The Raving Theist

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January 26, 2009 | 25 Comments

Atheist Trina Hoaks of the Atheism Examiner provides some balanced but oddly-worded commentary on Obama’s executive order rescinding restrictions on the funding of overseas abortions:

Although I realize that there will be believers and non-believers alike who will be disturbed by an Executive Order signed late today, I imagine certain Christian groups will be beside themselves. Certain liberal groups, however, will be overjoyed.

The Executive Order I am referring to is the one that reverses Bush’s order to
deny government funding of international groups that distribute abortion
information or perform abortions.

According to an Associated Press report on Yahoo! News, Bill Burton, a White House spokesperson, said, “Obama signed the executive order, without coverage by the media, late on Friday afternoon.”

Bush’s policy has long been criticized for its exclusionary nature. By denying
aid to agencies that offer abortions (and in some cases only offer information
thereof) some believe we have denied much needed monies to agencies that
provide other important services as well.

On the other side of the issue, people who are anti-abortion did not want
their tax dollars being spent on something they deem to be fundamentally

Being one of those shy, controversy-hating militant atheists, Hoaks herself does not express an opinion on the underlying abortion issue. But the mere act of posting about the topic on an atheist blog signals her belief that there’s some religious “problem” that needs to be addressed. It’s hard to pin down, however, exactly what she believes the problem to be.

Her opening words declare that both atheists and believers may be “disturbed” by Obama’s abortion-friendly edict. But before that sentence ends, we’re advised that a particular subset of the believers — Christians — will be “beside themselves.” The implication seems to be that opposition to abortion is rational and secular up to the point where the practice is mildly upsetting to the opposer, but irrational and religious (in a way only “certain Christian groups” can be) to the extent that the opposer becomes outraged by the killing.

Perhaps I am reading to much into Hoak’s words. In particular, maybe she does not attribute any irrationality to the state of being “beside” oneself. After all, atheists reach that level of emotion regarding any number of issues, and when they do, their anger is righteous rather than just plain old crazy. For all I know, Hoaks may be beside herself that the liberals are overjoyed.

Still, I am wondering why Hoaks’ dichotomy went from believers and non-believers in the first sentence, to “Christian groups” and “liberal groups” by the second. Why not continue the parallelism and say that “certain atheist groups” or “certain non-Christian” groups, are overjoyed? Certainly, there are at at least some atheists who believe that pro-choice policy is somehow derivative of atheism, and that “‘life begins at conception’ is a misogynist statement” that inevitably drives its adherents to religion.

Whether Hoaks falls into that group I cannot say. Probably not, as people who think that way tend to say so. More than likely, she is just disturbed.


25 Responses to “Disturbed”

  1. Skeptimal
    January 26th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm


    Did you have this much contempt for atheists a few minutes ago when you *were* one?

    “Certainly, there are at at least some atheists who believe that pro-choice policy is somehow derivative of atheism, and that “‘life begins at conception’ is a misogynist statement” that inevitably drives its adherents to religion.”

    What a strange statement. It really isn’t clear what you mean. Are you saying that *you* used to believe you had to be an atheist to be pro-choice and that’s why you converted? Or are you saying that there’s a group of atheists out there who think you have to be pro-choice if you’re an atheist?

  2. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    January 26th, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    Are you saying that *you* used to believe you had to be an atheist to be pro-choice and that’s why you converted?

    That’s what I’m hearing.

  3. Matthew in Fairfax
    January 26th, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

    Certainly, there are at least some atheists who believe that pro-choice policy is somehow derivative of atheism.


    The link TRT refers to includes this concluding paragraph:

    “That’s why the inclusion of non-believers in the inaugural speech is such a big honking deal. Acknowledging atheists as equal citizens to the faithful has a ton of policy implications, ranging from small things like the Pledge to bigger issues, like the right to use birth control and abortion. This little thing could end up sending a signal with bigger implications down the road.”

    The Pandagon author does not elaborate link between atheism and the “right to … abortion.”

  4. Brian Walden
    January 26th, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

    It looks like RT was simply stating that there are people who think that being pro-abortion naturally flows from the atheist worldview. He even provided evidence of his assertion (although not all of the links seem to work). If Hoaks fell into this line of thought, that might explain her opposition of Christians (a religious designation) and liberals (a political designation). Ultimately he concluded that she probably wrote the article because she was disturbed by the edict (which actually supports the idea that one can be atheist and pro-life) rather than because she fell into the aforementioned group.

    Skeptmial, your questions seemed honest, but Jane, how could you jump to a conclusion like that based on the words that were written. If you’re going to disagree with someone, at least interpret their words charitably. Otherwise we just end up talking over each other.

  5. Skeptimal
    January 27th, 2009 @ 9:58 am

    “The link TRT refers to includes this concluding paragraph…”

    Thanks for that, Matthew. I read the AE blog but didn’t follow the link to Pandagon to make sense of it. I have no idea why Pandagon mentioned abortion in that context. I’m not an expert on atheism, but I am unaware of any perceived direct link between atheism and abortion rights.

    Brian, I have to wonder, as Jane apparently does, if there’s a subtext to RA/RT’s post regarding his decision to pursue faith-based reasoning. The lack of explanation for his 180-degree white-to-black turn is puzzling. He now shows utter contempt for beliefs he presumably held in good conscience until relatively recently.

    Or is he saying he *didn’t* hold those beliefs in good conscience? Is he trying to tell us that he was never really an atheist; that he only convinced himself he was because he was angry at theists?

    If he ever tries to explain this shift, it will be very interesting to read.

  6. Jahrta
    January 27th, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

    I think I’d be able to put all of this puzzling “conversion” crap behind me if it came to light that he never truly considered himself an atheist in the first place. That would be the only possible explanation for such a huge leap from scientifically-backed reason and method to “goddidit!” That, or he bumped his head or came down with mad cow disease, or something to that effect.

  7. Brian Walden
    January 27th, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

    Ok Skeptimal and Jahrta, I’ll bite. What beliefs does RT show contempt for? What scientifically-backed reasoning did he abandon?

  8. Skeptimal
    January 27th, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

    “What beliefs does RT show contempt for?”

    Atheism in its entirety, and atheists as individuals. That’s to be expected from some religionists, who are going to view atheists, agnostics, skeptics and the rest as buzz killers because we won’t play “let’s pretend.” It’s more than a little strange from someone who, until recently, *was* an atheist.

  9. Louise
    January 27th, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

    I think I’d be able to put all of this puzzling “conversion” crap behind me if it came to light that he never truly considered himself an atheist in the first place.

    Because it’s all about you, Jahrta.

  10. Brian Walden
    January 28th, 2009 @ 10:38 am

    I’m sorry Jahrta, but I don’t see the contempt. He certainly shows it for abortion, but unless you think abortion is an atheist doctrine I don’t see how that translates into contempt for atheists. Many Christians are pro-abortion (like our President and first Lady for example), and I don’t see RT cutting them any slack. I think you may at times project the stereotypical bible-thumping “evangelical” “fundamentalist”* image that the mass media uses to portray all Christians onto RT.

    * I put those words in quotes because they’re usually used as slurs rather than to mean what they really mean.

  11. Jahrta
    January 28th, 2009 @ 11:39 am

    Louise – that’s a funny comment coming from someone who believes that she was created in the image of an all-powerful deity who is so concerned about her well-being and path in life that he watches everything you do so he can judge you worthy to sit by his side forever and evers once you die.

  12. Jahrta
    January 28th, 2009 @ 11:42 am

    Is evangelical a slur? Last I checked it was a recognized denomination. Is fundamentalist a slur? Not at all, although many atheists find them to be the biggest detriment to society since the black plague. I actually hold more loathing for the neocons – the puppet masters who tell the evangelicals and fundamentalists what they should think, who they should hate, who they should blame, and for whom they should vote. God knows they can’t think for themselves, after all.

  13. Lily
    January 28th, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    Sigh. Evangelical is not a denomination, Jahrta. Nor is fundamentalist. They describe approaches to the interpretation of scripture and to living out one’s post conversion life as a child of God.

    Neo-cons? Sigh. Yet again, a label that attempts to find commonalities in a philosophical approach to government and sound fiscal policy. Since when is there anything new and noteworthy in people banding together who share much philosophical ground in common?

  14. Brian Walden
    January 28th, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

    Jahrta, seriously, you need to work on the reading comprehension. You read your own interpretation into what other people say.

    I didn’t say that evangelicalism wasn’t a denomination (although it’s not – it’s more a movement or paradigm which crosses denominations). And I didn’t say it’s only ever used as a slur – so even if it were a denomination that wouldn’t make my statement wrong. It’s hard to even define what evangelical means any more because it’s so often used to describe anyone who is the “bad” kind of Christian – rather than the “good” kind who believe exactly what the rest of society believes only they’re big Jesus fans on the side.

    Don’t take my word for it. I did a search on a blog called – a site that analyzes how the media reports on religion – for “define evangelical”: . It’s constantly an issue, even among people who are supposed to be using stylebooks, that the word evangelical is just thrown around without any real meaning. I’m not sure anyone can really nail down what it means anymore.

    Next up, fundamentalist. Think of the last Christian you called a fundamentalist. Did you call them that because they were a Protestant who believed in the inerrant, inspired nature of the bible; the virgin birth of Christ; that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin; that Christ was bodily resurrected; and that Christ’s miracles were historical realities. If that wasn’t why you called them that, there’s a chance you could have been using it as a slur.

    Anyway I put those two terms in scare quotes and added a footnote because I was using them in the slur sense rather than their actual meaning.

    It’s rather ironic that you bring up neocon. That’s another one of those words that has lost any sense of real meaning other than as a slur. I think it originally referred to people who were once members of the left but moved right, like the Reagan Democrats for example. What’s it mean when you use it?

  15. Jahrta
    January 28th, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

    What does neocon mean to me? People like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. People who have corrupted religion to suit their own means and needs. People who convince their readers that atheists are destroying america. Salt of the earth, I tells ya.

  16. Jahrta
    January 28th, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

    For what it’s worth, I do not associate any particular fiscal policy with neocons, other than the fact they are ultra-conservative. Fiscally speaking, I am also conservative.

  17. Jahrta
    January 28th, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

    I didn’t say “fundamental” was a denomination, Lily. I view biblical literists as fundamentals. I believe most people share this view. People who believe that earth is 6K years old, or that pi = 3, or that an old man built an ark that could carry two of every living creature over a global flood (what did the carnivores eat? How did plant-life survive?). People who think gays are inherently evil. People who don’t believe in evolution. Should I go on? These are the people who are worthy of ridicule. Not just from the atheist community, but from your own as well.

  18. Brian Walden
    January 28th, 2009 @ 4:52 pm

    So you’re admitting that the view shared by most people who use the term fundamentalism is that it’s describing people who are in their perception worthy of ridicule. What was your original point again?

  19. Daniel M
    February 6th, 2009 @ 11:15 am

    I think RAT’s blog entry was highly insulting and inappropriate.

    I do not seriously think that there are any atheists who believe that abortion is an acceptable form of birth control.

    I do not think that you have to be atheist to be “pro life” or “pro choice” – the two are not related at all, the only “link” is through this sort of abhorrent yellow journalism that tries to prove that 2+2=5 by saying that pro-choice means baby-eating rampant fornication, and that because the stars are aligned just right, that’s what atheism is.

    You fail reading comprehension 101, RAT – Trina Hoaks says that both theist AND atheist people may be worried by the decision, but that (naturally) christian (which in the USA often means right wing and pro-life, do you deny that?) groups will be beside themselves (it means they’re upset, if you didn’t understand) whilst liberal (naturally, as they are usually by definition pro-all-sorts-of-choices) groups will be happy.

    This is not surprising. It’s not contraversial. I fail to see what you’re upset about – I think it’s just another soap-box for you, since you seem to be just..well..raving.

  20. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    February 6th, 2009 @ 11:41 am

    Daniel M, do you think that the pill is an acceptable form of birth control?

  21. Daniel M
    February 7th, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

    I think any form of birth control which prevents conception is acceptable as a form of birth control – abstinence, condoms (and related) and the pill (and related).

    Going on from that, the “morning after pill” is less preferred (mainly because of the possibility of side-effects) and the only reason you should be taking such a pill is because you messed up and weren’t on the pill and/or using a condom in the first place (leaving both partners vulnerable to STD’s) and really, really need to do better next time.

    The last method, the very last method, the most painful to prevent an unwanted child is an abortion – hence every effort should be made to prevent an abortion from being necessary.

    Don’t get me wrong – abortions should be safe, sane and legal, but there should also be zero unnecessary abortions.

    And to cover all bases, religious people may have the objection that murder is a sin (and that abortion is murder), but that doesn’t stop atheist people from seeing abortions as the ending of a potential and unique human life, and as such that it is not something to take lightly.

  22. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    February 7th, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

    The pill doesn’t prevent conception. It prevents the fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall. The morning after pill is just the equivalent of three pills. Then comes RU-486 for anyone under 12 weeks, and then a D&C.

    An IUD also causes the fertilized egg to fail to land.

    So in essence, they cause abortions. Like most women on birth control, I use the pill, but I think if you are of the opinion that life begins at conception, it’s good to know how they work.

  23. Daniel M
    February 8th, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

    Ah, you learn something new every day!

    Personally I do not believe that a person begins at conception, I think it begins much later. I will readily say I don’t know when that is, but that to avoid pain in all it’s forms any attempts at preventing a pregnancy should be done as early as is possible.

    To correct you, apparently the hormones from pills and IUD’s prevents ovulation (so no egg to fertilize), prevents the sperm from entering the egg or the uterus (so no fertilized egg in the first place) as well as the third action of preventing a fertilized egg from attaching itself and growing into an embryo (let alone a foetus or a baby) in the first place.

    I don’t see that as abortion, as in the first two (and most common) cases it certainly isn’t – and for the most part, this is what happens.

    In the last case, after looking at it rationally, I can’t see a small bundle of cells as a person. I bite off more cells that that when I bite my nails (filthy habit). I yank out more cells than that when I comb my hair. When I shower, more cells than that sluice down the drain.

    Whilst they won’t on their own spontaneously grow into a human, we know it IS possible to give them enough of a nudge to grow a clone – so unless we need to provide a burial service for every follicle, I am more than happy that the e-pill exists and is used.

    Of course, using a condom not only prevents sperm from getting any near any eggs in the first place but also protects from STD’s – they do not have microscopic holes and they do work.

  24. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    February 8th, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    No Dude. While you are on the pill or an IUD you still produce an egg. You still get your period. Part of getting the prescription is learning that conception still occurs from your doc, lest it be in conflict with your morality.

    And this is why many states have laws already in place outlawing the pill in the event that Row v Wade is overturned.

    As you are clinging to the idea that conception does not occur, I’m guessing that it bothers you, in which case, use a condom, or get fixed.

  25. Daniel M
    February 9th, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

    unless this and many other supporting documents are flat out lies, ovulation does not occur. No egg.

    The rest of the effects of the pill are similarly documented, and similarly as I described them (and my thoughts on that – you did read the rest of it, didn’t you?).

    If you want to believe that there’s some great conspiracy to keep the truth about the pill hidden from the public world-wide, then go ahead. It becomes obvious at that point that there is no rational argument that will persuade you otherwise.

    I have said all I needed to say about my views and I have demonstrated what I take as an error in your understanding. Anything further would be repeating myself.

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