Congressman comes out of the closet — as a “nontheist”

posted at 8:58 am on March 13, 2007 by Allahpundit

Nonono, just kidding. It’s not Tancredo. But the idea of some of our readers thinking it was, if only for a moment, fills me with glee.

Seriously, though — we finally have our champion, fellow nonbelievers. The only member of Congress, according to the Secular Coalition of America, to admit to irreligion.

And sure enough, he’s a peacenik environmentalist from California … with the most liberal voting record in the House of Representatives.

For two years running. Sigh.

We’re never going to shake this stereotype, are we?

In October, 2006 the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobby representing the interests of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheists, announced a contest. At the time, few if any elected officials, even at the lowest level, would self-identify as a nontheist. So the Coalition offered $1,000 to the person who could identify the highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States.

In addition to Rep. Stark only three other elected officials agreed to do so: Terry S. Doran, president of the School Board in Berkeley, Calif.; Nancy Glista on the School Committee in Franklin, Maine; and Michael Cerone, a Town Meeting Member from Arlington, Mass.

When asked to define his specie of “nontheism,” he listed “Unitarian.” If that sounds confusing, rest assured, it did to me too. But after a few minutes of googling, voila. You learn something new every day.

Except what constitutes “worship” in a nontheist, non-creedal religion.

Exit question exclamation: Ugh.


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Cripes. Guy’s been in Congress as long as I’ve been alive.

Slublog on March 13, 2007 at 9:07 AM

It will fill me with glee if Tancredo is president, and not only for a moment. And if I can’t have him, then Fred Thompson will do nicely.

archon2001 on March 13, 2007 at 9:08 AM

Great. Just great! Out of 435 representatives, it has to be the bozo who represents MY district!

Unfortunately his constituents have shown that there is just about nothing that Congressman Pottymouth can do that would cause us to kick the bum out of office.

[sigh]

aunursa on March 13, 2007 at 9:09 AM

“Ugh”? What do you mean “Ugh”? Vatican City is a sovereign nation. If you’re gonna toss ‘em out for being a theocracy, better be ready to kick Iran and every other Islamofascist government out with them.

fusionaddict on March 13, 2007 at 9:10 AM

I feel bad for atheist conservatives. I’d hate to be labeled a idiot liberal just because I didn’t believe in magical, invisible creatures. But the anti-West hippies pretty much hold the market on agnosticism/atheism, which is a pity.

It makes me think atheist conservatives are a bit like muslim moderates. Sure, they exist, somewhere, but they’re not really being heard.

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 9:12 AM

Oh, and as far as the exit examination…

The funny paradox is that the Vatican is, in fact, a state, but the UN is not. Who exactly gets separated out in that scenario I wonder?

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 9:14 AM

How exactly IS it a separation issue, anyway? The UN is a non-binding officiator. Nobody has to do a damn thing it says to do. It’s not like we’re giving the SBC a seat in Congress, for petesake!

VATICAN: “You must do this!”

COUNTRY: “Well, we’re not gonna! We’re gonna have a sandwich!”

See? Just that simple.

fusionaddict on March 13, 2007 at 9:16 AM

“Ugh”? What do you mean “Ugh”? Vatican City is a sovereign nation. If you’re gonna toss ‘em out for being a theocracy, better be ready to kick Iran and every other Islamofascist government out with them.

I agree. Hence my “ugh” directed at the fact that Stark was the only congressman who voted against the resolution.

Allahpundit on March 13, 2007 at 9:17 AM

Thats actually pretty refreshing.

I’m tired of all the politicians who need to run on religion to get elected. Its a free country, and everyone (including who we vote for) should be allowed to pray to whatever god they see fit, even if that is no one in particular.

triple on March 13, 2007 at 9:27 AM

I bet Stark isn’t REALLY the only “non theist” in Congress.
How many self-identified Jewish Liberals actually lean more this way:
The Society for Humanistic Judaism:
http://www.shj.org

Lest you think I’m ganging up on Jews-I was born and raised Republican reformed Jewish and I’m now a member of the Church of the Nazarene.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 13, 2007 at 9:29 AM

I’ll bet there are at least 100 more in Congress, but they will never admit it. Stark is somewhat unique b/c he has proven time and time again that nothing he says or does can prevent him from being re-elected.

RW Wacko on March 13, 2007 at 9:29 AM

Just click the link-not where I do my “full disclosure.”
Techie I ain’t.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 13, 2007 at 9:31 AM

Nonono, just kidding. It’s not Tancredo. But the idea of some of our readers thinking it was, if only for a moment, fills me with glee.

March 13, 2007 by Allahpundit

You do have a bit of a mean streak sometimes.
;)

But is it not interesting that two of the four top self-identified non-theists are leaders in the public education system?

Lawrence on March 13, 2007 at 9:31 AM

I’m guessing Stark worships Gaia.

kmcguire on March 13, 2007 at 9:37 AM

We, at the NAU, are not amused, AP.

lorien1973 on March 13, 2007 at 9:38 AM

I’m guessing Stark worships Gaia.

kmcguire on March 13, 2007 at 9:37 AM

I’d bet you’d be surprised how many atheists believe in Gaia instead of God. Or believe that the earth is a living creature or some such nonsense. Everyone believes in something greater than themselves, whether you give a name to it is really not relevant. Sometimes the belief manifests itself in something simple like UFOs or the illuminati – but it’s part of the human condition to think that there is something bigger/badder out there controlling us.

lorien1973 on March 13, 2007 at 9:43 AM

I’ll bet there are at least 100 more in Congress, but they will never admit it.

Yup.

Allahpundit on March 13, 2007 at 9:43 AM

We’re never going to shake this stereotype, are we?

Better you than us :D .

Jesus died for your sins and mine too Allah, but it’s your choice to be what you wish. And unlike the people who worship “Allah”, I won’t put a gun to your head and make you recite an oath or put you in 2nd class status because of your non-belief.

IndependentConserv on March 13, 2007 at 9:50 AM

I feel bad for atheist conservatives. I’d hate to be labeled a idiot liberal just because I didn’t believe in magical, invisible creatures. But the anti-West hippies pretty much hold the market on agnosticism/atheism, which is a pity.

It makes me think atheist conservatives are a bit like muslim moderates. Sure, they exist, somewhere, but they’re not really being heard.

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 9:12 AM

This is actually a pretty good point you bring up.

Just as you suggest many of us believe in magical, invisible creatures. I would claim that atheist conservatives and moderate Muslims are just as ethereal.

The term “non-theist” is actually a good descriptor here. While I have never met a person who doesn’t put their faith in something, I can say that all the people I know fall into one of two groups. Theists place their faith in God, while the Non-Theists place their faith in something else. That something else might be politics or law, the environment, or even simply themselves.

The irony for self described non-theist conservatives, while having a loud political voice, they are a small political group straddling the fence between true liberal humanists on one side and the true religious conservatives on the other.

Lawrence on March 13, 2007 at 9:51 AM

I feel bad for atheist conservatives…. It makes me think atheist conservatives are a bit like muslim moderates. Sure, they exist, somewhere, but they’re not really being heard.

Thanks for the sympathy, Lehosh! I, um, “self-identify” as a reluctant atheist/full-on conservative. But if I were blessed with the belief in God, the first thing I’d do is give thanks for living in a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. Nothing would suck more than living on a street of passive-aggressive atheo-weenies crying about their friggin’ “right” to be free of religion. “Waaa…they said a prayer before the school football game!” Shut up, ya f*****.

School prayer? Love it. “Under God” in the pledge? Love it. “Traditional marriage” (what I like to call “marriage”)? Love it. The Ten Commandments on display? Love it. Why would any of this bother me? Viva Jesusland!

saint kansas on March 13, 2007 at 9:54 AM

Flower Communion?

The traditional Christian communion service with bread and wine was unacceptable to the members of his congregation because of their strong reaction against the Catholic faith.

Connie on March 13, 2007 at 10:00 AM

I’m tired of all the politicians who need to run on religion to get elected. Its a free country, and everyone (including who we vote for) should be allowed to pray to whatever god they see fit, even if that is no one in particular.

triple on March 13, 2007 at 9:27 AM

True.

Problem is that most Americans right now could give two hoots about the political details of the right, center, or the left. Viewing all politicians inherently corrupted by power and greed.

Therefore the only reason to support one side or the other is based on their social agendas with respect to religion.

The obvious irony for non-theists conservatives is that their candidates must take a pro-theist stance on religion if they really want to get elected in this political climate.

Lawrence on March 13, 2007 at 10:01 AM

Conservatives like me generally dont have a problem with church and state, because im for freedom of religion, not for the banning of it in public display. Just as I respect christianity as a choice you were free to make, id hope the religious right would be equally as tolerant, but im finding thats less and less the case..

triple on March 13, 2007 at 10:03 AM

Everyone believes in something greater than themselves

Actually, that’s not true. Many of these freethinkers believe in themselves only. They are their own gods.

Connie on March 13, 2007 at 10:08 AM

Well, Stark is at least honest. So many of the politicos are far worse as they are Pharisees. Religious on the outside but unbelievers on the inside.

Mojave Mark on March 13, 2007 at 10:09 AM

Flower Communion?

The traditional Christian communion service with bread and wine was unacceptable to the members of his congregation because of their strong reaction against the Catholic faith.
Connie on March 13, 2007 at 10:00 AM

It’s all about wanting the benefits of religion without the responsibilities.

It’s all about telling God what to do in place of God telling us what to do.

Classic secular liberal philosophy and theology.

Lawrence on March 13, 2007 at 10:11 AM

I’d bet you’d be surprised how many atheists believe in Gaia instead of God. Or believe that the earth is a living creature or some such nonsense. Everyone believes in something greater than themselves, whether you give a name to it is really not relevant. Sometimes the belief manifests itself in something simple like UFOs or the illuminati – but it’s part of the human condition to think that there is something bigger/badder out there controlling us.

lorien1973 on March 13, 2007 at 9:43 AM

Yup. That’s why people do not trust people that believe in “nothing.”

Theworldisnotenough on March 13, 2007 at 10:16 AM

I may have offered a misleading headline if I had a story of a secular Liberal. These folks are like grains of sand on a beach so it’s not really news, is it?

Many of these freethinkers believe in themselves only. They are their own gods.

Just like Adam and Eve who eventually followed the serpent who said they could be like God if they ate of the fruit.

CliffHanger on March 13, 2007 at 10:24 AM

Just as I respect christianity as a choice you were free to make, id hope the religious right would be equally as tolerant, but im finding thats less and less the case..

triple on March 13, 2007 at 10:03 AM

I completely understand your point, and ideologically there is no reason for me to be intolerant to your views. But please understand that theologically you are asking me to support a perspective that for me is hypocritical.

I think the reason you are finding in less and less the case is not because more people are embracing religious views, but because more of us are simply speaking up for ourselves in political debate.

Tolerance rows both ways. Where do we find the balance between what we can both tolerate?

Lawrence on March 13, 2007 at 10:26 AM

Well,

As a Conservative Athiest (Nontheist, whatever the word of the day is) I just happen to feel that both conclusions (Athiesm & Conservatism) are the natural end result for a highly intelligent person.

Of course, I could be biased.

And BTW, There are more of us than you might think!

JayHaw Phrenzie on March 13, 2007 at 10:30 AM

Nonono, just kidding. It’s not Tancredo. But the idea of some of our readers thinking it was, if only for a moment, fills me with glee. —- Allahpundit

I’m glad you had a moment of joy.

Maxx on March 13, 2007 at 10:32 AM

From somewhere else:
“Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being” is an oymoron. He should have said Unitarian-Universalist.
Unitarianism is a a broad catagory while Unitarian-Universalist is the specific creedless organization to which he is referring. There are more ‘fundamentalist’ splinters of the Unitarian movement in the US that are explicitly theistic, as are the elder Unitarian Churches of Hungary and Romania.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Christianity includes info about the AUC which is missing from the main Unitarian page. Not ‘fundamentalist’ but does have theistic principles.

I personally lean more to AUC, philosophically, though it is a U-U fellowship that I don’t go to on Sundays.

TABoLK on March 13, 2007 at 10:49 AM

Yeah, JayHaw Phrenzie, your bias is showing there—just a little.

I’d just like to say that, as a Conservative Christian, I just happen to feel that both conclusions (Christianity & Conservatism) are the natural end result for a highly intelligent person.

jdpaz on March 13, 2007 at 10:57 AM

It is unfortunate that conservatisim in America is inextricably bound up with religion. And also passing strange – I maintain that if Jesus were alive today he would be a complete leftist. Remember, this was a guy that hated the rich.

But when I read about Heather McDonald and how she’s completely gobsmacked that being an American conservative means you must believe in God, it strikes a chord. It’s simply not sensible. There’s nothing particularly intellectual or conservative about believing in this God whose whole schtick is that He won’t prove He exists. And we atheists can’t prove a negative, so it all works out for Him. Convenient.

I always think of conservatism as ideally being pro-individual and pro-freedom – You can’t be pro-individual if you insist that we all must be subjugated to the unknowable will of this God who is so obviously indifferent to humanity. Worshipping God is like being a battered wife: “If I say I’m sorry, He’ll like me. I’m sure he’ll start listening to me one of these days if I just do everything I can to make him happy.” This is sickness.

Oh, and Pete Stark’s an assclown.

Enrique on March 13, 2007 at 11:04 AM

I think the GOP needs an atheist/agnostic bloc. Or at least a “small government” bloc that will get the social cons to reign it in a bit. I find it a pity that the parties are most clearly defined by social issues… why? Social problems are the easiest thing in the world to solve as an individual without the government meddling, but our government parties are defined by how they meddle with social values.

I think a non-theist/SmallGov conservative bloc in the GOP would be a great step towards the kind of government that lies at the heart of conservatism. Call me a liberal if you want, but it seems to me as if nonreligious conservative policies do just as well creating an environment where classic American and Christian values of patriotism, ingenuity, community, and industry flourish.

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 11:07 AM

jdpaz,

At least we agree with 50% of each others statement.

JayHaw Phrenzie on March 13, 2007 at 11:08 AM

I maintain that if Jesus were alive today he would be a complete leftist.

As a side note, this is only half true. Leftist policy sounds very good on the surface and worked in early Christianity… but the liberal teachings of Jesus obviously assume a belief in God and a fraternal love that ties the community together. Socialism in a community already predisposed to practicing generosity, grace, and a strong work ethic would be perfectly workable.

Secular Leftism is a failure because leftists try to project these teachings on a world that obviously is not predisposed to thinking generosity, patience, and hard work are things to be treasured.

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 11:15 AM

Unitarian Universalism sounds a bit like free reining, that’s were you ride a horse but it’s the horse that decides where you go except in this case Unitarians are asking God to accept the free reining concept.

Speakup on March 13, 2007 at 11:17 AM

Liberalism is his religion.

CP on March 13, 2007 at 11:22 AM

We’re never going to shake this stereotype, are we?

You always have Thomas Jefferson.

aengus on March 13, 2007 at 11:25 AM

But the idea of some of our readers thinking it was, if only for a moment, fills me with glee.

That was pretty funny. Fred Thompson looks much better, now.

PRCalDude on March 13, 2007 at 11:42 AM

You always have Thomas Jefferson.

Not even he would admit to nontheism. And if Stark claims to be a Unitarian, it sounds like he’s trying to have cake and eat it, too. Not unusual for a pol, I realize.

Anwyn on March 13, 2007 at 11:47 AM

It’s called being a libertarian–to all the conservatives who want to be free from a religious affiliation when you sign up to join a party.

I like a discussion about religion, but debating it is, in my view, senseless. You can’t argue with someone who knows they’re right. Sure, you can show people your view and at least see if they understand where you’re coming from, but when it comes to any god of any kind I doubt people are going to see things your way just because you use logic or reason.

Nonfactor on March 13, 2007 at 11:58 AM

I truly do believe, by empirical proof, that the majority of Congressmen, and Politicians truly to NOT believe in a higher power.

The vast majority of people historicaly have kept the rules out of fear, either of the law, or of divine justice.

Well, when you make the laws, and have immunity from many, then fear of the law is gone. Just look at the behaviour lately of many congressmen… 90K in the freezer, and whats it been? two years??? They only have to fear the law if its POLITICALY driven, and apparently only if your on the right (Libby?).

Sooo… that leaves divine justice… which they must not believe in… because they are doing wrong, consistantly, on a vast scale.

And by the way, I consider myself a Zen Agnostic… figure that one out!!!! LOL…

Romeo13 on March 13, 2007 at 11:59 AM

Romeo13 on March 13, 2007 at 11:59 AM

You’re echoing Plato’s Republic here. Just thought it was interesting, you might want to read up on it.

It’s all about defining what is right and true and good or in other words “justice.” People who believe that something is naturally good are more inclined to believe in a higher power and people who believe that people themselves determine what is good or bad are more likely to be relativists/humanists/sophists (Man is the measure of all things).

Nonfactor on March 13, 2007 at 12:09 PM

Nonfactor on March 13, 2007 at 12:09 PM

Thanks, read it many many years ago… and sort of dismissed it at the time, but over the years have come to understand what he was proposing…

Modern Society thinks we have a monopoly on thinking… and yet with all of our great leaps forward, we find more and more that Plato, Socrates, Machiaveli and such have very valid viewpoints on the human condition.

Romeo13 on March 13, 2007 at 12:16 PM

It’s called being a libertarian–to all the conservatives who want to be free from a religious affiliation when you sign up to join a party.

Granted, but libertarians dont have a chance. Its not practical for a third party to exist given the current condition of our country.

Actually.

What if someone started a third party echoing the people at kos and DU? That’d be pretty sweet, id bet they’d get like 25% and kill the general election for the dems.

triple on March 13, 2007 at 12:24 PM

I’m just pleased as punch that the folks at this site can discuss this issue without a virtual fistfight breaking out.

FWIW, I think it’s equally intellectually valid to believe or disbelieve in God. Either position leaves many unanswered questions.

I would ask the intelligent atheists among us to consider, though, that the intellect, while a good tool for certain tasks, may not be the best means for experiencing/appreciating some aspects of the universe. If our minds are finite, and evolved like any other organ, why expect them to be capable of grasping more than is necessary to survive long enough to procreate?

mikeyboss on March 13, 2007 at 12:30 PM

Unitarian Universalism sounds a bit like free reining, that’s were you ride a horse but it’s the horse that decides where you go except in this case Unitarians are asking God to accept the free reining concept.

Old U-U joke:
Universalists believe God is too good to send people to Hell.
Unitarians believe they are too good to get sent there.

So, yeah, a certain degree of arrogance (for lack of a better word) is acknowledged.

U-U is primarily about freedom (IMO). I do not see the left as supporting, protecting, or embracing freedom — unless one equates immorality with freedom, which I refute.

TABoLK on March 13, 2007 at 12:37 PM

I consider myself a Zen Agnostic… figure that one out!!!! LOL

So you aren’t sure if that’s the sound of one hand clapping?

TABoLK on March 13, 2007 at 12:39 PM

I think the GOP needs an atheist/agnostic bloc.

Well, we’ve uncovered a handful of us here…I wonder how we stack up in number against the Log Cabin crew? What are our demands? Let’s come up with a cool name and start sending out letters.

One cool thing about being an atheist conservative is you can sucker-punch libs who paint you as “just another right-wing religious fanatic.” God or no God, your vision of government still sucks.

By the way, theologically speaking, I don’t think one can necessarily “choose” to believe something. That’s why I call myself a reluctant atheist; were there a “Believe in God” button, I’d hit that today. To me, though, wanting to believe something isn’t believing.

saint kansas on March 13, 2007 at 12:46 PM

Once again, I see that canard floated about that I, as an atheist, believe in nothing. No, I just don’t believe in God(s). I also, strangely enough, don’t hop aboard any quasi-religious bandwagon that happens by.

If you are going to a church, you’re religious and have some diety worship going on. Stark certainly isn’t an atheist in the correct sense.

Krydor on March 13, 2007 at 12:51 PM

I can see a 400+ comments thread developing…glee, heh?

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Mr. Stark is a uni-whatever all right – he was the only one against maintaining special U.N. status for the Vatican.

Considering that there wasn’t a single liberal Senator to oppose the Terri Schiavo case, this man is a giant.

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 12:59 PM

So, yeah, a certain degree of arrogance (for lack of a better word) is acknowledged.

Sounds like free reining to me.
Who needs a bible for such a religion, think of the trees they’re saving.

Arrogance in this instance equaling I’ll make up my own belief system and tell God to take it or leave it.

Be reasonable, do it my way.

Speakup on March 13, 2007 at 1:01 PM

Ugh.

Imagine if Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are trying to convince you they’re good agnostics. They drop some names, Dawkins, Wilson, Epicurus. Then they say something like, “The way I see it, what the ancient Greek atomists were really saying was…be a good person.”

This is what it’s like to listen to Dean and Kerry proclaim their devotion to the church.

Uggghhhh.

John on March 13, 2007 at 1:06 PM

Enrique on March 13, 2007 at 11:04 AM

I hardly know where to begin but it’s clear you do not know the Lord, and apparently you have no desire to get to know Him.

So for those who are searching for the Truth, Christ rises above politics and He loves all mankind, right down to each individual who has ever lived and who walks the earth today. In regards to “the rich”, He admonishes those who build their treasures in this life without any thought about their path to eternal realms.

A person’s level of political and social conservatism does not tell us anything about their walk of faith. And while I suspect that most Christians are political and social conservatives, I really don’t know this to be a fact.

Proving God’s existence is not difficult. As a believer, I just look around and I see God everywhere. I look inward and I see what He has done for me. I acccept and embrace His plan for me. I see His hand in His creation, from the immensity of the universe down to the smallest bug that crawls across the ground. I see the way some people treat others and I know God has touched their lives, whether they’re aware of it or not.

God doesn’t wish to “subjugate” us like some two-bit despot. He’s blessed us with a will of our own where we can choose our own way. What earthly dictator would allow for that? God is not the source of our pain and suffering – we are, through our own thoughts and actions. He’s also not indifferent to human suffering. To make that suggestion, tells me you may, in some tucked-away corner of your mind, actually believe in a higher power. If each of us understood His will and then made it our will, then pain and suffering would cease to exist.

Remember, God loves even the unrepentant sinner. He hears our prayers, our petitions, and forgives our sins when we feel genuine remorse. In my book, that’s real freedom – knowing that even given my failings, I have a path to salvation and it literally blows my mind because I know how undeserving I am.

CliffHanger on March 13, 2007 at 1:12 PM

I can hear Rosie now…

“Non-theist are as dangerous as moderate Muslims..”

Boy I’m glad I’m a High priest of evangelical druids..

GoodBoy on March 13, 2007 at 1:20 PM

I applaud the civil discourse on this thread. It is amazing that political conservatives can debate a volatile issue such as religion and a belief in a deity without resorting to flaming and foul language. Something I have never witnessed on liberal blogs.

With that said, I think Enrique had a great post.

It is unfortunate that conservatisim in America is inextricably bound up with religion. And also passing strange – I maintain that if Jesus were alive today he would be a complete leftist. Remember, this was a guy that hated the rich.

But when I read about Heather McDonald and how she’s completely gobsmacked that being an American conservative means you must believe in God, it strikes a chord. It’s simply not sensible. There’s nothing particularly intellectual or conservative about believing in this God whose whole schtick is that He won’t prove He exists. And we atheists can’t prove a negative, so it all works out for Him. Convenient.

I always think of conservatism as ideally being pro-individual and pro-freedom – You can’t be pro-individual if you insist that we all must be subjugated to the unknowable will of this God who is so obviously indifferent to humanity. Worshipping God is like being a battered wife: “If I say I’m sorry, He’ll like me. I’m sure he’ll start listening to me one of these days if I just do everything I can to make him happy.” This is sickness.

Oh, and Pete Stark’s an assclown.

Enrique on March 13, 2007 at 11:04 AM

brtex on March 13, 2007 at 1:25 PM

There’s nothing particularly intellectual or conservative about believing in this God whose whole schtick is that He won’t prove He exists.

It really doesn’t matter how much “proof” of anything exists, there will always be people who simply do not find that “proof” persuasive. We still have people who believe the world is flat, people who think the World Trade Center was a government plot, that the moon-landing was faked, that there is a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy! All of this despite “proof” that those things either are, or are not, true.

So this argument doesn’t really carry a lot of weight, it simply boils down not to a God who won’t prove He exists, but to the fact that there is never enough “proof” of anything for some people. (There are even some who do not believe they themselves actually exist, so what are you going to do?)

Personally, I think appearing as a man, walking around, doing miracles, rising from the dead, giving 100% accurate prophecy, etc. are fairly strong indicators that He has given ample “proof” of His existance (not to mention nature as a whole – which He himself says proves His existance).

But, even reasonable people can disagree and do so in a civil manner.

Fatal on March 13, 2007 at 1:54 PM

It seems to me that small-government conservatism (is there any other kind?) is a natural fit for atheism. After all, the big reason so many Christians oppose the teaching of Evolution in schools is that with Evolution, Darwin inadvertantly gave Atheism two things it needed to compete with regular religions: a creation story(evolution itself), and a “god”(blind random chance). If you think about it, free-market capitalism can be viewed as “evolutionary economics,” and other aspects of conservatism and evolution also mesh well, if looked at the right way. Scientific American had an interesting article a few months ago on this subject, btw.

I think that conservative atheists are more comfortable with their atheism as a group compared to liberal atheists. It has long seemed to me that much of the Left’s mentality regarding large government and socialist economics is essentially an attempt to establish Government as God.

As far as how many politicians really believe what they say they believe, it is unfortunately true that when a certain religion becomes the dominant religion in a society, many people will gravitate to it and claim to believe in it solely for the social-political benefits. This is no more true for Christianity than for any other religion. Yassir Arafat and Saddam Hussein both were atheists who outwardly embraced Islam for political purposes, to note two notorious examples.

For the record, I am a “radical-fanatical,” conservative Baptist Christian (who believes in evolution), but I would rather associate with honest atheists and agnostics than CINOs (Christians In Name Only)

Lancer on March 13, 2007 at 1:55 PM

I applaud the civil discourse on this thread.

Faggot.

No, I keed.

saint kansas on March 13, 2007 at 2:10 PM

I applaud the civil discourse on this thread.
Faggot.

No, I keed.

saint kansas on March 13, 2007 at 2:10 PM

Trying to change the course of this thread? You know how that word upsets some. :p

brtex on March 13, 2007 at 2:43 PM

Is this the same Pete Stark that was caught verbally abusing one of his constituents?

Brian on March 13, 2007 at 2:46 PM

Careful saint kansas… round here we use creative euphemisms like “stick bundle” and “John Edwards”, or we get sent to rehab.

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 2:46 PM

Lancer said:

If you think about it, free-market capitalism can be viewed as “evolutionary economics,”

There’s a whole lot of “intelligent design” in free-market capitalism—intelligent beings working with a directed goal of producing money.

Evolutionary economics—not so much. There’s nothing random or mutational about it at all.

jdpaz on March 13, 2007 at 2:50 PM

Anyone ever heard of Ayn Rand and Objectivism? I am a Christian and think it is the only way to run a government.

Valiant on March 13, 2007 at 2:57 PM

We had a discussion on the existance of God on the DU a while ago. It starts a little slow but gets pretty interesting (to me anyway). I was banned a short while later.

jdpaz on March 13, 2007 at 2:59 PM

Haha, AP, you must love these threads, I know I do! I’m a little surprised though, I think us non-theist’s (nice work on the non-polemic verbage;) conservative’s on this board are actually more numerous than I had thought. How cool! Like I’ve said before, the Founding Fathers would be shocked at the present religiosity of America. Most of them were deists/agnostics/atheists, and were nothing even closing resembling GWB or the current Republican party (yes, I still voted for him in 00′ & 04′).

On a different note, I’m currently living in the Netherlands right now and you other non-theists/conservatives out there would be envious, like I am, of the party system the Dutch have. They have at least 6-8 major, major parties represented in “congress” (plus numerous more that aren’t in congress which are abhorrent I might add, e.g. super greenies, commies, and even child molesters. It’s Europe, they’re still crazy alright.) that all have large pull among the populace. Over here there is actually a pretty popular libertarian/pro-individual/small-government party, “the liberal” VVD. It’s funny though, because they often get pushed to the side by the Socialists and the Christian right (sound familiar?), but at least they have a substantial representation in the parliament. They are currently arming a political defensive against the new Christian “centered” government that is brining up legislation that would rollback the current, long-standing Dutch pro-individual Euthanasia and Abortion laws. It shall be interesting…

Anyway, I thought you might find that cool, since I can’t even begin responding to all of the slanderous comments about atheism on this thread;)

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”.
Oliver Wendell Holmes- (1809 – 1894)

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 3:03 PM

Anyone ever heard of Ayn Rand and Objectivism? I am a Christian and think it is the only way to run a government.

Valiant on March 13, 2007 at 2:57 PM

Yes, I am an Objectivist. “A philosophy for life on this earth”- AR.

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 3:07 PM

Valiant on March 13, 2007 at 2:57 PM

Ayn Rand is a touch insane and if we ever had a debate about relativism/objectivism I’d expand. For now I’ll explain my major problems with Rand and why objectivism isn’t a way to run a government. Objectivism is all about the self and what you can do to make yourself happy; a hedonistic Aristotle on steroids if you will. Happiness to the objectivists is relative therefore whatever makes you happy, no matter what it is, is the morally good thing to do. Can you imagine a government run by Objectivists? It’d be the most corrupt oligarchic government to date.

And on top of that, objectivism by nature would not be something to run a government; it’d simply be a lifestyle. She criticizes Kant for being selfless when Kant got the principles of Utilitarianism from John Stewart Mill who Rand practically copied and expanded on. Objectivism isn’t realistic in a practical world.

Oh, P.S. Ayn Rand has a huge beef with Christianity and all organized religion for that matter, hell she has a problem with all organizations.

Nonfactor on March 13, 2007 at 3:16 PM

As a side note, this is only half true. Leftist policy sounds very good on the surface and worked in early Christianity… but the liberal teachings of Jesus obviously assume a belief in God and a fraternal love that ties the community together. Socialism in a community already predisposed to practicing generosity, grace, and a strong work ethic would be perfectly workable.

Yes. The kibbutzim movement in Israel functioned well and produced some of their best thinkers.

aengus on March 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM

…I can’t even begin responding to all of the slanderous comments about atheism on this thread

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 3:03 PM

slander: saying of something false and damaging: the act or offense of saying something false or malicious that damages somebody’s reputation

Who said what that you considered it slander?

Maxx on March 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM

Nothing wrong with being a Deist, like many of our Founding Fathers.

Funny that Deism gets little to no coverage from either the Secularists or Religious ideologues.

Oxybeles on March 13, 2007 at 3:37 PM

Ok… since this has gotten kind of serious…

Zen agnosticism… I do believe there is somthing out there… a power, a universe… somthing… Problem is that it is so vast that we can’t comprehend it.

I have seen justice meeted out in my own life, I’ve seen people get their “just deserts”… I do believe in a form of Karma. I do believe in Good and Evil.

Organized religions are a way to “explain”… but it has to be a dumbed down explanation for the peasent masses… one they can understand.

I have a personal beef with the new version of Christianity out there, as they profess that anyone can be forgiven for anything, just by “asking”… takes the whole idea of Divine Consequence out of the equation. This was not believed by Christianity in the past, so the Church has “evovled”…. now… just how does the TRUTH change? How does the rewritting of philosophy change the truth that a Prophet gave 2000 years ago?

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m glad we no longer have the Inquisition, and see a need for Islam to go through a reformation itself…

But I can’t have “faith” in a “truth” that changes.

Romeo13 on March 13, 2007 at 4:09 PM

I’ve often thought, during this time at HA “this is the best thread, yet”…but then along comes a new one…and the topic is either interesting, annoying, challenging, entertaining, and always delightful and diverse. Most of the time also pretty civilized.

This thread is one of the most interesting. It is seldom that one can have: Plato, Socrates, Machiavelli, Kant, Ayn Rand, Christianity, Objectivism, Zen, Deism, Atheism, Liberalism, Conservatism, and a series of other philosophies and ‘afflictions’ (don’t fight, it’s a tease and self is included) in one thread. And so far no bannings and no major fights. Now that is most intelligent and civilized!

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 5:29 PM

Zen agnosticism… I do believe there is somthing out there… a power, a universe… somthing… Problem is that it is so vast that we can’t comprehend it.

What makes you belief something is out there? Were you taught something was out there? Do you want to believe something is out there? You admit you don’t know what it is, but how do you know it even exists?

I have seen justice meeted out in my own life, I’ve seen people get their “just deserts”… I do believe in a form of Karma. I do believe in Good and Evil.

How do you define justice? Aristotle believed that justice was “treating equals equally and unequals unequally,” (I believe he coined the term “just deserts”–merit).

Is this form of Karma you believe in universal or societal? For example karma in the sense that someone who breaks a law will get punished for it, or karma in the sense that you cheat on your husband and ultimately your soul suffers? And why do you believe this? Because you’ve seen it before and therefore have proof or because you think it should exist?

Organized religions are a way to “explain”… but it has to be a dumbed down explanation for the peasent masses… one they can understand.

I don’t believe religion offers any explanation, explanation requires reason and faith without proof (or blind faith) requires revelation. Religion tells people something, it doesn’t explain something to someone.

I have a personal beef with the new version of Christianity out there, as they profess that anyone can be forgiven for anything, just by “asking”… takes the whole idea of Divine Consequence out of the equation. This was not believed by Christianity in the past, so the Church has “evovled”…. now… just how does the TRUTH change? How does the rewritting of philosophy change the truth that a Prophet gave 2000 years ago?

Romeo13 on March 13, 2007 at 4:09 PM

The same exact question I ask to most all religions.

Nonfactor on March 13, 2007 at 5:32 PM

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”.
Oliver Wendell Holmes- (1809 – 1894)

G. K. Chesterton once said of his friend H. G. Wells: “I think he thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind. Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

John on March 13, 2007 at 5:42 PM

Ayn Rand is a touch insane and if we ever had a debate about relativism/objectivism I’d expand.

Maybe, but she still came up with a gem of reason every now and again:

A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, is to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that he build the furnace, besides.

fusionaddict on March 13, 2007 at 5:43 PM

A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, is to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that he build the furnace, besides.

And here she sounds exactly like Kant. She contradicts herself all the time and then expects every single principle of objectivism to be taken seriously. But she’s still a great writer.

But you want good political science fiction? Read Robert A. Heinlein (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Red Planet, Orphans of the Sky).

Nonfactor on March 13, 2007 at 5:50 PM

Worshipping God is like being a battered wife: “If I say I’m sorry, He’ll like me.

If you say you’re sorry you return to a good marriage. Otherwise, God respects your right to live single and take the hits that fall on all of us alone.

Either way, he likes you plenty.

John on March 13, 2007 at 6:00 PM

I have a personal beef with the new version of Christianity out there, as they profess that anyone can be forgiven for anything, just by “asking”… takes the whole idea of Divine Consequence out of the equation.

I am not sure why that would cause a “personal beef”, but Christianity has always been about forgiveness. Afterall, the forgiveness of our sins is what the founder died for.

I don’t know of very many “new version” Christian churches that teach you can be forgiven anything just by “asking”. People often use the term “ask” as a short-hand version for the concept of repentance – which is what most Christians believe is required in order to have sins forgiven (along with a belief in Jesus as God/Son of God, His death on the cross as payment for our sins and His subsequent resurrection).

That being said however, I do believe most Christians believe that the only sin which cannot be forgiven is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Other than that, yes anything can be forgiven if the believer repents.

The whole idea of Christianity is that, yes there are indeed “Divine Consequences” for sin, but those consequences were visited upon Jesus as he willingly laid down his life in substitution for our own. So “divine consequences” have not been taken out of the equation, they are indeed, very much a part of the Christian equation.

Fatal on March 13, 2007 at 6:17 PM

I miss Ayn Rand, flaws et all, especially since 9/11/01.

I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline, the sky over New York, and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect the buildings with my body – - Ayn Rand

I repeat myself – she was a ‘moral’ lush and politically, who knows what? Objectivism is hard to figure out. However, as a foreigner, she wrote in English like nightingales sing. I found myself going back 2-3 pages, to reread certain paragraphs. I own every single book ever published by/about her.

And she had a never-ending brain. In her 70s she took lessons in physics and she was always a good mathematician. She could also make mincemeat of any Leftie. In spite of some of her strangeness, I adore her. All highly intelligent people are a little ‘crazy’ and who isn’t inconsistent now and then? We need one for these times…

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 6:29 PM

Ayn Rand is a touch insane and if we ever had a debate about relativism/objectivism I’d expand.

Ok, so it’s curious how only five words into your statement, you attack Ayn Rand ad hominem. Not a good way to critically debate ideas.

For now I’ll explain my major problems with Rand and why objectivism isn’t a way to run a government. Objectivism is all about the self and what you can do to make yourself happy; a hedonistic Aristotle on steroids if you will. Happiness to the objectivists is relative therefore whatever makes you happy, no matter what it is, is the morally good thing to do. Can you imagine a government run by Objectivists? It’d be the most corrupt oligarchic government to date.

This is a gross misrepresentation of Objectivist ethics and politics. To be an Egoist, and have a morality of self-interest is to treat other people with just as much respect and dignity as any human being should. Most religious folks and liberals are very threatened by her rejection of “Altruism” and “self-sacrifice”, as a necessity to achieve one’s own happiness, since these are two tenants that directly contradict most religions and Marxist ideologies. In fact Ayn Rand loved people and “man/woman” so much, that in fact, that is who she worshipped. This is another reason why there is usually such a strong reaction against her from any sort of theist. But to say that “happiness is relative” is 100% false and against everything her ethics state (please read Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness). It just pains religious people to think that people can be good, have values, and be happy without any of it deriving from a God. Also, Ayn Rand’s politics are quite simply “laz-a-faire” capitalism. It is not a scary, “hedonistic” government in any such way or form. Government is necessary, in order to protect the individual rights of everybody from any form of force whether it be from a petty robber, a scam artist who illegally gains ownership over another’s money and property under false pretences or by means of force, as well as from foreign governments/countries (e.g. insert Iran, Syria presently, Japan/Germany/Italy/Russia past etc.) that threaten its citizens, etc..

She criticizes Kant for being selfless when Kant got the principles of Utilitarianism from John Stewart Mill who Rand practically copied and expanded on. Objectivism isn’t realistic in a practical world.

This is false. She primarily criticizes Kant for his horrible epistemology. Through his complicated “Principles of Knowledge” he basically denies the fact that man can truly know and understand objective reality, thus giving way to the arch skepticism, that shot the Enlightenment in the arm, and has led to many anti-progress/anti-human life developments in the world ever since. One these manifestations being the extreme liberal/Marxist philosophy which pervades Europe and American university academia today, which we all know and love here (sarcasm on) as moral relativity and multi-culturalism. This is why Kant was so destructive. And to say that she “copied” Mill is crude; not only in the fact that the very nature of the field of philosophy is to build on past knowledge of previous philosophers, thus leading to many philosophies overlapping, but also because her and Mill differ in so many other aspects (e.g. ethics, politics, etc.). Finally, counter to what was said, Objectivism is necessary in a truly moral world which respects human beings as ends and not means. Religion does not do that and neither does Marxism in any shape or form.

Oh, P.S. Ayn Rand has a huge beef with Christianity and all organized religion for that matter, hell she has a problem with all organizations.

Yes she did. She was a devout atheist, just as most philosophers are, just as almost every important scientist has been as well. Not something to be ashamed about or ridiculed for; unless we’d all like to go back to the days of Galileo or the Inquisition of course…

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 6:30 PM

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”.
Oliver Wendell Holmes- (1809 – 1894)
G. K. Chesterton once said of his friend H. G. Wells: “I think he thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind. Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

John on March 13, 2007 at 5:42 PM

Nice. I like it, haha.

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 6:36 PM

Roark, what brings you to the Netherlands? Are you a U.S. citizen or European? I’m European, U.S. citizen, living in San Diego, and loving it :) Only answer if you care to. Great summation on the Rand philosophy. Keep us posted on the local politics and happenings. Regards,

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 6:42 PM

It will fill me with glee if Tancredo is president, and not only for a moment. And if I can’t have him, then Fred Thompson will do nicely.

archon2001 on March 13, 2007 at 9:08 AM

Thompson

Coronagold on March 13, 2007 at 6:46 PM

slander: saying of something false and damaging: the act or offense of saying something false or malicious that damages somebody’s reputation
Who said what that you considered it slander?

Maxx on March 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM

I’d bet you’d be surprised how many atheists believe in Gaia instead of God. Or believe that the earth is a living creature or some such nonsense. Everyone believes in something greater than themselves, whether you give a name to it is really not relevant. Sometimes the belief manifests itself in something simple like UFOs or the illuminati – but it’s part of the human condition to think that there is something bigger/badder out there controlling us.

lorien1973 on March 13, 2007 at 9:43 AM

You’re probably right, Maxx, slander was probably too strong of a word, Thank you for the correction. However, I do have a major problem with that quote above, but will leave it. I don’t have the energy and I need to get off the damn computer, ha!

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 6:49 PM

Roark, what brings you to the Netherlands? Are you a U.S. citizen or European? I’m European, U.S. citizen, living in San Diego, and loving it :) Only answer if you care to. Great summation on the Rand philosophy. Keep us posted on the local politics and happenings. Regards,

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 6:42 PM

Ok, last one (damn you Allah P, you’ve highjacked my night, haha!). Thanks Entelechy, I tried in as few words as possible! I am in fact an American (grew up in the Wyoming and Utah) and am attending graduate school in the Netherlands for my MSc in clinical psych. I love Holland though, it’s a crazy place! I love it for it’s virtues and hate it for its vices though. Where abouts in Europe are you from? I haven’t gotten to everywhere yet with my limited student budget, but I’m working on it (Berlin, Praag, Spain, Milano). By the way, I love SD and was just there (again) in August! I hope to do my doctorate at UCSD, but we’ll see it’s a ways off. But, take care and best.

Roark on March 13, 2007 at 7:03 PM

Roark, good night!!! You did your deed on HA today :)

I’m from Romania/Transylvania-born. Beautiful country, with generous people, corrupt government in communism and after, but now on its way…the EU is helping and the next generation will be much better off.

Good luck with your studies and your European-experiences. Tell us about them, when you can. I work in large hospitals and spend much time at their offices. Looking forward to more of your posts,

Entelechy on March 13, 2007 at 7:12 PM

Leftist policy sounds very good on the surface and worked in early Christianity… but the liberal teachings of Jesus obviously assume a belief in God and a fraternal love that ties the community together. Socialism in a community already predisposed to practicing generosity, grace, and a strong work ethic would be perfectly workable.

Lehosh on March 13, 2007 at 11:15 AM

Lehosh, I am not aware of any of Jesus teachings that could be considered collectivist or socialistic in nature. Nor am I aware of any Leftist policies that surfaced and worked in early Christianity. What would you be referring to?

Maxx on March 13, 2007 at 9:22 PM

Maxx, I’ll take a stab at that question: The apostles DID set up a communal society, where they had all things in common. It worked, I believe, until at least 70 A.D., when the Christians fled to Pella. But Jesus did mention about “selling all that you have” and the famous line about it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

Jesus is right, of course. Communal living is the ideal. The problem is, people aren’t ready for it. Communists, socialists, etc. haven’t ever figured out that the people need to be, for lack of a better word, more holy than they are now. For communal living to work, you have to have 100% committed, selfless, honest, full of integrity, hardworking people. And THAT kind of people is hard to find. People who put others above their own self-interest? Hard to do… so communal living, in todays age, just doesn’t work. Even the apostles knew that, with the cursing and deaths of the couple who tried to cheat the system back then (I am forgetting their names).

Vanceone on March 14, 2007 at 12:21 AM

When I argue with a Christian it is quite rare that he does not link Communism to atheism and then me to Communism by extension. Ignorance? Willful stupidity? Nastiness? Hard to tell. I’m a pro capitalist proletarian. As far as private property rights go, Mr Jesus “Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s” Christ is ideologically far closer to the world of Communist plunder than what classical liberals, anarcho-capitalists, Libertarians, and Objectivists will ever be.

FierceGuppy on March 14, 2007 at 12:59 AM

Vanceone,

It is not so difficult to do the communal living thing in today’s age. People do it all the time.

First and foremost is the family, which is clearly a communal living thing. A loving married couple, a married man and woman, often live communally. In some cases the extended family is also part of this communal living as they help one another in time of need, look in on their elders, on their relatives going through illness or hard times, and so on.

Also, there are communal spiritual settings, such as Ashrams in India and elsewhere, in which a group of people devoted to a teaching and a teacher living in harmony and mutual interest.

William

William2006 on March 14, 2007 at 2:55 AM

Hah, William, you are completely right. But my point remains–communal living requires a healthy, family-like or harmonian style atmosphere. Such can be found in families, and in isolated communities, but until people as a general rule become like that towards everyone, communal living just isn’t practical for society as a whole. Which is sad, really. Would that we could all live that way.

But communism is based, explicitly I believe, on the denial of God–in other words, atheism is a core tenant of most communist societies. The State replaces God, sometimes quite deliberately. And the State is an uncaring beast….

Of course, not all Atheists are communists, and not all communists are Atheists. But communism and fascism both show that it really doesn’t matter what kind of beliefs you have on God–people are capable of pure evil regardless. Conversely, people can do great good, regardless of religious views or lack thereof.

Vanceone on March 14, 2007 at 12:11 PM