11/16/08

Another Atheist Charity – A Huge Success

FYI: this post has been moved here.

26 comments:

  1. "Ultimately, I think that this slogan is based on an atheist myth about theist doing good for motives that are ulterior to for goodness’ sake."

    You have got this backwards. Atheists with a modicum of education know already that we have a biological basis for reciprocity and altruism. We know full well that theists are not actually good because of God, even though they think they are. The MYTH is the one that theists have foisted upon themselves, that it is only by the grace of God that they have the ability to be good. Hence, the slogan is addressing the myth that the theist believes in, not some "atheist myth" as you would have it.

    "And some day they may just get around to helping people in need."

    Oh yeah. Or even build a society with the intrinsic capacity to help many more people in need. Maybe a society that does not suppress potentially life-saving research for religious reasons. Maybe a society that does not add to the misery of the world by bombing it and each other to smithereens. But then without misery, what need for the church.

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  2. Mariano: your plea to atheists, to spend money on actually helping people rather than ad campaigns, would be a great deal more impressive if you would also appeal to Christians to do the same. As I've said before, I don't have any figures, but given the ubiquity of Christian advertising, lots of it a great deal less innocuous than "Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness' sake", it seems a bit unfair to single out atheists for criticism on this score. What are you Christians doing about Benny Hinn and his ilk?

    By the way- my wife and I just played two concerts this weekend, and the proceeds (around €300) are going to the Children of Chernobyl. But I guess I'm still going to Hell when I die. Oh well.

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  3. "It would certainly be refreshing if atheists could figure out how to address their own."

    "This slogan is obviously a jab at theists."

    How assumptive. The slogan is designed to give people a hand hold in which to explore the idea of godlessness. One of the most offensive myths propagated about atheists is that they are amoral. It's not a jab at theists, it's an extended hand to doubters who may not yet identify as atheist.


    "I thought, “Why not believe in a god?”

    “Why not believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”
    "

    The point is because many theists believe that atheists are amoral, and that it is due to the rules and guidance of a god that makes theists morally superior. In the case of Christianity, being good is to earn yourself rewards (heaven) and doing bad invokes punishment (hell) regardless of legality of any given act.

    Atheists (and sociologists) disagree. There are many reasons and benefits to altruistic behavior that don't rely on the religious reward/punishment model. Not doing harm to others is a basis for social stability. Aiding those in trouble encourages others to do the same. The point is: the religiously motivated do good to avoid hell and earn heaven. Atheists have no such carrot, yet can be just as moral.

    (It is often debated that doing good without even a spiritual reward in mind is in fact morally superior to those who believe they are going to be post-mortally rewarded.)


    "And some day they may just get around to helping people in need."

    And when they do, I bet there will be no strings attached. I would guess that there would be no withholding aid from the needy until they converted to atheism, and no rejecting charitable funds from non-atheist sources, regardless of intent.

    And they might perhaps avoid encouraging tribal thinking which leads to discriminatory thinking and hate crimes.

    I wonder when the Christian charities will get on that?

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  4. "What are you Christians doing about Benny Hinn and his ilk?"

    Oh no you di-en't! Zilch!

    I'm constantly frustrated by Christian tolerance of those such as Benny Hinn, T.D Jakes, John Hagee, Peter Popov, Joyce Meyer, Robert Tilton, the list goes on, and on. You hear nary a peep from Christians about these obvious frauds. It seem to me Christians should "clean the inside of the cup" so to speak before they get all riled up about the 10% of people(in their own words) that don't want science destroyed, their children taught that there are invisible supernatural beings floating around, and that If they don't believe in Mariano's God they will be tortured forever.

    (on a side note I actually worked with Paul and Jan Crouch when I was a younger man in Phoenix when they were building channel 21. You know, on of the TV sets with the gold plated chandeliers and the multimillion dollar sound and video stystem.)

    Plus don't get me started on the richest organation on the planet the catholic Church, or the Creation Museum, the Crystal Cathedral, or the failed Heritage USA. In fact what the heck do Christians ever do useful with the HUGE amounts of cash they generate?

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  5. Etchainer;
    Nice to have you aboard. I believe that you are relatively new to the blog and so you make certain fallacious points that have been dealt with variously.
    The issue of claims that atheists are amoral is irrelevant to this post.
    If appeal is being made to atheists why state “Why believe in God?...” since they already do not?
    The issue of rewards and punishment is fallacious, see post here. The bottom line is that you are presuming to read the minds and motivations of Christians and not being skeptical about the motivations of atheists.
    “Not doing harm to others is a basis for social stability.” True, and so is annihilating those with whom you disagree.
    “Aiding those in trouble encourages others to do the same.” True, but you could also let the weak die off so that they no longer nestle at society teat.
    I understand that atheism cannot compete with 2,000 years of Christian charity but making fallacious comments about it does not help any and believe me, this is not a competition and if it was Christians will be glad to loose since it is about helping the needy.


    Scary Jesus;
    You make a great point about the name is and claim it - blab it grab it crowd.
    But just what are you listening to that you do not “hear nary a peep from Christians about these obvious frauds”?
    There are entire ministries virtually devoted to decrying these frauds. I know guys who, God help them, record and watch hours upon hours of TBS, et al, in order to provide such ministries clips of their false doctrines and manipulative practices.
    Books such as “Christianity in Crisis” and “Counterfeit Revival” were huge sellers. If you are watching the Crouch bunch and thinking that that is normative Christianity do what I do, turn the channel.
    I have personally given The Amazing Randi props, as it were, for exposing Peter Popov and wrote about the likes of Benny Hinn
    Sadly, you had to end your comment by astonishingly fallacious pre-Sunday school atheist mythical comments which do quite a job of discrediting themselves.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  6. Alright, props to your friends and you who are concerned about the TBN crowd and the like, really.

    I'm interested in what you mean when you say:

    "Sadly, you had to end your comment by astonishingly fallacious pre-Sunday school atheist mythical comments which do quite a job of discrediting themselves."

    Is it the comment about where the money goes? or is it that I can't "discern" the real Christian from the fake, a lot of people have that problem, even guys in the ministry which I was in sincerely for 13 years. Elaborate if you will, you've got me interested. I know I tend to be a pain in the ass but I assure you I have more than a pre-sunday school understanding of Christianity.

    "But just what are you listening to that you do not “hear nary a peep from Christians about these obvious frauds”?"

    Well this blog for instance.

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  7. mariano "Sadly, you had to end your comment by astonishingly fallacious pre-Sunday school atheist mythical comments which do quite a job of discrediting themselves."

    "Plus don't get me started on the richest organation on the planet the catholic Church(#1), or the Creation Museum(#2), the Crystal Cathedral, or the failed Heritage USA. In fact what the heck do Christians ever do useful with the HUGE amounts of cash they generate?" ~ Scary Jesus

    #1 It's not the richest, but they get theirs. It helps that it's all prophet.
    #2 *Ahem*

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  8. Mariano- good for you for your criticism of Benny Hinn. I still don't see, though, what you find so objectionable about "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake". As I said, Christians outspend atheists probably a hundred to one on advertising, and a lot of it is like that link I posted: hateful and divisive. This AHA ad has a message for everyone: shouldn't true believers be able to ask themselves why they believe in God, and be assured of an answer?

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  9. It simply isn't true that Christians haven't called Benny Hinn and co. out on their many scandalous actions. There are mountains of books that have been written in-house going after these charlatans, so my guess is that you are either trying to be inflammatory or are ignorant of mainstream Christianity.

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  10. Josh "...so my guess is that you are either trying to be inflammatory or are ignorant of mainstream Christianity."
    Who's "mainstream Christianity"? There are so many mainstreams. Catholicism is mainstream to millions and heresy to millions more. Every sect/denomination is its own mainstream. How many suckers have to believe in you before you're mainstream? Does enough to get you a 10 million dollar home make you mainstream? A jet? A TV show? The respect and adoration of millions? Lines around the block to see you live?

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  11. Mariano;

    "The issue of claims that atheists are amoral is irrelevant to this post."

    This point is not irrelevant as much as it is tangential. The purpose of the ad is to alleviate this thinking.


    "If appeal is being made to atheists why state “Why believe in God?...” since they already do not?"

    Because not everyone knows this is an option, or they've been told all sorts of horrible things their whole life about unbelievers or what will happen to them if they give up their faith. There will be people who will see this ad, read the question 'Why believe in God?' and realize they don't have an answer and that's what the point is.

    "The issue of rewards and punishment is fallacious, see post here. The bottom line is that you are presuming to read the minds and motivations of Christians and not being skeptical about the motivations of atheists."

    Again, not irrelevant, if tangential. It's just as important as atheist morality, as it is part of the function of what the ad claims. You also do yourself a disservice in claiming that I am presumptuous about the faithful and unskeptical about atheists, as you are doing the same in reverse. You didn't forget about your 'obvious jab' comment already, did you?


    "“Not doing harm to others is a basis for social stability.” True, and so is annihilating those with whom you disagree."

    Yes, that's true. But when you start seeing christian discrimination you'll have more of a point. The reality is, annihilating your enemies is far messier than simply befriending them -- that point is even made in the Art of War, but you could easily just look at the mess of the Iraq war to see it in action. Insurgents, unending urban violence, constant rebellion. Sure, force will work eventually, but not particularly quickly, and not without substantial cost.

    "“Aiding those in trouble encourages others to do the same.” True, but you could also let the weak die off so that they no longer nestle at society teat."

    That would first require you to define the weak. Frankly, this point make it sound as though you're preparing to accuse every non-believer as endorsing social darwinism.

    "I understand that atheism cannot compete with 2,000 years of Christian charity but making fallacious comments about it does not help any and believe me, this is not a competition and if it was Christians will be glad to loose since it is about helping the needy."

    I ignored it for my initial comment, but here it's obviously being continued -- where did you get the impression that the AHA is a charity? It's not in their mission statement, it's not written about them anywhere I can find. I responded on the front of the superiority of religious charity because I think secular charity is vastly kinder and more honest, particularly with many recent charity bumbles from christian organizations.

    If christian charities were so concerned about helping the needy, then why do so many of the high profile ones proselytize to those they aid before they actually offer the aid?

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  12. well I come back just in time to find Modus has already written what I was going to say. I would add this, inflammatory statements aren't so out of place on this blog. Consider the statement "Atheism is Dead"

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  13. Thank you all for the great questions, comments and point being made.
    I do not mean to butter ya’ll up but with so much adversarial back and forth it is easy to forget that we could all sit down and have a nice cup o’whatever you are drinking as pals—right?!?!?! :o)

    Scary Jesus (and Modusoperandi);
    I apologize since I accidentally created some confusion by stating “end your comment” when I was actually referring to the upper third “science destroyed, their children taught that there are invisible supernatural beings floating around, and that If they don't believe in Mariano's God they will be tortured forever” portion.
    But you, Scary Jesus, have a part in creating confusion as well (and ex nihilo at that) by stating that you are not hearing “a peep from Christians about these obvious frauds” on “this blog.” And you are not likely to since it is nowhere near the purpose of this blog to deal with those frauds. Although, I did refer to that completely ineffectual and pusillanimous pretend friend to animals, Fred Phelps, as “a bottom feeder” in The BOBA Digest.

    Zilch;
    The ad is a non sequitur that is fallacious for the reasons that I indicated in the post.
    I believe that a reaching our own ad would read something like, “You’re already an atheist and you’re not alone so enjoy yourself during this non-faith-specific-time-off-of-work-seasonage”—actually, I’d by that ad for a shekel :o)

    Etchainer;
    Bingo my dear sir, “There will be people who will see this ad, read the question ‘Why believe in God?’ and realize they don't have an answer and that's what the point is.”
    Yes, indeed. Thus, the ad is not about reaching their own but about making converts (if you want to define “their own” as those who do convert, I can dig that).

    On the particular issue of reward/punishment/morality it is a very, very popular but very, very poor argument. Yes, we all tend to play armchair-psychiatric-speculator but with regards to that particular argument it is simply invalid because theists may actually not be motivated by reward/punishment and atheist may be motivated by other than “just be good for goodness’ sake.”

    When I start seeing Christian discrimination? Sir more Christians have been martyred during the last few decades that in the previous 2,000 years. Sorry, if the media is not up on the latest.

    I certainly was not playing the “every non-believer” card. I was trying to make the point that when your personal preference conflicts with mine, you better be the fittest.

    I am not stating that the AHA is a charity but that their ad funding is coming through donations.
    As for the Christian charities who “proselytize to those they aid before they actually offer the aid.” I think that this is a generalization but let us go with it: they are sharing the message that Jesus asked them to share. No one should be surprised when Christians do Christian things. They are attempting to provide material and spiritual goods. You tough guys may not want or need it (although Sam Harris does) but some people need their spirits to be fed as well as their stomachs.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  14. But you, Scary Jesus, have a part in creating confusion as well (and ex nihilo at that) by stating that you are not hearing “a peep from Christians about these obvious frauds” on “this blog.”

    Fair enough, it is true that this blog has expressed disgust toward "these obvious frauds, I stand corrected. I guess I get a little over zealous whenever the topic of Bennt Hinn and his ilk come up.

    Perhaps what I should have said is that I believe that these types of "Christian" frauds, can be more damaging to the cause of Christianity than atheism. And there are a lot of these frauds out there.

    As for this statement:“science destroyed, their children taught that there are invisible supernatural beings floating around, and that If they don't believe in Mariano's God they will be tortured forever” Yes it's expressed in very simplistic terms but I stand by it.

    1. Christians like yourself want to see evoloution taught along side of evolution, and in fact I'd wager in your heart that you'd like to see ID taught alone. This may not seem to you to be destroying science because you think it ID is truth. So in essence you want to undermine science education with your version of "Science" that has been overwhelmingly discredited by our mainstream scientific community.

    2. You certainly want to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit. Hence invisible supernatural beings floating around, ok maybe they don't always float. Plus the Bible speaks of angels and demons interacting with us on this planet. I don't see how you get get around this one. I know you would never phrase it like I did because it makes it sound ridiculous. But it's true nonetheless.

    3. If you don't believe in Jesus as the son of God(as a minimum) you go to hell right? And hell is torture.

    And if you object because I said our "kids" keep in mind that my kids are 26 and 18.

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  15. Mariano- how can an ad that is a question and a suggested answer be either a "nonsequitur" or "fallacious"? It does not claim to follow from anything, and contains no facts to be false. And with all due respect, you are not the judge of whom the ad is aimed at: the AHA is. If you find it offensive, that's fine, although I can't understand why.

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  16. "Yes, indeed. Thus, the ad is not about reaching their own but about making converts."
    Passive conversion, maybe, (Or deconversion, rather) but this is no more offensive or aggressive than a Hindu poster stating "Why not believe in Vishnu?" -- it's not like they're attacking faith.

    "... it is simply invalid because theists may actually not be motivated by reward/punishment and atheist may be motivated by other than “just be good for goodness’ sake.”"
    It's not a claim that theists are only seeking reward and that atheists are entirely morally selfless. It's more of a concern -- there are theists who have admitted that have stated as much as 'atheists are immoral because without god, there is no reason to be moral'. That kind of statement tells us that some theists do not (believe) they have their own internal morality AND they believe that atheists do not have any morality. The first is concerning, the second needs correcting.

    "Sir more Christians have been martyred during the last few decades that in the previous 2,000 years."
    I have a hard time believing this statement. Do you have any sources that indicate there are Christians who have been killed for being unrepentant Christians? Because I haven't heard of that happening since the dark ages, in general.

    There are no anti-christian laws in the west, and I'm sure in most of the world. They are not a minority -- not by any means -- in some of the most powerful countries in the world. How are they being discriminated against?

    "I was trying to make the point that when your personal preference conflicts with mine, you better be the fittest."
    So... you're advocating social darwinism? I'm confused here, honestly.

    "... their ad funding is coming through donations."
    Donations don't mean charity, or even imply it. Take for example people who run online comics via donations -- they're running a service and they're giving it away on the reliance that those who enjoy the service will pay for it after wards to ensure more of it.

    It's a strange business model for any kind of business, non-profit or otherwise, but for something like this it's not particularly strange.

    "...some people need their spirits to be fed as well as their stomachs."
    Please don't feed my spirit religion -- it's allergic.

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  17. Well, I just wanted to comment on this line from etchainer:
    "I have a hard time believing this statement. Do you have any sources that indicate there are Christians who have been killed for being unrepentant Christians? Because I haven't heard of that happening since the dark ages, in general."

    Martyrdom is still alive and well. Just a simple Wikipedia search (here is a link for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_martyrs#Modern_Era.E2.80.9417th_to_21st_centuries) will find that.

    Another good link is a group called Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com) that keeps regular updates on missionaries and believers who are being severely persecuted or martyred for their beliefs.

    So, even though you may not have heard of it happening or don't believe it is happening today doesn't mean it isn't happening.

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  18. I had something lengthy written up, and it got lost. Perhaps that's for the best, I tend to rant, but here is the basics of it again.

    jc1873:
    Looking at that wikipedia article; it's rather barren of a particularly large number of people. Is this what you think of -- dozens of victims a year -- when you think of discrimination and prejudice?

    I looked up a stat on wiki pedia; between 1868 and 1871, there were an estimated 400 lynchings done by the KKK alone. One group, killing 130 people a _year_. While the number of lynching have gone down, I can't speak for racially motivated murders, or hate crimes in a broad sense.

    I tried finding stats for how many gay people have been killed in the last few years for being gay; no such luck. The stats are out there, though, and I bet they put your martyrdom stats to absolute shame.

    The point here is not competition -- who can be the better victim -- but that this is NOT a problem for christians. Christians don't get lynched for being christians. They don't get turned down for work for being christians. They don't get mocked or ridiculed by their peers to the point of suicide for being christian.

    I'm sure christians die every day, but it's not prejudice if they aren't being killed BECAUSE of their affiliation. And when you're talking about missionaries, who often preach percieved blasphemies in hostile areas, often baring food and supplies to those who will swear themselves christian too, or at least listen to preaching, you've got a more complex scenario than being killed for 'just being christian'.

    So if you're going to talk about christians being killed as persecution, then I want you to compare them against racially and sexual orientation motivated murders. See how many people were fired for being exposed as christians and how many have been fired for being gay. See if the problem of 'martyrdom' is really as aggravated as these comments have implied -- because I somehow don't think they're nearly such a problem.

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  19. On the other hand, there are also Christians who have no problem returning the favor, even if it costs the life of children.

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  20. Etchainer;
    Sir, I would recommend that you slow your roll, would you listen to yourself? You absolutely declare that, “Christians don't get lynched…turned down for work…mocked or ridiculed by their peers to the point of suicide for being christian.”
    And you know this how? You know this about every Christian on the planet in every culture in every situation how?

    Here is the e-address for Gospel of Asia info@gfa.org please ask them to inform you as to how they are routinely persecuted, beaten, jailed, made outcasts and murdered. They will present you will a tiny example of what is going on around the world.

    As for the comment “allergic” all I can say is—AMEN brother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Religion is the most malicious scourge to ever be vomited forth from mankind’s sewer.
    I my circles, and many Christian circles, being referred to as religious is tantamount to a put-down. This is due to what the term has come to mean. Yet, interestingly enough the only time that the New Testament gives an approving definition of “religion” it states, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
    I deeply appreciate the fact that atheists are functioning as prophets of God in publically pointing out where “religion” and in particular “the church” is going wrong.

    Scary Jesus;
    We have some unfinished beeswax, let us deal with these issues proper-like.
    Here are the assertions:
    1) “science destroyed”
    2) “children taught that there are invisible supernatural beings floating around”
    3) “If they don't believe in Mariano's God they will be tortured forever”
    Since you are affirming them, please begin by substantiating them and then I will see what I can do.
    We may consider 2) to be prima facie so comment on it if you want but there is no reason to.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  21. adonais: Atheists with a modicum of education know already that we have a biological basis for reciprocity and altruism.

    How do you know it? Reciprocal altruism theory is controversial.

    "... few of the bevaviors suposedly exemplifying human reciprocal altruism involve actions that lower the inlclusive fitness of the donor. It is difficult to see how sharing knowledge and implements Ego's reproductive success. As Moore (1984) notes, sharing of food might not result frm reciprocal altruism, but rahter from selfish motives. Only the care of the physically incompetent and helping in times of danger, when done for unrelated individuals, unambiguously qualify as examples of reciprocal altruism, in that they definitely do have fitness costs for the donor." J. P. Gray - "Primate Sociobiology"

    adonais: We know full well that theists are not actually good because of God, even though they think they are.
    Who, when and how made research on Christians to provide you with that knowledge?

    adonais: he MYTH is the one that theists have foisted upon themselves, that it is only by the grace of God that they have the ability to be good.
    Who made up this myth? You?

    hence, the slogan is addressing the myth that the theist believes in, not some "atheist myth" as you would have it.
    You've got this backwards.

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  22. "How do you know it? Reciprocal altruism theory is controversial."

    Exactly what part of my claim do you think is controversial? That altruism and reciprocity has a biological basis? (if not biological, then what, divine?) It follows from selfish-gene theory, and I don't see anything in the quote you provided that contradicts this or supports your statement.

    "adonais: We know full well that theists are not actually good because of God, even though they think they are.
    Who, when and how made research on Christians to provide you with that knowledge?

    adonais: he MYTH is the one that theists have foisted upon themselves, that it is only by the grace of God that they have the ability to be good.
    Who made up this myth? You?"


    Hardly. Maybe you haven't browsed around so many (American) Christian blogs. You can start with this one, look up the posts by e.g. medicineman, then try www.thinkingchristian.net.

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  23. adonais: Exactly what part of my claim do you think is controversial? That altruism and reciprocity has a biological basis? (if not biological, then what, divine?)

    What's the point in confronting assumptions?

    It follows from selfish-gene theory, and I don't see anything in the quote you provided that contradicts this or supports your statement.

    Maybe you could provide me explanation how exactly lowering fitness and chances for reproduction can be explained in framework of this theory?

    Here's an extreme sample for you: Maksymilian Kolbe, Polish priest offered his life in exchange for life of another prisoner in concetration camp and went for death by starvation. He was described to be like an angel by other men during short period of imprisonment in Auschwitz, because of his goodness.

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  24. I couldn't find at www.thinkingchristian.net claim that it is only by the grace of God that they have the ability to be good. Maybe I'm not good at searching or you were thinking about being saved rather.

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  25. Is there some particular reason that the reply to tremor that I submitted on 11/26 (three days ago) still hasn't been posted?

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  26. "No God, no problem."

    Whether or not it has any appeal to theists, I think it is primarily a reminder and show of unity at a time of year when all are expected to pay lip service to the prevailing mythology.

    Just as early xians were considered troublemakers in Rome because they felt that to observe pagan holidays was sacrilege, atheists need to establish their own boundaries in regards to the supposedly collective rituals (i.e. observation and/or participation in any capacity are strictly optional).

    "When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do." ~ William Blake

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