“Atheist”

Seen at and borrowed from Goosing the Antithesis:.

36 thoughts on ““Atheist”

  1. Charles Schultz, an atheist?  Hmm, not sure I believe that.

    The “evil” examples were really heavy on the movie and entertainment industry, which is unlikely to sway the Christianists.  They’d be likely to say; “Ha!  I told you so!”

    “Thomas Edison, who invented the electric light bulb, among a great many other things…”  That’s the understatement of the last century.

    The most compelling example to me was Bill Gates.

  2. The most compelling example to me was Bill Gates.

    Bill Gates is an atheist?  No wonder he’s so evil…

  3. I agree with decrepitoldfool, most of the “evil” people doing “good” were actors, sure they keep people entertained, but have most done anything necessarily “good”?

    Also, anyone notice about 1/4 of the “fools” usually had something to do with evolution, paleontology or some other related science.  Once again, not likely to sway any Christians.

    Good idea, but could have used a few more well thought out examples.

  4. Well I don’t think the evil part was meant to exactly coincide with the listing of the entertainers. Note how for the fool part he included fool in their descriptions but he didn’t include evil in the entertainer’s descriptions.

    Just think of it as a list of atheist innovators/geniuses and a list of atheist entertainers.

  5. Well yeah he didn’t mention evil in their description, but he gave the lead in of: “‘Evil’ people, who do ‘no good’… (according to the bible).” Just like he did a lead in with the “fools” part.

  6. DOF: Charles Schultz, an atheist?  Hmm, not sure I believe that.

    Judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from an interview Schulz did in 1999 with David Templeton:

      Schulz revealed that in the years following World War II he’d been quite involved in the Church of God in Minneapolis, occasionally dabbling in what he called “some very lousy preaching.”

      Though his philosophical views evolved over the years—“The term that best describes me now is ‘secular humanist,’” he explained—his characters continued to quote biblical passages, occasionally musing about the darker inconsistencies of religion. These thoughtful reflections were never heavy-handed; rather, Schulz had become the reigning master of the lighter-than-air, spiritually resonant comic-strip koan.

      “I despise those shallow religious comics,” he said. “Dennis the Menace, for instance, is the most shallow. When they show him praying—I just can’t stand that sort of thing, talking to God about some cutesy thing that he’d done during the day. I don’t think Hank Ketcham [Dennis’ creator] has any deep knowledge of things like that.”

      He cringed when I mentioned Family Circus, the strip by Bill Keane that is strewn with cutesy references to Jesus (who wants to protect children on school buses, but can’t because of laws about separation of church and state!) and those sickly-sweet images of invisible deceased grandparents looming protectively over the kids.

      “Oh, I can’t stand that,” Schulz laughed. “You could get diabetes reading them, couldn’t you?”

    Then there’s his Wikipedia entry:

      …In personal interviews Schulz mentioned that Linus represented his spiritual side. Schulz, reared in the Lutheran faith, had been active in the Church of God (Anderson) as a young adult and then later taught Sunday school at a United Methodist Church. By the late 1980s he told one of his biographers (Rheta Grimsley Johnson, 1989) that he identified with Secular Humanism. In the Sixties, Robert L. Short interpreted certain themes and conversations in Peanuts as being consistent with parts of Christian theology, as he (Short) explained in his bestselling paperback book, The Gospel According to Peanuts. Schulz did not endorse Short’s specific interpretations and often said that “the only theology is no theology,” yet Schulz gave permission to use many of his strips in the book, and his newspaper comics continued to have enough theological themes to fill many Sunday School lessons. Schulz seemed concerned about having the focus of his strip viewed as being narrowed to be a religious themed comic, when it had many more simple insights into life that went beyond a specifically defined theology.

    So perhaps he never specifically cited himself as an atheist, but it seems pretty clear that, at least in his later years, he was one.

    As for Gates, he’s listed as an agnostic on the Celebrity Atheist List:

      Gates was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits.

      Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?

      Gates: I don’t. I’m not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I’m a huge believer in. There’s a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact.

      Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you’d say you don’t know?

      Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don’t know if there’s a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

    There’s another citation at the link that contains this priceless Gate’s quote:

      “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

    Amen to that, Bill.

  7. I believe in evolution and science, and I am a strong supporter of both, but there is one question I have not been able to answer.  Where did the universe start, or how did it start?

  8. Schulz did in 1999 with David Templeton:

    Fascinating.  I had no idea.  He certainly went letting everyone think he was a Christian, though.  Wonder if newspapers would still be running his strips years after his death if he’d come out in the strip itself. More likely that would have been the end of him.

  9. As far as we know, the universe has been here forever and has no beginning. It has, of course, expanded since the Big Bang but it did not, as some say, “come from nothing”.

  10. Where did the universe start, or how did it start?

    It’s a cosmological/religious question that results in a sociological mystery.  The Bible says: 

    1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

    3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

    The Earth didn’t exist yet: it was without form, and void.  Allowing for some poetic license, this is a good description of The Big Bang. It is really quite moving to imagine God poking little holes in the boundaries of one universe to cause the explosion that starts another.

    And yet; the one big scientific theory that seems to support the Biblical version, Christianists oppose as strongly as they possibly can.  That’s a mystery to me in itself.

    Unfortunately, I have made no progress in understanding string theory, etc.  I tried to read Hawking’s “Brief history of time” – and even then tried Gonick’s cartoon version of it – and couldn’t follow.  Just a little dim, I guess. (Homer’s description of Bart)

  11. Not that it matters, but I actually lived across the street from Carl Sagan when I was in college.  Never saw him though, just his crappy Volkwagen.  His house was pretty hidden too and was featured in Architectural Digest back around ‘94 or so.

    Seth Green may be Jewish, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he believes it.  I have always found the term ‘Jewish’ interesting as I think it is one of the only terms that describes ethnicity and/or a religion.

  12. When I saw the “evil people doing no good” section with the actors I thought it was going to end with some sort of stat about how much money the group as a whole had contributed to charity. When it didn’t happen, I realized that it would have been a great point to make. I don’t know if all of the actors shown are big time givers, but Bill Gates sure would have bumped up the total.

  13. Even more so because, while the total is important, how intelligently the money is ‘given’ matters even more.  Bill Gates has set a new standard on that scale.

    Chad – I thought Sagan drove a Porsche 914? (often derided as the ‘VolksPorsche’)  Did it look like this?  Of course, he may have had more than one car…

    I would love to have a 914 – just the right balance between my Beetle and the over-the-top 911.  But I would take a 911 if you gave me one.  cool smile

  14. One thing, though—isn’t Seth Green Jewish?

    Like Woody Allen, Sadie?  If you were going to make a comment about this, I would have thought he was the obvious one.

    Loved the prison stat.  So amoral athiests are less likely to break one of the laws ‘under God’.  I wonder how many ‘evil fools’ voted for Daddy Bush. Would they have done if they knew his views. (there are those who would say voting for Bush is an entry requirement to ‘Evil Fooldom’ )

  15. Well, either atheists are less likely to break laws, or they’re less likely to get caught. wink

  16. It’s well-known fact that the third stone tablet was dropped. The 11th Commandment is actually:

    Thou shalt not get caught.

    Getting caught is not on the list of ten things the TB’s are not supposed to do, therefore…

  17. I believe in evolution and science, and I am a strong supporter of both, but there is one question I have not been able to answer.  Where did the universe start, or how did it start?

    I don’t know how or where my parents met, but I do know that it was probably a real-world event, and not some mythological fantasy.

    EVERY time a mystery has been solved by science or reason, it has turned out to have a real-world solution. Not once has magic, or supernatural stuff, been involved.

    This is so mundane a fact that when police attempt to figure out who committed a crime, they never ever consider a disembodied spirit as the first suspect, and they never suspect the crime was carried out by magic.

    Nothing in my life hinges on knowing how my parents met, or how the universe started. I do care to know how the universe started (if it did), but I don’t DEMAND to know before I can accept that this is a universe of physics and not of magic.

    The real world is the REAL world. Every other mental model is less.

  18. It’s well-known fact that the third stone tablet was dropped. The 11th Commandment is actually:

    Thou shalt not get caught.

    Getting caught is not on the list of ten things the TB’s are not supposed to do, therefore…

    No.. the 11th commandment is “Psyke” smile

  19. dof, maybe he drove 914 at one time, but when I was there he drove a Golf (or Rabbit).  Being a car nut myself, I am definitely sure of this.

  20. DoF- my favorite car was a ‘72 VW bus.  Air-cooled, rear engine orthodoxy.  Kinda slow up hills.  Relax.

    Actually, I was rather fond of my ‘57 Eldorado, too…

    Well, either atheists are less likely to break laws, or they’re less likely to get caught.

    Or, as has been pointed out before, GM, perhaps religion is a ploy to get paroled.  Maybe all criminals are atheists.

    Where did the universe start, or how did it start?

    Where?  Everywhere.  How?  No one knows, not even Scientists, Christians, or God.

  21. It was interesting seeing peoples reaction to my question.  I do not necessarily believe in a “God”, but I, like most people that believe in science, also believe that something cannot be created from nothing.  So at some point I think the universe was started by someone or something.  What I do not know, nor do I necessarily intend to find out, but I can be happy and content knowing that I do not have to follow a specific belief structure to get through this life.

  22. What zilch said. Postulating a creator is a superficially plausible explanation that raises more questions than it answers. It’s job security for the clergy, I suppose.

  23. Elwed: Postulating a creator is a superficially plausible explanation that raises more questions than it answers.

    But not for the True Believer™.
    He manages to leap outside of all known logic, jump trustingly into magic, fantasy and wishful thinking, screeches to a stop at Goditit and, question no more. LOL

  24. But not for the True Believer™.
    He manages to leap outside of all known logic, jump trustingly into magic, fantasy and wishful thinking, screeches to a stop at Goditit and, question no more.

    Hey, I do that too.  smile  Too much science hurts my brain. I find it fascinating, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around a lot of it.
    I have faith in science, but I believe in something else. I don’t know exactly what that something else is, maybe it’s just more science. It’s certainly not some omnipotent being dealing out commandments like so many sacks of shit, but I like to believe that there is some sort of supernatural mysterious force that transcends what we percieve to be the physical world. Why? Quite simply because I like to. I don’t try to quantify or define it, because I like the mystery of it.
    I can totally understand why people cling to their wacky religions. Reality is a scary place.
    I just wish they wouldn’t be such assholes about it.

  25. I don’t know exactly what that something else is, maybe it’s just more science. It’s certainly not some omnipotent being dealing out commandments like so many sacks of shit, but I like to believe that there is some sort of supernatural mysterious force that transcends what we percieve to be the physical world. Why? Quite simply because I like to. I don’t try to quantify or define it, because I like the mystery of it.

    I like that explanation. 

    And yes Zilch I see your point, and my reason for believing in something is illogical, but just like your background and life experiences have shaped what you think is true with this universe, so have mine.

  26. I have faith in science, but I believe in something else.

    There are some words that have meanings so firmly entrenched in the minds of their major users that to use them in any other way almost guarantees misunderstanding.

    Such a word is “faith.” The godders OWN it.

    Using their definition, which is the only one most people will hear when you do use the word, there is no “faith” necessary in science. In fact, to say that you have “faith” in science undermines science itself, in the very tenuous hold it has on godder minds.

    Science might require acceptance, understanding, curiosity, excitement, or even amazement. It does not require “faith.”

    Faith is a silly, fuzzy DELIBERATE belief in something for which the speaker has no independently-verifiable evidence.

  27. Ah. What happened before the big bang? A fascinating question.

    The facile answer (and any honest response must contain this)is that we don’t know. Any time line, which stretches longer than 14 billion years or so back from the present, must pass through conditions of such high energy density that we simply do not understand the dynamics at play.

    Something which may be somewhat easier to answer though is—what does the question even mean?

    The answer to that is almost certainly: not what you think it does. You are likely thinking that events prior to the big bang “caused” it. The more likely answer is that it’s actually the other way around. That probably sounds kind of weird. Bear with me for a minute. I really do mean something specific by that, and I’m not just blowing smoke out of my ass:

    Note that this is different from saying that the energy in the universe came from nowhere. While conservation of energy appears to be a very fundamental law, arising from time translation symmetry of the vacuum and a couple other basic assumptions, cause preceding effect is an artifact of statistical mechanics aka thermodynamics—specifically the second law. Note that conservation of energy does not distinguish between past and future (energy can neither be created NOR DESTROYED) while the second law does (entropy cannot decrease, BUT CAN INCREASE.) Where does this asymmetry arise?

    Entropy loosely translates to probability, i.e. high entropy states are more probable than low entropy states. This is because to say something is in a high entropy state is really to say it is in one of a large number of different states that look the same in all “important” ways. Thus, if we constrain a closed physical system to some low entropy state at some time and make no further requirements, entropy will most likely be higher both before AND after that time. In the part of the universe (and its history) we understand well, the lowest entropy moment is that of the big bang. Since this is also the earliest moment in our part of the universe, the second law holds everywhere, and effects never precede their causes, but we have every reason to believe that the more general rule is: effects are more distant from the big bang than their causes.

    Why the big bang, you might ask? Simple: a little universe has fewer degrees of freedom than a big one (all other things—most specifically energy content—being equal) and therefore lower entropy. It is a known result that any universe obeying general relativity (excepting a highly improbable and unstable equilibrium of a universe with a precisely chosen cosmological constant) has either a big bang or a big crunch. The preceding argument makes it clear that in order to meet our intuitions of cause and effect, we need to define the future as being the time line pointing away from that event. Don’t ask me what to do with a universe that has both a big bang and a big crunch, though—fortunately we don’t live in one.

    Now. To remind you what I was trying to answer with this spiel: What does it mean to ask, “what happened before the big bang?”

    It is not the same as asking “what caused the big bang?” as this may be meaningless. A closer translation may be “what are the rules for matching big bangs and/or big crunches to each other and/or to other possibly unimagined physical phenomena?” Yeah. I know it’s screwy, but thanks for your patience.

  28. Don’t ask me what to do with a universe that has both a big bang and a big crunch, though—fortunately we don’t live in one.

    We only PROBABLY don’t live in one.  With most of the stuff that makes up the universe still having unknown properties, any certainty on this front would seem amusing at the very least.  The most you could say is that a big crunch doesn’t fit the facts as we know them.  Since we apparently are beginning to understand how much we don’t actually know (which turns out is quite a bit) there isn’t much we have to go on.

    Also, cause preceeding event is a rule that only governs the universe as far as we know.  Before the Big Bang, that doesn’t necessarily hold true since we’re talking about a theoretical force that acted on the singularity.  After the Big Bang was when the fundamental laws of the universe were created.  Before….. who knows?

    On the other hand, I don’t like to think about that too much because my brain gets warm and I need to have a lie-down.

  29. Also, cause preceeding event is a rule that only governs the universe as far as we know.  Before the Big Bang, that doesn’t necessarily hold true since we’re talking about a theoretical force that acted on the singularity.  After the Big Bang was when the fundamental laws of the universe were created.  Before….. who knows?

    That was largely the point of my post. Cause Preceding effect is a principle of Stat. Mech., which is derived from basic physics plus a low entropy boundary condition. General Relativity demands such a boundary condition for our part of the universe (the big bang.) But, since we don’t have a quantum theory of gravity, GR as we know it breaks down at the big bang. To claim something “caused” the big bang would require the universe to be characterizable by fewer degrees of freedom than are available at the big bang. There is no reason to suspect this is the case.

    If we could fully characterize the degrees of freedom available to the early universe and determine its state was non-random this could imply a cause—although it might end up being something weird like the anthropic principle (which really doesn’t seem a whole lot like a cause to most people.)

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