The Circular Continuum: A Crisis of Faith (or Approach) Among Atheists

mendoza-fig1[1]As this NPR story points out there has been a crisis of faith or approach among Atheists.  A newer group of Atheists are insisting upon aggressively confronting religious ideas, whereas the older group favors working with believers.  Some of the new groups tactics include de-baptizing people with hair dryers, trading pornography for Bibles, as well as holding art exhibits that depict scenes offensive to Christians.

I am reminded of those dorm bull sessions where we talked about “The Circular Continuum”:  The further  tolerant you become, you can lapse over into intolerance of intolerance – as an example.  The new Atheists, I think propose discorse that is as offensive as Fred Phelps styled “Christian-love”.

What do you bloggers think?  I am of the opinion that street theater is seldom entertaining or especially useful.



Filed under Religion

57 responses to “The Circular Continuum: A Crisis of Faith (or Approach) Among Atheists

  1. On a personal basis I have more questions than answers about the subject of faith and religion.

    Agnostic —
    1) a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
    2) a person unwilling to commit to an opinion about something

    Monkeyhawk says he is “a lapsed Agnostic,” and that pretty much describes me to a “T.” I love the way that man uses words! 🙂

    The one part I know how I feel is that a theocracy isn’t the form of government that is best! No matter what belief system is used! I see Christians in America who can’t see a negative to a Christian theocracy. After all, they see Christianity as being superior to any other belief system, and will argue till the day is done that America was founded on Christian principles.

    I disagree! Christianity is one of the many belief systems people should have available when making their personal choice, and always every religion should be separate from government. On this point about separation of state — I will fight. In fact, I can’t think of another that I would fight harder against than this one.

  2. anniethemoose

    I’m an atheist have been for along time. I have never felt the need to shove it down anyone’s throat or belong to an organized group.
    I have to agree with Iggy. No need for the atheists to adapt a holier than thou attitude towards the Christians. It looks like the church is doing a fine destroying itself . Just let nature take it’s course.

  3. I have often thought that atheism requires a faith that God does not exist which compares to zealous faith that He/She does.

    A reluctant agonostic is probably where I fall – on bad days any way.

  4. If those pushing a Christian theocracy keep the details secret long enough, will enough people never understand enough to question? Will the Christian theocracy push baptism at birth or later when you’re old enough to make that decision? Will drinking be outlawed or allowed? Don’t different Christian churches espouse each end of those two questions?

    When we get there will the Christians whose beliefs aren’t chosen by the new government wage a revolution? In the name of their god? Didn’t we do that already?

  5. wicked

    I’m a live and let live person. To me, religion has and always will be a personal thing. Maybe that comes from my Catholic upbringing and stems from my abhorrence of going to confession. Even as a child I never understood why I had to go tell some man hiding behind a screen what bad things I’d done. Once a week? Come on! How many bad things could a seven-year-old do in a week that would result in being sent to Hell? Why couldn’t I just tell God and let Him forgive me? And what was with all the Hail Marys and Our Fathers? Pennance? No, simply rote recitation, especially done by a child, much like reciting the alphabet.

    If I was Christian, I’d be a Deist.

    Okay, rant over. 🙂

    Just call me a Spriritualist. It’s the closest thing I can think of to describe what I believe.

  6. lilacluvr

    I don’t think Deists is a true Christian religion, is it? They don’t believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, do they?

    I think of Deists as being someone who believes in a supreme being (for lack of a better word – nature) and that our world is a very complicated system which had to be designed by some power bigger than man.

    Or is my perception of Deists wrong?

    I was raised in the Baptist denomination and, as I have shared with you in the past, my experiences in that group has been less than satisfactory.

    But what I see today in the Evangelical Christian movement is a group of people hellbent on taking over. Perhaps that is why the new Atheists feel they have to strike back in the same manner?

    As for my own personal religious beliefs – I’ve often said that I did not leave the church, the church left me. In other words, I still believe in God but he is not that God in the sky sitting on some throne waiting to throw people into the fires of Hell for stepping over some imaginary line.

    God, in my opinion, is an energy source that has designed the world and keeps the world going – in spite of man’s constant abuse of pollution, chemicals, etc.

    And, if God permits, the fake Evangelical Christians will get their karma any day now..

  7. anniethemoose

    Religion is illogical.

  8. jammer5

    The fact atheism is on the rise should be a flag to right wing Christians their form of in your face beliefs turn off more people than it converts. It’s a good thing the dark ages are over, because I have every reason to believe the ultra-conservative wing of the Christian right would be more than happy to bring it back.

    My own personal beliefs are God is everywhere BUT in mega quasi-religious cathedrals. They are the antithesis of religion.

    • wicked

      What my best friend remembers about her trip to Mexico when we were in high school was the abounding wealth in the cathedrals, while the people lived in poverty. It turned her completely against Catholicism.

      When I went a year later, we didn’t tour nearly as much. We worked. I remember maybe one cathedral we visited and having grown up in the Catholic church, it didn’t affect me the same way. I guess I was somewhat immune to it.

  9. “The fact atheism is on the rise should be a flag to right wing Christians their form of in your face beliefs turn off more people than it converts.”

    Before hate-filled people began telling me how devoutly Christian and how superior they are to everyone else, I never had questions about God. Their testimony is what turns me away.

    • lilacluvr

      And they would have an answer for you on that – it is your fault you feel that way, not theirs.

      You see, right wing Christians have all the bases covered. They beleive they are the only saved ones that is going to Heaven and even when they sin and get caught with their hands in the till or their pants literally down with someone other than their wife, they are forgiven by God because they are the true children of God.

      But us that dare to question them, we are doomed for eternal damnation in Hell because we are not the ‘saved ones’.

      To be a right-winger, one really has to just let go of any level of educated evaluation and questioning.

  10. “I don’t think Deists is a true Christian religion, is it? They don’t believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, do they?”

    This is my understanding. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist. While he respected the work of Christ as a “philospher”, he did not think he was the son of God. Franklin and other founding fathers followed this religion/philosophy. They thought God created the world and then was no longer a presence – Man had to pull it together by himself. I think I especially like this latter sentiment.

    • lilacluvr

      Do you think this is probably why the Founding Fathers made sure that freedom of religion was a cornerstone in the forming of our country?

      These are the people that saw firsthand in England what damage a national religion could do and so in their own personal belief of God being a supreme being – they saw fit to allow everyone to have their own version of religion?

      I wonder how the Founding Fathers would view today’s Evangelical Christians?

      I’ve read where George Washington was thought to be a Deist also but his wife Martha was a devout Christian and he accompanied her to church faithfully. But when time came for the communion service, it was said that George quietly left the church and did not participate in the communion service.

      So when these Evangelical Christians are boasting that George Washington was a Christian – I seriously have my doubts.

      But try getting anything into their closed minds is like pushing that camel through the eye of the needle their Bible talks about.

  11. I have often wondered if Jefferson lived today, would he even be a Deist? There were far fewer scientific explanations for the universe, etc in the 18th Century. I have often thought that Franklin would embrace scientific explanations over vague religious faith. Just MHO.

    • lilacluvr

      Good point. But then we are always stuck with that age old question – where did the world come from? And which came first – the chicken or the egg?

      • wicked

        Energy caused the Big Bang. That’s one school of thought, anyway.

        Read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons for a fictional glimpse at that theory or similar to it. I doubt the movie explains it as well as the book does.

    • wicked

      Iggy has it right, at least as I read it originally.

      A belief in a God who created, then left his creations to fend for themselves/itself.

      Or from”
      de·ism (dē’ĭz’əm, dā’-)
      n. The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.

      I just can’t believe there’s someone “up there” pulling the strings. The messes we make our ours and ours alone. Miracles? Yes, but I can’t go so far as to say they’re from God…whatever you conceive him, her, or it to be. 🙂

      • lilacluvr

        I believe in miracles but not because they come from some mystical God sitting on some throne deciding to grant us a miracle that day.

        Rather, I believe in miracles when there is positive energy surrounding us and holding us up so we don’t fall. And for that to happen, people need to be supported, nurtured and encouraged.

        I can relate to my own cancer scare – my prognosis was pretty bad. My family, friends, doctor, nurses and co-workers were all sendigng out positive energy and that is what, I believe, pulled me through. Is that a miracle? I don’t know but I did beat the odds and have lived to tell the story.

      • wicked

        lilac, that’s pretty much the way I see it, too.

        My daughter and her hubby met a mom at CMH whose daughter has leukemia. She’d already beat cancer a few years ago, but now is battling again. The mother said she couldn’t understand a God who could strike a child with cancer, heal the child, then turn around and do it again. That’s a WTF moment, to me.

      • Years ago I was part of a team of people ‘patterning’ a 6 year old child. Do you remember — a team of five would move the limbs and head of the person in a crawling pattern. It trained the brain…

        It worked and after months this little girl did learn to walk for the first time at age 8!

        When she was 12 she was diagnosed with bone cancer and lost one of her legs. Always there was hope she could be well enough the worry would be down to fitting her with a prosthetic leg. She spent the last three years of her life with only one leg.

        That was 40 years ago and I can’t forget.

  12. “Do you think this is probably why the Founding Fathers made sure that freedom of religion was a cornerstone in the forming of our country?”

    My reading is that they definitely did not want a national religion like Anglicanism in England, & Catholicism in Italy as examples. Paradoxically, where religion is adopted by the state, participation in religion is relatively lower, than in countries, like ours, which permit religious freedom. I have seen nothing by the founders that indicated they expected that. They instead wished to avoid the tyrany of a state sponsored religion – where those existed in the World in the 18th century – religion had a great influence upon politics/policy, etc.

    There is a conservative meme that the founders proposed a seperation of church and state to protect religion. This may be true, to a degree, but I have not seen evidence of that. Has anyone else?

    • jammer5

      Good point. One has to remember that during those times, many immigrated to this country because of religious restrictions in other countries. I think the founding fathers recognized this, and, in part, included both separation of church and state, and religious freedom in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

  13. Separation of church and state would be a protection for both. And in my opinion not providing that protection would put the state and all religions except the one the state chose in mortal jeopardy.

  14. jammer5

    Even the teachings in the bible say God said after the great flood He would not interfere in the affairs of man anymore. That, to me anyway, leaves out blessing everything form pipe lines to war to the next door neighbors new tree. It seems the religious right is willing to overlook their own bible if it conflicts with what they think of as right.

    One look at the Satan’s book burning in Ashville NC on Halloween, and the works they include, i.e., any bible but the KJV, the books by Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, etc, supports that. Plus the attempt by some to delete any Liberal references in the bible, make the book a joke to the rest of the world.

    By politicizing the bible, they make it non-relevant anymore. Is that something they really want to do; or are they so ignorant, they fail to see that. Either way you look at it, religion is in a serious state of confusion today, and the extreme right is not doing itself any good.

  15. It reminds me of the SouthPark where the differing atheist groups battled over their beliefs. Atheism is itself a religion and there are many adherants who like evangelicals will take a “i am right and you are wrong” position.

    • Zippy

      There are people like Michael Newdow who claim atheism is a religion. There are welcome to their cult.

      But most atheists aren’t going to bashing on your door on a Saturday morning.

      The word simply denotes a lack of belief, so calling it a religion is really weird.

      • “But most atheists aren’t going to bashing on your door on a Saturday morning. ”

        True and neither are most Christians. Personally I don’t mind either’s belief as long as they respect my own.

        One of the dictionary def:

        “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects”

        Although the vast majority do, a higher power or god doesn’t have to be involved for it to be a religion.

  16. lilacluvr

    Today’s Right Wing Evangelicals yell and scream that there is no separation of church and state in our Constitution.

    But when asked if their churches want to start paying taxes, then they accuse us of being anti-Christian??

    These fantatics want their cake and eat it too. They want total access to all that taxpayer money to promote their God and religion but they don’t want to contribute to the money pot.

    To me, separation of church and state is for the good of both entities. And, as our Constitution clearly states, we have the freedom of religion.

    If church and state are to be the same – then exactly whose church/religion will be recognized?

    • Any warning, even any question posed is said to be an attack on Christians and Christianity.

      Reminds me of the book I posted about over the weekend. We can’t be so optimistic and positive that we don’t ask questions, because then it’s just fulfilling the “none so blind as they that will not see.”

      • lilacluvr

        Did you see that Opinion Line posting where someone was asking why the ACLU hates Christians?

        Pardon me but isn’t the ACLU also the group that got Rush Limbaugh’s fat ass out of trouble with his too many pills in the suitcase caper?

        I guess these right wingers just don’t get it that in order for their religion to be safe from harassment and extinction, they need to allow other religions to be just as safe.

        But what is the fun in that open-minded assessment? Then these right-wingers could not play the victim card.

        And good God, Christmas is just around the corner and you know what that means – every right winger worth their Bible salt is going to be whining about being persecuted – yet again.

  17. lilacluvr

    My daughter and her hubby met a mom at CMH whose daughter has leukemia. She’d already beat cancer a few years ago, but now is battling again. The mother said she couldn’t understand a God who could strike a child with cancer, heal the child, then turn around and do it again. That’s a WTF moment, to me.

    Wicked – how sad for this mother. I remember how I got so mad at some well meaning friends when they told me that it was God’s will that my son was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when he was 6 yrs old. I finally snapped back with ‘then God must be a real jerk to pick on a little boy’.

    I got alot of lectures from my mother about my outburst but I still think the same thing – WTF??

    • wicked

      I cringe when I hear the words “God’s will.” Who can believe such bunk? (Sorry to those who believe, but, hey.) It does, however, suit the Old Testament. The vengeful God. Somewhat like Zeus? Oops!

  18. wicked

    Here’s the ranking of religions worldwide.

  19. Buddhism is a religion I would like to know more about. Is it based around love and self improvement?

  20. lilacluvr

    I recall reading somewhere that most of the majority of religions are all rooted in the same basic elements but somehow all these differing denominations splintered off after fighting over the minor details.

    Has anyone else heard this theory?

    I have no problem with anyone’s religion as long as they don’t push it down my throat or try to use their religion as a way to govern my country.

    I think that is why I have such a distaste for the Evangelical Christians – I was in their midst for awhile and I have seen the destruction they can cause all in their name of their God.

    And these people are willing to threaten the very existence of our country’s Constitution by not allowing freedom of religion – even if that means freedom from religion for some. We all have the right to our own beliefs.

    • wicked

      The basis of what Christians call the Golden Rule can be found in all major religions. It’s simply stated differently.

  21. Zippy

    “Trading pornography for bibles”?

    That’s just silly.

    I believe whole-heartedly in confronting stupid ideas, whatever their source (and religion is a gold mine for them).

    But I have no interest in being a jerk, or doing dumb stunts as described.

  22. wicked

    Bookmark this one. It’s worth having at your fingertips when in the midst of a discussion about religion.

  23. Zippy

    P.S. I think I’ve said it before: I am scientifically atheist but mathematically agnostic.

    As a scientific hypothesis, the “God” proposition is really a non-starter for me. I just don’t see any reason to believe such a thing.

    But I do not hold out the same mathematical certainty that one has with a theorem. Just as Bigfoot could someday be discovered, perhaps good evidence of a supreme being will emerge as well.

    I simply maintain it does not exist now.

    I have no issue with those who claim faith–it’s okay to believe in something without proof so long as you realize that’s what you’re doing.

    But some religious people believe faith=fact, and carry that delusion over into other areas of life.

    • lilacluvr

      Amen and Hallejuia (sorry – couldn’t resist).

      • lilacluvr

        BTW – I agree with you on the last statement – that is where the problem comes in. Those people who point to the Bible as their factual reference – are pretty close minded, in my opinion.

    • wicked

      But if it’s so factual, why are some trying to remove some of the facts?

      • jammer5

        Because facts are arbitrary.

      • lilacluvr

        This group is being headed by Phyllis Schafly’s son and they must think they are smarter than God?

        But by their very own actions, they are rewriting the supposed literal Word of God and make it into something mere mortal men wrote.

        If they truly believe in Judgment Day and that vengeful God – I wonder if this group has fireproof shoes?

  24. wicked

    Talk about speaking with forked tongues…

  25. PrairiePond

    I do not believe any kind of supreme “being” exists. I think there are explanations for the how and why the universe was created and exists, but I suspect it is some kind of mathematic system that we humans just dont fully understand. Yet. We learn all the time. The unexplainable is explained every day.

    Note, I didnt not say I KNOW that math is the basis for all existence. I just suspect it because, well, I dont know enough about mathematics to argue it. But I think Einstein was far more able to explain the universe and how it operates than any deity based belief system.

    I think humans have an innate need to have an explanation for that which they dont understand. The simple explanation for everything is that there is a “god”. The truth is harder for humans to discern. We dont know, so we make things up. You should rent the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. I’m not sure of the exact title anymore, but I never saw a better depiction of deity beliefs.

    I agree with annie that religion and deity based belief systems are just not based in logic. But hell, even their adherents will tell you that. It’s not a radical or revolutionary thought.

    I agree with Zippy that stupid ideas need to be confronted whenever they appear. I also dont enjoy being a jerk, but that distinction is given by others and is a perception, not a fact. If I had more time and money, I’d love to be in the face of every believer in the world.

    I used to have a live and let live attitude about the whole thing. I was mildly amused by people who believe some supreme being is in control of things. I felt that such people were harmlessly misguided, and could safely be left to their delusions. Kind of like one regards a child who believes in magic.

    That was all before April of 2005.

    Now? I LOATHE religion, deist beliefs, and frankly, have no respect for any of it. It’s childish, mindless, and the lowest form of animalistic “thinking”. With apologies to animals.

    I hold to the idea that religions and deist beliefs are merely superstitions, but they are deadly and harmful. They are the biggest danger facing the human race, the planet, and life itself.

    I welcome just about every opportunity to actively confront them and stomp them out. Burn ’em down and salt the earth underneath them so they never, EVER grow again. That would be a huge gift to humanity and the planet, not to mention plants and animals as well. The entire world would be better off if everyone gave up their superstitions.

    And no, I do not believe in any kind of life after death. I think when we’re dead, we’re dead. It’s too bad humans cant focus on the life they have, and instead, spend their efforts tormenting other humans, torturing the planet and all its inhabitants, and worshiping the intellectual equivalent of Batman.

  26. I don’t think I would want to stomp out Mother Theresa’s faith, for example. I personally doubt seriously if she ever performed any miracles. But, she did a lot of good for others through her hard work – that I respect.

    I work with a lot of Mennonites in the non-profit organization where I work. I see people among them who are able to do good works because of their faith.

    But, Pond is correct. It is a paradox of human nature, that bewilders me, how something that can lead to good, can be so easily highjacked into leading people to do horrible, awful things.

  27. Street theater in general can be a great tool if used correctly. It can be very entertaining and we need a sense of humor.
    There are times when we must work with Christians on matters of world peace or social justice. Fundamentalists are a lost cause and I don’t mind seeing them mocked. There is a need to defend the rights of Athiests, but not by attacking what good people believe in.