The winner of this month’s raffle prize is Sonya from Australia. She gets a signed, personalised copy of Folie à Dieu. Congratulations, Sonya! Next month’s prize is a signed, personalised copy of Born Again. Go to the Patreon page if you want to join the fun. The first batch of clerihews went out to patrons last night – only another fifty to write!

Discussion (137)¬

  1. Roger says:


  2. IanB says:

    Jesus is ‘Kevin the teenager’

  3. Michael says:

    If Jesus really wants to push the verse in Matthew then Barmaid should bring up 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV):

    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

  4. Rick Albert says:

    Another ponted and accurate comment on the faithful and their often childish behaviour. Keep and eye on the public anger of the bishop of Toronto at Justin Trudeau’s stance on a woman’s right to choose.The bishop has been reduced to empty threats. Thank god we have a Constitution guaranteeing Women’s equality.

  5. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I do like the way that the last couple of strips appear to have been inspired by our conversations in previous strips: Art imitating life, so to speak. I love it.

    By the way, Author, you may want to proo fread the blurb under this cartoon!

    From the previous comments:
    Mary2 says:
    June 4, 2014 at 2:00 am
    AOS, tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. i.e. the fault is with the author not the lazy bastard.

    But isn’t the fault still with the lazy bastard? Symptomatic, I think, of the ‘sound bite’ generation. Tolstoy would never have been published nowadays, unless he compressed his masterpiece into “War bad, peace good. M’kay”.

  6. It is great to have a strip inspired by the comments on the last strip. Childish indeed describes many believers and cultists. Speaking of cults and culture, here is what we are dealing with in the USA. Gun Culture. I shamelessly promote:

  7. RavenBlack says:

    Surely Jesus votes yes for imaginary friends!

  8. Kimberly says:


  9. NSPike says:

    @AoS – my thoughts exactly on Author’s inspiration.

    With regard to tl;dr, as I understand it, using that phrase and placing the blame on the author isn’t through genuine laziness but through snarkiness, saying that they’re rambling on. It’s more symptomatic of the ‘trolling’-style Internet culture. Obviously this is all mild, poking fun at others and trying to get a rise out of them – trolling is something that’s ended up massively exaggerated and distorted since it’s original conception as winding up anonymous internet users.

    That’s my understanding anyway.

  10. You’ll be amused by this cartoon then – which the NY Times refused to publish…

  11. Chris+Phoenix says:

    “the the” in panel 4

  12. I love how you took the idea expressed in Matthew 18:3 and just ran with it, Author. You rock, big time.

  13. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    Today the barmaid is a bit of a crank
    Only thing for children is a good spank
    But kids are so cute
    When they howl and they hoot
    Check their diaper make sure its not rank.

  14. ShallowEnder says:

    Ophelia, the NYT wsn’t the only one who refused to publish it …

    NSPike : “tl;dr” is telling me I am not worth the effort of reading, even in small chunks over several days , weeks or months, like a book at bed-time. It is saying I am basically shite and should just fuck off and shut the hell up. [Which may be true. Both may be true.]Not reading me is fine. That’s just personal taste. Telling me I’m a fucking waste of space, time and skill is a personal insult.
    “tl;dr”, in short, is hurtful.

    cosmicstargoat: a couple of thoughts if I may? Were there armed security guards at the gates to USAlien schools and were I to wish to blow away kiddies, I would merely arm myself with bigger, better guns. [No, I don’t do things like that, and I’m a long way from USAlien schools so it’s a thought exercise, no more.] RPG’s and bazookas and LAWs rockets by preference. [I’m a coward. I hate the idea of an even fight or of giving an enemy a sporting chance. I rarely indulge in physical conflict but if I did I would want massive superiority.] That, no doubt would appeal to the caricatures of NRA officials in the discussion you linked to.
    Secondly, were your policemen to disarm, completely, would fewer of them be shot dead? I suspect so. Walking into a firezone wearing armour and carrying a totally bullet-proof shield would not look macho and heroic and manly but if a squad of them did that no one need die. I wonder if it’s ever been considered? Or tried? Even in “civilised” nations like England the response to armed criminals, even those armed with no more than knives is increasingly the use of machine pistols and grenades. The idea of preventing deaths and protecting the public seems to have evaporated.
    I blame “Dirty Harry” movies.
    As a last point, the NRA remind me very strongly of the Temperance Leagues who bullied Prohibition of alcohol into existence. I’m sure both sets would find this insulting but the similarities of rhetoric are striking. Only the nouns in their speeches are different. Indeed, they both sound like Black Panthers, French National Front candidates, the KKK, and “right to lifers”.
    Anyone I haven’t just insulted?

  15. DocAtheist says:

    Author, excellent!

    As for “tl;dr”, I always thought of it as constructive criticism, not a personal attack. Were I to write more clearly and concisely, more would read and (hopefully) be impressed.

  16. ShallowEnder says:

    Author, et alia, “become like a child” I always assumed meant to keep and sustan a sense of joy and wonder at the magnificent splendour of this cosmos and all it contains. A sense of curiosity about how it works. Love for soft, defenceless squishy things and a great huge longing to hug it all.

    “Wonder and hope will draw the Unicorn, faith and love will bind him.
    “This is innocence.
    “Sexual experience has nothing to do with it.”

    That kind of “child”.

  17. ShallowEnder says:

    Bugger, no edit function …
    “… to keep and sustain …”.
    And the bold marker should have closed after the last “that”.

    Still “tl”?

  18. Ephphatha says:

    Topical only within this small, adolescent clique.

    Mark 10:14 “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these…

    Matthew 11:25 “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from (barmaids), and revealed them to little children.”

  19. ShallowEnder says:

    Hi, Ephphatha, darling, nice to see you again.
    So, are Boko Haram nuts? Are they evil nuts? Are they criminal evil nuts who should be, at least, jailed forever or are they goodly and just and doing the work of big daddy?
    Would you and your church, whichever it is, condone or condemn them?

    cosmicstargoat: would the NRA be offended were I to suggest that their rantings are almost identical to those of Boko Haram and other hate-fuelled hate-filled hate groups? Neither have any semblance of a sense of humour.

    DocAtheist : instead of dismissing a Writer with the sneering contempt of “tl:dr” it would be very, very much appreciated if the non-reader would tell the Writer where he’s going wrong. Tell us what we can cut and still make our points clearly or tell our stories.
    Telling the Author of this comic there is a superfluous “the” in panel 4 is good, telling him it’s “tl;dr” is just rude.

  20. Macha says:

    OK, here’s something completely irrelevant, absolutely nothing to do with the topic, it may irritate some people, it possibly isn’t even funny, but Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick, if other tossers can do it, so can I …

    .. there, I’ve done it

  21. The Dukester says:

    We do well to keep the distinction between “childishness” and “childlikeness” to which ShallowEnder refers. Yes, ridicule the former, the nonthinking, simplistic, blindly obedient, tragic silliness that religion often encourages. At the same time, don’t we all do well to hold on to that sense of wonder, curiosity and innocent affection that children seem to express naturally? Religious fundamentalists see things in terms of black and white; we can do much better.

  22. IanB says:

    On the topic of children although at a slight angle to the one taken by the strip I noticed this today

    Makes me sweary.

  23. Macha says:


    But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.

    … unspeakable, despicable, evil and worthless scum.

    As a proper grown up person, not an adolescent, it makes me feel rather cross.

  24. cosmicstargoat, if you are going to shamelessly self promote, which is totally fine by me, you must expect a bit of criticism. Not a lot, because I find your blog generally hilarious and I really appreciate all the informative links. But I made the mistake of following your link to your rant about LARP, which looks to me like lots of harmless and colourful fun for people with too much time on their hands, people who wouldn’t give a flying frog whether you find them absurd or not, people who don’t mind being totally ridiculous, in other words people I would like to have for friends. But I seriously gag when you use “gay” or “vagina” as terms of mockery and derision. Tut tut and pshaw. I’m not a huge fan of PC behaviour enforcement, but this is so very unoriginal, cliched, and childish that it quite took the luster off your otherwise amusing prose. For fuck sake, man. You can do better than that, obviously. Indeed, I expect better from you, and you are, of course, expected to live up to my expectations.

  25. Wonderful! 🙂 I love Emo Jesus! Heh.

    (& I’m still impressed at the fact that you included clerihews in your Patreon rewards, but I don’t envy you having to write them all out, m’dear. :/ )

  26. Mary2 says:

    AOS, yes, At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, we now have the attention spans on goldfish. I had hoped the sarcasm in my previous comment was implicit. I forgot we now need emoticons to express emotion. 🙁 😉

  27. Mary2 says:

    Have we seen J & M in the urinals before and I just haven’t noticed? It obviously says that I have lingering prudishness that I need to get rid of when I’m fine with sharp, cutting comics trashing the very tenets of these religions but I take an extra breath see the prophets/gods in the bathroom. 🙁

  28. Darwin, that was not MY rant about LARpers, that was another author, Plexico, who is the owner of the site Ruthless. It was written in 2006 and there is a long story behind it, but by all means, criticize away. This means you are reading, and this is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

  29. ShallowEnder says:

    IanB :I was going to say “thanks for that” but I am sure that is the wrong sentiment. Thank you for informing us, I was totally ignorant of the scale of atrocities committed by the churches,[1] but I don’t thank you for the nasty, dehumanising fury the article fills me with.
    I’m better than that. I’m better than them. I’m far, far better a sentient, compassionate, feeling being than are any of those scum and wanting to wipe their filthy, foetid church and all their rotten priests off the face of the planet with the largest weaponry I could imagine is unworthy of me.
    Eppy, would that be the work of your merciful daddy?
    Ephphatha and friends, do you condone the massacre of children? Or would you see those “priests” joining Boko Haram in penal institutions?

    What I have always wondered [though I’m cynical and realistic enough to be fairly sure of the answer] is why those filth, from the nuns on the ground to the popes in their palaces would risk their immortal souls burning in their various hells forever by committing atrocities? Don’t they fear the wrath of the big daddy? Don’t they care about the judgement they will face for their crimes?
    In truth, I know they are all hypocrites pretending to believe who really have no faith in the crap they spout. They don’t fear eternal damnation because they are even more cynical infidels and unbelievers than am I.
    What interests me, a little, is that so few of their flocks seem to wise up to this vast hypocrisy.
    The Ephphathas can see the rapes, tortures, mass murders and other crimes but they still venerate these vermin.
    That I’ll never understand.
    What about it, Eppy, dearest? Do you still love the baby killers?
    Do you still adore their fictitious gods in which they do not believe?
    Or is that a dead-fish question?

    [1] I know that abuse of all kinds happens in every place where the vulnerable are constrained by the powerful, and that the mainstream allow it because they are afraid to “rock the boat” or “make a fuss” but every so often something vile and stinking bubbles up from the miasma of evil and surprises me. This was one. It doesn’t shake my faith in Humanity. I would have to have some of that for it to be shaken.

  30. DocAtheist says:

    ShallowEnder, I wasn’t suggesting anyone else, here, was “tl;dr”, only that when it was applied to me (sometime back, on a different site), I realized my writing did ramble on and on. Yes, more specific criticism would have been helpful, but at least I was given a bit of a hint.

    Your last paragraph is worth repeating, and I would wear it printed on a t-shirt, if I found such a one. Please forgive the copy and paste, but it that valuable:
    “I know that abuse of all kinds happens in every place where the vulnerable are constrained by the powerful, and that the mainstream allow it because they are afraid to “rock the boat” or “make a fuss” but every so often something vile and stinking bubbles up from the miasma of evil and surprises me. This was one. It doesn’t shake my faith in Humanity. I would have to have some of that for it to be shaken.”

  31. cosmicstargoat, I’m much relieved and I apologize for not catching that you weren’t the author. I actually felt uncomfortable bringing up my objection to that rant. I’m usually very tolerant of language that isn’t PC. I don’t like the limiting of language use that PC implies or causes. But the words we use do reflect our world view, and I find gender based insults to be… indicative of a rather distasteful world view. This is not something I have always recognized. I grew up in a culture in which sexism and misogyny, and racism, were not just tolerated, they weren’t noticed. Now I try to notice them, and when I notice them I feel compelled to call them out.
    Whew, all this to say, I’m glad it wasn’t you who wrote that piece. My apologies for that assumption.

  32. Darwin, no problem. Now…I do use language, in context, that is not PC. Check out some of my words here under “D” for “Dad Gum”. I do use the “N” word, but it is within context of what the Redneck says and thinks. A lot of our stuff is parody and meant to evoke a response.

  33. Ephphatha says:

    ShallowEnder, do you become filled with as much “nasty, dehumanizing fury” when you hear about atrocities committed by atheists? Would you feel like you were being condescended to if I kept peppering you with questions about whether you approve or disprove of the many and various crimes against humanity committed by atheists? Surely you are not as big of a hypocrite as you have unwittingly (I hope) made yourself out to be, or as much of a one-eyed fundamentalist-atheist monster, with no depth perception, that your posts make you out to be. No, of course not. I would certainly prefer to believe you when you say:

    “I’m better than that. I’m better than them. I’m far, far better a sentient, compassionate, feeling being than are any of those scum and wanting to wipe their filthy, foetid church and all their rotten priests off the face of the planet with the largest weaponry I could imagine is unworthy of me.”

  34. Macha says:

    “links to dinesh d’souza are the last resort for those who can’t win the argument” Eccles 13:2

    Anyway. isn’t he a lying criminal?

  35. Mary2 says:

    Ephphatha, I agree with you that repeating a question you are obviously not prepared to answer is not helpful but please do not fall into the trap of conflating the crimes of the Religious to which ShallowEnder is referring with the crimes of atheists. No one has ever suggested atheists don’t commit crimes. The difference (as has been explained many times to people who bring up your argument) is that the crimes of various churches in protecting child-rapists, or the crimes of various pogroms to kill Jews, are committed IN THE NAME OF the particular religion. No atheist criminal has committed their crimes to defend atheism. Do you see the difference? I don’t understand why people find this so complex. No one is saying the church or religion is to blame because a priest turns paedophile but the religious institution IS at to blame when they become an accessory to the paedophile’s crimes by protecting them so the reputation of the CHURCH is not tarnished. If a religious person murders someone for money, no blame can be placed on their religious beliefs but when they murder someone because they believe their religion demands it, then the beliefs must bear some responsibility. To use ShallowEnder’s illustration, Boko Haram did not kidnap girls to make money or gain power for communist views etc. they did it because they believe their religion demands power.

  36. NSPike says:

    ShallowEnder – you’re right, it is rude, as I said, that’s the point – but it’s supposed to be (again, by my sometimes naive understanding) quite mild and more like ‘winding up’ than trying to outright offend or hurt. That said, plenty’s been said on this site about the right of free speech and to take/give offense.

    Of course I use it purely in a ‘cheeky’ way – if I really thought something needed to change, I would give more constructive feedback. And I also really enjoyed the paragraph copy and pasted by DocAtheist.

    Mary2 – I thought the same thing. There seems to be a vague memory somewhere in my mind of seeing that panel before, but I regularly remember things that never happened and forget things that have, so I’m not to be trusted with these matters 🙂

  37. Mary2 says:

    DH, I have not read the rant to which you were objecting but good on you for calling out the use of certain terms as insults. No one wants the world to be limited by overly PC demands but words do have power. When we allow terms associated with women or gays or ethnic groups to be used as an insult we are promoting a culture in which those groups are seen as ‘less than’. This has real world consequences far greater than even the hurt felt by a member of the group who unexpectedly reads themselves being referred to as the worst thing a ‘normal’ person can be. As a gay person I know how it can be a huge slap in the face to be watching a movie, laughing away, or caught up in the scene, and then a character is calling their antagonist a ‘faggot’ without their being any implication of the person’s sexuality. We would never allow the word ‘Jew’ to be thrown around as an insult but you can’t find anything more offensive to call a man than ‘you girl’. Big kisses from Mary2.

  38. IanB says:

    ShallowEnder says:
    “but I don’t thank you for the nasty, dehumanising fury the article fills me with”

    Sorry for that. It too had me spitting with rage not that the evils are the catholic church (in general) and particularly in Ireland are unknown, that just seemed to top every other case (so far). Unfortunately I am sure there’s going to be more brought to light with the passage of time.

    As for Ephphatha’s straw man of crimes committed by atheists I am sure it’s been noted before only the religious commit their crimes in the name of their misguided faith believing their invisible friend or worse their invisible enemy is the reason. The Magdalane homes are a direct result of the churches integration with the state and it’s continued repression of normal human sexuality, the regarding unmarried mothers as ‘fallen’ and giving power to their miserable sexually frustrated harridans AKA nuns.

  39. ShallowEnder says:

    Ephphatha, from the fifth at 0349: Wow, lady, don’t you sleep?

    To answer as seriously as I am able: yes, I feel when “atheists” commit atrocities. However, they don’t tend do do so under cover of “good” and “holy” purpose, they do it for fun and profit, or just because. While that doesn’t make the dead any less dead it does take a certain stain from the horrors. The stain of false sanctity. The aroma of assumed authority.
    People of all sorts do very evil stuff. This is a given. Some people are not very nice. Using a god as an excuse is merely an added icckiness. All I’m trying to force out of your very good self is the question of whether you condone or condemn your evil shits. I’m quite happy to disown mine.
    Whether Saloth Sar was religious or not he was a bad person and he should have been stopped. I don’t condone his actions even if we do share a lack of religion. Happier, now?
    All that said, I thank you for assuming I’m a monster. I really am. I am unfair, a hypocrite and a very biased bastard. It comes with the skin. I side with the humans, I prefer people to rocks, I support happiness and love instead of hate and venom [though venom is useful for killing bugs I’m biased against]. I love life in all its variety but I don’t want it crawling over my breakfast. I keep arthropods outside my house where they don’t bother me. Were the aliens to come I would welcome them. Were they to attack I would defend the humans first, last and always. Yet there are bipeds like Boko Haram priests whom I dislike intensely and would consider not quite as human and worthy as others. I wouldn’t weep were they and all their priests, witch doctors, popes, nuns, mullahs and imams to contract a fatal Ebola. I weep only for the victims.
    I’m a monster. I am a hypocrite. I am prejudiced.
    But I don’t cloak it as a god’s word.
    I know how divided I am, how conflicted and I try to be better.
    I am ultimately the only being responsible for all of my actions, all of my words and all of my feelings, though I do admit that much of me has been soaked in from the surrounding cultures.
    Eppy, love, if I offend then I offend. I don’t mean to be mean or to hurt, I mean to lead you to thinking not to shatter your world. I want to show you and your kind the huge, magical, glorious cosmos I see. It is so very, very much greater, lovelier and bigger than that of any religion. Any it is so extremely free.
    I am free to not hate, not rape, not murder, not burn the infidel.
    I am free to love.
    And I have.

    NSPike: fair do’s. I’ll remember to take offence when it is warranted. Thanks.

    Mary2: I would dearly love a world where I could use any word to describe a being and it would not be taken as hurtful. It’s not going to happen. You are right, words are potent weapons. The first language probably contained many variations on the theme of ” … and yer muvva …”. I like playing with languages, it offends my sense of neatness not to have the full use of them. It’s like being told you have the proper screwdriver but are banned from using it because the wife doesn’t like the colour.
    As I mentioned to our dear Eppy, I can intentionally use language to offend but I would rather not be hurtful while doing it.

    Your description of nuns is a little harsh but not so harsh as mine. I would have the entire stinking morass of them eradicated, the individuals retrained to become fully human beings, and the churches disestablished, but I suppose that would make some think of me as a fundamentalist atheistic Communist. None of which I really am.
    I see the numinous. I see wonders and have joy when I do. I just wish the religious would do as their book suggests and pray quietly in closets and stop using their boss daddies as excuses to prey on the weak.
    I’m realistic enough to know that while the churches give power to those who lust after it this will never happen.
    Not until we replace them with some structure that gives them power without the rituals.

    Sorry, “tl:dr: again. I think I’ll stop, now, I’m hungry and breakfast looms.

    Eppy: sorry if I hurt you.

  40. Mary2, as far as the discussion of objectionable words in movies or in reviews and blogs go, it really depends on context. Midnight Cowboy is a good example, even though the movie was made in a different era. I discuss homosexuality, homophobia, homosexual behavior and homoerotica in a full section of my review. We have come a long way, but there is a ways to go.

  41. ShallowEnder says:

    cosmicstargoat: “MC” is one of the few films I intensely dislike. There’s another about a “Johnny” and his gun, “Platoon” and “Apocalypse Now” that I also find dreadful. I thought all four were very over-rated. “MC” is also boring, tedious and over five hours too long. “AN” is about five days too long and “Johnny” is like a year of soggy Welsh Sundays.
    “Midnight Cowboy” is also, like Woody Allen flicks and many situational comedies, far too NYNY insular and parochial to interest anyone outside the Five Boroughs very much.
    I like your review, though.

  42. Shallow, I guess we just disagree. It is obvious how I feel since you read my review. As I pointed out, my first viewing, years ago, was of the butchered version. I decided to make a project out of it and read the book, watched all the commentaries on the collector’s edition and came away with a totally different feeling about the movie. I’m curious, what type of movies do you enjoy? Personally, my favorites are ones with great dialogue like In Bruges, Withnail and I, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Glengarry Glen Ross, etc. I despise most of the current bloat with the inevitable car crashes, exploding buildings and endless hand to hand comicbat.

  43. Ephphatha says:

    Mary2, thanks for your response, but the point you and IanB make is directly addressed (and thoroughly rebutted, in my opinion) in the second link I posted, beginning from this exact point in the video to the nearby end:

    Again, no points for moot points, and no points for the characteristic phantom points that I have come to expect from you, Macha.

    ShallowEnder, I had already condemned acts of evil no matter who they are committed by in response to your previous inquiries/inquisitions. You were belaboring a line of questioning that I had already directly answered. At the same time, though, SE, I have to give you credit for being the only atheist here to openly confess to the universal human tendency of being a hypocrite, and for calling yourself “ShallowEnder” despite being one of the deeper (if not deepest) thinkers to disgrace;) the lower extremities of these pages. p.s., I do not stay up late, I just live in the Pacific Standard Time zone.

    Perhaps I should also mention, while I am in an appreciating mood, that I appreciate how certain other respondents, such as Mary2 and NSPike, do not shrink from openly stating here, in this mostly unforgiving and
    uncompromisingly dry spiritual desert, that there are at least some aspects of theism that you see some virtue and appeal in, albeit mostly disqualified in the next breath.

  44. Macha says:

    phantom points? Is that a new one?

    I don’t usually read your bible RSS feed, but happened upon this one by mistake.

    Does “moot” refer to me? Do you know what is meant by moot?

    I thought I was taking the piss – obviously not too successfully.

    All of this godly twaddle you come out with and the responses remind me of Jane Austen …

    “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in return”

  45. Macha says:

    PS: “belaboring” is spelt “belabouring”


  46. IanB says:

    ShallowEnder says: “Were the aliens to come I would welcome them. Were they to attack I would defend the humans first, last and always. Yet there are bipeds like Boko Haram priests whom I dislike intensely and would consider not quite as human”

    That reminded me of a Sci-Fi story I read as youngster where aliens landed in redneck country and were killed by a local. The killer tried to say they were animals and vermin and therefore he wasn’t guilty of a crime but the locals reclassified him as vermin and dealt with him. I can’t recall the name of the story or the author after all these years and all the beers 😉 I found a new quote the other day that I liked

    “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest” Denis Diderot

    As for Ephphatha and posting video links to suggest that Stalin killed in the name of atheism? You may not have noticed atheism is a lack of belief. What the majority of residents of the cock and bull share is a lack of belief in gods, magic and unproven mysticism, not a shared belief system. It also may have escaped your notice that Stalin was raised as an orthodox Christian, named after a saint and on track to become a priest (he’d have fitted right in there) If anything he exchanged Christian beliefs for another faith based system Marxism and by the end had restored the church and it’s hierarchy.

  47. ShallowEnder says:

    IanB: I did first say that were the aliens to come I would welcome them, I would only defend humans. Even were the humans in the wrong I might as the cosmos only gets one chance at having them and I think that they are too magical to lose. In spite of their many flaws, people are wonderful.
    That so many transcend their flaws is a large part of their magic.
    That’s worth keeping.

    Eppy: As others have eloquentky said, Joe, Moa and Pot didn’t kill “in the name of atheism”. They probably never personally killed anyone and all the millions of deaths they caused were in the name of profit. Personal prestige, patriotic expansion or party allegiances but profit. They would have used religion had they needed it. Indeed, Uncle Joe did use it when he needed it.
    I’m glad, Eppy, that we’re not keeping you up. Take care of your health. You may be on the wrong team [though you probably won’t think so] but you’re good people.

    Breakfast was nice.

    cosmicstargoat: Is this the forum to discuss my movie preferences? I like SF shoot-them-ups for brain-dead entertainment at bedtime and “The Longest Day” types when I’m feeling sentimental. I think “Starman” is sweetly sad, “Taken 2” is highly derivative [of “Taken 1”] and Ken Burns’ “The American Civil War” was the best popularised filmed documentary of the subject yet made. It’s nowhere near being on a par with “The World At War” but it is a good starting point for anyone interested who has never studied the era. Sort of like a TV WikiP.
    I never found Hitchcock movies interesting and I thought the “Matrix” sequels were a waste of film. I like escapist stuff like super-hero movies and vampire and ghost stories, because they are fun, but the tales of the paedophile in the twilight bore me. They are a very poor “Buffy” rip-off.
    I don’t watch deep, incisive movies. That’s what books are for.
    The ‘nym should tell you lots about my movie-watching habits. I swim in the shallows because the deeps take too much effort. Movies are not supposed to take effort.

  48. Ephphatha says:

    Macha, apparently you need to get out more. I like the King’s English too, but there is a great big world outside of the cloistered block you must be living on.

  49. Ephphatha, I usually don’t mix it up with Evangelicals like you, it’s more satisfying to write about you, but you making Palinesque comments like Stalin killed in the name of atheism makes about as much logical sense and saying that he killed in the name of Jello. Carry on.

  50. Ephphatha says:

    cosmic, I don’t usually address people who have nothing interesting to say, but the comments about Stalinesque crimes were actually D’souzanesque. But I thought it was very Palinesque of you to be so intellectually lazy as to mischaracterize them as Palinesque. Why don’t you go back to the video, watch it again, come back, and then be the first person here to address the specific argument actually being made instead of taking such an easy, lazy, cliché way out?

  51. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    ShallowEnder, re:I don’t watch deep, incisive movies. That’s what books are for.
    I think I just fell in love with you.
    By the way, why the big downer on Boko Haram? Whiter Shade of pale was half-decent, even if they did pinch the tune from Bach 🙂

    Ephphatha says:
    June 5, 2014 at 10:46 pm
    Macha, apparently you need to get out more. I like the King’s English too, but there is a great big world outside of the cloistered block you must be living on

    Religion and ignorance really do go hand-in-hand, don’t they? It’s Queen’s English, you numpty, originating from the reign of Victoria Regina. Before that our monarchs tended to speak with either regional accents or in their native tongues – German, usually.
    Queen’s English described Victoria’s highly formalised and deliberate manner of speech that the royals have uttered ever since; it refers solely to pronunciation and grammar, and has nothing whatsoever to do with lazy gits dropping u’s like so many fag-ends.
    You are thinking of the English language vs. American-English.

    And I see you still need to post links to make your arguments for you, and just like your links to Bible quotes, this one doesn’t impress the people around here either, what with it having nothing to do with the topic at hand, namely Queen’s English.
    You really do need to stop believing that just because somebody’s written something and proclaimed it to be authoritive that it’s right. Check your sources, or better still, tell us what you think, in your own words, rather than taking the easy option. The only surprise so far is that you are not using the argumentum ad Wiki!

    Mary, I’m afraid I did miss the implicit sarcasm in your ‘tl:dr’ post. Mea culpa. In my defence, I have recently seen my last irony meter go the way of the spoiiing. Last Saturday evening I had inadvertantly left it switched on when Mrs. o’Sagan swithed over to Britain’s Got Talent. The poor thing didn’t stand a chance; didn’t even make it through the first act.

  52. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Ephphatha says:
    June 6, 2014 at 2:33 am
    cosmic, I don’t usually address people who have nothing interesting to say, but the comments about Stalinesque crimes were actually D’souzanesque. But I thought it was very Palinesque of you to be so intellectually lazy as to mischaracterize them as Palinesque. Why don’t you go back to the video, watch it again, come back, and then be the first person here to address the specific argument actually being made instead of taking such an easy, lazy, cliché way out?

    Lucky I didn’t get that irony meter fixed.
    You either have a far higher-developed sense of humour than we’ve given you credit for, have absolutely no self-awareness, or your other hobby is criticising kettles for their colour.

  53. Mary2 says:

    Cosmicstargoat, I agree. I have no problem with objectionable words – in context. In fact, I don’t believe there is such a thing as an objectionable word. I have no problem with calling someone an insulting name if it is an appropriate insult. If you hate someone because they are gay, by all means call them a ‘faggot’; if you hate them because they are African-American, call them a Nigger. What I think is inappropriate is to want to insult a person because they are selfish, stupid, cruel or whatever, and you reach for the worst word you can think of and that word happens to represent a group of people not related to your disagreement. I have no problem with honest bigotry: I detest unthinking or lazy thinking which promotes bigotry without any actual intention – the ‘but I didn’t mean it; I was only joking’ type.

    I liked Midnight Cowboy.

    Ephphatha, I apologise if you said one thing in your post and linked to a video which said the opposite and are now offended that I corrected your post. I very rarely look at links attached by any commenter here because I don’t believe in an eternal afterlife and don’t want to waste the entire life I have on Earth watching Youtube clips. I don’t care what your video shows. I responded, and stand by my response, to what you actually said. I know that as a follower of the bible who assumedly doesn’t believe that stoning people to death is a good thing you are probably well versed in interpreting the written word to say something it does not mean, but I am afraid that my little brain is only good for reading what is actually written rather than adding my own layers of meaning.

    Please note: killing for communism is not the same as killing for atheism – Stalin was an atheist but he did not kill for atheism any more than he killed for Georgians because that’s where he was born.

    “ that there are at least some aspects of theism that you see some virtue and appeal in” – appeal, not virtue. I’m with George Bernard Shaw: “The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” And I would disagree with Shaw that religious people are any happier than the rest of us.

    AOS, given that I am probably only second to ShallowEnder on this site for long-windedness (no offence meant SE!!), I can hardly criticise those of us with lots to say!

  54. Ephphatha says:

    AoS, correcting my misuse of “King’s English” is the very first service you have provided me with. Thank you! Otherwise, all you have done is ask me one unbelievably naive question and launched several childish ad hominem attacks, most of which I have ignored in the same way that I ignore mosquitoes when I am wearing repellent. Basically, you are just a childish name-caller who gives a bad name to atheists with mature critical thinking skills.

  55. Macha says:


    You don’t do humour do you?

    or irony.

    and to criticise others for ad hominem when you appear to be a master of the technique is disingenuous.

    and please, please, please, stop using this “argument by proxy” that you seem so fond of. Does YouTube pay you a retainer?

    meanwhile, I’m putting you back on ignore.


  56. Mary2, thanks for the affirmation. I think I needed that.

  57. NSPike says:

    Mary2 – you’re basically a female, gay, Australian version of me – I agree with almost everything you ever write (it’s a bit weird to be honest).

    The one thing is that I’m totally hypocritical all the time, but in this specific instance in relation to your stance on words and language. I agree totally, but I do find myself sometimes using the g-word (gay, not god) as an insult, which I attribute to my thoroughly working class Northern English upbringing, which is often seen as a little behind the rest of the world in terms of progressiveness. That said the word has developed a third meaning in my mind, and when I use it in a negative way there is no connection to homosexuality at all. However reading your arguments reminds me of my true opinion and makes me think to check myself – for all transgressions, past and future (of which I hope there will be none, or at least fewer) I apologise sincerely 🙂

    Oh and the whole film argument going on – film surely is another art form? Another way of portraying and encapsulating the author/writer/director’s feelings and experiences, expressing them for others to see and relate to. Sometimes this can be ‘Wow look at that thing go boom! How impressive!” but surely it can be for deeper reasons too? I love superhero and sci-fi films, but I also love more dialogue driven independent films that comment on the human condition – why can’t film be used for both (just like books can)? Again I feel I’m copping out with the old “everyone is a little bit right in what they say” but I’m pretty sure it’s true in this case 😀

  58. Mary2 says:

    DH & NSP, 🙂 🙂 🙂
    NSP, while we have a Mutual Admiration Society going on: I agree with you re movies. I don’t see why movies and books aren’t like food – sure you gotta eat your vegies, and vegies can taste great, but sometimes you just need icecream smothered in chocolate!

  59. JohnM says:

    @ Macha meanwhile, I’m putting you back on ignore.
    That would seem to be the only effective counter to this kind of trolling. Directing insults at such a person in response to their insults to your intelligence never cuts the mustard. It’s what they want from you in the first place, so they can respond in kind.

  60. ShallowEnder says:

    Mary2: I hate to disagree with you but … I never eat veggies. Vegetables are what food eats. [Stolen from UseNet.]
    I know that was an analogy used to illustrate how varied our tastes should be but it fell flat in my case when taken literally.
    “So, don’t take things literally.”
    Yeah, well …
    I still think movies are for fun. They are like carnival rides [which I loath, detest and dislike a lot but I can use them as an analogy], not like journeys to explore new territory. Books are for exploring. Books and legs. Books are for when your personal legs can’t reach. Like exploring Byzantium or Barsoom.
    Trying to make a movie deep and meaningful is like trying to make a painting sound good or like trying to make a camel pretty.

    Ephphatha, Eppy dearest, I watched the “Wicked atheists are wicked” video and would like to make a couple of deep [?] points f I may?
    Uncle Joe’s version of Marxism is not “Marxism” it was a cult of personality, in short a religion built around the godhead of Uncle Joe. The Chinese communist vision is a similar thing but now diluted into a cult of an all-wise Pantheon of virtually nameless clones. Cuban “Marxism” is a cult of personality with a godhead who isn’t around much any more. And the fascistic scream of the cult of Adolf was so very much a religion with a single all-powerful, inerrant deity that it may as well have been Christianity, Judaism or Islam.[Italy’s El Duce was a similar but far weaker and more human version of the same tune.] Put Josh Carpenter or the Lightbringer in charge of 1930’s Germany and the same rhetoric could have been used. Indeed, the Herrenfolk and the “Chosen People” are so similar only DNA analysis could differentiate them.
    Those are not“godless, heathen atheistic states”. They are and were theocracies with living gods.
    More so than Imperial Rome ever was.
    They even had their own sacred books. I’ve read them. They are better written than many sacred books [though “My Struggle” is a little repetitive and tedious in places] and they have far less begetting but they are nonetheless “Bibles”.
    The evidence for the miracles of Herr Adolf are many and legendary. His military acumen and economic mastery for example are truly divine. [If you believe the hyperbole and propaganda.] [And for this next bit I am grateful that I don’t live in modern Germany where this would raise furies.] The religion of Adolf and the religion of Josh carpenter are identical in form and function. True, things that are slightly unfortunate happened to a tiny minority of folks under the rule of the wise, good, all-powerful and all-knowing Adolf but these were minor things committed by a minority of rogue priests and even accepting them the vast majority of lives were vastly improved and enriched. In the main, the Church of The Party and The Folk did good works, all in his name and inspired by him. He truly is a merciful and good god even if a few got hurt in his name.
    Fuck, that felt fucking sickening.
    I’ve never done a “Devil’s Advocacy” for young Mr. Shicklegrubber before. It’s not something I like.
    Eppy, can you see what I did? I just made the much maligned Adolf into a christ, a messenger of the One True God, Adolf himself.
    Surely, I know he’s called “evil” but Josh Josephson was called worse for the first century after his birth. Sometime in the 23rd or 24th Century, A.D., the calendar may change to be the Fourth Century A.H. and young Adolf may become the One True Incarnation Of The Risen Messenger.
    Your great-grandchildren may build cathedrals to him and burn witches and whores in his name. [Which is a waste of a good whore in my opinion, but no one ever asked me.]
    Why not? His is a religion just like yours. It has a book, priests, armies [still, though they do tend to be a bit odd] and a legacy of miracles.
    For my part, I see little to distinguish the cult of Josh from the cult of Adolf, though Adolf did accomplish far more in his life than just wandering about blaming people for sins. He also built roads and raised armies. He created an Empire from a sick nation. He truly did do miracles.
    Josh jellified a lake enough to support his weight and woke a bloke up from a deep coma. Adolf changed worlds forever.
    Which is truly the more worthy god?
    I think you should be worshipping Adolf. In the long run he probably harmed fewer people than the gods of the desert tribes.
    And he did love Alsatians. Anyone beloved by German Shepherds can’t be all bad.

    My much-belaboured point? Adolf was never an atheist. Stalin was never an atheist. I am an atheist. Were I to raise an army it might be in the name of a godless cause but it would never be in the name or under the legal authority of “atheism”.
    Luckily, no one will ever follow me.
    There are too many “leaders” on this world already. You don’t need a weird, old cynic like me.
    But, Eppy, dear lady, do you see the similarity between the messenger from the carpenters and the messenger from Austria? They even picked on the same hated groups to blame for things.
    Uncle Joe was never an atheist. Gods can’t be.

    Acolyte: I’m not particularly down on Boko Haram, I couldn’t give a fuck about them in truth. I’ll never meet any so, like seven milliard other humans, they will live their entire lives then die without touching me in any way and without me touching them and both of us will be happy with this. What I don’t like is their harming other humans. Hurting people is un-nice and not manly. Real Men don’t kidnap little girls. Real men protect little girls.
    Boko Haram are not real men. They are needle-dicked losers with empty scrotes.
    My opinion would not change were hordes of them to invade my home with swords and guns, though I may then be more polite about expressing it.
    And, not to put too fine a point on it, the saddest, sweetest song I ever heard from the era of pre-technology from whence came “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” was the ballad “He Was A Writer”. That is ART of a quality seen only once in a hundred generations. It is Beauty. And Truth.And it shows that there is in Beauty, Truth and in Truth, Beauty.
    I was thinking of a Youtube link but Mary2 would frown on it. The poor lady is all YouTubed out.

  61. hotrats says:

    I’m with John M; please stop replying to the troll, perhaps if we all ignore him he will eventually fuck off. I realise that for some time we will have to live with him turning up and leaving a jobby on the carpet, but we don’t have to tread it all over the house. ShallowEnder, “good people”? You need to take more water with it.

  62. hotrats says:

    ‘…young Mr. Shicklegrubber’?

    The young Herr Schicklgruber was in fact Adolf Hitler’s father. His name was changed (probably because one meaning of a schicklgruber is ‘manure-digger’) at the age of 13. Adolf was born a Hitler.

  63. Macha says:

    Mao Zedong was also quite interesting and I see parallels between his motivation towards Godhead status and Constantine’s motivation towards Christianity 2000 or so years before. I think they both saw these paths as ways of uniting their empire.

    When Mao took control, the Chinese worshipped at many different altars. Some of these religions were long-standing, such as Taoism, and others were newer and imported, such as Christianity. Mao, like Constantine, saw these as a host of potentially warring factions and sought some overarching unifying philosophy. In addition, Mao saw them either as remnants of an Imperial past, or the domination of a defeated Colonialism.

    So, in both cases, a political decision was made – Constantine “converted” to Christianity (adopting many of the Pagan customs as a kind of “sweetener”) and thus was his empire united. Mao took a different tack, suppressing religions and offering himself up as a quasi-spiritual leader and consequently we got the sayings of Mao, the pseudo-religious Cultural Revolution and so on.

  64. ShallowEnder says:

    Author: my five minutes grace editing widget has gone.

    In my previous, after the bold “not” and before the quote marks and “godless” should be a space. Also it’s “Herrenvolk”, as i know well. Anglifying German terms is unforgivable.

    It is often erroneously reported that the only historical occurrence of true “Marxism” or “Communism” was the early Christians in the Roman Capital in the first Century, A.D. This is of course nonsense.
    They were no more a Marxist Communist state than are families. They were tiny communes embedded in a vast, globe-spanning, wealthy and industrial Empire that could have fed and clothed them had they numbered millions without them ever contributing a bit of effort to the common weal. Essentially, they were drop-out, unemployed hippies at worst.
    True communism is impossible while life-forms have individual needs, more so when they also have individual wants. The state collectivism run under a cult of personality in USSR, Cuba and China [among others] is no more communistic than is Microsoft or Apple.
    They wear the label but they don’t live the life.
    Everyone, of course, knows this yet the religious use the tired argument that “communist equals atheist” to level the moral ground when we point out their many crusades.
    This is fallacious argumentation of the rankest sort. It is worse than strawmanism, it is simply bellicose posturing with a roar of hatred filling the space where missing logic and thought should be.
    Were the Chinese Communist party to get all rowdy and stupid and try to flatten and vitrify America [apart from it being the very last mistake they ever make] it would not be a godless, atheistic holy war against the Christians. It would be the People and the Party in a defensive war against Imperialist Capitalism. Or something. It would be religious war not atheistic.
    Were I to go nuts [and suicidal] and go to war against the Vatican that would neither be an atheistic war nor a religious war. It would be an [short and one-sided] act of personal pique. I am not Marxist, nor Communistic, nor am I a believer in the rightness of atheism. I just don’t much like priests lording it over us from their well-padded thrones while ordering atrocities by the bucket.
    Eppy, darling, there were atheistic wars. Greece and Persia, Rome and Carthage, Cowboys and Indians, Goths and Imperial Stormtroopers, these were wars where the gods were pretty much irrelevant.
    So what?
    None of the above detracts from the fact that you still haven’t disowned the priesthood who send out Boko Haram to kidnap and murder, rape and sell little girls. Or the scum who kill babies and stuff them in septic tanks in Ireland. Or your own church that condones and supports and even applauds such godly works.
    You and your priesthood give aid, succour and respect to vermin.
    You say you condemn all evil, but do you accept that your churches are in fact committing evil?
    That your priests are evil.
    That is the question I first posed and which you haven’t answered.
    We’re all against evil. Some of us, however, think throwing rocks at a rape victim until she dies of her injuries is fun and good and holy.
    I think the priests who encourage that should be unemployed, defrocked, have their possessions confiscated, be jailed for life on an island far from real people and be reviled and spat upon, not respected.
    I think the witch-doctors who encourage men who deliberately get themselves infected with sexually-transmitted diseases by their own stupid, selfish behaviour to rape babies to “cure” those diseases should be, at best, stripped of all property and jailed for life. Maybe on the same island.
    Would you support that, or do you allow for their criminal idiocies because they are “doing the work of the gods”?
    Do you specifically condone or condemn priests and popes who lavish respect on and protect paedophile rapists?
    Not some vague, inchoate abstraction of “evil” but those evil shites. Those persons. The ones you can point to. The “pillars of the community”.
    Eppy, lady, are your priests evil for supporting evil?
    Ephphatha, that is what I keep asking.
    And, Acolyte, sorry to be so “tl:dr: and repetitive but I never get a straight answer from any priest on this issue. It’s like pinning down a politician. Or nailing jelly to the ceiling.
    The last part of the question, Eppy, darling, is: if you do think your priests, and those others are evil, why are you helping them evade justice by honouring them? Why support their evil works? What are you doing to bring down their evil, corrupt empire? Why aren’t you fighting for the good priests who try to speak out?
    And by “you” I do mean all the “moderate, caring” Christians, Jews and Muslims whose collective support or passive indifference allows the predators to thrive.
    An atheistic, godless movement brought down the Berlin Wall and the “Evil Empire” of the USSR, a state armed to the gills with huge weapons. Surely your god-fearing congregations could do better?
    Boycott the churches. Destroy the cathedrals. Blockade the Vatican. Swamp Boko Haram with bodies and bury them. Bring down the entire rotten edifice and replace it with people who won’t abuse their positions.
    Introduce total transparency into the workings of all churches. Open all orphanages and hospitals to international, non-governmental scrutiny and reporting. Encourage and applaud whistle-blowers and boat-rockers and wave-makers.
    Your churches could be forces for good. All it would take is for you to admit that they are currently not.
    So, are they?
    Or will you clean them out?

  65. ShallowEnder says:

    hotrats: I knew that. Why do you think I intentionally misspelt it? A little cognitive dissonance can be fun.
    Anyway, Skakygrabber and variants are mocking insults that piss-off the worshippers and aren’t we all here to do this? Hacking away at the religion of Adolf is no less dangerous than doing it to Mo’s temporary little cult, and no less fun.
    I’ll shut up, now.

  66. ShallowEnder says:

    Macha: as said, Mao was a living god. His cult was a religion. It still is. Mussolini, Il Duce, sort of tried the same thing, kind of.
    It’s interesting that four out of the five individuals most often blamed for mass death in the 1930’s and 1940’s were once warriors themselves. It seems having seen the elephant does not necessarily cure one of wanting to see it again.

    [Yeah, I know. I was proof-reading my beautiful, artistic, worthy, prize-winning contributions full of eternal verities when I noticed that I spend so long typing them that entire strings of responses emerge between them. Fuck, but I’m verbose. Also a wordy and egotistical little megalomaniac. Sorry.]

  67. Macha says:

    Another thing I find interesting is the fact that the successors of Stalin & Mao have reinstated religion. Putin in particular has created an unholy alliance with the Russian Orthodox church to act as one of his instruments of repression.

    Shades of Seneca – “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful”

    plus ça change and all that …

  68. Mary2 says:

    ShallowEnder, Never hate disagreeing with me – disagreement is what makes life interesting! There are plenty of wonderful jokes along the line of “Vegetarian: an old Indian word for ‘bad hunter’.” As a vegetarian myself I am, of course, deeply offended by such statements. 😉

    As for your analogy of Adolf = Jesus, I hope it doesn’t extend to Hitler rising from the dead!

    “ it is simply bellicose posturing with a roar of hatred filling the space where missing logic and thought should be” = fabulous sentence!

    Hotrats, I thought Mr Hitler was Adolf’s step-father hence the name change. I obviously don’t spend enough time researching the genealogies of my (according to Ephphatha) atheist gods!

    Macha, “plus ça change” – indeed!

  69. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    ShallowEnder, re: And, Acolyte, sorry to be so “tl:dr: and repetitive…
    Not sure why you’re apologising to me, since I was the first one to express a dislike of the acronym.
    I’d rather read a long but interesting post that has something relevant to say, and which unmistakeably comes from the mind of its author, than suffer a half-dozen lines of turgid drivel from somebody so afraid to answer any questions – because he can’t, or because he can but knows how ridiculous the answers will sound – that he resorts instead to ridiculing either the question or the questioner.
    Apparently, my initial question was just to naive for him to bother with, though I’m not sure what his problem with everybody else’s questions is.
    He’s like the self-proclaimed experts one meets throughout life, the ones with the attitude of ‘what I don’t know about x isn’t worth knowing’, and it always turns out that no matter what one asks, it simply isn’t worth knowing.
    Or maybe he thinks that if we’re so ignorant we have to ask the question, then we’re obviously too stupid to understand the answer, so why bother giving us one.
    Or maybe this ‘ex-atheist’ genuinely believes that the truth of his Bible will become obvious to us if only we’d look, which is why he’s dispensed with the time honoured tradition of partaking in conversation, preferring instead to let his Iron Age mythology speak for him.
    Or maybe he simply knows that there are no fucking answers to our questions?

    I must that admit having somebody who openly admits to belief in obvious mytholgy; who swallows wholesale the distorted view of reality line-fed to him via religious websites and youtube; who claims to have been an atheist of long-standing, but clearly doesn’t understand what the word really means; and who has yet to present us with anything approaching an original idea; having this person criticise my critical thinking skills is like having a brick criticising the swimming abilities of a shark.

    In conclusion, I’m with JohnM et al; send the sod to Coventry until he decides to engage with us in a meaningful manner.

    And finally, my 4-year-old grandson’s joke.
    How do you make a dinosaur?
    Wipe its bum with sandpaper.

    I shan’t be proo freading (see what you’ve started, Darwin?) ‘cos I’m knackered, so any mistakes can stand as proof of my limited mental faculties and immaturity.
    G’night all.

  70. Ephphatha says:

    I have not been asked a single question about atheist atrocities vs. theist atrocities, AoS; I have only read many rebuttals, which I have already stated are not responsive to the central argument made in the video that those respondents were replying to. Everyone was invited to go back and listen again, and a second link was provided that was timed to start at the exact point where the “central argument” is spelled out. I received many more lectures but still no one said or asked anything responsive to the central argument made, including you, AoS.

    To restate what I think was already spelled out in plain enough English: the central argument is not necessarily that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc, were real atheists or that they necessarily carried out atrocities in the name of atheism, just as popular atheist author Daniel Dennett concedes (in his book “Breaking the Spell”) that theist atrocities are not usually carried out by real theists inspired or guided by the best tenets of their own religions. Instead, the central argument D’Souza made is that you have to apply a single standard to both kinds of atrocities. In other words, if as real atheists you don’t accept responsibility for the atrocities of fake atheists, then you shouldn’t try to lay the blame for the atrocities of fake theists on real theists. You can’t have it both ways. Unless you are a shameless hypocrite, you have to apply a single standard to both kinds of atrocities.

    Having said all this, I nevertheless accept my share of responsibility for atrocities committed by both fake theists and fake atheists, just as I feel indirectly responsible for the suicide of strangers I’ve never heard of before since I am part of the sinful world they hated enough to kill themselves.

  71. Macha says:

    One factor that is missing in the “theist-atheist murdering bastards” debate is the question of who actually did the killing? The focussing around the leader of the regime, or indeed even the nature of his/her political ruling system, is too naive and actually misses the point. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that the leader in question took part directly in much of the slaughter, irrespective of whether they were Christian, Atheist or whatever. I doubt that Hitler, for example, actually killed many people by his own direct action.

    In fact the genocide murders were carried out by ordinary people.

    Take the case of the Nazis and the killing of the Jewish people. The bulk of the slaughter took place in camps located in Eastern Europe and in countries where religiosity – particularly the notion of Jews being “the Christ killers” – was popular. In that environment, the killing of Jews was seen as OK and the Nazi Einsatzgruppen found enthusiastic local support in those countries for their “cleansing” operations.

    Now it’s true that the boundaries between religion, ethnicity and cultural habits are blurred and all mixed in with tribalism. Even so, the fallback onto “it says so in the Bible/Qur’an/Red Book” is the trump card played to legitimise evil.

    I guess humankind will always have a propensity for engaging in tribal behaviour and so religion will continue to act as its glue, and the resurrection of religiosity in China and Russia demonstrates how pernicious it is. In the West, particularly Western Europe, the strength of the Enlightenment and tradition of Secularism have, hopefully permanently, weakened the power of religion – even to the extent where Christians are now complaining of “persecution”.

    So, debates about “fake” or “real” this that and the other, are really pointless exercises in semantics and ignore the deeper questions about who and what we are as a species and whether we can overcome our desire to kill people who “look foreign”, and furthermore, justifying this by reference to some old book, or to a higher authority be they real or imaginary.

  72. Mary2 says:

    Oh Fuck Me Ephphatha! How many times does this have to be explained? I usually try not to get angry with people who disagree with me but when you are either pretending to be this stupid or intentionally being obtuse I join with the others in saying FUCK OFF. I’ll discuss anything with you all day and all night but a discussion implies two way conversation: not you make an assertion, we rebuff assertion, you don’t bother reading rebuttal, get all superior and repeat the same fucking assertion.

    For the very last time (and I will try to not use any word of more than one syllable) No. one. Has. Ever. Denied. That. Atheists. Commit. Crimes. NO ONE. If one killer killed someone in the name of atheism we would denounce them. NAME ONE, JUST ONE, PERSON WHO HAS KILLED BECAUSE OF ATHEISM. JUST ONE EPHPHATHA! I bet you can’t. Stalin killed in the name of maintaining political power. Mao and Pol Pot killed in the name of communist revolution. Hitler killed to improve German bloodlines. The religion, or lack of, of these people is totally irrelevant – just as the religious beliefs of Tony Blair (Christian?) or John Howard (definite Christian) are totally irrelevant to their reasons for invading Iraq. No one has killed people to institute an atheist state. Yes, the communist states were atheist but the driver was the economic principle not the religion. A quick google search of any of these names will not net you a single quote where they say they are killing to get rid of religion. Christians may possibly be able to claim the Conquistadors killed people for Spanish colonial gain instead of for religion but they can’t possibly say the same about the Inquisition etc.

    I love your use of the term ‘fake theists’ for, basically, any theist who does anything with which you disagree? That would be the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy and no one on this page is buying it. Dennet, DeSousa and God himself can claim that murders in the name of religion are not committed according to the ‘best tenets’ of the religion but they are justified by quoting (without misinterpretation) the exact same book that ‘real’ theists believe is the inerrant word of god. Speaking of hypocrisy!!!

    Macha, very good points. Thanks for sharing them.

    AOS, when I read Ephphatha suggest you were a bit slow on the uptake and “lacking mature critical thinking skills” I giggled hysterically for hours. I reckoned that would have to be the one insult guaranteed to hit the mark with you – especially given the comparison between the wit and wisdom shown by yourself over the years and E’s recent output.

  73. Macha says:


    Don’t let it raise your blood pressure! (although having a good vent can be therapeutic)

    No matter how many times you state the bleedin’ obvious, it’ll get ignored, twisted, obfuscated and then spat out with another Youtube thingummy.

    I finally took a look at the D’Souza burble and the only point of any note is where he asserts :

    “If crimes are committed in the name of an ideology, the people who share that ideology must accept some responsibility for them”

    Firstly, this is dangerously close to the doctrine of Jewish deicide – the ideas of the “killers of God” and “pernicious Jew” found in Christianity. D’Souza doesn’t even seem to realise how his comments could be interpreted, which is indicative perhaps of either his blinkered view, or lack of intellectual depth, or both.

    Secondly, what constitutes an ideology? I guess Judaism is one, it dictates what Jews eat, behave, wear and in some circumstances, think. Christianity and Islam too, they both govern their followers’ “worldview”. But what about Atheism? Is it an ideology? I don’t think it is. When I meet another Atheist – and I’ve worked with plenty – then other than agreeing about the lack of belief in the Supernatural it’s likely that we might disagree about pretty much everything else. My lack of belief doesn’t colour my life, the way I behave, what I eat or anything else. The only impact it has is my tendency to take the piss out of the religious and trying to upset visiting door-to-door Mormons. In addition, I’m not even sure about being labelled as “Atheist”, because like Brian Cox (the professor, not the actor), “there’s a long list of things I don’t believe in and It’d take a long time to define me in those terms”.

    So Atheism can’t be twisted into the kind of ideology d’Souza espouses.

    He then goes on from this illogical premise to further assert :

    “The atheists don’t get to blame the Christians for Torquemada and then get out of the blame for, say, Stalin”

    Well, I don’t blame any individual Christian for the Inquisition, or any particular Catholic for priestly child rape, or my Jewish neighbour for the murder of an innocent Palestinian child, nor do I think they share the blame. The ideology itself is a different matter of course, and hammer away at that I will continue to do. When discussing with another (devout Catholic) friend about their attitude towards child rape by priests and how it affected their belief, I was told it had no effect and those priests were just “bad apples” – so it appears that even the religious don’t accept D’Souza’s (il)logic.

    Finally, Stalin (say) didn’t establish a state based on “Atheist Ideology”. He established a Dictatorship based on Communist Ideology and repressed the Church in order to replace one ideology with another. In fact later on during his “reign” he actually went some way towards restoring religion, presumably because it suited his ends.

    So D’Souza, not even a decent try, and remind me, how did the trial go?

  74. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Thank you Mary, I generally loath uppercase writing but that shout was entirely necessary – so if it ends up being the only bit of an excellent piece not ignored by the conversant it has done its job.

    I too burst out laughing when I read the line about “lacking mature critical thinking skills”. There are many evidently intelligent, clearly well informed and supremely erudite, contributors to the Cock & Bull’s wide ranging discussions, which is of course why we all spend so much time here, but for me AoS stands out as one uniquely original. I cite Acolyte of Sagan’s theory for a conspiracy of cardinals behind, not only the all but unheard-of resignation of the previous pontiff, but also his very election in the first instance, as an example of extraordinary critical thinking skills.

    Meanwhile I do find myself wondering: If a fake theist must presumably be a closet atheist. So why would a fake atheist be?

  75. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Professor Brian Cox: “there’s a long list of things I don’t believe in and it’d take a long time to define me in those terms”.

    What a great line. Thanks for that, Macha.

  76. ShallowEnder says:

    Mary2: regarding vegetarians: there is always the very old joke: if vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?
    And Hitler did rise from the dead. I know this for a fact. I’ve seen the documentary “Boys from Brazil”. That’s a really scary news report.
    He gets more like young Carpenter every day. [I wonder if the latter-day worshippers of Adolf know about his recreation? Should someone tell them?]

    Macha: it may not be lack of intellectual depth, it could be a powerful intellect perverted to sustain and serve the needs of a Florida Swamp-land salesman. Like many priests and politicians, D’souza could be lying his hypocritical, atheist, heathen arse off just to get chicks and gelt and drugs and rock’n’roll. TV evangelists do it all the time. Politicians do it for a living. I suspect most bosses in church hierarchies are far too smart to swallow the poisoned waters but are in it for the money, babes and food. I also suspect even dearest Eppy knows this but can’t ever admit it for fear of a fish-in-the-face moment. The realisation that her delusions are tripe.
    “Atheism” is an ideology, at least in as much as it drives many of us to bust the chops of the religious. I’ve appeared at the front door ready for a bath when God-botherers came to save my non-existent soul. Yes, they saw my tool. No, I wasn’t ashamed. No, I don’t feel guilty. They came into my house. They wanted something from me when I was busy so they had to take me as they found me. It was usually a very short conversation.
    My point was that “heathen, athiestic infidels” do tend to go out of our way to put bugs up the arses of believers. Mostly in retaliation for them thinking it’s good and wise and godly to try to do it to us. That could, if we strain the term to breaking point, almost be called an ideology driven behaviour.
    But I don’t do it religiously so it isn’t a religion.

    Walter: I would have thought a “fake theist” would be an advocate of Zeus who was determinedly pretending to support Ra, for example. He’s a theist but he’s faking which theon he ists for. A “fake atheist” is me. I know for a certainty that there are no vampires, so there is no supreme bad robot giving the vampires their magical powers which leads to there being no bad robot maker of any sort or stripe. Apart from the application of technology, and random physics, there is no magic [no in the “map=territory” curse sense]. That means no real witches, therefore no witch gods therefore no gods of any kind.
    These are facts. I live with them but I don’t make philosophy or a doctrine or a set of laws from them. It is just the way reality works. The suffix, “-ist”, implies we have a belief, a philosophy, a coherent doctrine, a litany with prayers and devotions and dogma. We don’t. We are “fake atheists”. We just don’t care to believe.
    Or, like me, we just don’t have the ability.
    Either way, we aren’t true believers in a world without gods any more than we are in one with them. We are fake “-ists”. I quite like that.
    What we do have is a great appreciation of the effects of physics on physiology.
    Here’s a test: call a psychic hotline. Offer the magical, super-being at the other end a month’s worth of wages if they can psychically divine your 4-digit PIN, the one you use for the cash-machine of your main bank account. Give them three tries. Tell them they win if they get the right digits even if not in the right order. To make it a wager, ask them to put a hundred dollars on their super-powers, indian guide, spirit helpers or gods magically giving them the answer.
    Not one psychic will take the bet. Nor will any priest, even should you offer to tithe your wages for life should his god and all his angelic robots help him. “Gods don’t work that way.” “We are forbidden from using our powers for personal profit.” “The spirits don’t do party tricks.”
    Second challenge: find any zen master or yoga mystic who can levitate. Offer him half your salary for life if he takes this challenge. Challenge him to walk off of the roof of a very high building and to float six inches above the level of the roof. He’ll be more than six inches from the pavement, true, but his magical super-powers should still work. If the work at six inches above a mattress in a closed room they should work on a roof and, by extension, just over the edge of that roof.
    Don’t be downstairs if he take you up on it. Splashes are messy.
    Challenge three: find out why priests and popes and mullahs who believe in the power of divine healing for their deluded followers go to scientific opticians and dentists instead of praying for good eyesight and pain relief. All of them support and condone the priests and churches that insist on the murders of children who could have been saved with modern medical techniques, transfusions or antibiotics or whatever, yet all of them go to satanic science for myopia. That is hypocrisy on a truly staggering scale yet the flock accept it.
    There is no magic save that of simply being alive and human. There are no gods. There are no demons. There are no eternal battles between darkness and light.
    In the beginning, the light came first then there was a third of a mega-year of opaque but searing hot chaos then there was the recombination event which created neutral hydrogen and allowed the starlight to flow. It has been flowing ever since.
    Even the opaque chaos wasn’t ever “dark”. It was hotter than any star and larger than galaxies and the huge emptiness between them.
    There is no eternal struggle between darkness and light. There is only entropy, physics in action and a side-show that has a crack in the process that lets in life. Life is beautiful. Life is the magic.
    We are all the magic a cosmos needs.
    We are the universe looking at itself and laughing at the absurd beauty of it all.
    We don’t need gods.
    We’re divine enough for any universe.

    Ephphatha, darling, I truly wish your wizened little soul could be touched by the magnificence of this cosmos. I wish you could open your blocked little mind, your closed and blinded eyes and see the glory, the beauty of this living, breathing universe as it really is, not filtered through the snow-globe of a throttling, stifling delusion of tininess and anger. I wish you could appreciate The Big Picture and could pass it on to all your churches.
    You miss so very much, locked in your pathetic little churches. I pity you.
    There is a star only nine hundred light years from Earth who will blaze with the light of an entire galaxy so very soon. She is called Betelguese and we know she is on the ragged edge of a spectacular death.
    She will leave behind a glistening, glowing, gleaming scream of light and fury in the form of a planetary nebula, a thing that is not planetary in any sense but that certainly will have some of the attributes of clouds.
    No gods tell me this. It is not written in a holy book [Unless you include my “Norton’s Atlas” which is pretty sacred to me.] Yet we can foretell it.
    It will come. Soon.
    It may have happened already. It may have happened nine hundred years ago and the vast, torrential, world-shattering wave-front could be battering at the doors of our tiny Solar System. We may see a star burn today.
    It is unlikely to happen this year, but it could. Or rather we could see it this year as it would have happened about the year 100 A.D.
    It will happen. Unless humans get too smart and go stop it.
    The light show won’t harm Earth. It is far too distant to do much to the planet or even the skin of life that clings to her. Supernovae aren’t dangerous, unless you’re close to them.
    But it will be awesomely pretty. It will change the constellation of Orion forever in our skies.
    It might even spawn new religions.
    But it is a small, local, instant little thing on the scale of the cosmos.
    The death of the red giant star could profoundly affect every human alive and all of their descendants, or it could be a mere fluffy blur in the sky yet it is a small part of a tiny galaxy flashing through its life in a brief instant of the truly cosmic life of our universe.
    Ephphatha, lady, there is so very, very much more to this life than an imaginary fairy telling you how to wash your hands.
    There are tardigrades.

    Note: distances to to dying Red Giant are approximate. I used the number I was taught millennia ago in schools. Better measurements may be available. I can’t be arsed looking it up.

  77. Macha says:

    I’ve now, finally, seen the error of my ways and been blessed by the Holy Spirit.

    I saw this video and was convinced!

    Click on it with care! Your hard won unbeliefs will crumble as their foundations are shattered …

  78. Macha, that link is a great illustration of Poe’s Law. There is just no way I can tell that from a parody.

  79. Ephphatha says:

    Mary2: “Fuck Me Ephphatha! How many times does this have to be explained? I usually try not to get angry with people who disagree with me but when you are either pretending to be this stupid or intentionally being obtuse I join with the others in saying FUCK OFF. I’ll discuss anything with you all day and all night but a discussion implies two way conversation: not you make an assertion, we rebuff assertion, you don’t bother reading rebuttal, get all superior and repeat the same fucking assertion.”

    Pure bluster! Your weak and unresponsive rebuttals have obviously been read and were addressed specifically as mostly irrelevant and completely unresponsive, but I am going to add incorrect, in some cases, after I’m finished rebuking you for trying to insult and intimidate me into silence through pure bullying tactics.

    Who do you think you are kidding M2, besides yourself and everyone else here who doesn’t care how sloppy your aim is as long as you are targeting the enemy? And considering how many of your previous attacks (based on scripture) were specifically addressed by me and so thoroughly shot down that you completely abandoned most of them, you are the one person here who has no room whatsoever to complain about a lack of “two way conversation”. Others do have such room, such as hotrats, but it amazes me that any one of you would imagine that I should have enough free time to respond to all of the ill-considered arguments and rhetorical questions that a dozen other ankle-biters not much smarter than you keep posting. Are all of you who seem to be here everyday unemployed, living in your parents’ basement, and as unlucky in love and without a social life outside of this forum as you seem to be?

    Mary2: “For the very last time (and I will try to not use any word of more than one syllable) No. one. Has. Ever. Denied. That. Atheists. Commit. Crimes. NO ONE. If one killer killed someone in the name of atheism we would denounce them. NAME ONE, JUST ONE, PERSON WHO HAS KILLED BECAUSE OF ATHEISM. JUST ONE EPHPHATHA! I bet you can’t.”

    answer: All people killed in the name of Marxism.

    reference: “Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism.” Religion, V.I. Lenin

    You and AoS should stop betting that I am unable or afraid to answer your incredibly naive and embarrasingly overconfident questions.

    Mary2: “Mao and Pol Pot killed in the name of communist revolution.”

    Natural and inseparable from atheism, as far as they and their followers were concerned. And do you think Christian Crusaders did not think of themselves as revolutionaries?

    btw, M2, using all caps does not make pathetically weak arguments any stronger; just goes to show you think that raw bullying tactics should work.

    Mary2: “Hitler killed to improve German bloodlines.”

    Grossly incomplete summary of Hitler’s motives.

    Sorry, but that’s all the time I have to devote today to the ill-considered, incorrect and/or irrelevant arguments of someone who is just becoming increasingly frustrated that she cannot intellectually corner me or bully me into silence. Pure bluster. Can’t believe that your own arguments convince you of anything! But this is an Atheist karaoke forum, where you can expect to be complimented no matter how badly you sing.

  80. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mary, Walter, I swear I’m blushing :-“> (I hope that emoticon works).

    ShallowEnder, although I’m pretty certain not to still be around when Betelgeuse eventually dies,leaving behind ‘ a glistening, glowing, gleaming scream of light and fury in the form of a planetary nebula (beautifully put, by the way), but I really would like to be.
    You are correct in your assertation that the death of that beautiful, kaleidoscopic (anybody with even a small pair of binoculars; focus them on that star – the left shoulder of Orion – to see a star change colour before your very eyes), swollen giant poses no threat to us, but it could be a different story were we looking down its axis of spin. That star system could frazzle us even from a distance of 8,000 light years.

    Oddly, I don’t recall reading word one of any of that in the Bible.

    Macha, I promise to look at that video, but later. I’m reading James Gleick’s Chaos. Making a New Science, and daren’t risk destroying any precious brain cells until I’ve finished the book.

    Oddly, there’s nowt on Chaos theory in the Bible, either.

  81. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Oh, it’s back, and still saying nothing in a lot of words.
    You and AoS should stop betting that I am unable or afraid to answer your incredibly naive and embarrasingly overconfident questions
    So answer my first question to you, you know, that incredibly naive one. Do so, in your own words of course, and I’ll be the first to apologise for misrepresenting you.
    Fail to do so and your increasingly supercilious posts will remain ignored.

    By the way, I’m a semi-retired, home-owning grandfather, and I don’t even have a cellar. Are you projecting just a little, young man? Oh, you don’t have to answer that question, it’s what we non-thinkers call ‘rhetorical’.

  82. ShallowEnder says:

    Acolyte, a class W Wolf-Rayet super-giant is a lot hotter and more lethal than a pretty little Red Giant like Betelgeuse, though the crimson one is quite bright and very large. And we’re definitely not looking down onto the pole of Orion’s Hand. We’re pretty much safe from the glowing ruby shard. And it’s been shown in a few studies that there isn’t a nearby GRB or hypernova candidate that is likely to pasteurise the planets in anything like the near future.
    Earth is falling through a quite safe neighbourhood.
    Considering how rich the cosmos is with dangerous events and lethal regions it is an unlikely coincidence that this little blue marble is so well protected from everything by mere distance.
    But I suppose some planet had to be.
    And now the religious will tell us it is the deliberate work of a daddy?
    Incidentally, don’t say it’s name thrice in short order or it may just come out of the mirror and eat you up. [I found that film fun.]

  83. Robert, not Bob says:

    Hi guys, a lurker here. I’d just like to remind Epipantha or any other defenders of the faith that the “not a true Christian/Muslim” defense is based on the assumption of the supernatural claim, that is, that Jesus or Allah makes his followers good by telepathy. No more useful an argument against atheists than bible quotes. And they are, in fact, true Christians or Muslims: read the books! Boko Haram do just what the Prophet would have done (and Moses too, don’t forget).

  84. Macha says:

    Another mistake made by the lying criminal D’Souza (should that be “allegedly”, I’m not sure, I thought he pleaded guilty?) and his acolytes is the failure to recognise the context and timing of Stalin’s “Atheist State”. They blurt out-of-context soundbites and then flap off claiming some kind of victory, in the meantime throwing around enough insults and personal comments to keep a desperately unfunny comedian in business for, well, at least 10 minutes.

    Of course Marx and Lenin were the architects of (what we now call) Communism and their ideas developed at a time when the Russian people were starved and persecuted by the inaction, incompetence and negligence of their autocratic rulers – aided and abetted by the Church. Indeed many of the Marxist-Leninist notions were entirely laudable, for example Lenin’s references to the religious and Tsarist exploitation of the common people by promising them “tickets at a reasonable price to the wellbeing of heaven” whilst suffering an “exploitative existence”. For the conditions at the time, these were reasonably expressed aspirations, albeit somewhat idealistic.

    Then the Revolution happened and, like the French Revolution 100 or so years before, it took on a life of its own. In the ensuing turmoil, the winner was a upstart named Stalin who took full control after Lenin faded. Stalin was raised in an Orthodox religious environment, but was eventually drawn into a more immediate “religious” philosophy, Communism, which he embraced with a grimly executed enthusiasm.

    Whether he was an Atheist or not I don’t know, nor is it relevant. However, his religious upbringing would suggest not. Whichever, he recognised the fact that the Russian people were poorly educated and suffered from their long history of repression – steeped in the “opium” of religion. Consequently he repressed the Church and put Communism in its place. That, given the political situation, was a clever and pragmatic move.

    He then ruled ruthlessly until his demise. He set up a police state – not operating using any “atheistic religion”, but by the usual mechanisms of autocrats, namely corruption, bribery and repression. At first he suppressed the Church – it was seen as a threat to his “Tsar” status – but he eventually made moves towards its reinstatement.

    He was also reputedly anti-Semitic, presumably a legacy from his religious youth.

  85. djdummy says:

    Thank You ShallowEnder for Challenge three:
    The Biz.

    “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” To misquote B. Traven.
    Nice one author.

  86. Mary2 says:

    Macha, I’m not sure I entirely agree with you – I’ll have to give it some more thought. I don’t believe individual communists bear responsibility for the crimes of the Stalin regime any more than individual Christians do for the Inquisition or individual Germans for the Holocaust but I do feel that those who share a label with the above and by their silence in those circumstances condone the actions of the baddies do deserve some blame. The ordinary German did not murder Jews nor (probably) condone that murder but you do have to ask yourself what were they doing to stop it and did they benefit. I also think that I, as an Australian, bear some responsibility for my government’s inhumane treatment of refugees – while I am totally opposed to it, I am not doing anything to stop such cruelty. So, there you go Ephphatha, hypocrisy of my own.

    ShallowEnder, Nice! Loved the Boys from Brazil – still creepy.

    Oh, Ephphatha, sweetie. Now I’m a bully? You were so on the mark with your put-down of AOS, I bet that got right under his skin, but you missed entirely with me. There are so many legitimate cut-downs you could have used for me that would have worked: opinionated, arrogant, not as clever as I think I am etc. etc. but ‘bully’ – no. After weeks and weeks of being one of the few commenters here to show patience and restraint with your drivel I don’t think ‘bully’ works, do you? (I’m quite happy to accept the ‘bluster’ label – tolerance wasn’t working!) Intimidate you into silence? I have been begging and begging to have a grown-up conversation with you. I would really love sensible discussion on theology and philosophy with you but you are either unwilling or, given your self-assessment of your arguments, incapable.

    I’m really sorry that after all this time you still can’t understand the difference between correlation and causation – we must have said about 400 times that we accept that communist philosophy is often connected to atheism. We have also tried to explain that no one killed FOR the atheism. I’m sorry that’s too subtle for you; I will try one last time because I am ever hopeful. Most of the countries fighting in WWII were Christian countries – the Nazis even had ‘God with us’ on their belts and the Allies had planes blessed by priests; however, no one has ever said WWII was a Christian war – why? Because none of them went to war FOR Christianity – either to defend it or promote it. On the other hand, the crusades WERE religious wars – why? Because leaders on both sides sold them that way. There were undoubtedly other reasons – riches, land, glory – but the wars were promoted as Christianity versus Islam. Please, please, please tell me you now understand the difference!

    Hey Robert, not Bob, welcome aboard – good point – if you’ll accept praise from such a naïve, childish, non-thinker like myself! 😉

  87. ShallowEnder says:

    Mary2 : by my reckoning, the Boys from Brazil should be at or around the ages of senior politicians by now. They should have “grandchild” clones, third generation twigs off the old tree.
    Now that is scary.
    If you take the premise as true, of course. Which we all know it was. Everything good said about the Holy Adolf is automatically true. We know this because it was said about him.
    Everything bad, of course, is a lie told by heretics and infidels.
    If we can give good press to Mr. Josephson …

  88. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mary2 says:
    June 8, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Oh, Ephphatha, sweetie. Now I’m a bully? You were so on the mark with your put-down of AOS, I bet that got right under his skin, but you missed entirely with me…..

    Mary, I thought we were friends! Or doesn’t that read as you intended it to?

    Macha’s touched on a point I was thinking about earler. The religious cite the regimes of Stalin, Mao, et al. as being specifically atheist mainly because they banned organised religion without realising that all they were doing was removing rivals to their authority. Religions proclaim their gods to be the supreme authority so religion had to go.
    The simple fact that they also systematically ordered the murders of anybody with an eye to the throne, even their closest political allies if they thought they were getting too popular within the party or were looking too ambitious (just as Kim Yong Un did to his uncle a couple of months ago), seems to have gone right over their empty little noggins.
    And how anybody can even begin to claim that the murder of six million Jews was not religiously motivated is far beyond me.

  89. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Oops, missed a bit from a sentence..

    Religions proclaim their gods to be the supreme authority, and the priests have influence over their flocks, so religion had to go.

  90. Mary2 says:

    AOS, dear friend, oops. I meant that someone who obviously puts a lot of thought and effort into erudite and complex comments on a website is presumably someone who prides themselves on being a thinker and/or an ‘intellectual’ (as, I’m sure, do most commenters on this site). You obviously value intellect. Therefore, having an obvious cretin suggest that you are shallow and not very bright would (I’m guessing) get beneath the skin – not because there is any suggestion of truth but because the irony of attacking this particular trait. Whereas (I’d hoped) my over-the-top swearing and shouting was so out of character (for Mary2 if not for me 😉 ) that to use this one comment out of the millions s/he could have chosen to condemn me for was just silly. – is that any better or am I just digging a deeper hole??????

  91. Surfstuff says:

    So funny. Sounds like Barmaid is describing many evangelicals I’ve met.

  92. Macha says:


    Much of the time I was thinking aloud, so I’m not even sure I agree with myself.

    One thing I was trying to say is that with any “ideological cult”, be it Christianity, Communism, Nazism or whatever, when you join up you accept all the articles of faith of that cult – even though you may not be aware of all their ramifications at the time. Once you’ve signed up as a member, it then becomes very difficult to leave (as amply demonstrated by Ephphy), either because of your intellectual investment therein, or the punishment associated with apostasy and rejection. So, when crimes are committed in the name of that cult, then in general (exceptional individual cases aside), the blame lies with the cult (and possibly its ruling elite), not the rank and file cultists. However, I accept that this is a personal viewpoint.

    Also (another personal opinion here), for me, “Atheism” isn’t a cult, ideology or any other kind of ology. It begins and ends with my non-belief (with the 99% certainty level caveat) in the Supernatural. It doesn’t make me want to destroy churches, burn religious paintings or ban Verdi’s Requiem. Also, as an Atheist, I’m sure I don’t share any “blame” for deaths in the Gulags. Stalin was primarily a Stalinist (he was also an ex-altar boy) and he saw the need to destroy religion (and any other potential opposition, he was an Autocrat for chrissakes) to cement his throne in place. I’m an Atheist not a Stalinist and I don’t wish to destroy religion, I just want to stop it shitting in my garden.

    I also have loads of qualifications around the term “Atheist”.

    Most of the time I don’t think about it, but there are times when I get riled up. One example is the way that the UK educational system is allowed, by law, to try to force God into young children. It makes me angry – there would be an outcry if they tried to do it with Astrology, but with religion it appears to be OK.

    Another instance is when the likes of Epphy come along with “the Quantum (or whichever) world is mysterious, therefore God”. By all means metaphysics your way around things if you wish, but don’t hide smirking inside your God hole saying you’ve found an explanation.

    Finally (sorry to go on), I understand about your feelings regarding your Government’s approach to refugees. I feel the same about Tony Blair. I voted for him, then found out he was going to get onto a prayer mat with Bush to invade Iraq. I did what I could – wrote to my MP, and you can imagine what effect that had (bugger all).

    As for Ephphy, he’ll probably eventually either go quiet, or get insulting and sweary. On the other hand, she could be trawling through Youtube as we speak. Hang on though, it’s Sunday, so he’s probably busy praying at the altar of the Stone Age Zombie Death Cult.

  93. Macha says:

    Sorry, meant Bronze Age, didn’t I?

  94. Macha says:

    What’s happened to the ephphing edit button?

  95. Author says:

    @Macha – comment editing mysteriously stopped working. I’m looking for a fix

  96. Mary2 says:

    “test”? Did I pass?

  97. Macha says:


    Hi, hope you’re having a good day.

  98. Macha says:


    According to the Daily Mail, no one “fails” tests any more coz it’s “non-PC”

    Reminds me of one of my rellies, an avid football fan who, when his team lost, was heard to mutter “well at least they came second”

  99. Macha, you put it very well. I’m so tired of being told I’m angry at god, or hate Jesus and hate prayer. I’m not and don’t. I just don’t relate.

    I have to admit that all of this discussion with Ephphatha has made me re-evaluate my beliefs yet again. I have doubts about my fundamentalist atheism. I mean, if so many claim to believe in a supreme being, maybe there’s something to it. So just this morning I was searching my heart, examining my preconceptions, considering my premises, exploring what I think I know of reality, and trying to find just a hint of some deity, some way I could come to believe what so many claim to believe.

    I thought about Ephphatha and his/her belief in scripture. So I thought about scripture. Is there actual guidance and wisdom there? Am I missing something? Or is it what it appears to be, the best guess by primitive ignorant people overlaid with later political considerations by multiple authors all cobbled together mixing in myths from ancient times with contradictions and nonsense? What seems more likely?

    I had doubts and I did think about it. And the result… nada. Nothing. Not a shred of divinity or verification of religion anywhere.

    I wonder whether the believers ever do this. Or do they back away in fear and panic the minute they feel their lifeline slipping from their fingers, falling back immediately on words from their particular dogma? Some tell me that Jesus is very real and alive for them. that they talk to him all the time, that he guides them and carries them. When I question them they seem okay with arguments to consequences – if I didn’t have god I’d have no reason to live, no reason not to murder people (This one always astonishes me. What? You can’t tell right from wrong without your god?), the world would be bleak and hopeless (implying that my world must be bleak and hopeless when it is anything but.) All this does for me is bring up questions. I try to get into their mind, and I utterly fail. Maybe that’s a good thing.

    I do have to thank people like Ephphatha for making me think about it. Again. But comes a time to put it all aside and admit that I just don’t get it and never will. Ephphatha goes back in the ignore-the-whack-job-troll file.

  100. Ephphatha says:

    M2: “…we must have said about 400 times that we accept that communist philosophy is often connected to atheism. We have also tried to explain that no one killed FOR the atheism. I’m sorry that’s too subtle for you”

    Often connected? I provided a direct quote from one of the chief architects of communism stating that atheism is inseparable from communist ideology. So, what could you possibly mean by “often connected”? Are you saying that atheism and communism are incorrectly connected? Who do you think you’re kidding besides yourself, M2? I am trying to be a reliable and patient hearing aid for you, but you are wasting my battery power.

    M2: “I will try one last time because I am ever hopeful. Most of the countries fighting in WWII were Christian countries – the Nazis even had ‘God with us’ on their belts and the Allies had planes blessed by priests; however, no one has ever said WWII was a Christian war – why? Because none of them went to war FOR Christianity – either to defend it or promote it.

    “Pro Aris et Focis”

    Your questions are beneath you, M2.

    AoS: “So answer my first question to you, you know, that incredibly naive one. Do so, in your own words of course, and I’ll be the first to apologise for misrepresenting you. Fail to do so and your increasingly supercilious posts will remain ignored.”

    I have no idea why you would want to repeat a naive question or read the answer again, but here is a copy and paste of your original question, followed by the original answer:

    AoS: “How about answering one very simple question? Assuming that you have actually thought your faith through, you must have considered and rejected other religions, so what made you decide that the Christian god is the real one, rather than that of the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Seikh, Mormon, Jehova’s Witness, etc. faiths? Please answer in your own words rather than through even more Bible quotes, because being in the Bible doesn’t make it so.”

    “Ephphatha answer(ed):

    “…countless many Christians besides myself consider Muslims, Hindi, Sihk, etc, to be our brothers and sisters, not God’s enemies or our own. What is the basis for this belief? Now perhaps you will be sane enough to allow me to quote from the bible. It is widely believed that Jesus was referring to people of other religions when he said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen”. Only fundamentalist Christians believe that Christians alone are capable of achieving salvation. So, when Jesus said, for example, that the only way to the Father is through him, I hear him speaking to me, not to sheep of other pens. At the same time, however, it is also widely believed outside of fundamentalist Christian circles that people of other faiths will eventually become united, just as all things ultimately work out for the glory of God, including your naive, fundamentalist-atheist question…

    “To answer what is left of your question after my “word salad” specifically addressed the faulty assumption on which it was primarily based, I believe that I did not choose Christianity so much as God chose Christianity for me:

  101. Ephphatha, since you are still sticking around perhaps you could answer one simple question for me.

    How do you know that god chose Christianity for you? Isn’t it possible that your brain simply decided on a preference for the comforting noises you were hearing, and decided to ignore any evidence to the contrary?

    I suppose that’s two questions. But they are sincere questions. I’m not attacking you or your beliefs. I just want to understand.

    If god himself/herself/whatever appeared to me personally, a Road to Damascus experience, I would immediately be confronted by a question: Is this real or have I gone nuts? The latter seems infinitely more likely to me. How could I know? How do you know? And please don’t tell me that you know because of scripture. If that’s the case, how do you know that scripture is something other than what I see in it?

  102. Macha says:

    Here we go again.

    You quote –

    “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen”

    – and then go on to assert –

    “It is widely believed that Jesus was referring to people of other religions”

    – in order to justify your previous statement –

    “countless many Christians besides myself consider Muslims, Hindi, Sihk [?], etc, to be our brothers and sisters”

    Now come on, that’s not the case is it? You’re actually talking complete nonsense. A much wider “interpretation” among your cult (interpretation = I haven’t a damn clue so I’ll make something up), is that “other sheep” refers to Jews, or other tribes, or the Gentiles (take your pick – Islam hadn’t been invented yet). The “I” and the “have” indicate that they will be eventually be “brought” into the fold. By force? Certainly not by persuasion. Certainly not by reason.

    So again you’re being disingenuous, Your Muslim sheep only become “brothers and sisters” when they accept Jesus, because you also say :-

    “the only way to the Father is through him” <- hint: him = Jesus

    So you’re saying that Muslims (and the rest) are only “brothers and sisters” provided they accept Jesus. Not exactly lovey dovey inclusiveness is it?

  103. Macha says:



    obviously, damn it

  104. “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Eph. 1:4-5.” We are chosen by god before the beginning of the world…Of course this little Biblical contradiction throws the widely touted apologetics of FREE WILL right out the window.

  105. Mary2 says:

    Ephphatha, I apologise. I keep forgetting that if I don’t draw out every sentence to be three paragraphs of words of one syllable you will completely misinterpret whatever I write. Perhaps it’s all that experience having to reinterpret what is written in the bible into a form that even vaguely resembles something moral in the C21.

    ‘often connected’ = lazy way of suggesting that, although there is nothing inherent in communism which demands a lack of belief in gods, the base tenet of equality across the board does conflict with a hierarchy of priests. Quite irrelevant obviously as, even if every member was an atheist they still didn’t go to war because the tenets of atheism demanded it. i.e. exactly what I said in my WWII analogy which you, for some bizarre reason, provided further evidence for in your links. According to you some American and Australian battalions fought under the motto ‘for god and family’ – are you seriously suggesting D-Day was about ridding Europe of Infidels?

    Another one you seem to have misunderstood (quite proudly, which is odd) is AOS’ first question. He asked ‘what made you sure that Christianity is the correct interpretation of God and Muslims are wrong’ and you replied that ‘Muslims and Christians are brothers’. Even those of us with a very limited understanding of both religions know that they cannot both be right. Either Jesus is divine or he is just a man. How do you know which it is? God chose it for you? That is nonsensical. How do you know it was god and not Satan? Why would God choose Christianity for you and Islam for so many others and Shintuism for others etc. How do you know it is God and not a dream (Muslims swear their god talks to them too).

    P.S. If you want to get all offended by my comments, this is not bullying. It is pure and simple condescension.

  106. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    No, Mary, you misunderstand him. His god is the one true god and all the rest are deluded fools. However, they will learn the error of their ways and will be begging to come to his god after it’s had them roasted in the flames of hell for a few millenia. That’ll teach ’em to choose more carefully next time.
    His assertation that ‘however, it is also widely believed outside of fundamentalist Christian circles that people of other faiths will eventually become united‘ is quite confusing as I don’t recall that particular nugget being in the Bible. It sounds more like the sort of thing the modern, wishy-washy believers would make up to turn the god of the book into a nice, all-inclusive god. That’s why you won’t hear it in fundie circles; they want their god to be a vindictive bastard.

    So now the poor lamb thinks that repeating a non-answer is giving an answer. But then, he’s hardly going to admit that not a lot of thought went into his choice of religion, and that he hasn’t read word one of any holy book other than the ‘right’ one, or read up on pre-Abrahamic religions to discover just how much of his faith was borrowed from the ancients, much less read anything on atheism besides his Church issue ‘Atheists Will Burn In Hell’ pamphlets.
    Credit where it’s due, though; he did at least google ‘atheism and communism’ to get his precious, out of context and irrelevant quote. Or maybe that was in a Church pamphlet, too.

    I do love the idea that everything was decided in his god’s head even before Creation. It actually planned all the horror, the pain, the fear that humans have suffered. Shit! Yet they worship this psychopath because it was all for his god’s glory. Sonds more like it was all for his sadistic gratification, but what do I know?
    Oh, hang on, it did give us rainbows and fluffy bunnies, so it can’t be all that bad.

  107. Macha says:

    Here’s a couple for Ephph, it might lighten him up a bit

    I know he likes Youtube.

    The ads can be skipped after a few seconds …

  108. ShallowEnder says:

    Acolyte: “annus” = year, “anus” = arsehole. “Millennia” = more than a week, “millenia” = a thousand arseholes or a Parliament.
    Just helping everyone get it right.

    You are very right in your interpretation of the babble’s theories of integration and multiculturalism, it doesn’t have any. Basically, every people save the chosen people get trampled, massacred, put to the sword, have their virgins taken for sex-toys and their infants dashed against stones, their idols overthrown and their reputations trashed.
    The parable of the Good Samaritan wasn’t that Samaritans were good and holy folk, it was that even a fucking filthy shitbag, un-American, commie bastard Samaritan scunner can show a tiny amount of compassion for a real human. It was a tale of the good red-neck or the good WASP or the good anti-abortionist. It is the tale of the Green Trillionaire or the Honest Politician or the Generous Priest. Or even the one slightly good christian among all the Boko bastards.
    Together with the book of Ruth it is just about the only tale in the babble that preaches any sort of acceptance. [Ruth is said to be the generator of King David even though she is a filthy Moabitess.]
    Every other time the Chosen encounter the not so Chosen their super-powered big daddy goes mental and wipes out the “enemy”, or sends in the grunts to do it for it.
    The babble is a litany of genocide and hatred and pure, evil Herrenvolkery.
    A strangeness is that the two best known Herrenvolk use it as justification for their bigotry, racialism and hatred of all others. At least the Japanese use a different justification from those two.
    When Ephphatha suggests that his enemies are “brothers and sisters” she is talking in the Regal, Imperial, “Game Of Thrones” sense where all siblings are mortal rivals and all must be killed and their babies eaten. [I doubt any Caesar ever really did that. Not raw.]
    In that narrow sense, she could have a point.
    The closer the religious siblings, the more they squabble over which end of the banana to eat first. And the more vicious they are about maintaining their trivial, petty little differences.
    So Eppy could be right. All of the poky little cults are brothers. All together in the same house, burning it to the bedrock.

    First Nun : “Where’s the candle.”
    Second Nun : “Yes, doesn’t it?”

    Oh, dear, no editing … well, I guess I’ll have to leave it in …

  109. Holms says:

    [b]Checking[/b] code

  110. Ephphatha says:

    Since I was born into a Christian family, DH, my beliefs originally had nothing to do with a “brain preference” of my own, of course. But I remember having no doubts whatsoever about God at first. It wasn’t until age seven, as I recall, that I began to doubt. That was when upsetting results came in from my first ‘scientific’ experiment with prayer. I did not win the twenty-five dollar prize at the charity raffle in which I had invested one dollar and a prayer for the winning ticket. But all was well in Whoville when I did receive the guitar that I prayed for on Christmas Day that year.

    I would describe, as you suggested, DH, what caused my return to belief in God much later on as a “Road to Damascus” experience, and at first I did have to ask myself the same kinds of questions you imagined that you would have to ask yourself if the same thing were ever to happen to you. Eventually I was forced to conclude, however, that I was not imagining things or going crazy because God left no room for me to account for what happened in any other way than to see his hand at work. Apparently, it is quite true that faith is a gift from God, not something you can earn or develop on your own simply by reading the bible, for example, just as Ephesians 2:8-9 says.

    Never mind exactly what happened to me on the road to Damascus. My story would not prove any more than the original story in the bible does, and I remember being thoroughly unimpressed with that story as evidence for anything. But what I didn’t realize back then is that scripture is just seed, not the whole Happy Meal. The bible is just there to be read so that when the same or similar things happen to you, you have a frame of reference to understand what is happening. Besides, what I think should be of more interest than the details of my R2D story are the tangible effects: physical, mental and material. So, using keywords I searched the Internet at one point to try to understand what I was experiencing. As someone who believes that all religions may be saying the same thing in different words, DH, the following search result that came up ought to be of interest to you:

    At any rate, the effects were powerful enough and so distinctively holy that I felt an obligation to respond by selling material possessions and giving money to the poor, which led me to the revelation that the more I gave away the wealthier I seemed to become. That is, on the modest scale that I was willing and able to give. I think the same principle is at work here:

    Much more interesting to me, though, is how to accumulate spiritual capital (God’s mercy) than monetary reward because I believe that is the kind of return on investment that the smartest ‘money’ seeks. Long story short, every time people here or elsewhere kick me once and I don’t kick back, God blesses me twice. Even money when I fight fire with fire.

    “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

  111. Ephphatha, thanks for that explanation. Naturally it proves nothing to me, as you expected, and I still see you as delusional. But your delusions seem to work for you, so that’s fine by me.
    I have a few delusional beliefs that seem to work for me. For example, I believe that everything in my reality is a result of my thoughts, beliefs, and actions. When I first heard this idea, at a touchy-feely seminar for which I had paid substantial money, I stood up and loudly proclaimed that it was bullshit. If I’m walking in the park and I get hit by a meteor, how is that a result of my thoughts, beliefs, and actions? Shit happens. The facilitator explained that this might not be (making that quotation mark gesture) the “Truth” with a capital T, but it is a very useful idea and the more one believes it the more true it appears. So I decided to adopt the belief and try it out for a while, and yes, I find that it is very useful and seems to be true the more I believe it. ( It was my decision to walk in that park. I did neglect to bring my garbage can lid and tinfoil hat. Those were my choices.) Any other belief makes me a victim of my circumstances and takes away my personal power.
    I too find that I am happiest when I am involved in helping others, or contributing to the general welfare of others. When I can take the focus off myself, the returns as you noted are amazing. I’ve also noticed that when I do the right thing, even when that puts material gain at risk or could cause a loss, I feel better for it and the results always seem to justify the correct behaviour. But I come at these beliefs through bitter experience and from a humanist perspective. I don’t seem to need any god or religion to tell me right from wrong.
    You seem to be an okay kind of person, despite your acceptance of a very silly belief system. If you had come to this site without the belligerent attitude toward atheists (recall how your first post insulted our beloved Author and one of the regulars) you might have found a better reception. You swaggered in here with a chip on your shoulder and pissed people off, starting with me. So it seems to me that you are still a little short of sainthood. I’m sure if you presented yourself as you just did from the beginning, you would find this a welcoming and friendly crowd.
    I don’t see any problem with trying to win approval or please people. Being a servant of Christ shouldn’t mean you have to be a jerk all the time, right? Surely you’ll bring more of us to your Saviour, unlikely as that may be, by being friendly than by being confrontational.
    Actual human responses go a long way at the C&B. Have a pint and calm down. There are some good people here, and interesting conversations are the norm.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  112. Holms says:

    HTML it is!

    the central argument is not necessarily that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc, were real atheists or that they necessarily carried out atrocities in the name of atheism, just as popular atheist author Daniel Dennett concedes (in his book “Breaking the Spell”) that theist atrocities are not usually carried out by real theists inspired or guided by the best tenets of their own religions. Instead, the central argument D’Souza made is that you have to apply a single standard to both kinds of atrocities. In other words, if as real atheists you don’t accept responsibility for the atrocities of fake atheists, then you shouldn’t try to lay the blame for the atrocities of fake theists on real theists.
    Nice try, but I see your bit of ‘sleight of argument’ here. Initially, you concede that Stalin etc. did commit their atrocities in the name of atheism – and on this point I would agree: Their actions were not done to further the atheist cause, their motivation was not “because I’m an atheist,” or anything like that.

    However, immediately after making this point, you ignore it. You changed your wording such that, to paraphrase slightly: ‘they did not necessarily carry out their atrocities in the name of atheism’ becomes ‘they carried out their atrocities in the name of atheism, but it was a false interpretation of atheism.’

    The distinction between these two characterisations is vast, making a false equivalence between ‘not done for atheism at all’ and ‘done on behalf of atheism, just not your particular brand of atheism.’ And hey presto, suddenly all things that were conceded to be unrelated to atheism are now related to atheism; the caveat is now simply ‘but not necessarily your interpretation of it.’

    By doing so, you have completely elided the point that the atrocities you reference were not linked to the atheist cause. Not linked to atheism, not linked to ‘fake atheism’, not at our door at all.

  113. Mary2 says:

    Ephphatha, Thank you. Thank you for your honest and interesting account of your experience. Keep it up. We would like to hear more real stuff from you and I’ll drop the sarcasm in response.

    You too, DH (although I’ll keep the sarcasm up towards you). Your ‘touchy-feely’ seminar seems to be using one of the central tenets of buddhism. It does make you feel like less of a victim, not to blame yourself for everything that happens to you, but to see everything as a consequence of millions of little ’cause and effects’ many of which are your own choices. It helps to remind you that you are in control of your own responses to what happens even if you can’t influence the actual meteor. Now, if only I could actually remember that in the real world instead of sitting in the corner, sucking my thumb, repeating, “It’s not fair!”

  114. Macha says:

    @Ephphatha via @DH

    You (Eph) must admit that you came in with all religious guns blazing – which isn’t necessarily a good idea when jumping into a serpents pit of Atheists (see the Holy reference there?)

    So, if you want to engage, then please come up with more substantive material.

    To that end :

    Don’t preach : quoting bible stuff is a bit like quoting JK Rowling to defend the religion of HarryPotterism.

    Quit posting links to Youtube or other argue-by-proxy websites

    Stop patronising. We understand what you’re saying, we just don’t agree with it.

    Give up on the semantic crap. Saying things in a more complex manner doesn’t make them more valid.

    Stop awarding points. Only Jesus, Mo and the Barmaid are allowed to do that in the C&B

    On the do side – give us your ideas, explain your thoughts in a non judgemental way without reference to a higher authority, if Jesus in in your being then explain it, back it up with a bit of mathematics or directly verifiable science even, give us some proper Philosophy.

    In other words, talk like a human being.

    The ball’s in your court …

  115. ShallowEnder says:

    Ephphatha, darling, I had a “road to Damascus” moment.
    I was in a place with some people, one of who was a young lady. I turned around, looked at her, saw her and knew for a solid gold fact that living without her was not going to be an option.
    I asked her to marry me.
    The stupid woman said “yes”. Up until that moment I had considered her very intelligent, of sound mind and possessed of good judgement. Needless to say I didn’t let her momentary lapse in judgement and taste interfere with the process of locking her into my life.
    Where did that utter conviction come from? I have no idea. I just knew she was The One.
    It was unreasonable, irrational and slightly insane but I stuck with it. I am still utterly and completely convinced I was right.
    I’ve sometimes wondered what the fuck that sudden blast of certainty was, why it came and how it came to be and why I have never, ever questioned its bona fides.
    I have sometimes thought that her affirmative answer was the stupidest thing she ever did as she could have done ever so much better than me and her life with me hasn’t been one of golden splendour and ease. But it was the smartest decision I ever made. From a purely selfish perspective.
    What caused that rush of absolute surety? What happened in my mind? I do not know. I will never know.
    I don’t think of it as a religious epiphany, but others may. It had the same icy clarity as some describe their conversions.

    I’ve seen some things and been fairly sure as to certain facts about them. I know of an entire galaxy where no life exists. I found that image through this page, to which I subscribe. I can’t prove there’s no life, but I’d bet a large wadge of cash on it. I’m almost certain there can’t be. Not yet. There may be life in that galaxy someday, when it goes quiet but I feel very, very sure it is empty and sterile as we see it.
    That is an entirely different type of certainty.
    It is a certainty that goes with experience of a great, huge, beautiful universe full of wonders which has taught me that some regions of it are inimical to protoplasm. It is also a certainty that I am quite prepared to accept is utterly wrong.
    Should we see Dyson Spheres or other technologies growing in NGC 3081, or should star-faring aliens, or their robot probes, from worlds in that star cloud come to talk I would happily shed my “certainty” and admit I was wrong.
    I’ve done it before.
    The “certainty” about my decision to marry her is something I can’t see me ever admitting to being in error. That’s an entirely different form of “knowledge”.
    I could see me accepting that the marriage was a huge blunder from her perspective. I’ve even suggested that to her. She always remains as stubbornly daft about it as ever.
    Perhaps she, too had a revelatory vision?

    We “godless ones” have had certainties of the second kind, certainties based on firm knowledge of how the cosmos really works, backing our lack of faith. It is not a “road” moment of utter clarity or a temptation by a demon that causes our lack of belief. It is the clear and sure accumulation of knowledge and experience.
    We’re certain there are no demons, ghouls, vampires, devils or Elder Gods From The Underworlds.
    But we’d be open to accepting we’re wrong.
    That is how Science works.
    My marriage proposal wasn’t “Scientific”. My knowledge of NGC 3081, however limited it may be, is.
    I hope I’m wrong on the latter.
    But I’m betting I’m not on the issue of gods and devils.

    Hell, I don’t even believe young Adolf was a living deity and there’s loads of evidence for that one.

  116. ShallowEnder says:

    DH : there was a rather large tectonic event. It caused a splash wave, commonly called a tsunami. Loads of people were very inconvenienced, many fatally so. It is absolutely true that it was their very own personal decisions that put them in the way of that wave. They took a holiday, bought a house, were born in the area and decided not to become rich enough to move. They even decided not, on that day, to wear a full pressure suit with its own air supply sufficient for two weeks.
    Yet I’d still question whether they were in control of their destinies. I would still say that almost all of them were victims of circumstance. That an act of random physics got them.
    It may make us feel better to think we’re in control, but when Yellowstone gets hit by a dinosaur-extinctifier and that island drops into the Atlantic as the seismic shock-wave shatters it, our personal feelings of empowerment won’t matter overly much.
    Falling rocks don’t care how zen you are, which gods you support or whether you’ve been naughty or nice.
    I know you weren’t suggesting they do but your “June 9, 2014 at 7:02 pm” could have been read that way.
    The bullet from Betelgeuse that started falling when the dinosaurs were still around might have your name on it and might land in the next half-hour. It isn’t pre-destination but there still may be nothing you could do to avoid it.
    Best idea? Have a party and ignore how random the cosmos is.

    Challenge four for Eppy and her lot: tell your gods you’ve been nice. Worship them a lot. Eat some biscuit, bump your forehead against the floor, drink some cheap plonk, give away some cash [Hi, there, want my Paypal account?] and do a good deed [Hi, there, Paypal?]. Then wear very dark clothing and walk onto an extremely busy fast highway in the dark and rain. Defy the physics. Pray for deliverance.
    In the 21st Century, in the First World, you may get it. Vehicles are equipped with very good safety features, thanks to science and its technological spin-offs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
    Indeed, I don’t.
    Have believers faith enough in their daddy to do so?

    Note: the parenthetical suggestions about my Paypal account were not entirely made in all seriousness. For one thing, I don’t have one. For another, I’m not completely convinced that would be a “good deed” under the terms and conditions of any particular religion. Giving aid to the enemy could be considered naughty.

  117. ShallowEnder, yeah. I said it was a delusional belief. I also resisted it when I first heard it, for the very reasons you cite. But I do find it useful, even though it isn’t true. It gets me to thinking about the pattern of decisions I habitually make when things go wrong for me. And invariably I find some belief or practice that contributed to my misfortune.
    For example, at one point in a previous career I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t making as much money as I wanted. But when I thought about what I was doing, or not doing, to cause the situation the answer was obvious. I didn’t care about money, didn’t focus on money, and generally had a very lackadaisical attitude toward getting money. No surprise that I had enough for my needs but not as much as I would have liked.
    Obviously we are all victims of our birth and circumstances. But it is quite empowering to pretend this isn’t true, and see what you can change.

  118. ShallowEnder says:

    DH: so true. And to find the walls of reality into which we smack when we encounter the limits of our powers to change.

    I was rather dismissive of our worthiness and might, earlier. There are things we could do about the falling bullet from Betelgeuse. There are about a dozen scientists and some robots watching the skies to initiate such activities. Whether the planet’s peoples would join together to fight their fates under a falling rock or not is an intriguing question.
    Personally, I doubt it. I suspect the godly ones, the greens and the opportunist peculator politicians would reduce any global effort to the level of farce.
    There are things that could be done but I’m fairly sure nothing would be.
    Not, at least, until the barrels of pork were distributed. With the usual tithes to the guys in drag, naturally.

  119. Mary2 says:

    ShallowEnder, you cynic! All we need to do is mobilise Bruce Willis. That’ll fix a pesky exploding star.

  120. Holms says:

    Much more interesting to me, though, is how to accumulate spiritual capital (God’s mercy) than monetary reward because I believe that is the kind of return on investment that the smartest ‘money’ seeks. Long story short, every time people here or elsewhere kick me once and I don’t kick back, God blesses me twice. Even money when I fight fire with fire.

    Hah! You actually think your conduct here could possibly be characterised as ‘being kicked and not kicking back’? Hah I say again! Hell, even ‘fighting fire with fire’ is a stretch when you are the one that conducted yourself with almost nonstop snide sarcasm and direct insults unprovoked.

    Unless… you consider the mere fact that someone does not agree with you to be provocation enough to treat them like dirt?

  121. Macha says:


    I thought that was a bit strange as well – maybe it’s where the awarding of points came from – redistributing some of God’s munificence?

  122. Holms, I let that one pass because if he/her wants to feel holier than us, that’s okay by me. He/she has deeper delusions to address.
    BTW I’m fairly sure that Ephphatha is of the male persuasion. Not sure why, but something in the tone of his/her comments strikes me as essentially masculine. There’s an air of privilege and testosterone about the words he/she sends our way.
    But maybe that’s just the default assumption. What do you think Mary2?

  123. ShallowEnder says:

    Holms, it has been regularly established here and in town, city and district councils, in the BBC, in newsprint and just about everywhere else that not abjectly and cravenly giving in to the obsessed fairy-tale providers, not supporting their strange superstitions at the cost of all reason and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and disagreeing with even the teeniest, tiniest, most trivial part of their dogma is automatically harassment and oppression.
    Even the relatively sane Ephphatha has this entitlement chip on her lovely shoulders. She may not be as fucking batshit crazy as the Boko Humpers but she is religious and that makes any slight disagreement with anything she says a major crime against humanity.
    “Agree with us or die.”
    Eppy dearest is a mild example but they all have the same psychological disorder. And if you don’t believe it try “insulting” the fat kiddy-buggerer inside a Mosque. If you do and you make it out alive do tell us how well your remarks were received, we’ll be waiting, at a great distance.
    I don’t give a rat’s fart in a typhoon how you “attack my unbelief”. Indeed, I’ll reasonably consider any validevidence a god-sucker could provide. [Babbles, visions, the fact that penes fit into sheaths and the complexity of the cosmos do not count.] [The usual counter-example for those latter samplings is the puddle remaking upon how well the depression it sits in is shaped to fit its volume.] God-lickers can NEVER consider reason or evidence as denying the existence of their fairy-tale daddies, indeed, faith is the absolute dismissal of reason and evidence as tools.
    The religious get annoyed when reason and evidence is used to deny the existence or influence or right to interfere in our lives of their daddies as their one and only response is that it says so in the book. They have faith and nothing, absolutely nothing else.
    So they get extremely defensive when we rock their world.
    Add to this the fact that they know we are right and their faith is wrong and you have a pretty incendiary mixture.
    With us being the things they would like to incend.
    They feel weaker, stupider, lesser than reasoning beings so they must attack if only to impress us with their macho credentials.
    Faith is a piss-poor way to run a life and they know it but they have little or nothing else so they defend their faith with our lives.
    And even the nicer ones among them must support Boko Rapists and their priests for to condemn any religion is to condemn all. Or so they see it.
    Ephphatha will say she opposes a vast, inchoate “evil” but she will never agree that the Boko Bastards’ priests are evil.
    She can’t.
    It would lessen her own fantasy.
    And provide a crack in the wall of denial into which a little reason might fall.
    That could never be allowed.
    It is the sort of thing that could lead to the end of all gods.

    So they must attack. They have no choice.

  124. ShallowEnder says:

    re ShallowEnder’s latest “tl:dr” :

    Regarding the puddle’s fit:

    The astonishment is not how complex and finely-tuned the universe seems to be such that it enables us to live and think, it is that we can manage to live and think in such a random, chaotic, badly-tuned, vast, lethal and dangerous place.
    We fit into the cosmos. Poorly. Temporarily. Like a pencil balanced on a thumb on a moving train in a hurricane.
    The “anthropic principle” is backwards, peasant, magical thinking typical of the religious and the philosopher.
    As evidence, see the sea cucumber.

  125. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Ephy, now why didn’t you answer my initial question as you did to essentially the same question from Darwin Harmless? Did it really take you that long to invent your deliberately vague ‘Road to Damascus’ tale which still tells us absolutely nothing, but is at least an improvement on your tactic of ridiculing the question or questioner.
    Or is it?
    I seem to recall that a couple of weeks ago I was questioning your claim to be an ex-atheist and hazarded the guess that the truth was that you were a believer who’d had a crisis of faith, hunted around for something that fitted your expectations of a god, found that something and returned safely to the fold.
    ‘Wrong on all counts’ was your response. So, let’s compare and contrast with your ‘Road to..’ story.
    Christian to begin with – check: Crisis of faith – check: Hunt for and find something fitting expectations – check: Safely returned to the bosom of Christ – check.

    Disingenuous little shit, aren’t you?

    However, enough about that. Now that you’ve had a few days to feel all smug and superior over your jibe at my critical thinking skills I have a confession. You see, although you had no way of knowing, that attempted insult could not have been delivered with better timing, and has had me giggling ever since. Why? Because it immediately followed your thanks to me for correcting your use of ‘King’s English’.
    Now, if you have been reading our comments properly you will have seen me suggest to you that it is important to check one’s sources of information before deciding on whether something is true. It was on June 6th at 3:24am, and the exact quote is ‘You really do need to stop believing that just because somebody’s written something and proclaimed it to be authoritive that it’s right. Check your sources,….
    ‘So what’? you may be thinking.
    ‘Queens English’ is indeed the correct phrase. That much is true, although it does change to ‘King’s’ when we have a Rex rather than a Regina.
    The rest of it I pretty much made up on the spot, just to see if you would check my story and get back to me. What a victory that would have been, eh, Ephy?
    In case you’re interested, the phrase did not originate from Victorian times, it has been in common use for centuries, and simply refers to the English language as spoken by the English people.
    Now, why would you accept what I told you about your misuse of a phrase without question, yet have firmly rejected everything we’ve all said about your religion? Could it be because I had written it in the format you obviously trust, i.e. a little bit of truth wrapped up in a whole lot of fiction? or maybe because it isn’t the sort of information that could prove dangerous to your faith? Could it be simply that it sounded plausible, and that I’d have no reason to lie about something so trivial?
    Whatever the reason, just days after telling you the importance of not accepting things at face value – or rule one of critical thinking I deliberately told you a nonsensical tale which you not only accepted at face value but thanked me for, and then, with the most delicious irony, you immediately went on to make that jibe about my shortcomings in the thinking department.

    Dear, dear Ephy, you really do need to try harder!

    Oh, and in the best tradition of Columbo; just one more thing. You said The bible is just there to be read so that when the same or similar things happen to you, you have a frame of reference to understand what is happening.
    Well, putting aside the idea that the Bible is supposed to be the recieved word of God for a moment, consider this; the genius of Nostradamus was not that his quatrains accurately fore-told future events; they didn’t. The genius was that his prophecies were so vague, so utterly non-specific, that they could be retro-fitted to make it seem as though they were accurate forecasts. It appears that the Bible’s true authors had this quality too.

  126. Mary2 says:

    Bastard Internet Goblins ate my well-thought out previous response to DH, so here is the cobbled together ill-thought out version of what would have been my award-winning opus.

    DH, I have no idea what gender Ephphatha claims (my original post said ‘dunno’ which is Australian for ‘I don’t know’). It was not until I read ShallowEnder referring to Ephy as ‘she’ that I realised I had assumed male as a default which then offended my sense of the sisterhood and I swapped to using ‘she’. Ephy hasn’t corrected anyone so obviously doesn’t mind answering to either and I really didn’t think much of it until you piqued my curiosity with your detective work. If we are to assign gender based on stereotypes then I think that statistically by commenting on this site in particular and the internet in general Ephy is more likely to be male; the sheer pig-headedness in the face of the ‘enemy’ strikes me as male, but the persistence in answer by quote, Youtube and hurt feelings tends to strike me as passive-aggressive female and the tendency towards martyr complex could just be that unfortunate trait shared by many Christians (and Muslims, although they tend to express it differently!) So, how’s THAT for negative stereotyping! Sorry Ephy, I’m sure anyone trying to determine my personality through dissection of my comments on one site would be equally as unflattering – so feel free to respond in kind – although my gender may be easier to determine a) because of avatar, and b) I’ve mentioned it many times. 😉

    It brings up an interesting point: gender is something we usually find so terribly important to how we relate to people – it’s the 3rd question after name and address on every document even when it is totally irrelevant etc. and yet I don’t know the gender of half the people I chat with on this page and it doesn’t affect my interactions with them one bit. There has been a whole lot of research done on the different responses that internet comments will get if other commenters perceive the writer as male or female and I would be interested to know if any commenters here, especially those with gender neutral avatar names, have experienced any difference.

  127. Mary2 says:

    AOS, You bastard! (Sorry, having a colloquial day today and not sure how much you folks speak ‘Strayan – ‘bastard’ = mild insult or friendly jibe – no actual aspersions towards your parentage). Your explanation of ‘Queen’s English’ didn’t jibe with me but I couldn’t be bothered to look it up to see if you were correct (never thought you were making stuff up) and still can’t be bothered to check the origin of the phrase but it seems unlikely that it has been around for too many hundreds of years as the monarchs of England have only recently taken up actually speaking English. From the little I know off the top of my head, aristocrats spoke French for hundreds of years after the Norman invasion because, well really, who wants to be a Saxon!, official stuff was all done in Latin until well into the Renaissance and then French coz it was more posh, then the royals were all Krauts. Which of them would have actually been proud to have spoken English? (Damn, now I’ve pricked my own curiosity and have to go look it up in case I’m talking rubbish [again]).

  128. hotrats says:


    ‘Strayan’? How hopelessly posh and longwinded of you to add a redundant vowel. According to the authority on the subject, Afferbeck Lauder, it’s Strine.

  129. Damn but I do enjoy the C&B. Acolyte, you are one brilliant chap. And Mary2, I’m considering gender reassignment just so I’d have a shot at your affections, though I realize it’s far too late in the game for that, plus distance. Plus I’m happily hooked up already.
    Hotrats, you have more hutzpa than I have, correcting an Aussie on the name of her language. Next you’ll be telling a black guy how to do rap. 🙂

  130. ShallowEnder says:

    Mary2: “bastard” has been a very mild joshing mockery in UKland since the First World War at least.
    Acolyte : “Queen’s English” started off as “King’s English” in or around the same time.
    Ephphatha : are Boko Bugger priests evil?

    Hey, what do you know, a short one …

  131. steve oberski says:

    Ephphatha sez “My story would not prove any more than the original story in the bible does, and I remember being thoroughly unimpressed with that story as evidence for anything.”

    This is first true thing you have said.

    Not that I have high hopes for a continuation of this policy, like monkeys pounding away on typewriters, something true is bound to escape from your ongoing diarrhetic spray of cutting and pasting from wackaloon web sites.

    And I apologize to the monkeys for making such an invidious comparison.

  132. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Re. Queen’s English, Shakespeare used the phrase in one of his comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor, if memory serves, so it’s Elizabethan at least.
    And I have enjoyed playing with Ephy’s head.

  133. Mary2 says:

    SE, thanks for setting me straight. I have known Poms get very upset by the word – usually only like upsetting people intentionally!

  134. Mary2 says:

    hotrats, It’s only ‘Strine’ if you have a much more Bogan accent than mine! 😉

  135. hotrats says:


    I looked up ‘Bogan’ and it says
    Australian and NZ English slang, usually pejorative, for a person who is, or is perceived to be uncouth, unsophisticated or of a lower-class background. According to the stereotype, the speech and mannerisms of “bogans” indicate poor education and uncultured upbringing.

    I am delighted to learn that there are Australians who do not fit this pattern, and that you are one of them. 😉

    In addition to the well-know ‘pushed’ vowels (pan>pen>pin>pun – frying pen, ballpoint pin, safety pun) some Aussies make a virtue of cramming in as many vowels as possible: my sister-in-law effortlessly manages an incredible tesseraphthong (4 blended vowels) in just the ‘O’ of ‘hello’: ah, eh, oh, ee in less than a second.


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