Anglican Samizdat

January 28, 2010

Atheists against postage stamps

Filed under: Atheism — David @ 4:54 pm
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Atheists are running out of things to complain about:

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp — and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the “darker side” of Mother Teresa.

Atheists are keen to present the appearance of being better people than Christians; perhaps they feel they can’t compete with Mother Teresa and having her photo on a stamp will make them look really bad; poor dears:

He said the Foundation’s campaign stems from concern that the abundance of humanitarian work done by believers will overshadow that done by atheists.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation informs us:

The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion. In modern times the first to speak out for prison reform, for humane treatment of the mentally ill, for abolition of capital punishment, for women’s right to vote, for death with dignity for the terminally ill, and for the right to choose contraception, sterilization and abortion have been freethinkers, just as they were the first to call for an end to slavery.

This curious concoction of meaningless pap is heartening, in that it reinforces my conviction that those who like to trumpet their freedom from religion are themselves slaves to ignorance and irrationality.

What we really need is a Freedom From Illogical Atheism Foundation.

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19 Comments

  1. What you’ve failed to address is the very real fact that Mother Theresa’s placement on the postage stamp actually DOES violate postal regulations–or I guess this is just another one of those circumstances where the rules have to take a back seat to religious “tolerance”.

    Comment by John Gault — January 28, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

  2. Hey, you’ve got the same layout on your blog. One of us will have to change.

    Comment by David — January 28, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

  3. I imagine there’s a good chance that Mother Theresa never would have wanted her face on a stamp anyway. We all know that few atheists would agitate for the upholding of laws and regulations that they disagree with, but John has a point regardless. Lack of consistency on one side does not justify it on the other.

    Comment by Warren — January 28, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

  4. “What we really need is a Freedom From Illogical Atheism Foundation” – absolutely! What we need – seriously, and urgently – is an organisation whose sole job is to counteract the lies and rubbish put out by the materialists. The efforts of individual Christian bloggers are of course important, but now it should be done, and financed, by a major church or suchlike.

    Comment by John Thomas — January 29, 2010 @ 7:00 am

  5. John (#4), there are already a number of apologetic ministries. Good arguments are being made, but more than just a human effort is needed for them to change hearts. You may rationally argue someone away from an atheistic position, but that doesn’t mean they are any closer to accepting Christ as Lord.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 8:19 am

  6. Apologetics is fighting a losing battle. Take a look at the numbers. There are 250 million adults in the U.S. Of those, roughly 78% classify themselves as Christian. That’s 195 million. Atheists and agnostics are roughly 16%. That’s about 40 million. 90% of those atheists and agnostics belong to no organized atheist groups. The vast majority of Christians, however, belong to Christian organizations–churches, ministries, etc. So, Christians VASTLY outnumber atheists and are FAR more organized. Yet, with all those advantages, year after year, in poll after poll, Christians are losing “market share” and atheists are consistently the fastest growing segment of the American population. Why? Because as science learns more and more about the universe, and as the population gets better and better access to that information through outlets such as the internet, it becomes more and more obvious how futile the efforts of the apologists have become. Even school age children are educated enough now to recognize the intellectual dishonesty of attempting to make the world as we know it fit into the narrow, inconsistent, scientifically preposterous narrative of the Bible. People in today’s world hear stories of women being created from ribs, boats carrying millions of animals, men coming back from the dead, and celestial wars being fought for the causes of good and evil, and realize that no amount of rhetorical or philosophical contortionism can make those stories fit what they KNOW to be true about the world. That is the mission of apologetics–finding new and inventive ways to make people forget what they know and embrace what they’re told. Unfortunately, knowledge and rationality are genies which, once released, can never be put back in the bottle. Despite overwhelming majorities, you will see that Christian percentage continue to drop over the next two or three generations–until Christianity is relegated to the shelves with Baal, Zeus, and the hundreds of other dominant world religions which came before it as the myth and legend of a less informed past.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 9:45 am

  7. John G (#6), I think you will find this statistical analysis more revealing (and accurate) than the source you used. The rest of what you say just bores me. The number of true believers in the US – those for whom their faith is life changing – is doubtlessly much less than 78%. I’m sure that true Christians have always been in the minority since the days of the early church. Doubtlessly the Romans in the first century didn’t expect thta the “strange sect” that grew out of Judaism would ever amount to anything; and people have been making predictions like yours ever since. Apologists aren’t losing anything. The only losers are those who refuse to hear their message and who continue in their idolatry and rebellion aginst God.

    You’re also a bit out of touch with our post-modern society. Most people have little more faith in science to provide answers to the truly perplexing problems that plague mankind than in Christianity. People will put their faith in all kinds of things, but I think you would be a fool to expect the number of atheists to increase significantly.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  8. Like most religious responses to atheistic criticism, you are long on rhetoric and short on facts. You do know that just because you say something doesn’t make it true, right? “Most people have little more faith in science to provide answers to the truly perplexing problems that plague mankind than in Christianity”? Really? I’d like to see you prove that statement.

    As far as the rest of your response goes, you’re wrong on most counts. Since the days of the Romans, Christianity has steadily grown in popularity–until the last hundred years. Now, Christianity’s market share of the world’s faithful shrinks year after year after year–as has the share of all the other major world religions. Atheists and agnostics are the only group which has grown in percentage. People are opening their eyes. All the previous predictions of Christianity’s death have simply been a fight between one imaginary deity over another. Today’s Christian dilemma is competition from another, more formidable force–knowledge.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

  9. In #8, John G said:

    As far as the rest of your response goes, you’re wrong on most counts. Since the days of the Romans, Christianity has steadily grown in popularity–until the last hundred years.

    I made no comment on the growth of Christianity, but, since you brought it up, I would say that its growth in the first few centuries was quite amazing and unequalled by any other religion in the history of mankind.

    Although the term “rhetoric” has several meanings, most of which are positive, am I right in assuming you are attaching this meaning to it: insincere or grandiloquent language?

    Please show me where I was “insincere” or used “grandiloquent language” in #7. Otherwise, I guess you’re guilty of what you are accusing me of.

    Can I prove my assertion about post-modern thinking? No. But there are some well regarded thinkers – people much smarter than I – who would concur. Can you prove your counter statement? No. But you could probably point to some well regarded people too. So, where does that leave us? With rhetoric?

    Stalin may have thought like you do in terms of the “inevitable” death of Christianity (and wasn’t hesitant to speed its demise in a brutal fashion). If it is possible to eradicate Christianity, he should have succeeded. I am in interested in your explanation of what happened in the Soviet Union – an unapologetically atheistic regime – as seen through the lens of your world view.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

  10. By rhetoric, I simply meant that while what you said was eloquent and well-spoken, very little of it was true or even verifiable as true or false. You painted Christianity as the scrappy underdog that has grown in popularity but still faces the challenge of being the persecuted minority. Your quote was “Christians have always been in the minority since the days of the early church.” Christians haven’t been the minority for a very, very long time. You then painted the world as populated with people who are disheartened with the terrible inadequacy of science and that most people “have little more faith in science to provide answers to the truly perplexing problems that plague mankind than in Christianity”. Obviously, this isn’t true. When most people get cancer, they go to a doctor, not a priest. When most people want to learn about atomic structure, they consult a scientist, not a minister. Most people rely on science day in and day out to provide them with the “perplexing answers”, only relying on religion to step in and provide comfort in those few instances where science has yet to triumph (in walks religion’s trump card, The Big Bang). You paint a picture that is very favorable to your point of view, and you paint it very well. The problem is that it is not the world that we live in.

    As far as the Soviet Union goes, I’m not sure what you want me to comment on. The GOVERNMENT of the Soviet Union was officially atheist for about ten years–late twenties and early thirties, I believe. That says nothing about the people–only the institution of government. After that, the Soviet Union officially had freedom of religion just as we do in the U.S.–although the government still remained secular. Of course Stalin couldn’t kill Christianity. Tell a child that they can’t have cookies and the one thing he will want more than anything in the world is cookies. Tell a population that they can’t worship God, and churches will fill to the rafters. It’s human nature. No one can kill god-worship. It will simply kill itself as the gaps in science become narrower and narrower until there is nowhere left for your God to live.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

  11. John G (#10), you seem to assume that everyone who self identifies as a “Christian” really is one (in a biblical sense) and base your comments on that assumption. I believe that the majority of those who have self identified as Christians throughout the history of the church never experienced a true conversion. Of course, only God knows the heart.

    After that, the Soviet Union officially had freedom of religion just as we do in the U.S.–although the government still remained secular.

    Regardless of the official stance of the government, Christians continued to be heavily persecuted and believers did not experience freedom of religion. To suggest otherwise (and I’m not saying that you are) is akin to denying the holocaust. Generations of Soviet school children were taught that belief in God was a scientific absurdity, but apparently many remained unconvinced of the “formidableness” (is that a word) of knowledge to demolish belief in God.

    Tell a population that they can’t worship God, and churches will fill to the rafters. It’s human nature.

    This is a most interesting statement coming from an atheist. I disagree with it, but, as an atheist, I’m very curious as to how you reached such a conclusion – consistent with atheistic theories on how humans evolved and gained consciousness.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

  12. I don’t believe that there’s anything inconsistent with my statement and the belief in evolution. First, religion has served an evolutionary purpose. Belief in one god or another has, througout the ages, given human beings the confidence to reach beyond their grasp. Human beings are not particularly strong. They’re not particularly fast. The don’t swim very well and they can’t fly. Physically, they are pretty inferior to most every other animal on earth. The two qualities that have allowed human beings to advance beyond their animal contemporaries are the ability to place intelligence over emotion, and the ability to cooperate. Religion has served both of these purposes. It gave human beings the ability to stifle their fear of a universe they didn’t understand by “explaining” it with the gods of myth and legend. It also gave human beings the ability to believe that, despite their physical shortcomings, they would be protected from the big, bad world by their sky-father. With fear minimized, intellect is free to expand the human experience. Religion also gave people common ground from which to cooperate as a community. We may be different in every way, but God made us all so we can cooperate to slay the wooly mammoth–you get the picture. So the existence of religion doesn’t violate the tennets of evolution. Now, when I said that denying a people the permission to worship God will fill the churches to the rafters, I was again speaking of simple human nature. Evolution has programmed us to be a very ambitious species. Part of that ambition manifests itself in an inherent desire to have that which we have been told we can not have. Prohibition drove an increased demand for alcohol. The same concept applies to an atheistic regime. If you prohibit a population from doing ANYTHING, you virtually gurantee that their will always be a devout number of people who want nothing more than to do that thing. In the Soviet Union, that thing was religion.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  13. John G (#12) your theory sounds reasonable at first glance, but, I’m not convinced that it would stand up long to rigorous examanation; the sort of examination that should be welcomed by someone who asserts that it is science and knowledge that will deliver the knock-out punch to Christianity. Without putting any real thought into it, I could see where your line of thinking could give a possible explanation for the development of some of the early religions that worshipped many gods. I think it falls flat on its face, however, in trying to explain the monotheistic religion of the early Hebrews, and is no more convincing in terms of why someone would adhere to biblical Christianity if there are is supernatural elment at play. I believe that Paul was spot on when he said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (I Corinthians 15:19)

    . . . I was again speaking of simple human nature. Evolution has programmed us to be a very ambitious species. Part of that ambition manifests itself in an inherent desire to have that which we have been told we can not have.

    Let me quote something you said in #8:

    Really? I’d like to see you prove that statement.

    I’m always amused at how much faith atheists exhibit.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  14. The statement in #13 that says:

    . . . why someone would adhere to biblical Christianity if there are is supernatural elment at play.

    should say:

    . . . why someone would adhere to biblical Christianity if there is no supernatural elment at play.

    Sorry.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  15. Tou che’…To be fair though, when I chastised you for your unprovable assertion, it was in reference to something that is counterintuitive, namely, the idea that people trust science no more than religion to answer their questions about the world. That claim requires proof because it is so opposed to the observable world (my examples were made above). My unprovable statement, however, was that people are ambitious and inherently want what they can not have. Surely, you’ve seen this demonstrated in the world. I think the biblical term for it is “coveting”. Isn’t there a rule against that somewhere in your book? I don’t think there would be a rule against it if people weren’t prone to do it.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  16. Sorry, I forgot to address your other point. I asserted that religion servED an evolutionary purpose (past tense). The reason why it persists is the same reason that I, as a man, have nipples. It is a useless evolutionary holdover from an earlier age and will, I believe, evolve out of our species as it is now a detriment to our advancement as a species instead of the advantage it once was–nipples are a neutral so they get to stay.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

  17. Surely, you’ve seen this demonstrated in the world. I think the biblical term for it is “coveting”. Isn’t there a rule against that somewhere in your book?

    I’ve never before heard the term “covet” applied in this context. I think people covet things they believe will bring them pleasure. In many parts of the world, belief leads to persecution and pain. Despite the claims of health and prosperity made by some so-called Christian leaders, the Bible does not promise followers of Christ wealth and success as viewed by the world. Following Christ will often lead to rejection and derision – even from members of one’s own family. It may lead to loss of possessions and even death.

    I think we can both agree that we are unlikely to persuade the other to change their position, so I’m going to leave this battlefield (you can say you win if you want). I have, however, enjoyed our dialogue and respect the tone you have brought to the discussion. Although regimes that embraced atheistic ideologies were responsible for some horrific crimes against humanity in the 20th century, I bear no ill will towards individual atheists. Some who claim to be Christians have much to account for as well (although I would argue that they were acting contrary to what the Bible teaches). I believe that many atheists are closer to God than are the mass of people who don’t even think about what they believe and make materialism their god. Ultimately, it is not my job to convince you of the truth contained in God’s Word or of the saving power of Jesus Christ. If the hound of heaven wants you on his team, that’s where you’ll end up.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  18. Thanks for the debate…We’ll call it a stalemate. :)

    Drop by anytime @ http://www.gaultsgulch.wordpress.com

    I’m sure there are plenty of other things we can argue about.

    Comment by John Gault — January 29, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  19. I have your blog bookmarked.

    Comment by Warren — January 29, 2010 @ 6:16 pm


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