relatively advanced in learning, under the protection of a central king and (presumably) a loving God. England should have blazed a shining path of righteous living and glory to God through advances in arts and science, medicine and astronomy. If ever there was a true Eden, England was it. Humanity could have advanced in huge strides, and the example of England would have spread to Europe.

    Instead, there was the slaughter of Christians by Christians for their religion’s sake. Catholic against Protestant, burning each other at the stake for slight infractions such as (not) possessing the wrong book or (not) going to mass. One description of London at the time talks about rotting corpses hanging from gallows at every street corner, so that the stink of decay pervaded the city.

    I think that’s what Bernarda had in mind.

  127. Thorngod
    July 16th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

    Bernarda, all history supports your contentions, but Lily, unlike the common run of Christians, is no dummy, and has learned how to dissimulate, and to contend with rational minds. And the truth is that you may be a fine fellow, who cares about the welfare of his fellows, just as Lily susrely does, but we are divided forever by this thing to which she is emotionally bound, and against which you and I cannot cease to object, and it is a goddamned shame that there are ten thousand groups of human beings, almost every individual of which cares about the suffering of all the others, and would make things right with the world if they could, but are nevertheless committed to oppose–and in extremis to murder–all those others, because of their absolutist faith in a stupid, irrational, Cro-Magnon-inherited delusion.

  128. R and All
    July 16th, 2006 @ 5:59 pm
  129. R and All
    July 16th, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

    Standing ovation for Thorngod!

  130. Thorngod
    July 17th, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

    Thanks for the pat, R and All. I didn’t want to jump right back in here, but it’s been 24 hours now since anyone else commented here. I don’t know whether it was your comment or mine that stymied the discourse–or maybe it was June’s Christian History for Dummies or her further entanglement of RA in the ignominy of his self-selected purgatory. Some comment lines seem to dry up inexplicably. Perhaps the theists balk at the challenge–or the subject bores–or perhaps, like moths, everyone is cozzened by a more colorful flame.

  131. Annie B.
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:28 am

    While not an atheist (rather a practicing Roman Catholic), I have several times been openly critical of my religion while being respectful, specifically the hierarchy of the church. I wrote to all 300 of the US Bishops and cardinals during the time the sex abuse scandal first came out, calling them to task in no uncertain terms with routing this criminal element from its midst.

    I believe my words were listened to much more readily because I was “an insider,” one of the faithful, and made a compelling argument using the bishops’ own published words to “convict” them and show them they had no other path to take than to have a “one-strike-you’re-out” policy toward future offenders. They actually had been seriously considering allowing two or three strikes before bouncing an offending priest. I told them if they did that, they could just shut the doors of all Catholic churches in the nation, as it would be the death of Catholicism here.

    I would have left the RC church if they did not impose the strictest sanctions and rules. I would have not liked it, but I could not practice my faith among wrist-slappers. Even a priest I discussed this with at the time said that if that were to happen, he could easily understand my family and I “celebrating” the Eucharist in our own home, at our own table, despite the lack of priestly consecration of the bread. Now feel free to all jump on that statement all you like, but I really don’t care.

    I’m sure my words were not the only ones they “listened to,” but I found it hopeful that I actually received several replies- most personal not form letters and thankful for my 5 page letter. I even had written the Pope, and received a reply from his representative in the States.

    I remain rather publicly skeptical of the RC Church hierarchy in the United States as it is today. Knowing many young people entering the seminary as well as recently ordained priests as I do, I have hope that within the next 10-20 years, the negative and criminal aspects of the RC Church in this country will be eliminated.

    I can not honestly answer the first question TRA posed as I’m not an atheist, but if I were, I would keep the promise as maligning can and should be avoided, but sincere, honest, evaluative criticism need not be.

    Of course, now, you all can guess my answer to the second Q: No, of course not; I would not ask TRA to break the promise he made. But I wouldn’t ask him to do so even if I was an atheist.

  132. Thorngod
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:50 am

    My compliments, Annie B.

  133. Annie B.
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

    Thank you, Thorn.

    A final (perhaps?) comment in reply to noah nywno who said:
    “With, maybe, the exception of the Amish, I have NEVER met a Christian who was willing to admit to ANY kind of wrong doing (conversion tactics not withstanding.) Every Christian I have ever met, caught in any kind of dishonesty or other moral failure, has tried to justify it in some way. Admitting wrong usually only comes when there is no other possible recourse (ie. someone might go to jail.)”

    Well, noah, you just met me. And while you may disagree with me that abortion is a “moral failure” of mine or anyone’s, you didn’t really define “wrongdoing” soooooo in my book, this definitely has “qualified” as such for several years now. TRA knows me and knows that I couldn’t be sorrier or more “admitting my wrong” in aborting my only daughter than I have been for these past several years, than I am, and than I will be all my life.

    If that example isn’t enough, there have been times when I admitted I was wrong in posts on our blog, and have apologized out there in internet-land. I’m no saint just because of this, and I’m not looking for congrats or pats on the back, just making the point that you now have met at least one such “xtian,” though there are quite a few more out there.

    Maybe you’d be interested in googling on the story of Alessandro Serenelli and Maria Goretti. He’s one Christian who surely admitted remorse for his moral wrong. He stabbed her 14 times and left her, an 11 year old girl, to die because she wouldn’t let him rape her. Now, he was caught and imprisoned, denying his guiltat first. His remorse/admission of wrongdoing didn’t come till 6 years later, but it still did happen. Just FYI.

  134. Annie B.
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    noah, in case you don’t want to go find it yourself, here’s one link:

    Some of it is obviously written for believers, so you can skip those parts if you prefer, but read about the actual attack, the moment of her death (what she said), about Alessandro’s dream in prison, and the results of that.

  135. noah nywno
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

    Annie B.

    Nice to meet you. I did read your link.


    I am bitter towards Christians.
    Currently, I feel I have a right to be bitter toward Christians.
    I look forward to a day when I am no longer bitter toward Christians.

    Thank you for your help.

  136. Annie B.
    July 20th, 2006 @ 11:52 am

    noah, thanks. nice to meet you too. Thanks for reading the link.

    I understand your bitterness toward Christians, and am sorry that you feel it, genuinely, not sarcastically. I know some myself who are the worst hypocrites (and that’s not counting the child-abusing Catholic priests). I know some who are horrendously hateful people. The Catholic man, for example, who stood outside the abortion clinic when I went for my abortion 26 years ago. He shouted then, as he still shouts now, that we are murderers and we’re going to burn in hell and that if we die in the clinic on that abortion table then we deserve to die. Through a BULLHORN, he shouts this, to drown out the voices of me and my friends who aren’t condemning or judging them but offering concrete, today help to avoid a crisis situation (some accept our help, every day, and are quite happily voluntary about this). He isn’t being a Christian or a Catholic. Yet he believes he is. I am not God, but I do know this: that he is not being Christian.

    Many Christians, in history and now, have done awful things either in the name of their “faith” or, even if not so, it reflects horribly on the name of Christianity.

    I don’t know what a/some Christian(s) did to hurt or embitter you, and don’t need to know. That is not the point. I too feel you have a right to be bitter, as do many people (have that right). Feelings aren’t wrong or right, they just are.

    I too look forward to a day when you and all who are bitter toward Christians can be so no longer. I’m sad to say I don’t think it is humanly possible, because Christians keep screwing up being Christians. I am not saying we’re the only ones screwing up our faiths, it’s just that that’s all I can speak for, being one myself.

    If I could accomplish one thing of value or worth in life, it would be to help others avoid or heal from the horrible choice I made by aborting my daughter. If I could accomplish two things of worth in life, the second would be to help those embittered about Christians finally come to experience that not all Christians are as bad as the bad ones they’ve encountered, that there are many who are not. It might open up a dialogue amongst believers and atheists, for example, here, to stop potty-mouthing and demeaning each other (not you, noah; others so guilty) and perhaps to expose those on both sides who “get it wrong.” Perhaps, who knows? To shame them into stop being despicable, despising human beings? I don’t know. One can hope, I suppose.

  137. Andrew
    July 24th, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

    “The Raving Atheist, of course, has no respect for deathbed promises which have not been memorialized in a will. . . .”

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