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10 Things Christians and Atheists Can (And Must) Agree On
May 10, 2009
8:34 pm
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screamzero
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he war that's coming between the fundamentalist Christians and the hard-core Atheists probably won't be the most violent of the holy wars. But it has the potential to be the most annoying. We'll, I'm going to try to stop it.

So I'm running into this guy basically everywhere I go:

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Not that exact guy. People like him. I recognize the type, I had to spend the whole first half of my life around the Christian version of those guys, people who worked it into every conversation. But now I'm running into these really aggressive, sort of evangelical atheists. Ever since 9/11/2001, in fact. The exact day a whole lot of atheists decided this religion thing had to go before it killed us all.

These things never end well.

But I think we've got more common ground than we admit. For instance, both my atheist and Christian friends (I seem to have an equal number of both these days) tell me they agree with the following statement:

Celebrating the death of somebody you disagreed with pretty much makes you a dick.

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I doubt anybody reading this has ever waved a snarky sign at a funeral, so I think we're pretty much all in the same boat still. See? Common ground.

So how about this: I'm going to throw out a few of these statements - things I think we have to agree on if we want to avoid disaster - and you can read until you see something you disagree with. We'll see how long we can make it last.

Why? Because something's brewing. I wander around my local Barnes & Noble and they've got a whole special table set aside:

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I go home, log into one of my favorite forums and one guy's got this as his avatar:

And another dude has this:

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So I retreat to my own forums, and find out turbo evangelist Jerry Falwell had died that day. The reaction?

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I mean, that thing I said I said earlier about not celebrating the death of somebody you disagree with... that still counts for a bitter, uncompromising old fart like Falwell, right? We're civilized people. We can celebrate him changing his mind, or even celebrate him being made to look like a fool in public.

But you start cheering his death, you've walked away from the one single baseline every remotely moral person has ever agreed on: the value of human life. And I know we all agree on that, because we can all think of people we could've otherwise stabbed and gotten away with it.

And sure, there may be a few of my atheists out there saying that what Falwell was spewing was so hateful, that it surely inspired some murders (of homosexuals or abortion doctors or whatever) and that he thus deserved death on those grounds.

But you don't want to live by that rule; you'll wind up in a world where gangsta rappers and video game programmers and political commentators and novelists are considered worthy of death just because some fans claimed their work inspired them to kill. That's the sort of thing a nut from the other side would say. Right?

No, people got to have the right to express themselves, good, bad and ugly. Falwell had a family. Friends. He was a human being. You cheer over his corpse and you're just acting like a pecker.

And that's another thing both sides agree on, that we hate this modern trend toward peckerfication. So let's see what else we agree on...

(NOTE: Per international regulations governing all online religious debate, we are required to insert on each page humorous and inflammatory image macros such as the one below. To prove my objectivity, these have been carefully chosen as to be equally offensive to all belief systems. -MGMT )

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Can Christians and atheists both agree that...

1. You Can Do Terrible Things in the Name of Either One

We're putting aside the question of which belief system has killed more people by percentage of population, or whether a hypothetical world without religion would have seen fewer or more genocides than ours. We're not going to open a spreadsheet and try to count which belief system manufactures more murderous sociopaths per capita.

All I need from you is agreement that it's entirely possible for either an atheist or theist world to devolve into a screaming murder festival. The religious leader sends his people into battle because he thinks God commanded it, the Stalins and Maos of the world do the same because they see their people as nothing more than meaty fuel to be ground up to feed the machinery of The State. In both cases, the people are equally dead.

Yeah, yeah, I know the Christians are saying that the guy who fights an unjust or needless war is violating God's law, and thus isn't a good Christian. Meanwhile, the atheists are saying that Stalin was merely bloodthirsty, separate and apart from his disbelief in a higher power. Both believe, then, that it is a corruption of their belief system that allows unjust slaughter to happen.

But for this project, All we need to agree on is this: it happens in both cases. And if the opposing belief system vanished tomorrow, war and bloodshed and terror would still take place.

And can we further admit it's actually physically impossible to calculate whether, if your side had its way, the volume of terrible things happening would go up, or down, or stay the same? I know you have an opinion on that, and I can guess what it is. But we don't know, and can't state it like it's fact. Right?

Everybody still on board?

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Good. Can we now also agree...

2. Both Sides Really Do Believe What They're Saying

Christians do this thing that drives atheists nuts, where they talk like God is patently obvious to all mankind, and that atheism is therefore just petty, intentional rebellion against Christians. In other words, that atheists don't honestly believe what they say, and just say it because they're jerks.

But atheists do something very similar, particularly when a Christian says:

"Only the saved go to Heaven!"

...and what the atheist hears is:

"I want everyone else to go to Hell!"

It's the same thing, thinking that deep down Christians don't really believe this is the law handed down by a creator, and therefore Christianity is just a petty, intentional rebellion against the non-Christians of the world. In other words, that Christians don't honestly believe what they say, and just say it because they're jerks.

But all that is just a way to make cartoon villains out of the people who disagree with us. And if we stop and think about it, we'll see it's asinine.

Atheists, you know that Christians have freaking died because they refused to walk away from what they believe. That goes beyond simple human stubbornness. I mean, I can tell you first hand. I was raised in a Pentecostal church (like the one they visited in the Borat movie).

I soured on the whole religion thing in my teens, as you can probably imagine, and then came back to it later kind of on my own terms. From that experience I can relay this fact: If there's no God, then there is something in the human brain that can and does present an amazingly realistic impression of one. A gland, an artifact of environmental pattern recognition, whatever you want to pin it on, the result is, at certain times and in certain moods, as tangible and real and distinct as the person sitting across from you on the subway.

You can say they're wrong. You can say it all day, you can etch "YOU'RE WRONG" into the surface of the moon with a giant laser. But you'll have a lot less angst if you remember that the thing they're wrong about is something they honestly believe, down to their roots. I guess you could just call them crazy, but it's a little silly to use that word when believers are the norm in human population.

But either way, it's not something they intentionally chose just to annoy you.

Christians, same deal. Every one of you have got friends and family who aren't believers. And I bet some of them are good people. Earnest people, thoughtful people. Charitable. Kind.

So... doesn't that kind of kill the premise that these people are avoiding God out of sinful rebellion or fear of having to live a godly life? After all, you've got people who are doing the hard part (self-sacrifice, patience, giving up all sorts of sinful pleasures) but are avoiding the easy part (praying and listening to a preacher talk for one hour a week). If God and the danger of Hell were that obvious, why wouldn't they just go all the way with it?

No, if there is a God, it appears that some good people honestly don't perceive him. For whatever reason. And there has to be some tolerance in God's rules for the Honest Mistake. Has to be. Otherwise we're all going to get screwed by that thing with the Sabbath being on Saturday instead of Sunday.

So, we've agreed that the other guy, no matter how irritating he or she is, is likely making an honest mistake. If we can agree on that, can we also agree that...
If you want to read about the other 7 or reasons - please do so..if you care (ahem...caring is an act of Love, so be careful, Lassie, Dark Abyss, Event_splatter or Dead Eye will deny that has any thing to do with it. You might not have to care after all.)

http://www.cracked.com/article_15663_go ... ee-on.html

May 27, 2009
5:24 pm
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Dibs
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You know, when I was reading that first post, I actually though to myself that the writing seemed reminiscent of a Cracked.com article. Then I get to the bottom of the page and lo and behold...

You know, I really wish mor Christians would realize that they're not helping by annoying the crap out of you just because you don't go to church.

May 28, 2009
5:00 pm
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mrshumphreys
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screamzero:
I didn't realize you were a JREF'er as well!
I don't know if you post under a different name there, are a lurker, or if I just haven't run into any of your posts, but I recognize both those avatars/screen names.

ETA:
I have no real problem with the first two things you posted. I'm interested in reading the link, but I wanted to post before I forgot.

ETA2: Bah, I didn't realize the whole post was copy paste. Including the photos.
LOL.
Obviously you aren't a JREF'er, but David Wong is.
LOL
Embarassed
My bad.

"It's like arguing with a brick wall, except the brick wall thinks you're an idiot, and thinks it's winning." - Humphreys, that sexy beast.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

May 29, 2009
10:12 pm
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event_horizon
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I knew it wasn't him after reading the first sentence. It was too coherent. Laugh

horizon

 

The mixed breed three-eyed half grey alien half cyclops mutant from a galaxy so far away you can't even get there if you folded space.

June 4, 2009
7:22 am
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screamzero
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"event_horizon" wrote: I knew it wasn't him after reading the first sentence. It was too coherent. Laugh

Wow, your not so screwed up this time as you have been. Glad to see you backing off of the pot ...............Image EnlargerDead Eye.

June 7, 2009
8:22 pm
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event_horizon
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Uh oh. Looks like he lost his other eyeball.

You were half screwed and now you're totally screwed. Laugh

horizon

 

The mixed breed three-eyed half grey alien half cyclops mutant from a galaxy so far away you can't even get there if you folded space.

June 8, 2009
12:01 pm
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gudskepteacal
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Scary stuff when you think about it. Will christians be called 'haters' in the future?

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance." - James Madison

June 15, 2009
7:29 pm
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mrshumphreys
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future?! Laugh

"It's like arguing with a brick wall, except the brick wall thinks you're an idiot, and thinks it's winning." - Humphreys, that sexy beast.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

July 19, 2009
8:55 am
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gudskepteacal
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I see what you mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....8qIFzm1bOk

Couldn't make out what they were talking about, but I failed to see the 'hate' in that exchange. I guess anyone can hang a label.

http://www.crossroad.to/text/a.....v3-98.html

It seems there are some people who have put much thought into how to deal with "hateful" christians. No amount of their toil will change the words in my Bible.

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance." - James Madison

July 21, 2009
4:34 am
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fortwynt
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I think it is a very good post, Very Good.

I also grew up with a fundamentalist pentacostal father, not my mother though, they were polar opposites, but it was definitely an influence...I also rebelled in my teens, and then came back to it on my own terms later....and then realized the immense folly inherent to most if not all forms of dogmatic legalism in terms of religion (or most anything).

As a person who fully believes in God, yet doesn't particularly get too worked up about "legalism" and "tradition", I can accept all the people in my life as living the life they choose to live....I may not personally agree with things about some people, but then again I dont have to live in their shoes, they do. I don't beat people up if they don't particularly believe in the concept of God, but then again I will at least make an attempt to hold a reasoned conversation with them about how i feel, and acknowledge their positions as valid as well (if they are).

Ultimately, I think Christianity in particular has shot itself in the foot over the years one too many times about its very incessant way of trying to put God into this neat little box, and have all these elaborate rituals and legalism practices that really (if there be a God) probably do not matter in the least to "him".

Afterall, to the atheist historically i think it is more about the God that religion "creates" than whatever God there may "actually" be...two different things to me.

I always borrow a line from a fellow I consider fairly wise:

"I never really hated one True God, but the God of the people I hated."

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