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This is what Archbishop Nichols says.

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Discussion (67)¬

  1. Okay. A genuine belly laugh this time. I’m off to buy a bushel for my very own.

  2. Actually, I think what’s needed is a bushel basket, but they usually omit the basket part of the phrase. Maybe that’s understood, as the old prescriptive grammarians would say when tryint to esplain why their rules didn’t work. If it were just a bushel, one needs to ask a bushel of what? (Sheesh. This is getting like a Treckie nerd talk. Sorry. Sorry.)

  3. author says:

    @DH – I’m just following the KJV.

  4. Neuseline says:

    Being German I could interpret “bushel” as “Buschel” which is a small bush in some people’s dialect. However, acc. to the Collins Concise Dict. “to hide one’s …. ” comes from C14 Old French boissel, from boisse one sixth of a bushel, of Gaulish origin). As a bushel is a Brit. unit of dry or liquid measure equal to 8 Imperial gallons, would 1/6th of it be big enough for Jesus to hide his light under? After all “He is the Light of the World”.

  5. Hector Gonzalez says:

    My standard response to “I’ll pray for you.” is, “No need to be insulting.” Followed by “Jesus asks you not to do that in Matther Chapter 6. Read your bible.”

  6. foundationist says:

    “I’ll get it.” Very nice.

  7. Bodach says:

    Author, never hide your light under a bushel! I never thought Mo had a sense of irony…

  8. I just read the link to Archbishop Nichols. Every time somebody says they will pray for me, or God bless you, I feel like they are pushing their beliefs in my face and I wish I had a polite way to counter that didn’t sound… well, nasty. I’ve found that saying “Do you know how fuckin’ stupid that sounds?” just alienates people. The thing is, we’ve grown up with people pushing nonesense, professing very silly beliefs in public. It’s an accepted part of our culture. Push back and we are accused of being strident. What works? “I don’t believe there is a God.”? “Do you realize that you are pushing your belief system at me when you say that?” “Please keep your religion to yourself and leave me out of it?” (Said with a gentle tone and a smile.) Suggestions anybody? Or do I continue to bite my tongue and rant on my website?

  9. Hey Nichols. No public displays of piety. It’s attraction. not promotion idiot.

  10. andrea says:

    if someone says they’ll pray for me i reply that i can find my own prey thanks.
    Incidentally i notice they’re still bashful about being naked in bed together. Perhaps it’s the bushells or maybe J doesn’t feel right without his lil tiara when Mo gets to wear that crash helmet thing. Fair play to them this blasphemy week i say

  11. Maggs says:

    @ Darwin Harmless

    Try this script.

    Neighbour from across the road: “I’ll pray for you my dear.”
    Atheist: “If it helps YOU, please go ahead.”

  12. Daz says:

    @Maggs

    Nice one!

  13. Sandy says:

    Except in rare circumstances (usually involving a well-established relationship), I too have experienced feeling judged when someone declared their intention to pray for me. And like many here, I too have sought the perfect answer, which in my case (as in some above) tended strongly towards the sarcastic. Ironically, the more retaliatory my response, the more likely it only served to deepen the other’s conviction that I needed to be prayed for. Being a little wiser now, I’ve learned to simply accept that others generally do mean well, regardless of how they present themselves (or of how I perceive their presentations of self). For me, at this time, I choose a simple “thank you”, or a solemn head nod accompanied by a small but genuine smile.

  14. nina says:

    my response to “I will pray for you” is “thanks for nothing”

  15. Lana says:

    How about “I’ll think for you” ? I haven’t had the nerve to use that yet but it has crossed my mind.

  16. Andrew Hall says:

    When someone says, “I’ll pray for you,” I think I’ll reply, “Thanks, I’ll sacrafice another virgin for you.”

    Hmmmm… maybe not – virgins ain’t cheap.

    http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/2010/09/30-days-of-blasphemy-day-21-blasphemous.html

  17. Diane G. says:

    “I’ll pray for you.”

    “I’m sure you mean well…”

    Maybe at least gets ‘em thinking a bit…

  18. Fisheggs says:

    my response to “I will pray for you” is “OK, but please wash your hands thoroughly afterwards”.

  19. yokohamamama says:

    Sandy is right–bowing is the best response, if only because Westerners don’t do it much anymore. Knocks people off their stride a bit. Since bowing breaks eye contact, there’s no need to say anything. And if your smile is faintly ironic, I’m sure none of us will ever tell…:))

  20. BWM says:

    Hector Gonzales, what in Matthew Chapter 6 are you referencing? All I see is an admonition not to PRAY publically, not anything against praying for another. Or are you saying that someone who says they will pray for you is one of the “hypocrites” Jesus mentions?

  21. Shaughn says:

    I am an agnostic. As such I am convinced that no rational statements can be made about the existence of god(s), and thus no such statements can be made about effect and efficacy of prayer to god(s) either.

    Being a veteran and member of ‘the brotherhood of them who have been shot at’ I can acknowledge the statement that ‘in trenches, there are no atheists’. Even atheists turn wise and agnostic saying I am not religious but if there is a god or gods, they are welcome to help.

    When the mere intention of prayer is good, just be politely grateful. Personally, I prefer the buddhists’ greeting in return.
    It might help.

  22. Gat says:

    I am afraid I was not xtian enough to get the meaning of the “bushel” – until the author pointed the KJV .. ho ho ho ….

  23. So what do we do about Fannie Lou Hamer?

  24. @Shaughn

    here’s a rebuttal to the foxhole myth: http://www.atheists.org/military

    while I have never been in combat, I have come close to being killed in car accidents and a few other occasions, I did not have time to waste praying or asking for help – I was too busy avoiding the collisions.

  25. AbortedAgain says:

    “Thank you. But please don’t sacrifice any animal because of me.”

  26. Daz says:

    @ Shaughn:

    Never been in the forces myself, but I have friends who have, both religious and non-religious. They *all* snort with derision when they see that ‘no atheists in the foxholes’ meme trotted out. One, more talkative than the others (it’s my experience that most soldiers who have seen action don’t like to talk about it much to those who haven’t—lack of common ground on the subject, I suspect), told me that most feel that it’s a cheapening of the experience to use it to score debating points, and that it is groundless anyway. For what it’s worth, having been in other sorts of danger and not suddenly having become a whimpering prayer-monger, I agree with them.

  27. DR says:

    MY response to “I’ll Pray for you” is usually ‘fuck off and bother someone else”, it’s worked so far.

  28. Stephen Turner says:

    “Thanks very much. I’ll look forward to the results.”

  29. Shaughn says:

    @ random ntrygg & daz

    The webpage doesn’t really show a rebuttal, as far as I can see. It’s just another believers activists page, it seems.

    The saying is merely to point out that, in mortal danger while inactively awaiting fate, practically everybody is believing in something, however trivial. Superstition flourishes in trenches and foxholes, if only in believing that you’ll only have to fear te bullet with your name on it and wearing a real bullet engraved with your name. Others perfom ‘luck’ rituals or ‘last rituals’, as reading letters from beloved ones, or looking at their photographs and so on and on and on. It is why many drivers carry a photograph of their family at the dasboard or in their wallets. Don’t you, random n and daz?As an agnostic, there is no difference to me whether it is called religion or superstition or whatever. That is all very personal and there is nothing wrong with being talkative or not about it. It’s human.

    And of course, at the moment the waiting is over and action is required, action takes over.

  30. wright1 says:

    @ Shaughn:

    “The webpage doesn’t really show a rebuttal, as far as I can see. It’s just another believers activists page, it seems.”

    Believers in what? Please don’t trot out the ridiculous concept that nonbelief is REALLY belief. The point is that you should be careful about blanket statements like “in trenches there are no atheists”; that site clearly shows that there are.

  31. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Luke C., Skeptic South Africa, Leo Horovitz, Ophelia Benson, Rob Miles and others. Rob Miles said: Jesus and Mo: shine – http://www.jesusandmo.net/2010/10/01/shine/ [...]

  32. BWM says:

    Shaughn, I contest your lumping together of “prayer for help from God” with “reading letters from family members for peace of mind.” They may both help people feel better, but they are completely different actions; one is clearly superstitious, while the other is not. I’d also argue that there is a sincere difference between suddenly converting, Martin Luther-style, in the face of danger, or rediscovering your faith, and simply saying “This is bad, and if there IS a God, it’d be nice to get some help”. That’s not showing any faith in anything.

  33. Daz says:

    @ Shaughn:

    Sorry, I may have been a tad sharp with my last post. I was annoyed about something else and let it carry over. My bad. The bit about being talkative or not was meant as an aside only, and not as a dig at yourself.

    The point is, though, that that meme *does* get used to score cheap debating points, so is not usually taken at the face-value that you describe. A bit like the word “nigger” being “merely” a slang form of “negro,” which is merely the Latin for “black” and colloquially used to mean “dark skinned.”

    Though admittedly my example is more extreme, in both cases there are connotations outside of the face-value reading.

  34. Shaughn says:

    @Wright1
    The website does not prove more than that there are atheists in the armed forces. It says nothing about their steadfastness in atheism if and when under fire (which is what the saying actually is about). Nor about their recovery from a lapse in atheism if ever there might have been one.

    Atheists believe they can make one or more sensible statements about god(s) based upon the same evidence as all other believers: none. As such, they are equal to all believers. I see no real difference.

  35. Daz says:

    “Atheists believe they can make one or more sensible statements about god(s) based upon the same evidence as all other believers: none. As such, they are equal to all believers. I see no real difference.”

    The only thing atheists say regarding the existence of gods is “Show us evidence.” So far, none has been forthcoming. In the absence of such, we see no reason to entertain the concept.

  36. Shaughn says:

    @ BWM
    The end is the same, the ritual is the same: performing some act to feel better.
    And I haven’t said anything about sudden converting or rediscovering faith. Not even about a lasting doubt above and beyond the moment of danger. Just because atheists, like all believers do not doubt (otherwise they would be agnostics) even the slightest doubt or even hope is enough to at least for the moment, undo atheïsm.

    @ Daz
    No offense taken. Your point is clear, as hereabove it is taken at face value, which is more than the *meme* actually says and intends to say. For instance, it does not deny the presence of atheists in the armed forces, as is suggested. It does not state that there are full conversions in trenches or foxholes – as another interpretation was. It just says that, under extreme and critical circumstances, people tend to grasp any certainty they can get – if necessary even those rejected before. That is all the aforism is about.

    So, atheists believe in the possibility of evidence re god(s) existence just like believers but are only more critical on the quality of that evidence.

    As an agnostic I think the whole god(s) hypothesis is irrelevant.

  37. Daz says:

    “It does not state that there are full conversions in trenches or foxholes – as another interpretation was”

    Unfortunately, many of those on the religious (usually right-wing, often evangelical) side use it to mean just that. As such, it’s a phrase that is loaded with baggage that you may not have meant to attach to it, but that will almost certainly be read into it.

    “As an agnostic I think the whole god(s) hypothesis is irrelevant.”

    I’d agree—if we didn’t have institutions, whose existence is based on the idea of those gods being real, trying to get their religious prejudices passed into law. If we didn’t have, in the UK, 26 bishops sitting in the House Of Lords, giving C of E members a lobby denied to others. If churches didn’t receive tax breaks. If homosexuals and others weren’t being persecuted on religious grounds. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point—it’s not just abstract philosophy.

  38. The “There are no atheists in the foxholes.” meme really pisses me off when it is used. It’s saying that if my life were being threatened (as if it isn’t just by being aware of being mortal) I would be religious, just like the idiot throwing the meme at me. And it’s bullshit. I’ve never been under fire in a foxhole, but I’ve been at sea in a storm and seen the rocks coming at me and I can tell you that it did not cause me to prey to the sky faerie. People use the meme as a cheap shot debating point, and they seriously should stop. It’s not stating that “people tend to grasp any certainty they can get ” when threatened with death. It’s stating that I would not hold to my convictions under pressure. That’s their meaning when they use it. Insulting in the extreme.

  39. DA says:

    When someone offers to pray for me, I take it the same way as someone saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to me around December. If it’s clearly a pushy or passive-aggresive move on their part, I’ll react accordingly and usually make fun of them. If they seem to me to mean well, I just say thanks and leave it at that because I don’t really care that much. It’s like when girls here in China call me handsome, as they do with virtually all foreign men; I don’t actually believe that it’s true, but they mean nothing bad by it.

  40. tone-toni says:

    @ Daz:”The only thing atheists say regarding the existence of gods is “Show us evidence.”

    That is not the *only* thing atheism states. Atheism goes on to state unequivocally that there are no divine beings. In theory, if you are correct, then judgement would be withheld until evidence is forthcoming. but judgement is not withheld. It is as if you are saying that

    1. the evidence is lacking now, and
    2. evidence will always be lacking.

    We know the first assertion to be true, but we cannot prove the second assertion. Shaughn is quite correct in asserting that neither assertions, “There is definitely a god” and “there is definitely no god” can be definitively proven. Recently, Stephen Hawkins stated that “modern science leaves no room for the existence of a creator God of the Universe”. This is simply a rehash of the famous statement attributed to Laplace when asked why God was not mentioned in his thesis: “I have had no need of that hypothesis.” I am not making a plug for theism. This is simply a recognition that both theism and atheism founder on the rocks of dogmatism. Unverifiable statements are not scientific, even when made by the world’s top scientist. And to explode yet another myth – agnosticism is not “soft atheism”. The two methodologies are fundamentally different.

  41. LykeX says:

    “Atheism goes on to state unequivocally that there are no divine beings”

    No, it doesn’t. Given that you’re obviously not an atheist, maybe you should let us define the term, hm?

    “2. evidence will always be lacking”

    I certainly wouldn’t say that the evidence will always be lacking. I have no way of knowing that. What I can say is that:
    1) the evidence is lacking now
    2) it has been lacking for a couple of thousand years, despite the efforts of believers world-wide
    3) there’s no good reason to believe that evidence will ever be forthcoming, given the fact that a) no one can even present a plausible avenue of examination or research and b) many believers actively discourage looking for evidence and dismiss evidence in favor of faith

    Also I’d like to add that most concepts of spirituality and divinity are incoherent and self-contradicting. This presents a serious problem as I can’t believe in ‘god’ until I know what the hell the term means.

  42. kiyaroru says:

    If someone offers to pray for me I shall use either:
    to which god?
    or
    why would God obey a miserable sinner like you?

  43. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    What is the point of presenting evidence derived from logic, reason or faith that the recipient denies automatically? There are a lot of things that one has to figure out for oneself, such as, every discussion does not have to end in a conversion.

  44. I think our agnostic friend is merely being pedantic. I am also an agnostic, but I’m a “teapot agnostic” in the words of Daniel Dennet and Richard Dawkins. That’s confusing to a lot of believers, because they don’t just believe in an intelligence that created the universe, they believe that this intelligence can read their thoughts, cares with whom they have sex, listens to their prayers, and causes hurricanes if we don’t say prayers in school. So let’s get real here. Of course we are ALL agnostics in the strict sense. It’s foolish to say that we ABSOLUTELY know what is real and what is not. But we can look at nature, look at the universe, look at all the religious sects out to kill each other, and take a pretty good guess that there is no personal God who cares about us. Let’s not get hung up in semantics. That’s so sophomoric. I’m an atheist because to say I believe in ANY of the Gods currently endorsed by ANY religion seems downright silly, the equivalent of believing in the tooth faerie or Santa Clause. If you have to call yourself an agnostic to reconcile this, go for it. But you are confusing people by suggesting that there might be some reality to their nonsense. IMHO which I suppose is not so humble.

  45. And whooboy. The comments on this site sure do send me off in interesting directions. While looking at the source of the teapot argument, I stumbled into this Wikipedia gem:
    “James Wood, without believing in a god, says that belief in God is more reasonable than belief in a teapot because God is a “grand and big idea” which “is not analogically disproved by reference to celestial teapots or vacuum cleaners, which lack the necessary bigness and grandeur”.”
    If I can be allowed to translate James Wood, what he seems to be saying is that the teapot is not absurd enough, not a big enough lie, not a grand enough figment of dementia. Personally I think Bertrand Russell nailed it when he invented the analogy:
    “If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”
    Amen to that.

  46. Buford says:

    Statement: I’ll pray for you
    Response: No, thank you.
    It makes the point politely and in a way that no one can really object to (if that is your purpose).
    Tea- No, thank you.
    Sugar- No, thank you.
    [anything you don't desire]- No, thank you.

  47. Daz says:

    @tone-toni

    By your argument, I’m an agnostic, then. A 6.999999999, on Dawkins’ scale, agnostic. I can live with that. But by your definition; “Atheism goes on to state unequivocally that there are no divine beings”, there can be no such thing as a thinking atheist, as anyone outright denying the existence of gods would have to be prepared to ignore any evidence that might be produced in the future which pointed to their existence.

    Let me define what I mean by atheist. There has never been a jot of evidence shown that supports the concept of ‘gods.’ The concept only exists in fiction, like Harry Potter or any other made up character. In light of that, I deny that there is any real reason for me to entertain the concept. If strong evidence is found to the contrary, I will change my mind.

  48. tone-toni says:

    @Daz:

    Makes sense to me.

    @LykeX:

    After wading through the ad hominem, I see that you have simply confirmed my assertion that atheism is essentially unverifiable. And since when do I or anyone else not have the right to examine or attempt to define a worldview simply because I might not share it? Your argument sounds so similar to those of religious fundies, that it scares me.

  49. LykeX says:

    Since your reading comprehension is apparently lacking, allow me to make it very clear:
    I didn’t make an ad hominem and I didn’t confirm anything you said. I was disputing your definition of atheism and then offered a clarification of my position.
    Atheism cannot rightly be called unverifiable, since it makes no claim. It is simply the position that the claims of theists have not been supported.

    The only people who say that atheism is a dogmatic rejection of deities tend to be NOT atheists. It’s quite reasonable to question definitions from such sources, as can be demonstrated by example:
    If I defined “agnostic” as someone who believed the earth was flat, would you feel bound by that definition? Would you feel obliged to argue from and defend that position? Or would you reject the definition and give one more to your liking?

    There may be exceptions, but the atheists I’m familiar with would all agree that the definition you give (unequivocal denial of deities) is wrong. That’s not how they define themselves.

    Your definition of atheist runs counter to the self-definition of the majority self-describing atheists. Don’t you think that a bit of a problem?

    You of course have the right to propose your own definition. You do not have the right to expect me to take it seriously when your definition is so obviously out of sync with reality.

  50. Daz says:

    @tone-toni

    I find your last post oddly self-contradictory. You appear to agree with me, and then appear to disagree with the sense of what I said in your reply to LykeX.

    Atheism is not essentially unverifiable, as it is merely the rejection of the idea that a fiction should be taken as a reality. Replace ‘god’ with ‘Harry Potter,’ and the picture becomes simpler because it’s less bogged down in cultural history. With regard to those who say “Harry Potter is real, worship him!”, we say “show us evidence.”

  51. To those who responded to my “What do you say when somebody says they will pray for you?” question, thanks for the suggestions. I realize that what I actually say is “I appreciate the thought,” with what I hope is a patronizing smile, and leave it at that. Depending on the source I might elaborate to “I don’t believe that there is any value in prayer, but I do appreciate the thought.” No point in saying more, or in insulting one whose intentions are good, even if unintentionally annoying.

  52. [...] posted this question in the comments under the latest Jesus and Mo: Darwin Harmless says: I just read the link to Archbishop Nichols. Every time somebody says they [...]

  53. JohnnieCanuck says:

    The word atheist carries a lot of negative connotations, the result of centuries of propaganda and discrimination by the religious. I am always suspicious of those who deny the label for themselves and insist that their definition of agnosticism is the only honest one for a non-theist. I have to wonder just how much they have bought into the slur campaign.

    I know of no reason to believe that there exists anything, anywhere that I would accept as being a god. Of course I can’t prove there isn’t one, somewhere. That’s obvious. Anyone who states that atheists believe they have such proof is building a strawman.

    Curiously, there once was such a thing as Gnosticism. That which apparently agnostics oppose. Curious, because it was an early version of Christianity that was expunged as heretical by their (somewhat) fellow Christians.

    I would expect that theists of whatever stripe would modify their behaviour to acknowledge and perhaps appease their particular divinity. Even the god of Spinoza receives the contemplation of its devotees. Theists have one or a few gods in mind and have a pretty good idea what is expected of them.

    Atheists need have no concerns about the alleged demands from divinities. (Their followers, however, are often problematic.)

    But what is our emphatic agnostic to do? Yahweh, the Elohim, Allah, Zeus, Jupiter,
    Spinoza’s god; he has to be uncertain about them all, doesn’t he? How then to satisfy their many mutually conflicting demands, including no other gods before them, just in case one is real?

    Can we say that there are Jewish agnostics, Christian agnostics, Muslim agnostics, et cetera? These would be people who were inculcated in one religion, but have reached a point where doubt has the upper hand and yet are reluctant to reject tradition publicly or even just to themselves.

    If it turns out that our agnostic actually makes no accommodation for a divinity in daily life, then I say that is equivalent to being an atheist, in all but name.

    As the probability of the existence of any god approaches zero, when can we declare the default to be its non-existence?

  54. My wife asked me once: What would it take to convince you that God does exist? I had to think about this, and the answer is a confession that my mind is closed on the subject. There is absolutely nothing that could convince me. Even if God himself were to appear before me in all His power and glory and start working the room performing miracles, I’d remain unconvinced. This is because I’d have to make a choice: are my perceptions real, or is my brain malfunctioning?
    The probability that my brain is malfunctioning is so much more likely than the possibility that I would be, for the first time, perceiving reality. I’d have to conclude that I’d simply gone insane.
    It’s not the position a good scientist should take. I do hate to have a closed mind on ANY subject, but that’s where I stand on this one. Many people believe in God. I think they are nuts. If I started to believe in God, I’d have to conclude that I’d gone nuts too.

  55. LykeX says:

    @Darwin Harmless
    I sympathize with that position. The theists have defined their god so absurdly that there really isn’t any way they could possibly prove his existence. When we point this out, they accuse us of close-mindedness.

    However, the simple fact is that god, as commonly defined, is the maximally absurd case. Literally any other possible explanation (insanity, brain-in-a-vat, etc) would be more reasonable. That’s a fault of the theist belief-system, not the atheist mind-set.

    I did come up with this little thing. It’s a variant of an argument I got from the AE guys:

    God is supposed to be omnipotent and omniscient, right?
    Therefore, god must be able to convince me of his existence. If he can’t, then he’s not omnipotent and therefore not god. Also, since he’s omniscient, he must know exactly what to do in order to convince me.

    Even if I can’t tell you what would convince me, there must necessarily be such a thing, god must know what it is and he must be capable of doing it.

    The fact that I’m not convinced means that either he doesn’t exist or he doesn’t want me to believe. In the former case, I’m right. In the latter case, it would be blasphemous of me to go against the wishes of god.

  56. ShaunOTD says:

    @tone-toni:”Atheism goes on to state unequivocally that there are no divine beings.”
    & Daz : “[atheism] is merely the rejection of the idea that a fiction should be taken as a reality.”

    It’s not even that. It’s simply lack of a belief in any gods, even if only because one has never heard of any. Passive atheism is still atheism – although the religious tend to object to the truism that we are all born atheists.

  57. Daz says:

    @Shaun

    I was using ‘fictions’ as a simile for ‘god(s)’. So, Yep!

  58. BWM says:

    Shaughn, at the risk of being insulting, reading your unfolding argument is like seeing a theist roll out the “God of the gaps” argument; you’ve redefined both the cliche of “no atheists in foxholes,” as well as things like atheism, prayer, superstitious ritual, and several common behaviors, to a point unrecognizeable to me. You assert, without any evidence I can see, that in situations of likely mortality, people suddenly become non-atheists, without fail, by perhaps looking at a picture of their children and recalling some fond memories. That is not in any way similar to religion (as is meant by the phrase), and you are not using the word “atheist” correctly either.

    And I will weigh in here; if a theist is someone who believes in some sort of divinity, then an atheist is someone who lacks such a believe. Period. There is no such thing as agnostic because there is no other option. It is not comparable to being a “liberal” or “conservative”, when there are other positions. It’s more like how a creature is either sexual or asexual; those are the only possibilities.

  59. outeast says:

    Shaughn
    I don’t believe in ghosts or sprites or anything, but I still get spooked walking through an empty wood at night. That doesn’t mean I really believe in ghosts, and it certainly doesn’t mean ghosts are real! It just means that certain circumstances make me afraid, and when I’m afraid I start to imagine things. And that’s when there’s no real threat at all!
    The argument that people’s behaviour changes under extreme conditions of fear is interesting, but it’s utterly meaningless when it comes to extrapolating beyond that.

  60. truthspeaker says:

    This bushel thing must be a Britishism. I know what a bushel is, and what a bushel basket is, but I don’t get the joke in this comic.

  61. evil66gur says:

    @ darwin when someone says ‘bless you’ after a sneeze or that they will pray for me i simply reply ‘no thank you’. i often get confused looks.

  62. I have to say that I didn’t get it the first time through. Bushel, what does a bushel have to do with anything. I had to follow the author’s link to understand.

  63. Kim says:

    @Shaughn

    Wishing that a genie would pop up and grant me 3 wishes isn’t the same as believing it’s ever going to happen or that they exist.

    “I am not religious but if there is a god or gods, they are welcome to help.” is the same kind of wish. It says nothing about belief at all.

    It’s called wishful thinking for a reason.

  64. Ben says:

    Reformed nutter here from the deep south in the good ole US of A. When my old friends or family tell me they are going to pray for me I think of it along the same line as “I’ll be thinking of you.” Feeling judged by them only brings me down to their rather sophomoric level. They express a desire to do something they consider helpful for me, it’d be rather ridiculous to get puffy about it because I don’t believe in magic people in the sky that care about how I am on anymore. I guess the only reason I’m posting is that I’d like to say that it’s rather stupid to say anything to someone who says “I’ll pray for you,” if they are well meaning. If they’re being judgmental assholes then fuck em up, of course.

  65. dysamoria says:

    Why is it any more necessary to actively disprove god(s) than to disprove leprechauns or tooth fairies? There’s hardly ever a discussion about the semantics of doubt vs certainty in claiming Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Perfectly rational statements work fine for most people to reject such things as foolishness and superstition until the topic of god comes along. That’s incredibly imbalanced.

    The real difference is that there are powerful political institutions established to dominate, control & punish those who reject the specific fairy tale (insert god here) and they have caused the majority of human beings to be indoctrinated from birth into the fairy tale. The longer a person believes a thing, the more real it feels to them.

    My mother explicitly refused to allow her children to believe in Santa Claus because she felt horribly manipulated by her family when they admitted it was a falsehood. This same woman pushed her Jesus & “God” on her children from birth, and is, ultimately, the original source of my hatred of religion (by example of bad behavior). Thanks to her & being forced to attend & witness many churches, even observing protestors (who’s position I support) chanting their slogans & leading each other in group repetition creeps me out as like religious puppetry & automaton behavior.

    I can proclaim there’s no god just as confidently as I can proclaim there’s no Santa, leprechauns, trolls, tooth fairies, unicorns, headless horsemen, Godzilla, Candyman, ghosts, talking trees, wizards, etcetera. It’s not an issue of being closed-minded or unenlightened to reject nonsense and superstition. It’s not a refusal to accept or allow for things beyond current knowledge of the universe. It’s a rejection of manmade fiction being treated as fact. Period.

  66. dysamoria says:

    As a person that has dealt with extreme trauma, fear & suffering, I fully grasp the very human trait of wishing for help from otherwise nonexistent sources. I have a severe break with my family but I was raised in a family environment and therefore exhibit irrational wishes that my parents take me away from my suffering. It’s normal. The foxhole concept is the same. It is not a verification of gods; it’s a verification of having reached an ultimate feeling of impotence to affect an intolerable situation and a demonstration of the socially suggested granter of such wishes.

  67. dysamoria says:

    @ Nassar Ben Houdja:

    That’s my favorite of your comments thus far. A wise decision indeed it is to simply not engage with someone who rejects reason. It’s the only method of dealing with the irrational: do not engage.

    Sadly, sometimes not engaging equals allowing them to continue abusive behaviors. It’s a fine line.

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