Carnival of the Godless #89

kellym78's picture

I am honored to be hosting the 89th Carnival of the Godless, but before we begin, I need to tell the readers something.

All of the following people are bad representatives of atheism.

At least in somebody's opinion. Every person here adheres to a particular viewpoint, methodology, or philosophy with which some other atheist disagrees. Every single one of them. Yet, here they are, spewing their ideas all over the internet with impunity. The horror! What kind of arrogance would compel these people to voice their ill-informed opinions as if they speak for all atheists? You know, they're doing more harm than good.

At least, that's what we're told. That's what "they" (cue spooky music) want us to believe. But how much truth lies in those accusations? Are those statements not also an opinion that may offend somebody else, likely the person at whom they are directed? Might not that also be perceived as detrimental to "the cause?"

The strength, and weakness, ironically, of atheism is found somewhere in the cacophony of voices boisterously discussing, debating, even arguing, about the multitude of differing opinions on absolutely any subject. There is no official arbiter to whom we defer--there is no dogmatic adherence to a code of any sort. And while I do not know whether there is a right or wrong side in this matter, I do know that it takes all sorts of people to get anything done--the outspoken, the introverted, the contemplative, the determined, the educated, the uneducated, the friendly, the angry. No one person is a good representative of the diversity and differences of the atheist community.

Almost one year ago, Brian and I appeared on Nightline with the Banana Boys, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. It was an experience about which I still can't decide how I feel, so I vacillate between wishing it had never happened (although there would be no crocoduck...) and wishing I could do it again. The deluge of criticisms poured in, and continue to this day. Some constructive; some not so. But, despite all the people telling us that we had done irreparable damage to "atheism" by our amateur performance, not everybody felt that way. I received this email today:
    "I have officially stopped being a Christian since watching your awesome
    debate against Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Mr. Brian and Ms. Kelly, you
    rock. You defended your beliefs well and kicked arse. I just wanted to
    thank RRS for freeing my mind. If you have any, ANY, info, please send it
    my way!!!"-A.A.

In my mind, even if this was the only email of this nature (which it isn't), it was worth it. And you can take from that whatever you choose.


Welcome to the April 13, 2008 edition of carnival of the godless.

Alonzo Fyfe presents Seeing Ben Stein's "Expelled" as Propaganda posted at Atheist Ethicist.

Joe Dunckley presents Church leader declares crackpot ideas, gets free air time posted at Cotch dot net.

DWSUWF presents "The maxim of civil government being reversed in that of religion, where its true form is..." posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall, saying, "And what of our time? Does the electorate still impose a religious test for public office? It speaks well for our time that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman was elected in 2006 and serves today. But could a Muslim be elected president? The eagerness with which some have propagated and defended the fraudulent “Obama is a Muslim” e-mail points to how much religious intolerance remains. Could a Jew be elected President? Possibly. How about a Native American who practices the religious rituals and ceremonies of his ancestors? Could a professed atheist or agnostic get elected to major office anywhere regardless of secular qualifications?"

Jason presents 1689: Kazimierz Lyszczynski, the first Polish atheist posted at Executed Today, saying, "I know this is pretty late for the March 30 carnival; I hope not *too* late ... what can I say? I'm constrained by history."

Heather Annastasia Siladi presents Atheism and Morality posted at Heather Annastasia's Politics Blog.

Archvillain presents Insanity posted at A Dark and Sinister Force for Good, saying, "Why do we- as a species- permit superstition to destroy lives?"

CAD presents Ashtrays and Atheists posted at Cath Ennis' Blog, saying, "a comparison between the anti-smoking lobby and militant atheists - good for some controversy maybe?"

Dikkii presents Holy Frottage, Batman! posted at Dikkii's Diatribe, saying, "Warning - posted April 1."

The Barefoot Bum presents The argument from moral knowledge posted at The Barefoot Bum.

Adrian Hayter presents 101 Atheist Quotes posted at The Atheist Blogger.

Matthew Armstrong presents Spirituality? posted at Anthroslug the Much Put-Upon, saying, "An essay on why even words that seem uncontroversial can be problematic."

Martin Wagner presents Closed captioned for the humor impaired posted at The Atheist Experience, saying, "In which Kazim offers some suggestions to Christians who think they can sway atheists merely by incessantly quoting the Bible, and comes up with The Star Trek Rule."

Christian Bachmann presents Atheism is compatible with the Ten Commandments posted at Joy of Freethinking, saying, "I guess that most atheists may not be aware of the fact that they observe the Ten Commandments better than many observant Jews and Christians."

The Ridger presents The Greenbelt: When I die, hallelujah posted at The Greenbelt, saying, "Thoughts while listening to a song"

Jim Linville presents Militant Atheism posted at Homo Academicus, saying, "My friend Natasha's blog."

Hemant presents It?s Dangerous for Children To Know Atheism Exists, Says Illinois State Legislator posted at Friendly Atheist.

Buffy presents “Myth 2: Religion Does More Harm Than Good” posted at The Gaytheist Agenda, saying, "A dissection of a theologian's attempt to dispel the "atheist myth" that religion causes more harm than good."

C. L. Hanson presents BYU wrap-up posted at Letters from a broad..., saying, "The BYU segment of the online atheist novel Exmormon has been posted, including the deconversion scene and the famous gratuitous love scene."

Greta Christina presents The Blasphemy of Creationism posted at Greta Christina's Blog, saying, "Why creationism -- and the idea that the Bible trumps science and evidence -- is more disrespectful to the creationists' God than anything any atheist could say or do."

Greg Laden presents It is OK to be an atheist, but not an uppity atheist posted at Greg Laden's Blog, saying, "This is a bit of a follow up you may want to look at:"

Allen in Fort Worth presents "Under The Banner of Heaven", Warren Jeffs, The FLDS, and The WFZ Ranch posted at The Whited Sepulchre, saying, "why does God give some people revelations and messages without giving the same information to everyone else?"

Romeo Vitelli presents Talks with Cave Sect Continuing posted at Providentia, saying, "First part of a two-part post dealing with an ongoing news story."

Romeo Vitelli presents Cave Sect Leader Hospitalized With Head Wounds posted at Providentia, saying, "Part 2."

Matthew Armstrong presents Dave Makes Arguments Fun! posted at Anthroslug the Much Put-Upon, saying, "An artist friend produces another variant on Creationist Bingo - fun at science classes, school board meetings, and Republican party functions!"

Beth Patterson presents The Onion headline: Buddhist Monk Wins Serenity Competition posted at Virtual Teahouse, saying, "A little satire is good for the soul...whatever the hell that is! Beth, Virtual Tea House Host"

Ariah Fine presents Isn’t It The Churches Job? So, Why Do We Ask The Government? posted at Trying to Follow.

Greta Christina presents Atheism, Bad Luck, and the Comfort of Reason posted at Greta Christina's Blog, saying, "An atheist perspective on runs of bad luck... and why I find this perspective far more comforting during difficult times that the supposed "comfort" of theism."

vjack presents Rep. Davis' "Apology" Is Not Enough posted at Atheist Revolution.

vjack presents A Non-Believer in Church: First Free Will Baptist at Iuka posted at Mississippi Atheists, saying, "posted by Oliver"

A.C. Chase presents Jehovah Witness Refuses Blood, Dies posted at Alexander the Atheist.

Ron Britton presents Abortion is Hugely Profitable posted at Bay of Fundie.

eltower presents Gott mit uns posted at Gospel of Reason, saying, ""In the dark depths of the lack of knowledge of early human history, maps can be found in divine interpretations, counsel is given from trances and most importantly deeds, good or evil, bear from a higher cause. Of course, depending on where you look, not much has changed at all. One would be hard pressed to believe that a world where superpowers invade sovereign countries because ‘God’ told them so was a world in the XXI century, and not in the age of the Trojan Wars.""

Michael Dorian presents POLYGAMY IN TEXAS—OR RAPE AND PEDOPHILIA? posted at NYC-Atheists Blog, saying, "The Carnival of the Godless Blog is a tremendous idea. My blog is relatively new (just three months old) and I've been doing my darnedest to attract traffic. So glad I came across this. I hope my submission is selected. In any case, I'll be back for more. And thanks!"

Rook Hawkins presents On Paul and Identity.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of the godless using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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JillSwift's picture

Holy crap! Is it already

Holy crap! Is it already pushing a year? How time flies...

I get quite a giggle out of the very idea that "atheism" can be hurt by anything anyone does. I mean, being and atheist describes only the tiniest bit of who I am. In fact, being an atheist describes only a small part of one facet of myself, that being I'm a skeptical person. Atheism is not even an additive description, it's a null!

So, atheism doesn't need a "positive face", it needs to be part of the landscape. You know, so it's not this scary thing that hides in the shadows, but instead have it seen as what it really is: There are folks out there who just don't believe and that's no big deal.

So there's a really tremendous range of acceptable behavior on the part of any "activist". From ridiculing the gullible to gentle "well framed" refutations of woo and religion - it all works toward making atheism part of the world in the eyes of "the masses".

Personally, I liked what you and Brian did up there while debating the Crockoduck Gang. Less because of such shining moments as Brian calmly (and rightly) claiming victory and mentioning you two hadn't left as a matter of courtesy as much as it brought a new group of young and intelligent atheists into the national spotlight. Well done!

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray

Guess it was too late for the March 30 carnival...

Ha.  But thanks for including it anyway, and for hosting.

I don't think I realized it would put me within two degrees of separation of Ted Koppel.

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:What kind of arrogance

What kind of arrogance would compel these people to voice their ill-informed opinions as if they speak for all atheists? You know, they're doing more harm than good.

You know, Kelly, I've been taking on some pretty controversial topics in the last couple of months.  I've hit prostitution, morality, sexuality, childrearing, and marriage.  Curiously, I'm not getting much argument of fact.  What I'm getting is criticism for what people perceive as universal statements.  When I say, "Humans are mildly polygamous," I get barraged by people saying, "I don't cheat on my wife!  Why are you saying everybody is polygamous!?  I'm happy with one woman."  Never mind that the objection doesn't fit the statement I made.  The point is that atheists and theists alike seem to be entrenched in a perpetual false dichotomy.  If I say humans are polygamous, I must mean that every human is polygamous.  If I say prostitution is not inherently immoral, I must be saying that it is always moral.  If I say marriage was tailored to suit the needs of the state, not the individual, I must be saying that all marriages are based on lies.

(As an example, "atheists and theists alike seem to be entrenched..." is going to be read by someone as "all atheists, etc..." )

One day, it would be interesting to have a discussion of why this is.  I suspect that the Christian West is more susceptible to this kind of thinking because of the inherently dichotomous nature of Christianity.  It is part of our culture.  I'm also pretty certain that it's built into human nature to some degree, so that Christianity is exploiting an existing tendency, not creating a new, "unnatural" system.

In any case, it seems that what you're talking about is related.  If Sam Harris thinks that meditation is a good way for people to have "spirituality" without theism, he gets blasted for being harmful to atheism, as if there's a dichotomy.  Either all atheists must meditate, or none can!

If Christopher Hitchens is a war hawk, then all atheists must be anti-Islamic, or the whole "movement" fails.

How many atheists have left RRS in the past year or so because they were upset that one of the core members held a differing opinion and voiced it strongly?  I don't know the exact number, but it's definitely more than zero.  How many wars have been waged between atheist websites because one site thinks the other one is "doing it wrong"?

In a way, I'm happy to see the debates.  Better atheists disagree vehemently and make a big shitstorm than lay about quietly accepting whatever the Christians hand us.  On the other hand, it would be a bit more encouraging if most atheists could be a bit more... um... scientific about their disagreements.  I'm reminded of the story in one of Dawkins' books about the scientist who was publicly debunked by a young scientist.  After the presentation, the scientist shook the younger man's hand and thanked him for setting him straight.  I don't ask that other atheist sites come to us and thank us.  Internet atheism is new and young, and frankly, we don't know for sure what's going to work and what won't.  I just wish that more atheists could realize that absolutes are the domain of theists, and should be abandoned with theism.


Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin
Books about atheism

greek goddess's picture

Well said, Hambydammit. You

Well said, Hambydammit. You just said everything I've been struggling to put into thoughts/words recently!