Dan Barker and Neo-Pagan Atheism

Let us just come out with it already and let atheists enjoy their own holiday (aholiday or unholiday?). Seriously, why make them take every religious holiday (actually, just the Christian ones) as an opportunity to bother everyone who is trying to enjoy themselves?

Part 1, Part 2

I am always appreciative of adherents of the positive affirmation of God’s non-existence sect of atheism. We may now add Dan Barker and Anne Nicol Gaylor to the list (founders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the FFRF).

In fact, I am always appreciative of any atheist who positively asserts anything at all rather than merely taking jabs against that which they do not believe and Dan Barker and Anne Nicol Gaylor have given us a lot to work with.

On the first-floor rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol the following message is being displayed:
“At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.There is only our natural world.

Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Let us consider these sentiments:
At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail: atheism neo-paganism religion on display on government property (and yes, I know).
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell: please prove this positive assertion.There is only our natural world: please prove this positive assertion.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds: embarrassingly and grossly generic condemnation, but happy holidays to you too.

I beg your pardon ahead of time for the sarcasm (but truthfulness) of that which follows:

Dan Barker unveiled the message accompanied by the virtually uncontrollably enthusiastic roaring crowd of “about a dozen people.”[1] This is the sad state of our media, “about a dozen people”? Could they not have used satellite imagery to take photos from space run the data through some sort of quantifying thingy and get an accurate count of the crown in question? Could a reporter not count to twelve, or thereabouts? You know what this means do you not? It means about 9 people and they are stating “about a dozen people” to plump it up, might as well say, “A baker’s dozen.”

Dan Barker stated, “Over superstition and faith, we think reason may prevail.” I find such sentiments fascinating coming from the founder of the Barkerian sect of Freethought which only allows “free”thought to occur within very narrow parameters (see Freethought Without Forethought?).

“Religion…hardens hearts”? This is fascinating coming from a man, an organization, which ears their shekels by being full time besmirchers of those with whom they disagree.

Moreover, the FFRF erected a billboard in Madison, Wisconsin that reads, “Reason’s Greetings” “Employing a stained-glass motif with holly.”[2] And in 11 states, billboards stating “Imagine No Religion.”[3] They posted another that reads, “Beware of Dogma.”
Imagine no religion? I do not have to; I just have to read the history of the last century. Of course, “Annie Laurie Gaylor, said the billboard is meant to encourage a debate about religion by evoking lyrics from a John Lennon song.”[4] Indeed, but this atheist anthem is not about encourage a debate but is a call to conversion that concludes that “the world will live as one” only once we all “Imagine there's no heaven…No hell…no religion” and then only if “you'll join us.” You mean we will get along when we all agree on everything, great!
In Southern California the “Imagine No Religion” billboard has been taken down. And, uuuuummmm, ok, well, for whatever it is worth, “In September, the city asked another billboard firm to take down a vagina rejuvenation procedure.”[5] Annie Laurie Gaylor “says the city shouldn't be censoring speech.”[6] This is fascinating coming from a woman who earns her shekels by encouraging the restriction of free speech.
Although, “The city's redevelopment director, Linda Daniels, said the city did not demand General Outdoor take down the sign, ‘but they respected the concerns of residents.’”[7]

Dan Barker has brilliantly elucidated the fact that “Christians don't own the month of December.”[8]
Yes, I noticed that during December celebrations are held for Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus and miscellaneous. I was wondering why those “CEO of December Inc.” royalty check were not coming in.

Anne Nicol Gaylor chimed in with “We nonbelievers don’t mind sharing the season with Christians.”[9]
And that is just the point, the holidays are shared with each wishing each other a merry/happy what′have′you. We do not put up holiday displays that condemn the overwhelming majority of the people on the planet. If someone wishes you a fill in the blank with a holiday that you do not observe just say, “Thanks, you too” and move on with your life, maaaaaaaan. If Christmas is overrepresented in the USA it is because, try to follow this train of logic, the majority of the USA are Christians.

I prefer this sentiment:

But why not take the Reason’s Greetings billboard and replace the slogan with other statements made by Dan Barker:

[1] The Olympian, Atheist sign, Christmas tree installed at Capitol
[2] FFRF, FFRF Solstice Message Returns to Wisconsin Capitol for 13th Year!
[3] FFRF, Freethinking Winter Solstice Sign & Billboard To go up in Olympia!
[4] The Associated Press, Religion news in brief
[5] The Associated Press, SoCal's atheist billboard taken down
[6] The Associated Press, SoCal's atheist billboard taken down
[7] The Associated Press,Religion news in brief
[8] FFRF, Freethinking Winter Solstice Sign & Billboard To go up in Olympia!
[9] FFRF, Freethinking Winter Solstice Sign & Billboard To go up in Olympia!


  1. d Happy upcoming Newtonmas to you, too!

  2. Bitch, Bitch, Bitch. I promise you that most atheists do not care, in the slightest, if and how you celebrate christmas. The only time this becomes an issue is in the case of state sponsored religious speech. Such as a nativity scene at the Wisconsin State Capital. You just happened to leave this part out of your story. I wonder why? I'll tell you why. It busts your whole argument.

    It shows that the atheists who put up this sign aren't trying to ruin your religious holiday, but simply reacting to, and showing the problem with, state sponsored religious displays. If the state allows one kind of religious display, it must allow them all, even speech that rejects religion. This is guaranteed to us by the First Amendment. Even you can agree with this.

    The solution would be to keep the government neutral in regards to religion. But for some reason, you think this is an attack on YOUR free speech. Very very odd and quite hypocritical.

    Next time, don't to be so intellectually dishonest and tell the whole story.

  3. Gosh, for 200 years, this country didn't have a problem with these so-called "state sponsored religious displays." (Hey, which part of the Constitution mentions that? I know there's a part about the government not establishing by law any one religion, but only ignorant, intolerant jerks who don't understand what "establishment by law" means think that applies to things like Christmas nativity displays.) Now all of a sudden the very fabric of our great nation is threatened by them. These clowns act as if these things don't stop today, we'll be living in a theocracy tomorrow. They are intolerant, hateful, paranoid nitwits.

  4. So, if an unconstitutional and discriminatory action has a long history then it is ok? Injustice is injustice no matter how long endured.
    Christians have enjoyed their privileged position for such a long time that they think treating others as second class is their right. Actually, that is not the case, the sense of privilege is so ingrained that they are unaware of how badly they are behaving until someone like Dan Barker rubs their nose in it - and even then the message is lost on many.

  5. "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell: please prove this positive assertion."

    These assertions are expressed in simple plain English and, as such, they should not be treated in the same way as philosophical assertion. In plain English it is totally acceptable to dispense with all of the caveats, weasel words and circumlocutions needed to make the statements absolutely true in a logically rigorous manner. The "proof" of the assertions about the supernatural is the same as the "proof" for the assertion that there are no space aliens flying around in saucers kidnapping people to give them anal probes.

  6. The first line of the sign is okay. The rest is awful and unchristmasy. FRFF needs a poet.
    Better, the State needs none of these displays. None. Zero. This will happen, quickly and with a minimum of fuss (except for the initial, very loud outburst of fuss) once the Satanists request and eventually receive permission for their own display. Failing that, "the gays" will get their own Special Revelation from a fabulous pink god, they'll request room for an equally fabulous pink display, etc. These solutions will also trickle down to the Ten Commandments displays that occasionally pop up on courthouse steps (except for that one where they managed to spell "adultery" wrong).

  7. Like it or not, most if not all of the "holidays" celebrated by christians were originally celebratory occasions from pagan religions or associated cultures. It appears fairly likely the entire "Christmas" extravaganza is a complete fabrication - no immaculate conception, no manger, no three wisemen, no messiah - certainly not in December.

    At any rate, if the theists hope for an end to "atheism", it will come when they cease branding those who don't believe as they do as "atheists". The term says nothing of who I am, only who I am not. It is term needed by theists and theists alone. If they want rid of it, they should stop using it.

    I am a man, a product of nature. I have faith in myself and myself above all and anyone else. If you want to know what I call myself, ask.

  8. jdhuey;
    Thanks for he comment but from whence did you derive your interpretation?


  9. ...from whence did you derive your interpretation?

    I'm not entirely clear about what you are asking me here. If you are asking me if I got this 'interpretation' from the FFRF, then no, I didn't. They may or may not have explicitly stated what I wrote - I don't know.

    If you are asking me about the English usage aspect, then I got that from my English teachers when they were trying to get me write simple clear sentences.

    If you are wanting more of the context of my statement, well, there is vast amount of discussion in the various atheist communities about making these type of simple unqualified declarative statements. Dawkins devotes a few pages to this topic in _The God Delusion_. It was also a topic of discussion wrt the wording of the bus advertisement campaign - many felt that using the word 'probably', while accurate, weakened the impact of the ad.

  10. Isn't it Annie Laurie Gaylor?

    I agree with a lot of this, though.

  11. Somehow ran across this. Very funny stuff. It was linked to me from antother Christmas article and I can't help wonder if the author is the same.


    I think you would agree that a magical, invisible 50 foot tall monkey doesn't live on your shoulders, but you can't prove it.

    I, as everyone does with at least 99.99999999% of things, believe only that which CAN BE PROVEN, not just in things I can't disprove. That would be foolish as I would have an infinite number of beliefs. I would believe in every logical thing. From 12 foot tall cockroaches that tap dance, to microscopic marching bands.

    You can't prove those things don't exists, but that's not a reason to believe in them is it.

    If some random guy put up a sign that said. "There are no invisible flying whales", you would be inclined to agree. But when that is changed to "there are no angels", you don't.

    Seems like you are dealing with quite a mighty double standard here. Appy the same skepticism that you use in every day life to religion and you might learn a thing or two about the real world.