Today’s shenanigans from the offended faithful

May 2, 2012 • 11:23 am

Before I go lecture about evolution, I want to highlight two shenanigans from the faithful that hit my inbox in the last hour.

The first is from one Dan O’Brian, who runs a goddy blog called The Search for Truth (has anybody heard of him?).  He sent a comment to be appended to the post below—the one about why serious atheists should be in despair. I thought I’d put it above the fold instead:

Such is the abasement and self-loathing that faith teaches; we are born sick and commanded to be well.  We are “nothing” (WTF?).

My response to Mr. O’Brian is this: once you are disabused of the fiction that is God, then without friends, love, and earthly goals and aspirations, YOU are nothing.  If you were sufficient without God, then you would have no need for prayer, church, or faith.

Oh, and the intelligent-design clowns at Uncommon Descent decided on April 30 to have a contest based on my upcoming paper in Evolution, which holds religion responsible for creationism (duh!) and argues that Americans won’t accept evolution as strongly as do Europeans, for instance, until our country becomes as non-religious as Europe.  But achieving that degree of secularism might require  profound social change, for America’s religiosity may well result from the manifest social inequality and dysfunctionality that afflicts our country.

At any rate, here’s the Uncommon Descent contest:

Crusade/jihad? No, it doesn’t properly  describe this antic in a science journal (see also this). In the best tradition of our contest to come up with a term for a reviewer who does not read the book he is trashing (which resulted in noviewer as the winning entry), we now invite contest mavens to address the following problem:

. . . We lack a word in English for the sort of campaign Coyne and his New Atheist friends are conducting against Christianity. Technically speaking, “crusades” are conducted under the sign of the cross, and “jihads” are conducted in the name of Allah . .

We need a new Coynage. What should we call Coyne’s battle for incivility toward – and distortion of facts about – traditional religion?

Well, there were 57 entries, and they announced the winner today:

 And now the winner: Jammer writes at 11: It’s the gnu atheists’ very own Crusades, so… The Gnusades. That succinctly captures the apparent religious element of gnu atheist campaigns against other systems of thought. As with entries “gnuhad” and “jerryhad,” the main point  to get across is that these people will not live peaceably with anyone, not even with other atheists.

Lord, they had to co-opt our own word to get their own!  “Faitheist” has that one beat ten ways from Sunday.  Personally, I preferred “Coynoscopy—The search for truth in all the wrong places.” (I refrain from dwelling on the cranial colonoscopy that is intelligent design.)

p.s.: There are plenty of atheists with whom I live peaceably—much more peaceably than evangelical Christians or Hindus live with Muslims.

73 thoughts on “Today’s shenanigans from the offended faithful

        1. How about: Argent [white], a wildebeest rampant [rearing] gules [red], in base a long cross, a magen David, a crescent (&c.), all shattered, sable [black]? The wildebeest could additionally be charged with the sun in his splendour [with wavy rays] or [gold], to represent the light of reason.


              1. It can be riding on the head of the giraffe.

                Every atheist coat of arms should have a giraffe, of course.

      1. Time we claimed “Gnusade” as quickly as possible – let’s steal this bit of smart-arse thunder and make it a badge of pride.

        Hell, sign me up for a GNUSADER t-shirt right now!

        JAC – time you opened a shop 🙂

        1. As long as we can smuggle a honey badger on the coat of arms for no other reason than they are really cool, then count me in:-)

          1. You obviously haven’t been around one when it’s deployed it’s delightful defensive aroma. It doesn’t smell of honey.

    1. Oh and I must admit, as an European, when I heard that half (or more) of the Americans believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old, I thought it was a bad joke.

        1. And I’m not sure if the butts of the joke are us Americans or those European countries who rely on American help for security.

      1. No big deal.

        20% of the US population believes the sun orbits the earth. They can’t even diagram the solar system which isn’t all that complicated. This is a task I learned in the first grade.

  1. I’ve asserted, for most of my adult life that Christianity is essentially nihlistic. You are, by doctrine, flawed, worthless, corrput, immoral, incompetent and inept.

    That it requires an external agent to give you any ‘real’ meaning in your life. And without that external agent, your life is, indeed, meaningless.

    It’s a very infantile world view.

      1. Yes, exactly. I think moseszd is saying that if you need God to give your life meaning, purpose, and value then you are a nihilist — because you’re conceding that none of these things is intrinsic to your life in the first place.

        Nihilist: Life is meaningless.

        Christian: Without my imaginary friend, life is meaningless.

        Not a whole lot of daylight between those.

      2. Was in a rush when I posted that and there’s quite a lot more to it. And while I didn’t really flesh it out in my hurry I thought nihilism was addressed in paragraph 2. “That it requires an external agent… ”

        What I was trying to do is to set-up and work-through the insufferable dichotomy of religion. And how it feeds into the nihilistic world-view of Christianity that they actually believe is positive.

        In short, Christianity argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value UNLESS you have God.

        Everything ‘BAD’ is human, from humans, caused by humans, etc. That you cannot, without God to provide blessings, do anyting worthy, moral and that ‘ineffabble purpose,’ relied on by religion because you’re so inept, incompetent, broken, sinful, craven, flawed, immoral, etc.

        Now that Christianity has, in it’s doctrine, made it impossible for you to do anything positive… That cannot, in fact, succeed or have joy, or be moral or do anything without God blessing you. That every good thing in your life is a blessing from God who made it possibe…

        It doesn’t matter if you studied 50-hours a week to pass the CPA the first time, like I and many of my friends. It was GOD who let me pass. A complete denial of the intrinsic value of my hard work and study I put in.

        When my HS football team won the State Championship (in our division) our preacher wouldn’t say it wsa because that entire summer we worked our asses off until we puked and cried from the pain of practice. No, it was God who did it because worthless creatures, like a High School boys, can accomplish NOTHING without God’s blessing because they are immoral, corrupt, inept, incompetent, etc.

        And even if we didn’t win, that hard work still had a value. We got in shape. We came together. We had a bonding experience. We had given it our all.

        But, if we’d lost the Championship again… God liked the other team better. We were not worthy. Just prideful, sinful (too much fapping I guess) boys.

        And so it goes. The denial of human acheivement and merit in all postive things. And achievement, like it or not, is one of the main ways we give our lives meaning. Yet Christianity takes this away from us. It denies us our the intrinsic value accomplishments by denying that our work brought them to us.

        Whether in something easy to see in a State Football Championship. Or something personal like having a healthy child (a blessing from God) or saving the life of someone because you spent 10 in medical school (the Lord saved him). You are constantly robbed, by the doctrine, of all you do and are.

        That’s, in my book, quite sick. You deny your participation in your own life-story and give every accomplishment in your life that can give it meaning to God. While accepting all fault and blame for losing God’s blessing. This is robbing you of the intrinsic rewards, that is beyond the material and measurable, rewards of your work. Of all you have doen.

        Another point I didn’t get to is that unless, somehow, you work reflects God’s purpose for you, it’s of no value. You see this a lot from the charasmatics. Not so much from the main streams.

        The Calvinists have some weird ideas on this too. If you’re successful, it’s because God has chosen you and you are ‘written in the book’ if I remember the expression correctly. People who are not successful, well, they’re not in the book. So you know the Koch brothers are going to heaven. The poor are going to hell.

        Now, you might think I’m being a bit hyperbolic. Try going to a charasmatic/evangelical Christian church for six months or so. You’ll see it every time they meet. They’re just more explicit in this belief than most denomiations. But the under-currents are there in all but the most liberal (and despised) Christian sects (like the UUs).

        Every form of Christianity I’ve experienced, and I’ve tried all the major brands, preaches, to one extent or another, that blessings (success) comes from God, not your labors. And that failure is because of your corrupt, not believing hard-enough, human soul.

        Anyway, there’s a hell of a lot more to it than that. And I don’t have Eric MacDonald’s way with concise, eloquent prose. So I’ll end here. Because, honestly, it’s pretty damn close to ‘too long, didn’t read even for me…’

        But hopefully there’s enough there that you can take the sketch and make a picture.

        1. One of the things that kept me out of XTianity when I was seeking. You can take responsibility, you just can’t take credit.
          Personally, I take responsibilities for my successes and my failures. It’s simpler that way, and I always have the hope that I can get better.

        2. I think this nihilism includes attitudes about the value of knowledge. That’s why the USA has such a bad strain of anti-intellectualism. Since God is the meaning to our lives everything that doesn’t involve God is unimportant or a distraction. When science contributes to our betterment it is always discounted as unimportant in the larger scheme of things- God’s plan is what is important. Warnings about global warming go unheeded because Jesus is coming or God has a plan for the world or some such bullshit. Doctors say exercise and eat right but what does it matter when your life is in God’s hand and he can take you anytime or extend your life at his pleasure.
          Who needs knowledge when all you need to know is Jebus.

          1. I agree that it shows a real lack of faith not to mention abundance of hypocrisy on christians part to be going to a doctor and using all manner of other technologies, only to trash scientists. Hypocrites, off-spring of vipers!

    1. Yup, I became amazingly nihilistic and self-hating as a Christian, just carrying the Bible’s crap to its logical conclusion.

      The Bible says that this life, including any love or justice or meaning or happiness, is nothing compared to the next. To the point that it’s better to mutilate yourself (Jesus’ teaching) or be killed for your belief in the next life rather than deny it (Jesus’ teaching) than to sin and risk eternal punishment. Suffering and slavery in this life is actually encouraged for the Bible’s sake, as it boosts your standing in the next.

      Besides massive depression and aimlessness, I also began to think I ought to kill my horrible self, because I deserved it, and didn’t want to burden Christ with my sins. “Wouldn’t that be even more moral?”

      Ugh, so glad I’m out of that mental deathtrap and guilt-machine.

  2. Well then! From now on I shall gladly consider myself to be a Gnusader/Jerryhadist. Sounds like fun to me.

  3. p.s.: There are plenty of atheists with whom I live peaceably—much more peaceably than evangelical Christians or Hindus live with Muslims.

    Was it supposed to be “theists with whom”?

    1. No, he was addressing this remark:

      …these people will not live peaceably with anyone, not even with other atheists.

        1. I also have zero tolerance on somethings: calling atheists unhappy or unfulfilled is pretty much at the top of the list. Of my 40 closest friends, one is religious, two are semi-religious, the others are non-religious or atheists. (But all believe in evolution and science and stuff.)

          All of them are very happy and well-adjusted. Why can’t these folk JUST ASK a living, breathing atheist? You don’t have to… “make stuff up” about what we’re thinking. We exist. We can tell you.

          1. They’re just following the good advice never to let the facts get in the way of a good story. And as has been said, it’s projection.

            Like for me, most of my close friends are atheists, some (half-)religious. The only one suffering from some kind of depression is the most devout Catholic of all of them. Go figure.

      1. Hello Peter,

        Thanks for your note. Our editor asked me to send the link and not the entire article. You are correct about the potential violation of copyright. Enjoy the article.


  4. Perhaps it will follow the long line of English pejoratives that entered respected usage as the thing they referenced went from vilification to respectability. I can already imagine the dictionary entry from 2212:

    Gnusade; g’noo-SADES: 1. The renewed struggle for secular logic, scientific inquiry and tolerance that began in the early 21st century in response to attempts by major faiths worldwide to impose fundamentalist governance and morality; 2. Any effort to resist superstition, dogma and anti-science. (Modern English — first usage around 2015; origins uncertain)

    1. 3. An attempt to return to sanity after a 3400 year detour of insanity, woo, hatred, homophobia, xenophobia an misogyny.

      1. One more suggested edit:

        “…fundamentalist governance and their version of morality;”

  5. I mean, what do you have to lose?
    You come from nothing,
    You go back to nothing.
    What have you lost? Nothing!
    Always look on the bright side of life.


  6. “Noviewer” passed for clever? Wow. How embarrassing for them. Gnusades is at least a step up from THAT.

  7. argues that Americans won’t accept evolution as strongly as do Europeans, for instance, until our country becomes as non-religious as Europe.

    That is what is happening.

    US xianity is dying, killed off by the fundies and creationists among other reasons.

    Somewhere around 1-2 million people leave the religion every year. The number might actually be much higher. In the last few years, 22 million people have left the Catholic church.

    With current trends, xians are projected to go below 50% by 2050.

    1. I hope this is true. I am in Arizona, where the fundies arrived late (and are still coming) but immediately struck deep roots in very well-prepared desert ground.

  8. The “religious aspect of the Gnu atheist campaigns” I love the implicit admission that rests in this attempt to drag us down to their level. Though it’s more clearly seen in the whine “but yours is just a religion tooooo.”

  9. Holding competitions to make up words…that’s about the right intellectual level for UD. No doubt that after you’re lecture, they’ll post it on you-tube with a soundtrack consisting of fart noises.

  10. I would point O’Brian through my comment on that thread to the research that shows that highly religious are nothing when it comes to morality:

    “”Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.””

    1. I’ve been in discussion with Daniel for some time now. He presumes that the logical form of an argument proves its premises true. Information that stands contrary to any of the premises he favours are useful only if they occasionally yield some trivial discrepancy.

      1. So, basically, he doesn’t understand the difference between soundness and validity? Wow, weird. They teach that at the 101 level.

  11. A cranial colonoscopy? Well I guess a colonoscopy is the correct procedure when you want to do a brain scan on a creationist.

  12. “What should we call Coyne’s battle for incivility toward – and distortion of facts about – traditional religion?” Well, I’m not certain but I thought that’s how the word heretic operated with respect to the members of a cult casting aspersions to the ‘out’ group.

    That said, I like Gnusade just fine. Its core principle should be proofvado:
    1.) absolute inductive reasoning
    2.) the perception of atheist scientists who argue on the basis of likelihood as being strident, shrill, overweening and absolutist

    Example of proovado: Richard Dawkins’ proofvado is fully on display when he says ‘there probably is no god’.

  13. This reminds me of the story of the private who told his friend: “I joined the Army in 1979 with just two dollars in my pocket, and now, thirty years later, I’m leaving it with a dollar-fifty.”

    “That’s awful!” says the friend.

    “No, that’s great! Where else could I get thirty years’ board and lodging for fifty cents?”

  14. Boy, for people who maintain that ID isn’t religion, they sure talk a lot about religion.

  15. What about poor old animals, what can they hope for? They don’t even get good wine or books. Just a few good noms and a bonk that may not even be satisfying. To hope youngsters survive. To hope not to be kicked around by humans or devoured by other animals. What of all creatures great and small, what hope do they hold? Certainly not for eternal life.

    So what more can I ask? I’m just glad I get a few books to read and wine. And an appreciation of the cosmos and other naturalistic pleasures that Carl Sagan enjoyed too. That is all.

  16. What better way to control weak/vulnerable people than to convince them that they have HUGE problems (sin, evil, worthlessness, death, etc., etc., etc.) but you have the only cure (God, purpose, forgiveness, eternal life, etc.)?

    It’s obvious why godbots work so hard to brainwash and indoctrinate children. They want to plant religious garbage in their minds before the children are old enough and educated enough to see religious dogma for the mind-numbing fairy tale bullshit it is.

    And since when have the IDiots read (and actually understood) anything scientific before blindly and arrogantly trashing it?

    1. I don’t think they do read it, not for more than a few minutes. Or they obtain their info from christian sites. That’s why they can’t grasp an abstract concept like natural selection, because it takes more than a few minutes. It took me years to fully grasp..but then I am punching way above my weight amongst scientific types..but at least I understand THAT much.

  17. If we Followers of the Coyne Blog Website are now Gnusaders, what will happen to us Gnu Scientismists? Do we form ranks and just get drafted into the GnuSader Army? And how will those of the overlapping Pharyngulate Horde react?

    Rixaeton, Volunteer,
    3rd Detatchment of the Gnu Scientismists,
    Australian Gnusader Army Corps.

  18. Rather than Nietszche, Sartre, and Camus, why can’t we follow the much older and less tormented atheist tradition of Epicurus, Lucretius and David Hume?

    “In a five-page letter to the publisher, “The Life of David Hume, Esq; Written by Himself” (1777), Smith wrote, “Poor David Hume is dying very fast, but with great cheerfulness and good humour and with more real resignation to the necessary course of things, than any Whining Christian ever dyed with pretended resignation to the will of God.” The publisher omitted the reference to “Whining Christians.” Smith also toned down a remark Hume had once made, that perhaps Charon could be talked into delaying his passage to the other word in order to give him more time to rid the world of Christianity. “Good Charon, I have been endeavouring to open the eyes of people; have a little patience only till I have the pleasure of seeing the churches shut up, and the Clergy sent about their business; but Charon would reply, O you loitering rogue; that wont happen these 200 years; do you fancy I will give you a lease for so long a time? Get into the boat this instant.”

    “Thus,” says Adam Smith in a 1776 letter to William Strahan, “died our most excellent and never to be forgotten friend. Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime and since his death as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.” Boswell and others were offended by accounts of Hume’s “pagan” death and once wrote that “Were it not for his infidel writings, every body would love him. He is a plain, obliging, kind-hearted man.” But when Boswell visited Hume seven weeks before his death, Hume told him that religion had a bad effect on morality: “He then said flatly that the morality of every religion was bad . . . [and] that when he heard a man was religious, he concluded he was a rascal, though he had known some instances of very good men being religious.”

  19. ‘Gnusades’? Considering what an evil rabble of deluded homicidal thugs the original Crusaders were**, I personally wouldn’t want to have any association with the term. To me it would rank up with ‘feminazi’ as a term of abuse.

    ** See ‘The Crusades’, Terry Jones’s TV series, for an ironic account. That’s Terry Jones the Python, not Terry Jones the pyromaniac pastor, btw.

  20. Shall we start calling Gnu Atheist writings lamenting the hold religion has on society (especially ones that are NOT blog posts) “jerrymiads”?

  21. I assume (I won’t go to UD for fear of brainrot) that the quotes with links are directly from UD? If so, they would follow the typical pattern of only linking to ‘friendly’ sites (usually their own) and not linking to the original source material.

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