The Raving Theist

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What Would Madalyn Do?

July 18, 2006 | 127 Comments

Atheist icon Madalyn Murray O’Hair debated religion with born-again Christian Charles Colson in the early 1980’s on David Frost’s short-lived NBC variety show. The episode never aired, but Colson recalls the encounter in his book The Good Life. Here, he relates what happened after the cameras shut down:

As I was talking to some of the people from the audience, I glanced to the side and noticed that Mrs. O’Hair had gone off to a stool in a corner and was sitting by herself. I walked over to her, leaned forward, and said “Mrs. O’Hair, I want you to know that I, like millions of Christians, am praying for you, praying that you will find the truth.”

How did O’Hair respond?

(a) “I don’t pray, but if I did, I’d pray that you will lose. You will lose, Mr. Colson. You will fail.”
(b) “Thank you for your prayers. We may disagree, Mr. Colson, but I wish you well, too. I sincerely do.”
(c) “I appreciate the kindness behind your prayers. One day you’ll understand that no one is listening to them. In the end, it doesn’t matter.
(d) “Take your phony Christian love somewhere else, Mr. Colson. What you really love is money is and yourself. You are no different from me.”
(e) “Mr. Colson, I want you to know that I, like millions of atheists, am hoping that you will find the truth. I can tell you’re a good man.
(f) “Like millions of Christians, Mr. Colson, you are a fool.
(g) Sometimes I wish I had your simple faith, Mr. Colson. A universe without God is not an encouraging thought.

What would you have said?

Comments

127 Responses to “What Would Madalyn Do?”

  1. noah nywno
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:22 am

    I hope I would answer with some kind of combination of b) c) or e). But I admit, I would probably be thinking d).

    In any case, Mr, Colson’s comment is just as insulting as d) or any of the other negative comments. It may not be INTENDED as insulting, but it is none the less.

    At least, it’s MORE insulting than simply vocalizing a non-belief in God.

  2. Thorngod
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:28 am

    I would guess either “c” or “f” from M.H. I never saw much of her, but got the impression that she was somewhat embittered. Which isn’t surprising, if it’s true, as I’ve read, that her grounds were destroyed and her house plastered with excrement by Christains who blamed her for the S. Court’s ruling.

    My response to Colson would be a wide grin. I would probably just wish him well. But I can’t help being very suspicious of those people who find a profitable niche in religion after having failed at some unscrupulous secular endeavor.

  3. Erik
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:35 am

    I’m with Thorngod. I would have said something like: “Well, thanks, Chuck, that means a lot coming from a convicted criminal.”

  4. Thorngod
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:44 am

    In #2 above, “M.H.” was, of course, supposed to have been “M.O’H.”

  5. C.T. Veritas
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    I like e. I typically say, “Thanks, I’m thinking for you.”

  6. benjamin
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:51 am

    I would have replied as follows:
    “The truth is there is no god.”

  7. CavKiller
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    I’d probably have said something like: “Well thanks. That is very pointless and arrogant.”

  8. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    My response would have been: “I already have.”

    I’m sure O’Hair may have replied with something less than thoroughly polite. That being said, I don’t think I can put much *faith* in a Watergate co-conspirator’s hearsay.

  9. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    My response would have been: “I already have.”

    I’m sure O’Hair may have replied with something less than thoroughly polite. That being said, I don’t think I can put much *faith* in a Watergate co-conspirator’s hearsay.

  10. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    My response would have been: “I already have.”

    I’m sure O’Hair may have replied with something less than thoroughly polite. That being said, I don’t think I can put much *faith* in a Watergate co-conspirator’s hearsay.

  11. Lily
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:46 am

    I am not surprised by the references to Colson’s Watergate days, though one would suppose that a man who has spent the last 25+ years working on behalf of prisoners and their families might have earned a tiny grudging bit of recognition at the direction his post-Watergate life has taken him.

    More to the point of this post: O’Hair was famous for her rudeness. I don’t think there was a gracious bone in her body, which may partly explain her appalling end. So I am going to guess “d”.

  12. June
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:46 am

    Use the Sam Harris ploy: substitute a different God to see how it reads. (If you need the name of a god, go to http://www.GodChecker.com, which has a database of about 3000.)

    “Mrs. O’Hair, millions of Poseidonites are praying you will find the truth”

    Mrs. O’Hair, millions of Gilgameshers are praying you will find the truth”

    Mrs. O’Hair, millions of followers of the Trinity of Amaterasu, Orichas, and Kriemhilde are praying you will find the truth”

    It’s as hard to answer such nonsense as when someone says: “Hey, Mercury is in the apex of Venus this week. What do you think”?

    I usually say something like “Very nice. Hey, I need to freshen up my drink.”

  13. SteveG
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

    I have little doubt that it was either (a) or (d). She was known as an extremely bitter woman.

    From what I know of what was found in her diaries (revealed after her death), I suspect that in her heart of hearts, she was thinking (g).

    My sig line in the forums is from Saint Augustine, and reads…

    We long to look upon one who looks back in love.

    …Apparently, her diaries revealed that she would have understood this phrase very well. In them, on more than one occasion, she cried out in those diaries…

    Somebody, somewhere, love me.

  14. Nick the Dick
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:05 pm

    Lily,

    I think O’Hare’s end is more appropriately explained by the blood-thirstiness of Christians. Her lack of grace never murdered anyone, though Christians most certainly murdered her.
    And why shouldn’t anyone bring up a point of Colson’s character? Especially something as notorious as Watergate?
    If Dalmer had ended his days working in for charity should we then deferentially not refer to his cannibalism?

  15. Erik
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

    Lily,

    TRA’s reference is to an event that happened in the early 80’s. Watergate was still a fairly recent event at the time. I would therefore have still harbored serious suspicion of Chuck Colson, or G. Gordon Liddy, or any of that cabal, who all seemed to have had a healthy disrespect for the truth.

  16. Lily
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

    Ok, I’ll bite, Nick. How did Christians have anything to do with one of her brow-beaten employees murdering her?

    Erik: I am not sure where you are going with that. It would explain why you or I might be a little sceptical of his claims but I don’t think that would influence our response to him; I am positing that each of us would respond civilly to a civil remark, even if we believed it insincere.

  17. Tenspace
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

    Lily, her end came not from her personality, but from her money. As for Colson, he’s full of more shit than Bocephus, The Yellow Whale:

    Here’s what he said about the killing of abortion doctors: “…It is a sad day indeed when our national leaders can’t tell the difference between a martyr and a murderer.”

    He wrote a fiction book called “Gideon’s Torch” – he described part of it by saying, “The government starts promoting late-term abortions, after researchers learn that fetal brain tissue is the key to curing AIDS.”

    “Atheist’s fight hard against something that, as they see it, doesn’t exist…Why are they so angry about it? I don’t understand it. Such animosity represents moral rebellion against God. And that rebellion is a fight to the death–the death of one’s own willfulness. ” – “Answers to your Kid’s Questions”

    Here’s what he said about Mark Felt, a/k/a “Deep Throat”: “Mark Felt could have stopped Watergate. Instead, he goes out and basically undermines the administration.”

    Of course, who can forget this gem, recorded by Nixon way back in ’72 when he and Colson were discussing strategy:

    (referring to the DNC headquarters) “I think it would be very helpful if they came in one morning and found files strewn all over the place.”

    He describes the middle ages, specifically the time of the Crusades as, “the days when Christian faith was robust, even heroic.”

    Regarding Hurricane Katrina: ” “Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call to this country . . . It wakes us up to the fact that our God is sovereign and we should be constantly in a state of repentance humbly seeking God’s favor.”

    Did you know: “Certain forms of abortion are specifically used to harvest intact and fresh body parts. And this may explain the abortion lobby’s support for partial-birth abortion despite overwhelming public opposition. ” – Chuck Colson

    He helped the Swift Boaters, as well: “John Kerry was a thorn in our flesh. He was very articulate, a credible leader of the opposition. He forced us to create a counterfoil. We found a vet named John O’Neill and formed a group called Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. We had O’Neill meet the President, and we did everything we could do to boost his group”

    And there’s this classic: “when you mix young people who grew up on a steady diet of MTV and pornography with a prison environment, you get the abuse at Abu Ghraib.”

    I could go on, but you get the idea.

  18. Not_A_Theist
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

    I’ve been reading the site avidly (particularly the comments) since RA’s “epiphany,” but this is the first time I’ve posted.

    Regarding Christians who oh-so-sincerely say that they’re praying for our (atheists’) eternal souls, here is the crux of the problem, as well as what frustrates and annoys the fuck out of me: With their circular reasoning, it doesn’t matter what our response is, because with their smug “knowing” and its related air of superiority, they always have an out. “We don’t know what’s good for us” or “We’re just saying that because we’re blinded by the devil.” This second one is the one that drives me up the wall because it always presupposes that it’s the atheist who is blind to reality, not the one who worships a being whose existence can never be proven. It’s the atheist whose judgment has been clouded, not the one with the muddled thought processes which lead him/her to believe in a supernatural being which, for example, can simply toss out the laws of physics on a whim or to prove a point.

    The frustrating fact is that there’s no rational arguing with a believer precisely because s/he IS a believer. Like the bumper sticker says: “God said it. I Believe it. That settles it.” A rational thought process can’t pierce that kind of bubble, so long as the believer knows there’s a devil out there whose job it is to keep him or her out of eternal paradise, and will use any tactic–reason being chief among them–to do just that. It’s just exasperating and ironic, really, that they think we’re the ones who are being obtuse.

  19. Erik
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

    Actually, Lily, you are probably right about that. I tend to be rather civil, although that civility would have more likely led me to politely decline an invitation to debate Colson in the first place. But the setup here, with Colson as the example of humility, is just too ironic.

    Tenspace, you same to have my back today. I appreciate it.

  20. Nightfly
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

    The frustrating fact is that there’s no rational arguing with a believer precisely because s/he IS a believer.

    Funny, but that seems at least as much of “always having an out” as theists’ “circular reasoning.” By dismissing an argument based solely on who wrote it, you save yourself any of the trouble of disproving it. It is in fact identical to simply dismissing an athiests’ protests with “the devil has blinded you.” The difference is that one person says “blind reason” while the other says “blind faith,” and both seem to mean much the same thing.

  21. Lily
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:57 pm

    Ten:
    Certainly her employee murdered her and her family members for money but she was quite famously abusive to them and apparently surrounded herself with some pretty bad apples in the belief that they would have to tolerate her, since no one else would have them. I can’t say how true that is.

    I don’t want to tax anyone’s patience with a point by point rebuttal of (where one is appropriate) what you have written but I will point out, again, that Colson has spent the last 25 years working to improve the lot of prisoners and their families.

    This would be a worthy effort, particularly since they and their families come up so short on the compassion meter, even if he were not “sincere”,

    His remark (as quoted here) about the Middle Ages is correct, if a little superficial, his remark about Katrina is fine, if, as I am supposing, the context is that we should always remember that we are not in control of anything except the choices we make about the way we live our lives, etc.

  22. Tenspace
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

    Lily,

    I agree about her lack of compassion regarding her employees, but I don’t see that as a motivating factor for murder. Sure, it might have made it easier for the scum(s) to commit the act, but they weren’t motivated by her coarseness.

    Colson is a godwarrior. His prison fellowships are all about converting the flock. He has an organized effort for specifically targeting muslims in prison for conversion, yet he berates the hardcore Islamisists for the same thing. :)

    Regarding his Katrina comment, to me it sounds similar to Robertson and Falwell blaming 9/11 on immorality. That we should be in a constant state of repentence applies specific religious concepts to a whole country. Repentence for what? For bad levees? For poor Army Corps of Engineers Funding? Sin didn’t cause New Orleans’ problems; poor planning did.

  23. FNA
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    Does it really piss anyone off when xians say “God bless” to you even when they know you are an atheist?

    This has happened in reallife but most recently i went onto a catholic site and tried to stir up some debate out of the forums and what i get after every thing they say is “God bless you”

    This really just makes me sooo angry.

  24. Lily
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

    Well, the very next time a plane load of Presbyterians tries to take out the Pentagon, Ten, I wll join you in reprobating Colson’s effort to evangelize prisoners!

    Prison Fellowship is, of course, explicitly evangelistic. Most of us Christians believe that knowing Christ and loving and following him are good things. Naturally, not everyone will agree.

    Having said that, I would still suppose that it might be possible for non-Christians to see some good in the organization, since it does mentor disadvantaged children (through its Angel Tree program); it tries to connect kids and their imprisoned parents and provides Christmas gifts to those kids in the parent’s name.

    It also provides help via the “Aftercare” program to ex prisoners to help them get reestablished in a community. All in all, these seem like worth-while efforts to me.

    This issue is particularly dear to my heart since I know several ex-convicts who are not the stereotypical criminals just waiting to get back into a life of crime but young (and one not so young man) men who really want to put it all behind them and create a good and worthwhile life for themselves. They face an amazing amount of distrust on the outside and it can be extrordinarily daunting for such men to make a go of it, no matter how hard they try.

    Colson’s Evangelical variety of belief and practice is no longer quite my cup of tea but I thank God for the work he does. I wish more groups would get into the game.

  25. Thorngod
    July 18th, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

    FNA, it’s to be expected, and I always just find it mildly amusing. You might try replying something like, “And Hare Krishna to you,” or “Apollo be your shield,” or “Go with Gitchemanatau.” My own favorite is, “May the force that through the green fuse drives the flower be with you.”

  26. Holopupenko
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

    Madalyn “an extremely bitter woman”? Kinda like the deeply-insecure, foul-mouthed, atheist commenters on this blog, don’t ya think?

  27. Alpha Spork
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

    “I want you to know that I, like millions of Christians, am praying for you, praying that you will find the truth.”

    If said to me, I hope I say something to this effect, “Great. Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

  28. Intergalactic Hussy
    July 18th, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

    And I’ll be doing the scientific method on you.

  29. Joe Ellison
    July 18th, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

    I’d have just walked away… that sort of “we’ll pray for you” is an ATTACK and an INSULT. It is meant to be rude, insinscere, and patronising.

    I usually say nothing and walk away, and/or wish cancer on them.

  30. Thorngod
    July 18th, 2006 @ 6:29 pm

    “Thanks. And may the force that through the green fuse drives the flower be with you.”

  31. Interested Atheist
    July 18th, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

    It’s interesting to say that millions of people are hoping you will find the truth. Controversial and debatable truths are not usually decided my majority vote. In fact, if millions of average people believe in something, that’s probably a good reason to doubt it.

  32. Choobus
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

    holopinkeye, you should try and pull your head out of your arsehole before you bother to mash your stumpy fingers on the keyboard like the brain dead slug you are. That way you might at least have a fighting chance at not revealing yourself as both a shitlord and a cunt. Moreover, it will give your uncle a chance to retrieve his swatch which apparantly he lost after anally fisting you at a recent family get together. He was really quite fond of that swatch.

  33. June
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

    I had the pleasure of meeting MMO’s daughter Robin in the 80’s, a delightful, bright, funny young woman. It breaks my heart to hear anyone suggest she invited or deserved her horrible end in any way.

    I did not know Madalyn, but I would not be surprised if she said something like “Chuck, you really are a dumb shit”.

  34. Lily
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:17 pm

    Nobody has suggested any such thing, June. Robyn was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mom, however, was an abusive, bitter woman who surrounded herself, as I said above, with ex-cons and some really bad apples in the belief that they would have no choice but to take her horrid abuse.

    Now, the one who murdered her and the other two was presumably primarily motivated by greed. But the violence with which they were hacked to pieces suggests hatred which MMO, unfortunately, appears to have invited. But I have no way to tease apart the psychological elements that led to her murderer committing such a crime.

    Despite everything, MMO did not deserve such a terrible fate. No one does. And no one here has suggested that.

  35. Nokot
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

    I’ve no idea what O’Hair would say, I don’t know much of who she was. As for me, I usually only manage to say “ok” when someone tells me they are praying for me. If I believe that the person was sincere, I feel nothing but warm appreciation, thank them, and wish them well. But usually, I feel insulted because it doesn’t seem at all sincere. It’s such an arrogant thing to say at the end of a conversation.

    Holop:
    “Madalyn “an extremely bitter woman”? Kinda like the deeply-insecure, foul-mouthed, atheist commenters on this blog, don’t ya think?”

    You must keep in mind that people (atheist and theist alike) are bitter when they feel insulted and provoked. As a theist your most common interaction (especially on atheist blogs) with atheists is one of an argumentative nature. You only see a small, particularly biased towards irritation, subset of atheist behavior. Many people go to atheist websites to seek reprieve from the stress caused by a theistic environment, so they are already worked up and looking for a way to release whatever frustration they have in life–even that which has nothing to do with religion. Anyway, my point is that you would be mislead to imagine that atheists are bitter people on the whole.

  36. Choobus
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:41 pm

    Nokot,

    your analysis of the theist-atheist interaction potential is accurate, if you postulate a reasonable theist. Although to many atheists this term may seem oxymoronic, even I have found that such a thing can exist. Steve G is an admirable fellow, and I have never once foundit necessary to flame him, nor even give him a hard time. Similarly, Quaker (fromthe forums) is a great guy, and I enjoy reading his posts because he provides an interesting perspective. Holocuntface, on the other hand, has well earned his title of Shitlord, and almost everything that shitsucking monk-buggerer writes is simply evidence for the benefits of late late late late term abortions. Fot the love of Christoffsky, this cum slurping turd chomper even makes lily seem decent, and I know for a “fact” that she throws cats at people on a daily basis. Big ones too. And let’s not even talk about the centipedes. The fact is, there are theist arseholes and there are atheist arseholes, but the theists have perfected the art.

  37. Tenspace
    July 19th, 2006 @ 8:33 am

    Holo/Hagi said, Madalyn “an extremely bitter woman”? Kinda like the deeply-insecure, foul-mouthed, atheist commenters on this blog, don’t ya think

    Good thing I know Christians who aren’t hateful towards others, like Steve, Lily, Quaker… otherwise I’d think all Christians were like you: diametrically opposed to the good in the Bible, playing petty word games in an effort to boost an tanked self-esteem.

  38. FNA
    July 19th, 2006 @ 8:59 am

    Definitely like Alpha Sporks response the best. Will have to use that sometime.

  39. ocmpoma
    July 19th, 2006 @ 10:07 am

    Lily wrote:
    “…improve the lot of prisoners and their families… …would be a worthy effort, particularly since they and their families come up so short on the compassion meter…”

    Lily also wrote:
    “[O’Hair] surrounded herself, as I said above, with ex-cons and some really bad apples…”

    You’re not saying that ex-cons are bad apples who deserve less compasion, are you? You’re not implying that ex-cons are somehow inherently evil and more likely to commit wrong, are you?

  40. June
    July 19th, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    “But the violence with which they were hacked to pieces suggests hatred which MMO, unfortunately, appears to have invited.”

    A reasonable view is that they were murdered for the $600,000 in their business account, and then dismembered to fit them into the oil drums they were buried in.

    A historical view might mention that MMO was a pioneer in advancing atheism in America. To quote Wikipedia “Nevertheless, O’Hair will be forever credited with spectacular legal victories that forever changed the American life.”

    A Christian view might hope they repented at the last moment, and are going to Heaven to bask in the love of God.

    Now THAT is the funny stuff TRA used to write!

  41. Lily
    July 19th, 2006 @ 11:02 am

    ocmpoma: Please read the 1st paragraph of #19 and the 2nd to last of #22 for an answer to your question.

  42. trudy
    July 19th, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

    As a Christian I am bemused at the assumptions of why I pray that others find truth.

    In the interests of better understanding I’ll explain the assumptions on which base my prayer, the first of which is, of course, that God exists and loves us.

    1. Truth matters (if it doesn’t why do atheists expend so much energy trying to convert believers?)

    2. We are continually in a process of discerning what is true. (ie The scientific method is a process of testing theories during which we refine our understanding of reality.)

    Truth matters in how we live our lives. For example two collage roommates get married during the course of the same year. The two couples have significantly different ideas about what contributes to a long term happy marriage, which both couples desire.

    One couple is still married 30 years later. The other divorced after ten years & two children.

    What we believe is true always makes a difference. For example, one of the preludes to large scale atrocities against identified groups of other people is denying their humanity, viewing them as sub-human, so that it is no longer morally wrong to kill, rape etc.

    Bottom line, the more true to reality the assumptions on which we base our life decisions, the greater our chances of happiness. Secondly, you matter. You, as an individual, matter. Your personal happiness matters.

    You know, I thought that atheists cared about truth, and held that theists lived in a comfortable self delusional world, therefore I had supposed that this particular prayer (for truth) would have been acceptable. Perhaps viewed as ironic – since the truth you have found so far is so divergent from the Christian

    Trudy

  43. Thorngod
    July 19th, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

    Sorry, Trudy; a recent 3-year controlled study indicates that prayers are not answered.

    The problem is with your primary assumption. Take a more critical look at the nature of the world.

  44. bernarda
    July 19th, 2006 @ 2:26 pm

    Colson, stuff your hypocritical supertitious nonsense up your ass. You are a frickin psychopathic moron.

  45. Thorngod
    July 19th, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

    PRAYER LESSON # 76,241

    Several years back an American serviceman (or ex-serviceman) who had been captured during the Vietnam conflict, and was listed as MIA after the war, suddenly reappeared. I don’t recall the circumstances of his absence or his return, but his wife reported that she knew he was alive and that he would eventually come home. She had prayed constantly, she said, and God had promised her.

    This story was widely reported, and there can be little doubt that Christian hearts everywhere were warmed by this sample of God’s mercy and the proven power of prayer.

    Well…. No news stories ever appeared about the UNanswered prayers of the other 328 wives of missing Vietnam vets. Many of these other women also prayed fervently, and were also promised by God that their husbands were safe and would return. But apparently, in these cases, God lied. And the news media have had no reason to do these stories.

  46. FNA
    July 19th, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

    Thorngod,
    That story doesnt prove that god answers prayers…if thats what your trying to say.
    If anything it proves god doesnt answer prayers.
    To clear my confusion, what was it you were trying to say

  47. Thorngod
    July 19th, 2006 @ 4:17 pm

    FNA, I think you got it. Sort of. Or are you pulling my leg? If you really are confused, carefully re-read my last ¶.

  48. Nokot
    July 19th, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

    Trudy writes, “You know, I thought that atheists cared about truth, and held that theists lived in a comfortable self delusional world, therefore I had supposed that this particular prayer (for truth) would have been acceptable.”

    The truth atheists care about is concordance with reality, not concordance with a Christian’s personal belief. In order for a prayer to God for truth to make sense, the believer’s version of God has to *already* be true. The believer is not wishing that someone determine what statements accurately describe reality (ie “find truth”), the believer is merely restating and reasserting what she thinks the reality is. It’s wholely arrogant and a snide way to get in the last word.

  49. ocmpoma
    July 19th, 2006 @ 6:24 pm

    Lily: I did – the implication is still loud and clear.

  50. Thorngod
    July 19th, 2006 @ 6:26 pm

    Well, it would be snide, Nokot, if evinced by someone unbelabored by that particular delusion. But true believers exist in a state of suspended reality, and it’s hard to determine just what ordinary human attitudes and sentiments to ascribe to them.

  51. Lily
    July 19th, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

    ocmpoma: What I wanted to say was that MMO surrounded herself with bad apples and she surrounded herself with ex-cons–two groups that she thought would not be able to walk away easily, no matter how badly she treated them, because they would not easily find employment elsewhere.

    Bad apples speak for themselves. But ex-cons usually deserve a break but find it very hard to catch one– which I thought I stated quite clearly in that paragraph in #22 that I referred you to.

    I am really baffled about the unpleasant implications you see in the “compassion meter” remark. Could you be more explicit?

  52. June
    July 19th, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

    Let me turn Colson’s “prayer for truth” around so Trudy can understand why it might be seen as an insult:

    Trudy, the sincere hope of millions of atheists is that you will soon awaken to the fact that your basic spiritual assumptions up to now have been totally wrong, and that your life as you are living it, your morals and ethics, your spiritual goals and values, your entire philosophy, have been an utter failure.

  53. Lily
    July 19th, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

    Holy cow, June, did you overdose on bitter pills today? Howz about taking a deep breath, breaking out the Haagen Daz and watching a Harry Potter movie? I can guarantee that you will feel better, quickly.

    What Trudy wrote was not only true but nicely stated.

  54. Lily
    July 19th, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

    Oh,Oh. I didn’t read June’s first sentence. I am so sorry.

    But I stand by my recommendation– that particular trinity will put a smile on *anyone’s* face.

  55. June
    July 19th, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

    Lily, after reading your #51, I prayed you would find the truth. And lo, you found the truth and posted #52. :):)

    My Trinity is Gin, Tonic, and Lime. And anyone who likes any other drink is condemned to the outer corner of hell. Mine alone is the true drink; it is so good it must be the true drink; and I pray to Lord Gin that you will see that some day. :) :) :) :)

  56. Lily
    July 19th, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

    :-) ;-) !!!

  57. bernarda
    July 20th, 2006 @ 12:29 am

    June, I feel you are theologically in error. God made tequila before it made gin, so the real trinity is the margarita: tequila, triple sec and lime. I just wanted to set the record straight and put you on the true divinely revealed path. How do I know? Because I had a revealing personal experience when I tried this mixture and it continually renews itself.

  58. noah nywno
    July 20th, 2006 @ 6:29 am

    Your all wrong:

    In the name of malt, yeast and holy hops.

  59. bernarda
    July 20th, 2006 @ 6:55 am

    noah, I am sure you are in holy error. June and I at least agree that lime is one of the trinity. So if you have to at least modify your concept to include a least of slice of lime as is used with some Mexican beers such as Tecate. Then maybe you will become part of the heavenly host.

  60. June
    July 20th, 2006 @ 7:24 am

    If you read the Bible after a few gins, it becomes clear that tne book of GINesis says God created H&E in the beGINning. And then Adam and Eve had some OriGINal GIN and discovered their GINitals and were kicked out of Eden to become GINtiles and have GINerations of children.

    The Bible praises gin in Psalms 140:5: “They have set gins for me. Selah.” (Selah is clearly a Hebrew word for CHEERS.) Psalms 141:10 says (about those who drink other liquor): “Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.” Finally, Psalms 141:13 encourages drinking bouts: “The upright shall dwell in thy presence.”

  61. Thorngod
    July 20th, 2006 @ 7:53 am

    You’re one Wild Turkey, June.

  62. FNA
    July 20th, 2006 @ 9:05 am

    Thorngod: I got it, thanks.

    June: The real trinity is Vodka, Cran-strawberry juice, and sprite. That is the only true way. Since you think differently we are now at war and I am going to flood your house and eat your children….jk

  63. June
    July 20th, 2006 @ 9:06 am

    I forgot the VirGIN Birth.

  64. R and All
    July 20th, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

    Anyone who prays, I have a question for you:

    Given that God is perfectly good, all knowing, etc, and that He has a plan that is far too mysterious and unknowable for you to comprehend, why are you wasting your time and His with your whining supplications?

  65. Tommykey
    July 20th, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    I would tell Colson that prayer is a waste of time and that he should focus on something more useful.

    I’m not too knowledgeable about O’Hair. Even though I am an atheist, I probably would not have liked her either.

  66. Thorngod
    July 20th, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    Now wait a minute, R and All! I have a friend who swears he helps her all the time. Once, on a chartered bus trip, she lost a contact lens. She and others looked all over the bus for it. Then she said “a little prayer,” and found it in less than five minutes.

  67. qedpro
    July 21st, 2006 @ 12:01 am

    Is it too much to ask what she actually did say?

  68. bernarda
    July 21st, 2006 @ 7:29 am

    To tommy, “I would tell Colson that prayer is a waste of time and that he should focus on something more useful.”

    I would add, “like whacking off.”

  69. bernarda
    July 21st, 2006 @ 7:51 am

    Back to the important stuff like the holy trinity. Tequila, distilled by the Spanish in the 1500’s, is clearly anterior to gin distilled by the Dutch in the 1600’s. In addition, tequila comes from the sacred mezo-american agave plant which for more than a thousand years earlier was consumed in the form of pulque.

    It is clear that tequila by way of pulque is part of the holy trinity. It is god’s will that we experience mystical fervor by way of this divine liqueur.

  70. trudy
    July 21st, 2006 @ 8:37 am

    What bothers me is that various atheists are assuming that they know the motivation behind a Christians comment of “God bless” or “I’ll pray that you’ll find truth.”

    There is a certain unwillingness to accept the fact that others believe that prayer is effective and beneficial.

    While an atheist could not say “God bless” and mean it, Christians can & do – and it does not imply any of the attitudes that some posters attribute to it.

    I understand and accept that atheists do not believe that prayer makes any difference. I accept that they do not believe that there is anyone to pray to.

    Based on this I would expect atheists to have a humourous contempt for prayer. What I don’t get is the rancor. After all, even though I do not think that wishes are effective, and I don’t belive in luck I don’t get angry when someone wishes me good luck. I simply recognize & appreciate the good will behind their wishes.

    Trudy

  71. Lily
    July 21st, 2006 @ 10:13 am

    Nicely said, Trudy!

    bernarda, June, I am sorry to say that Noah is right and both of you are wrong, beer is older than gin and Tequila:

    Gen. 22:19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to BEERsheba; and Abraham dwelt at BEERsheba.

    Can’t get much older than Abraham!

    Qedpro if you google “Madelyn Murray O’Hair” and “Charles Colson” (use the quote marks) you will get taken right to a narrative summary of that meeting. The answer is there, though not stated as a direct quote as it is here.

  72. Thorngod
    July 21st, 2006 @ 10:30 am

    Prayer obviously benefits–emotionally–the person who is praying. And a person who’s being prayed for, if he or she knows it, will sometimes benefit in the same fashion. Levity can have a similar effect.

  73. noah nywno
    July 21st, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    trudy,

    I won’t speak for other atheists, but being prayed for is not what I have a problem with. If I have a family member who is sick and a Christian (or any other theist for that matter) tells me they will pray for them, I consider that a gracious and heartfelt act. I would certainly thank them for their kindness in THAT situation. But the type of prayer described in RA’s post is not the same kind of prayer. It is incredibly condescending and should be taken as an insult. It basicly ammounts to a subtle “just so” kind of reasoning. It is, essentially, saying to the atheist “we are right and you are blind.”

    Now maybe that’s the way Christians really feel when they say something like that, I don’t know. But if any Christian feels something like this absolutly NEEDS to be said to an atheist, at least try to think about how to phrase it as to not come off as belittling our take on things. It would be a great first step in having US take YOU seriously.

  74. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 11:25 am

    HEADS UP, FOLKS. The problem is not the prayers; it’s the phrase “praying that you will find the truth” because it says you are ignorant and your philosophy is worthless. Let’s try it in various Ad Hominem styles:

    Hello. I know the truth and you don’t. — Chevy Chase

    Trudy, you ignorant slut! Millions of Christians know the real truth and you are a friggen liar. — Weekend Update, SNL

    June, you are an angry childish illiterate who cannot see that the Bible is God’s word written as a historical epic, mythically allegorized into legendary metaphors that can be interpreted by me alone because only I grasp the symbolism of Beowulf and Das Nibelungenlied. — Lily

    Holopup, millions of knee-bending jeebus burgers say you are a vermischte bacon-sucking gentile schickse. –Choobus

  75. noah nywno
    July 21st, 2006 @ 11:29 am

    As an addendum:

    That prayer is really saying, “We hope, one day, you’ll realize how wrong you are.”

    See the problem?

  76. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

    Praying, in the sense of wishing or hoping for something, is obviously available to everyone regardless of faith, including my Jack Russell terrier, who knows how to sit very pretty when we have steak, hoping for a morsel to come her way.

    Praying can ease grief, when others tell you they grieve with you. But that has nothing to do with the prayers reaching some god; it has to do with humans supporting humans in an hour of suffering.

    Praying can help nature to heal a body, but not because God heals; because of the well-known placebo effect that focuses all of a body’s mental and physical resources onto getting rid of disease.

    Praying can help you reach a goal, when it helps to strengthen your resolve and focus you on pursuing some goal such as losing weight or improving your bowling score. But not because God helps you to bowl; because you resolve to do better and you practice more intensely and more often.

    Praying can be an insult, as in “I pray for the day you come to your senses and get rid of that worthless husband of yours.”

  77. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 1:21 pm

    Sorry for the multiple comments, but the more I research this post, the more it looks as if TRA has left the building. The shallow research, the deliberate misquoting, the outright deception neither match the old TRA nor someone who purportedly is treating his alcoholism or has changed his mind about raving too aggressively.

    Consider the fact that — even as they trumpet sincere apologies and total inoffensiveness — the recent posts are against atheists and atheism. The Colson post is really more offensive than anything TRA used to write, which had truth at its basis, humor as its vehicle, and wit at its conclusion. This post is simply a deliberate smear.

    Very quickly, O’Hair’s diaries were recovered recently, and in them she tells of her despair about humanity and occasionally writes “Somebody, somewhere, please love me.” Who among us that is honest has never thought or said that?

    But, of course, godidiot ministers immediately seize on this very human cry to use it as proof that we all need God! Here is what one fathead minister blathers at http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/4737.htm:

    “How telling that this hostile and abrasive person, who harbored nothing but hatred for God and His people, who believed human beings were merely the product of a cosmic accident, would nevertheless cry out to the great void for someone just to love her.

    “What a powerful example of the fundamental truth that we are made for a relationship of love with our Creator, and that we can never fully escape from our true identity and purpose. No matter how much we may deny it intellectually, our nature still cries out for the love we were made to share.

    “To paraphrase the famous words of St. Augustine, even the most bitter atheist is restless until she finds her rest in God.”

    Once again the lie that atheists hate God. NO, A-HOLES: For atheists, there is no God; how can one harbor hate for the Tooth Fairy? And again the logic pretzel that our cosmic loneliness proves there is a god, instead of proving that we are alone in the cosmos — duhh. And always the (oh so convenient) explanation that atheists are really searching for god.

    Call me silly, but I still do not believe this is our old RA. Perhaps he has been murdered for his money, dismembered, and buried in some oil drums; and some godidiots have taken over his blog. That might explain a lot.

  78. Jim from New Jersey
    July 21st, 2006 @ 2:37 pm

    The answer is entirely what you’d expect from somone who needed love and wasn’t getting any of it.

    It’s also not good news for those of you who dropped RA like a hot potato during a time of careful and reasoned introspection.

    The materialistic rationalist universe giveth, and the materialistic rationalist universe taketh away.

    Be well RA.

  79. trudy
    July 21st, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

    No, I do not get it.

    There is a disconnect between what is said and what you are hearing.

    The prayer does not define truth – it does not limit tuth. It is not a prayer that says that “you will find that I am right.”

    After all we both know that we disagree about the fundamental nature of reality.

    I assume that this is important to you, because you think the point worth arguing about.

    What my prayer means is that I hope that you will find out which one of us is right.

    If I’m wrong, the joke is really on me, isn’t it? Can’t you see what a hoot this all is if you are correct & God does not exist?

    What a waste that your hurt feeings and injured pride is!

    I hesitate to part with a conventional salutation in respect to your atheistic sensibilities.

    May we part without hard feelings.

    Trudy

  80. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

    Stay safe, Trudy, live long and prosper.
    And a quick and painless death when the end comes.

  81. noah nywno
    July 21st, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

    No prblem, trudy. I belive you when you say that’s what YOU mean. Fair enough. I just have a hard time believing that’s what all Christians mean. After all, if one means, “I hope WE find the truth.” Then why not simply say THAT? What Colson says DOES come off the way I previously described.

    I have no hard feelings toward you and feel free to use any salutation you wish (provided, of course, it’s not insulting or condescending.)

    I’m just trying to explain WHY an atheist would find what Colson says in the original post offensive. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to walk a mile in our shoes. After all, isn’t that the Christian thing to do?

    P.S.

    I, for one, have no problem with “God Bless”.

  82. Thorngod
    July 21st, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

    noah n, for the record, at least one atheist finds Colson’s remark merely amusing, not offensive. I might be tempted to answer, “One part of your mind is insane,” but as I said it I would be grinning, not grinding my teeth.

  83. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 4:32 pm

    Thorngod, no doubt MMO would have been better off with a good sense of humor; and I don’t know how much there was and what happened that night at the debate.

    After what I have read so far, I distrust all aspects of this story, from the authenticity of her diary, to Colson’s convenient memory, to TRA’s post, to the bitter comments. It would make a great research project.

    Her atheism provoked the worst in some people, and the fact that the SCOTUS agreed with her view made her life even more miserable. Even law-abiding citizens can get vicious when their legal system rules against them, as we have seen with Roe v Wade for 35 years.

  84. Lily
    July 21st, 2006 @ 5:03 pm

    June:
    What is going on here? You seem to be conflating (or, at least, deciding to address) several issues in one swoop. It seems that you are really and personally angry with RA. Up to a point I can understand that the tone and content of the front page have changed and that that disappoints you, but there are so many other blogs that you could, conceivably, read that would take its place. Why stress over what might or might not be RA’s motivations?

    Then there is the issue of being insulted by prayer. I have actually never found that hard to understand. In my non-believing days, I found it insufferably smug and so, to this day, I do not say it to any atheist, even when I am, in fact, praying for him/her.

    But what you pushed into the mix were comments of mine and others that had nothing to do with prayer but were part of the rough and tumble of the debate that goes on here in rather ruder and more aggressive form than is necessary but is, alas, all too common. In quoting me, for instance, your version may reflect how you heard my remarks but not how I stated them or wanted them to be understood. This undoubtedly reflects a reprehensible failure of civility on my part and/or a lack of literary skill.

    But all of us are responsible for the tone here; it isn’t the fault of any one person, with the possible exception of the big C. Remember these, just from one post?

    But, of course, godidiot ministers immediately seize on this very human cry to use it as proof that we all need God

    Once again the lie that atheists hate God. NO, A-HOLES: For atheists, there is no God; how can one harbor hate for the Tooth Fairy?

    Call me silly, but I still do not believe this is our old RA. Perhaps he has been murdered for his money, dismembered, and buried in some oil drums; and some godidiots have taken over his blog.

    Do you (and others who post here in the same manner) really not see how this ends up provoking less than civil responses?

    I understand that you feel threatened by Christians but why? What is the worst thing that can happen? If we leave out the really unlikely notion that theocracy is nigh, what is so bad about recognizing that people don’t fit into nice neat categories and that there really are all types of people out there and not everyone of them is lying in wait to insult you?

  85. Nokot
    July 21st, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

    Trudy, I am genuinely fascinated that we still seem to be talking past each other. I’d love to get to the bottom of it.

    I would have no issue at all if you said “I pray to God that you have good luck” or “I pray in Jesus’s name that you be happy” or “I pray that good things will happen to you” or “I extend feelings of good will towards you.” I would take those statements as a very kind gesture and thank you for it. It doesn’t matter if you are praying to something that doesn’t exist, the statement is motivated by compassion and love. If you are motivated by love and compassion and say “I pray that you find the truth,” you are not expressing that warm compassion to a nonbeliever but saying something entirely different.

    Lets break it down: “truth” means “the tenets of my religion” and “find” means “to recognize as true.” So literally you are saying, “I pray that you recognize that my religion is true.” Are you with me so far? This seems to leave 3 possibilities about your motivations.

    1) You may believe that “finding truth” will result in for happiness or good health. Thus “I pray that you achieve happiness and well-being after finding truth.” That’s not quite so distasteful as option 2, but why should you care whether I achieve happiness and well-being with or without agreeing with you about religion? (*Probably because you believe that ultimately (ie for the eternity after death), agreement with you is required in order to be happy. If not, then it is arrogant for you to prefer that I take up your way of life as a means for me to achieve my happiness when my way is already working fine.)

    2) You may believe that “finding truth” is [i]necessary[/i] for happiness or good health. Thus “I pray that you find truth otherwise you will never escape the unhappiness and illness from which you suffer now.” This belief is what evokes rancor and resentment in atheists. (I don’t think I need to try to explain that, but let me know if I should.)

    3) If [i]you[/i] do not believe Christianity is neither necessary for nor implies well-being or happiness, then a wish that I “find the Truth” is not an expression of good will. And the statement was not motivated by love or compassion.

    I gotta run now. Please note that I am [i]not[/i] trying to impute arrogance or any other negative personality trait upon you or any other Christian. I am merely trying to help you understand some of our reactions, and help me understand where you are coming from.

  86. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

    Let’s just take one of my comments. I wrote “Once again the lie that atheists hate God. NO, A-HOLES: For atheists, there is no God; how can one harbor hate for the Tooth Fairy?”

    Atheists do not disbelieve in your God; they say there is no God to believe in, or to malign! What you mean is that atheists are maligning the idea of God that your brain projects on the night sky, like a huge bat shadow. And when we malign that, you ask why we are so angry at Batman.

    My comments were intended for those who don’t get the difference, who blather on and on about how atheists hate God, need to search for God, need to look deep into their hearts for God, and (special for St. Augustine) cannot rest until they find God. God sees you, God loves you, God died for you, God bless you.

    Yes, I ratcheted the language up a notch, since some on this this blog are simply not getting the passive-aggressive insult of Colson’s question. (I am pleased to see you recognized the “insufferable smugness” of that.)

    Yes, I am pissed at how TRA (if it is TRA) is breaking up his circle of blog friends here, in a way that gives theism undeserved ammunition. And how I am chastised for atheistic raving on a blog designed for raving atheists.

    I am beginning to understand why MMO was rude to theists.

  87. Lily
    July 21st, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

    Nokot:
    I can’t answer for Trudy but just in case she has left the building, I might be able to shed some light.

    I think the way you have parsed the prayer is pretty accurate.

    I don’t think that we always have thought it through, in so thorough a way. When I first converted (and went to a pretty standard issue evangelical church), I quickly realized that people were speaking a language that I didn’t know very well and didn’t find completely congenial in its evangelical flavors.

    One picks it up and, if one never spends (or has spent) time with outsiders who don’t share the same assumptions, it just doesn’t sound– in any way, shape or form, objectionable. It is meant so well!

    The second reason that we are so open about what we believe is that it typically opens the door to a conversation about faith matters. You all take it very amiss, as I used to, but millions of people will attest that they converted too because these conversations set them on the path. In my case, it was aggravation and a burning desire to prove these people wrong that sent me flying to the Bible … a very dangerous book to read seriously, indeed.

  88. Lily
    July 21st, 2006 @ 8:17 pm

    June:
    I didn’t quote you to argue your opinion about theism but to demonstrate that your language is, in itself, abusive and contributes to the unnecessarily hostile environment here. I do not excuse the role I have played or may have played. But the environment effects all of us and not to our advantage.

    MMO was rude to theists because she was rude to everyone. Don’t kid yourself. Rudeness may be an understandable defense mechanism but in the long run it will accomplish nothing.

  89. June
    July 21st, 2006 @ 9:36 pm

    Lily, I used “godidiot” to describe someone so infested by constant god jabber that s/he no longer listens to points being made by the other side. The classic example is ChristReborn signing off with “Fuck You, Assholes. God Bless You”.

    If I am responsible for the tone here, I am also responsible for not wasting our time with happy-face sky-daddy talk. This is a raving atheist blog, and I’m sure you came here to hear raving atheist views. Well, the training wheels are off! We don’t need no stinking prayer, and this is not a fucking church; if you will excuse the vulgarity ‘church’.

    So I’ll have another Gin-Tonic and you have whatever beer turns you on, and let’s talk.

  90. bernarda
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 3:11 am

    The problem with Colson’s statement is that it is as arrogant as it is stupid.

    No one would much care about people like Colson if they were just staying in their corner praying, but they are also trying to set up an ignorant superstitious theocratic state in the U.S. That is more than cause for concern.

    If ever we give these moronic bastards an inch, they will take much more than a mile. So rational people have to respond by saying “take your prayer and shove it.” The religious fascists have no qualms about using any and all methods to push their ideology.

    Rational people have been far too tolerant and passive in response. It is time to play the same sort of hardball–politically–as the jesus freaks have been doing for a long time.

    I no longer keep my mouth shut when in a group some believer starts spouting off about god and jesus and such–or mohammed and I have pissed off a number of mohammidiots. I tell them to cut the crap. There are many fence sitters that need to here that response.

    Usually, there are people who are interested and who have never heard anyone directly confront the bible thumpers.

  91. June
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 8:01 am

    I get worked up by arguments that assume God and then argue his existence based on the assumption. If the Colson quote is accurate, then it is equivalent to proving Santa Claus’ existence by saying that millions of children believe in him, and someday MMO, too, will believe. Remember that this was in the context of a debate about God’s existence.

    If God existed, he would have total powers, so once you grant that, no need to discuss whether he could create the Earth in 6 days or 6 minutes or 6 seconds. He would transcend logic, so no way to prove anything about him using logic. He would transcend time, so no point arguing cause and effect. And so on.

    The only thing left would be to choose among the 3000 Gods we have defined so far. And maybe to ponder who created him.

  92. Thorngod
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 8:50 am

    The presumption of “God” is the monstrous fallacy in theistic “reasoning.” The rational thinker constructs testable hypotheses based on the brute facts of the world, and all conclusions drawn remain open to revision or disproof. The religionist instead begins with an ultimate conclusion that is not to be questioned, and all facts of reality must be brought into accord with it. The facts, of course, do not support his pre- selected conclusion, and consequently there are countless versions of the “Conclusion” and interminable conflict with science and reason.

  93. June
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 11:32 am

    A similar foundation assumption is that life has a purpose. Based on that, theologians conclude that this purpose is to adore God for eternity, with the real idea of saving one’s own eternal ass. Yikes!

    I could understand a purpose such as bringing peace and goodwill to man, defeating disease and crime, exploring nature with science, creating new life forms, supporting the pro-life view of abortion. But such purposes have not emerged in 2000 years of Christian practice, and some – like science – are fiercely resisted by theists.

    And when someone like O’Hair dispairs in her diary that life is empty, she is berated for not seeing God. The point missed is that she has indeed examined the idea of God and found it empty and purposeless.

  94. R and All
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    Thorngod says: The religionist instead begins with an ultimate conclusion that is not to be questioned, and all facts of reality must be brought into accord with it.

    That seems to be exactly what they do, and no matter how many times non-superstitious people knock down the religionist’s irrational house of cards of rationalization, the religionist will never realize the error of his ways. So why does anybody bother to respond to Lily and others who really don’t seek the truth…?

  95. qedpro
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

    Again, is it too much to ask what MOH actually said?

  96. trudy
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

    Dear Nokot

    Ok, the misunderstanding seems to be quite basic.

    >Lets break it down: “truth” means “the tenets of my religion” “find” means “to recognize as true.” So literally you are saying, “I pray that you recognize that my religion is true.” Are you with me so far?

  97. June
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

    “why does anybody bother to respond to Lily and others who really don’t seek the truth”

    First of all, I think they do seek the truth. They come to this blog and present arguments that they have struggled with in their minds, to see how others answer them. And those who shout the loudest may well be shouting to drown out some inner voice of doubt.

    Some hang around for a Choobus-style response, because it is funny and sends chills down their spines to hear someone actually use all those forbidden words.

    The rest scoff at us and go away. I bid them farewell and good luck. Theists don’t bother me, as long as they leave my child alone, pay taxes on their church income, and don’t force me to put America under God. None of which they do, come to think of it!

  98. Nokot
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

    Trudy writes, “No, what i mean to say is “May you continue to discover that which is true.””

    On the surface that’s a completely different statement, but it can be exactly equivalent to “May you discover that the tenets of my religion are true.” Although you define truth as “that which reflects reality accurately,” you must be careful to avoid simultaneously asserting that the “tenets of your religion” are included in that truth. If you say you are “praying to God” in the same sentence, you are explicitly making that assertion since it does not make sense to pray to something believe think doesn’t truly exist. Thus we have “May you discover that the tenets of my religion are true” and my previous analysis applies.

    Wouldn’t saying “May you continue to discover that which is true, even if it’s atheism” adequately express your good intentions? After all, “you would not fear that atheism actually is true, for from your point of view it would be impossible right?”

  99. Nokot
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

    Woops: *since it does not make sense to pray to something you believe doesn’t truly exist

  100. PhalsePhrophet
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

    Lily said: “but there are so many other blogs that you could, conceivably, read that would take its place.” Wrong! Like God, that blog does not exist.

  101. trudy
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 8:33 am

    Hi,
    I am amused the moral imperative in your post. “you must be careful ” I am not responsible for your sensibilities. Going by the behaviour of atheists, who demand the freedom to be as rude, crude or disrespectful as they desire, there can be no “must” about how I express myself.

    I find atheists to have an unreasonable desire to limit my freedom of speech. I am responsible for my intentions, and for my actual words, but not for your feelings, or for your erroneous assumptions.

    Nokot wrote;

    “Wouldn’t saying “May you continue to discover that which is true, even if it’s atheism” adequately express your good intentions?”

    Yes, it would.

    We have now reached my goal – that is you now understand my intention and the actual meaning of my words.

    I, on my part are aware of some of the assumptions that atheists make.

    But I accept no “must” from you.

    Trudy

  102. bernarda
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 8:45 am

    I agree with June about cases like Lily, “First of all, I think they do seek the truth.”

    As they can find no reason whatsoever to believe in jesus or the Nt for the simple reason that there is none, they try to find out if there are reasons to not believe. Then they find at places like this that there are myriad reasons for disbelief.

    Ultimately, they themselves have to decide if they will go along with totally unsubstantiated superstition or decide to put their trust in evidence and reason. No one can make a decision for someone else. But at least here they are asking good questions, mostly of themselves, not of us.

  103. June
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 10:04 am

    For those of you scouting for other blogs, here is one written by a biology professor and atheist. This blog will give you an idea of what evolution science and outspoken atheism are really about: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/

  104. PirateJay
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 11:45 am

    qedpro-

    The answer is (a).

  105. June's Sermon
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    Trudy said ” there can be no ‘must’ about how I express myself” meaning she is as unconstrained as an atheist in her thinking.

    Oh, be careful, lest you fall into error and slide down to Hell with us! To be a Christian, you must relinquish the right to think for yourself or to speak your mind. You must live like a follower, cast aside your ideals and idols, give away your belongings, abandon your parents and your pride, become like a child, and follow him as a sheep follows a shepherd. This is a jealous God, and he is very clear that you’re not with him unless you fully subdue and submit yourself. Matthew 22:14 is explicit that many are called [including Christians?] but few are chosen [go to Heaven?].

    It is error to think that God only hates homosexuals, and the rest have a free pass. He also dislikes liars, fornicators, adulterers, masturbators, pimps, whores, witches, and the unrighteous in general. So ask yourself, have you lied? had unauthorized sex? lusted after someone’s spouse? masturbated? Sorry, you’re out (see 1 Cor 6:9).

    And before you call atheists fools, consider that Matthew 5:22 warns that whoever calls his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire himself. As a Christian, you have no right to your own opinion. To get to Heaven, you must turn the other cheek, be scorned and ridiculed, flogged and crucified, and forsaken.

    Or did you think eternal bliss comes for free?

  106. June's Sermon
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    Trudy said ” there can be no ‘must’ about how I express myself” meaning she is as unconstrained as an atheist in her thinking.

    Oh, be careful, lest you fall into error and slide down to Hell with us! To be a Christian, you must relinquish the right to think for yourself or to speak your mind. You must live like a follower, cast aside your ideals and idols, give away your belongings, abandon your parents and your pride, become like a child, and follow him as a sheep follows a shepherd. This is a jealous God, and he is very clear that you’re not with him unless you fully subdue and submit yourself. Matthew 22:14 is explicit that many are called [including Christians?] but few are chosen [go to Heaven?].

    It is error to think that God only hates homosexuals, and the rest have a free pass. He also dislikes liars, fornicators, adulterers, masturbators, pimps, whores, witches, and the unrighteous in general. So ask yourself, have you lied? had unauthorized sex? lusted after someone’s spouse? masturbated? Sorry, you’re out (see 1 Cor 6:9).

    And before you call atheists fools, consider that Matthew 5:22 warns that whoever calls his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire himself. As a Christian, you have no right to your own opinion. To get to Heaven, you must turn the other cheek, be scorned and ridiculed, flogged and crucified, and forsaken.

    Or did you think eternal bliss comes for free?

  107. June's Sermon
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    Trudy said ” there can be no ‘must’ about how I express myself” meaning she is as unconstrained as an atheist in her thinking.

    Oh, be careful, lest you fall into error and slide down to Hell with us! To be a Christian, you must relinquish the right to think for yourself or to speak your mind. You must live like a follower, cast aside your ideals and idols, give away your belongings, abandon your parents and your pride, become like a child, and follow him as a sheep follows a shepherd. This is a jealous God, and he is very clear that you’re not with him unless you fully subdue and submit yourself. Matthew 22:14 is explicit that many are called [including Christians?] but few are chosen [go to Heaven?].

    It is error to think that God only hates homosexuals, and the rest have a free pass. He also dislikes liars, fornicators, adulterers, masturbators, pimps, whores, witches, and the unrighteous in general. So ask yourself, have you lied? had unauthorized sex? lusted after someone’s spouse? masturbated? Sorry, you’re out (see 1 Cor 6:9).

    And before you call atheists fools, consider that Matthew 5:22 warns that whoever calls his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire himself. As a Christian, you have no right to your own opinion. To get to Heaven, you must turn the other cheek, be scorned and ridiculed, flogged and crucified, and forsaken.

    Or did you think eternal bliss comes for free?

  108. Nokot
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

    Trudy, I see that I should have used different language. When said “you must be careful” it was only so that you achieve your own goal: “Any prayer that does not intend good is wasted effort.” It would be sillyto try demand anything of you, and I wasn’t trying to “limit your freedom of speech.”

  109. Lily
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    June:
    If that is what you think Christianity is, it is no wonder you run from it.

    But I am positing the overdose again and recommend breaking out the Haagen Daz. Then, lets talk, ok?

  110. June
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

    Running away from Christianity?

    That’s the same taunt as Colson praying soooooo piously that O’Hair will find the truth.

    What are you reading from, some kind of “How To Get The Atheist” guidebook?

  111. June
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

    And here are some irreverent posts for those of us who have run away from Christianity to the light of reason: http://botd.freethought.net/archives/121, courtesy of the Pharyngula blog I mentioned earlier.

  112. Thorngod
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

    Lily, I had thought you were Catholic. I have come to suspect that you are a member of a megachurch community. Your version of the Holy Bible is not Roman Catholic; it is plastic, facile and undemanding. So June is off base in referencing Jehovah’s instructions to his chosen mouthpieces? I have read a few papal bulls and encyclicals. My brother-in-law is a Catholic. I had a married girlfriend who was a Catholic. And you, madam, are no proselyte of John Paul II or Benedict XVI.

  113. Lily
    July 24th, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    What on earth brought that on Thorn? That is hit and run, indeed.

  114. Lily
    July 25th, 2006 @ 7:22 am

    June:
    Like I said earlier, not everyone is lying in wait to insult you. What I meant by “running away from” was “reject”. I believe that is pretty common usage.

  115. June
    July 25th, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    Once you assume a supernatural omnipotent X, there is no further argument. It becomes Argumentum Ad Dominem!

    The presumption that X exists is there, in Colson’s “to find X” and in Lily’s “to reject X”.

  116. bernarda
    July 25th, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    June, another site for debunking pseudoscience is Panda’s Thumb. It is also linked at the Pharyngula Blog you mentioned.

    http://pandasthumb.org/

    There is also a more directly political one,

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/

    It is not really a blog, but rather a collection of articles.

    The argument from the basis of assuming the existence of the supernatural is like the assumption behind the question “why are we here?”. The question “why” already assumes the response that there is something that gives the “why”?

  117. June
    July 25th, 2006 @ 11:51 am

    Regarding the purpose of life, see my sermon #91

  118. Lily
    July 25th, 2006 @ 1:17 pm

    You are on a roll, June, and this is the last time that I will try to address this particular issue–

    Your “summation” is faulty. There is no presumption that X exists in what I wrote in response to your sermon in 103. (Although I reject the notion that that would be insulting somehow.)

    There is a recognition that if you had been presented with a bald set of propositions, such as you outlined there, it would be understandable that you might reject them.

    Where are the insulting presuppositions in that?

  119. June
    July 25th, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

    Oh, I know that Colson may well see his remark to MMO as friendly and supportive. After all (hey hey hey), you can’t argue with finding the truth (nudge nudge wink wink). The question was, how did MMO see the remarks and respond?

    My summation (#103) presented the gist of what is required to lead a Christian life. My citations were to the Bible. Some churches require less, some require more; but still I doubt that your dogma allows its followers to be liars, adulterers, pimps, and heretics and still enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Or are you saying that — after one finds Jesus — anything goes?

  120. Godthorn
    July 26th, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

    June, I think it’s like this: You hope you don’t commit too many infractions before your next confession. Or, if you’re a real gambler, you wait, as Constantine did, until you’re on your death bed, and can whore no more, and then you accept salvation. -Actually, though, most of the Christians I know don’t really seem to be very concerned about it. –Thorngod

  121. Lily
    July 26th, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

    June, I don’t have any objection to you stating the obvious (liars, fornicators, etc. having no entry into the Kingdom of God) I am troubled by the weird mix of the true and the absurd, like:

    As a Christian, you have no right to your own opinion. Or did you think eternal bliss comes for free?

    I am not likely to forget that Christ paid the price for my salvation.

    It is true that one cannot deny the plain teachings of scripture and substitute one’s own judgement. If one is a Catholic, one accepts that the Church has the duty and authority to pronounce what scripture teaches. But in all the gray areas one is perfectly free to follow one’s (informed) conscience.

    LIkewise there is this: Oh, be careful, lest you fall into error and slide down to Hell with us! To be a Christian, you must relinquish the right to think for yourself or to speak your mind.

    This is pure nonsense. We don’t live in fear of falling into error. God is not waiting to catch us up and cast us out. You can think for yourself and speak your mind on millions of matters. But where God has spoken, you are best off believing and acting accordingly.

    It is all summed up nicely by Saint Augustine: “Love God and do what you want.” Which is to say, if you really love God, you will love what he loves and then you will be free, indeed.

    Thorn, are you ever going to explain that seeming snit (108)?

  122. Godthorn
    July 26th, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

    Lily (and others likeminded), think on this: Jesus, if he were indeed a “Christ” and of the triune godhead, suffered no more than he chose to (which may have been naught) and in any case knew himself to be immortal “God.” No matter how you wish to magnify his suffering, you cannot proportion it sufficiently to equate it with the suffering of any one of the million mere mortal victims of a similar crucifiction.
    It is that bloody image (so lovingly depicted by Mel Gibson, so hungrily devoured by gore-lovnig Christians everywhere), in combination with the sweet-little-babe-in-the-manger story, that gives Christianity its single claim to uniqueness, the peerless presumption of pitying their god! Pity God? Proof certain that human vanity knows no bounds!

  123. Godthorn
    July 26th, 2006 @ 7:19 pm

    Lily, I’m not given to snits and dithers. But I can be confused at times. And I have yet to see how your mercurial theology can be coaxed into the Roman Catholic crucible. I realize that any Christian “believer” has to be wary which Words of God he or she admits as literal, and I am sometimes a bit embarrassed for a Christian who’s trying to adjudicate between two apparently contradictory Biblical dictums. But you seem to pick so sparingly amongst the pearls that I can’t help but wonder just how much of God’s Holy Bible you take literally.

    It’s not really important to me. It’s just one of those minor things I’m a bit confused about.

    Yours in Christ–or wherever. –Thorngod

  124. Lily
    July 26th, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

    Thorn: What is mercurial about my theology? I may be wrong about this or that but mercurial? What you seem to be trying to force me to do is say that the Bible must be taken literally from Genesis to Revelation. If that is the case, you are just plain wrong.

    The catechism, to which I have linked in the past is very plain on the subject. The OT is not to be taken completely literally. It is to be valued for its insights into the workings of God in human history, its prayers, etc. (Catechism pt. 1, #122–url below). I and others like SteveG have written over and over again that it must be approached like any piece of literature. A story needs to be interpreted like a story. A poem needs to be interpretated as a poem. A narrative account of an event is treated differently than a parable. This is literature 201.

    Why do I get the feeling that the real problem is that I and others here have pretty much demolished your (corporate you) simplistic notions of what the Bible actually teaches, who we are and what we believe?

    (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a3.htm#116)

  125. Godthorn
    July 26th, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

    Lily, I must admit that you have some grounds for complaint. We do tend to hold you too unfairly to the oldtime religion of your parents and grandparents. It’s just that the God who is eternal, and the Word that is indisputable, and the Holy Spirit who guides each of the faithful so surely though so variously, seem to adapt themselves so very neatly to the changing mores of succeeding generations of “believers.” I’m confident you can justify the ways of God to most men (and women), since most, like you, are “believers” of one sort or another, but it is the uncertain certainty of it all that I and most other atheists find so ludicrous–and that’s even aside from its utter irrationality. –Thorngod

  126. bernarda
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:24 am

    Poor Lily, “what the Bible actually teaches, who we are and what we believe?”

    What the bible actually teaches is nothing. It changes with each believer one talks to. I see very little “we” in religious belief. I is always “who I am and what I believe”, without any factual evidence to be sure. “The bible says” is not evidence. The bible was just compiled from a myriad of disparate texts written by superstitious self-nominated rabbis and priests from a non-scientific age.

    None of them had understanding of the actual natural world. In other words, they made everything up. None seems to have done any systematic study of natural phenomena such as the ancient greeks did. In fact, they opposed study of the natural world and destroyed much of the greek work.

    St. Augustine explicity condemned the study of mathematics and science.

  127. Godthorn
    August 2nd, 2006 @ 2:26 am

    The silence is deafening!

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