More death threats from religious folks

Perhaps some atheists have issued death threats against religious people, but I don’t know of any, and, at any rate, they must be much rarer than those aimed in the opposite direction.

Yesterday Blair Scott, communications director for American Atheists, was on the FOX News show America Live with Megyn Kelly. You can see the show here; sadly, I can’t watch it in Russia.

As soon as Scott returned home after the show, his inbox began filling up with hate mail and threats.  Equally distressing, the Fox News Facebook page was soon inundated with death threats aimed at Scott and atheists in general, comments that are being taken down rapidly (see the report by William Hamby in the Atlanta Examiner).

The American Atheists web page has put up some screenshots of those comments posted on the Fox FB site.  Here are the words of some loving Christians, with their real names:

So much for the beneficence and love of the faithful!  And all for the crime of not sharing their superstitions! Now I’m not saying that these are serious threats, presaging murder, but I bet if these folks were given guns, and the law were suspended for one day . . .

h/t: Diane G

184 Comments

  1. Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    This is the sort thing that makes me wish I could go on a one-way Mars mission! And chances are that these religious extremists are too anti-science to figure out how to go to Mars to get at me!

    • Jack van Beverningk
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      I’d probably favor a one-way Mars mission for the religious extremists.
      I like my Sunshine State weather too much.

      • Jack van Beverningk
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Oh, just to be sure: I was referring to a peaceful, fun, happy and entirely pleasant trip of course.

  2. Jemster
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    And people wonder why I don’t associate myself with any organized religion.

  3. Tulse
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Remember, kids: absolute morality has no grounding without God!

    • ckitching
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Oh, they may be behaving very badly now indeed, but imagine how worse they would be WITHOUT God!

  4. Brian Ingram
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Religion was a motivator for 9/11 — keep the monument secular.

    • Kharamatha
      Posted July 31, 2011 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      I don’t know. A religious symbol serves as exquisite mockery.

  5. E.A. Blair
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    “…sadly, I can’t watch it in Russia.”

    Count yourself lucky.

    • Invigilator
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Yeah, well, the Bolsheviks killed a whole bunch of priests, so there!

      (No, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to prove, but it seems like something someone would say, seeing Jerry’s in Russia — where, by the way, every sleazebag Russian politician is back in the arms of the mother church.)

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        I don’t know what it should prove, either, since all I was trying to say is that a lot of us would like to spend some time in a place that doesn’t have Fux News. To paraphrase Bugs Bunny, “That’s the problem with some atheists. A little levity and they fly apart.” (From Hair-Raising Hare

        • Dave Ricks
          Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          “Those who cannot remember the cartoons are condemned to repeat them.” (to paraphrase George Santayana)

  6. Egbert
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    May I just say that I have seen similarly disturbing comments from atheists, although usually applied to religious criminals but not always.

    Some people seem to think that it’s naturally right to want awful people killed and tortured for their pleasure, and it’s a very common sentiment, but it is still disturbing. Are we not supposed to promote a more enlightened form of justice?

    I think perhaps Christians equate atheists with criminals, and in their twisted minds, then proceed to push forth their draconian idea of justice.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      You may, but may I respond with how tiresome it is to see claims that “atheists is equally bad” without ever see any evidence!?

      We never see actual statistics, not even as here one robust observation. The best we get is anecdote, sometimes fabricated (accommodationists), sometimes unsubstantiated (threatening or otherwise unjust behavior against atheist women).

      Which category of anecdote should we sort yours under, I wonder?

      • Egbert
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Let’s just be clear–are you saying that atheists never write irrational, hateful comments on blogs, or post death-threats?

        Are you also suggesting that atheists are better people than theists?

        And when such posts are deleted by moderators, isn’t it a bit silly to ask for evidence?

        • MosesZD
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          In other words, you make up shit and cite the moderator fairy…

        • ckitching
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          No.
          No.
          No. Given how little is censored at Pharyngula, you ought to be able to find at least ONE example over there. I’d bet that if you did, you’d also find a half dozen people shouting them down for being such an idiot.

          • Egbert
            Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            See comment 13 on this board.

            • Egbert
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

              And comment 19

              • TheBear
                Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                Which of the two are you Egbert: Dishonest or stupid?

              • Dominic
                Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                Thank you Egbert – I have replied to your views which seem (SEEM) to imply that my admittedly somewhat flippant statement can be classified as “irrational, hateful comments”.
                Now I shall turn the other cheek.

              • satan augustine
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

                So those comments are on par with death threats in your mind?

            • Tyro
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

              So on the one hand we have a long list of Christians saying “kill them”, “shoot them” and variations on that theme.

              On the other hand, we have atheists saying these Christians are evil or morons.

              And you are seriously presenting these as somehow equivalent?

              You aren’t as much of a moron as someone posting death threats but damn, that is still very stupid. At best. Because let’s face it, you’re also excusing death threats. If I called you both evil and a moron, I don’t think I’d be far off the mark. (Oooh, that’s what the people in your examples did! That means I must be just as bad as the Christians too, right?)

              • Egbert
                Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

                Um, unless people can discuss with me without the insults, I won’t be replying to their posts.

            • ckitching
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

              Frankly, I’m still not seeing anyone advocate for the murder (or mass murder) of Christians in either of these. No one has said “i say kill them all and let them see for themselves that there is no god”, or expressed a desire to shoot Christians “IN THE HEAD WITH A 12GAUGE”, or even that “someone rapes” them.

              I already said the answer to your first two questions was no, so I don’t know what pointing out comment 13 and 19 was supposed to prove. Atheists sometimes say stupid, hyperbolic things? Yeah, of course they do. We’re human like everyone else!

              Wake me when someone suggests violence. I’ll happily denounce them, and suggest contacting the authorities.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          “are you saying that atheists never write irrational, hateful comments on blogs, or post death-threats?”

          Why would that be impossible despite a lack of verifiable evidence?

          And why would you suggest an even more untestable scenario, in effect making a conspiracy theory out of the subject?

          [I I was saying something on the matter of incidents of bad behavior I would say:

          - That I would expect atheists/skeptics to behave as the general population.

          - That I would not expect them to behave in such a bigoted fashion as religious can behave against other groups, or towards women especially.

          And that if we get evidence of bad behavior I would like to take the opportunity to use the evidence to minimize the phenomena. Leading atheists would likely be intelligent, as their occupations suggest, and intelligence correlates AFAIK with less behavioral problems. So I would expect that we could do progress in such an area.

          Thus it is doubly galling that there seems to be no such evidence.]

    • MosesZD
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Put on proof or shut up. Because this bullshit false-equivalency gets tiresome.

      • Egbert
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Comment 13 “Religious people are so evil.” By someone called Joanna is an example.

        Let’s change the context “Non-religious people are so evil.” to see how conformation bias works works with atheists as much as theists.

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          Oha, come on, Egbert. There’s a world between claiming some folks are evil and expressing a wish to kill them!

          /@

        • Dominic
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          Sorry ‘someone called Egbert’, I do not wish to put words into Joanna’s mouth but it seems to me that this was not some vicious attack on all people who are religious. A friend of mine recently interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury & said he was a charming & lovely person. (Williams is a Dostoevsky fan & studied Russian by the way). I am quite happy to believe her & when I have heard him speak he comes across as a very nice human being, regardless of what his religious views are. I find it difficult to believe that were he an atheist he would be any less nice. There is a strong probability that regarding very many things most atheists would have far more in common with him – religious belief aside – than they would with those who made the comments Prof. Coyne refers to in this post.

          I hereby confess that I am prone to making hurtful & hateful comments. It is just that 19 was not one of them.
          Happy now?

    • Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      I cannot bring it upon myself to wish death upon anybody, though, as Twain put it, there are those whose obituaries it would be something of a relief to read.

      The contrast that I would draw between atheists, where it is my experience that such a sentiment as mine is the rule, and believers, is that a frightening number of otherwise-mild-mannered believers will come to the defense of the genocidal atrocities of the Bible — and do so in all sincerity.

      It’s also been my experience that the hard-right lunatic fringe that the Tea Party represents not only draws disproportionate numbers of hard-core believers but is almost entirely devoid of atheists. And, at least in our current society, the radical right is much more prone to open threats and displays of violence than any other part of the political spectrum.

      It’s been a long time since we had any violent Marxist incidents in the West.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        That wasn’t Twain – here’s the full quote, which can be verified through Bartlett’s and a number of internet quote sites:

        “All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

        — Clarence Darrow

        Samuel Clemens is probably the most misquoted and misattributed figure in modern times.

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          Samuel Clemens is probably the most misquoted and misattributed figure in modern times.

          Yeah, I think Churchill said that.

          /@

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the correction. You’d think by now I’d have learned to Google my quotations before attributing them….

          Cheers,

          b&

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            Tracking down quotes is something of a hobbyhorse of mine. I have a somewhat famous semi-ancestor (an eight-times-great uncle, really) who is quoted and misquoted on a regular basis.

            • Tim
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

              Heck, Mark Twain did say a lot of great things, so if it is something good you want to (mis)attribute, he’s as good a guess as any!

      • Dominic
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Ben, you are clearly more full of caritas than even the last digit of the little finger of those who made the hateful comments. Yet I am not (alas?)! Sorry!

  7. Edward
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Thou shall not kill… unless they’re atheists

    • Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Or have dark skin.

      Or live in strategic oil extraction or transportation sites.

      Or have different ideas about how to organize their own societies.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Jack van Beverningk
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Or, in a nutshell: are DIFFERENT or compete for stuff that you want.

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Or more generally – “Thou shalt not kill unless it is politically expedient.” L

  8. Schleierman
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    As nothing more than biological machines, these sicko “Christians” were determined by the laws of nature to say what they said, just as we all were determined to respond as we did. Now that the event has occurred and is frozen over, we can’t coherently maintain that they should have said otherwise, anymore than we can coherently maintain, “The earth should not have formed!,” “Evolution should never have taken place!,” “That galaxy on the other end of the universe should not have died!,” “That star over there should not have been eaten by a black hole!,” etc. Of course this also applies to the grosser atrocities within human history.

    Like everything else in the cosmos, the lives of human beings are simply unfolding physical events. And I, as a moral nihilist, am not going to pretend that this is a moral cosmos where people should have done certain actions and abstained from others. The idea makes precisely zero sense.

    • Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      I’m sorry. Is this a parody?

      If not, let me simply ask you: would you rather live in a world where death threats are an acceptable form of public expression or one in which they’re not?

      Cheers,

      b&

      • MakeNine
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        If free will doesn’t exist then you have to accept that there is no choice on either side, just cause and affect.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

          “affect”

          LOL!

          If you are serious: “cause and effect” are simplistic and erroneous philosophical ideas on causality.

          There is nothing in special relativity that demands an immediate “cause”. In fact that is why there _is_ a special relativity theory: to describe how physics translate between localities.

          Many systems have no “cause” but effects out of laws+contingency. And those effects can be spread out in spacetime.

          I am not sure how causality connects to “free will” models, except that they obey it as all other faithful enough models we use. Maybe you can change physics to somehow prevent “free will” models of agents/minds. What of it?

          If there is no inherent connection to causality you would still have that. In such a case you would have the situation you describe.

          But that is a very big “if”. I think you have to unravel the tower of complexity classes in algorithmic theory before you can say that an autonomous system reacts so simple that “free will” is not a useful description. And with physics and chemistry outcomes so simple you would likely have no life in the first place.

          • Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

            > “affect”
            >
            > LOL!

            Grow up, you idiot.

            • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              Torbjörn posted a long comment on a philosophical issue, preceded by a laugh at a typo. You posted an empty insult. I know who comes across as more mature and less idiotic.

              • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                And yet here we are. There was still no need to belittle someone for a typo. It was childish, pointless and rather pathetic, regardless of whatever else was said.

              • Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s because I’ve read so many of Torbjörn’s posts, but I read it as light-hearted.

                May I suggest?

                First, if it’s not unreasonable to interpret a post (or email or whatever) as jocular, take the high road and do so. Even if it was meant as an insult, interpreting it as a friendly jibe is the most effective way to turn the thrust back around on the other.

                Second, if somebody gives you the respect of typing an extensive and thoughtful (even if worng) response to the substance of your post, even if it’s filled with vitriol, give the rest of the readership the respect to respond with equal substance. And vitriol, too, if such is warranted.

                But it’s the substance that makes these sorts of endeavors worthwhile. Even if you don’t make a dent in your opponent, you may well persuade others.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

                It’s just an affectation…

                /@

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

              I thought it was funny in the context, and I had to get rid of the possible misconception as you can see from the rest.

              I trust that even if you haven’t my sense of humor you have one, or at least have heard of the phenomena?

              As for idiot, I take Naked Bunny’s suggestion. (Though I can be an idiot on every other Monday, if it suits the current company.)

              • Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:18 am | Permalink

                I still read the original comment as rather bullying in tone. I’m no tone troll, but I despise bullying and laughing at someone for a typo is only light-hearted for those who don’t struggle with language or with a particular language.

                MakeNine’s comment made no particular sense and deserved an attack on that basis. Personally, I wouldn’t have ridiculed the poster on a notoriously difficult bit of English. Neither would I have smugly demonstrated my superior knowledge of physics.

                I’d have smugly demonstrated my superior knowledge of logic, which is the battleground MakeNine engaged with.

                But that’s just me. I still think that ridiculing people for what you consider poor language use is pathetic and childish.

              • Kharamatha
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 4:27 am | Permalink

                It’s funny because the topic was human affects.

              • Dan L.
                Posted August 1, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

                Geez, latsot, if you hate bullying comments then you must be REALLY pissed off at all these Christians making death threats, huh? Though it’s weird you seem more focused on criticizing the atheists here…

    • penn
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      I have to believe that you are a troll because any actual moral nihilist would have taken their worldview one obvious step further and realize that this post and all of the comments were also pre-determined and thus arguing against them makes “precisely zero sense” as well.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        I reacted to that part too.

        This parody argument was very popular in prehistoric usenet days. And back then people were cunning enough to insert an end run to the effect of “of course I know this is a meaningless comment, but a nihilist random universe made me do so” or something equal.

        Maybe it is so old and moldy that people have forgotten how the parody goes?

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Fnord.

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

            Perhaps I am not that old and moldy, I had never seen that. I think my experience from Usenet is mostly from when people refer back to it. But that has been often enough to sample.

            … or maybe my memory is going.
            :-P

            • Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

              Well, you know what they say: it’s the mind that goes second.

              …I never could remember what it is that goes first, though….

              b&

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      The “block universe” of theoretical physicist (either as “unfolding physical events” or as a static block) is arguable. Some physicists like it, but it looks rather like a “platonic ideal” dualism.

      What we know is that there are chaotic determinism in the classical mechanics sector and genuine stochasticity in the quantum mechanics sector. Either of those makes any “unfolding” less than “simple”.

      Most people believe in free will, because it is consistent and testable; that is how the world roughly works after our brain has sorted out, post facto, how to parse “why” it did what it did.

      You are responsible for that your effective free will model is moral. (Especially after all that rigged sorting where most people try their damnedest to make themselves out to be so.)

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      I’m pretty much a determinist. I don’t think we have a free will that will let us behave differently from the way that our predispositions, character and environment drive us.

      However part of the environment, for many people, is the religious beliefs of their social network. In the case of the professed Christians who are responding with violent comments, I don’t think the formal dogma of their faith (‘Thou shalt not kill’ etc.) has much to do with their day to day reaction to events.

      Arguably the Abrahamic faiths (and probably some others too) are paranoid faiths, i.e. ‘people who don’t share our faith are out to get us’. If the social network you grew up with shares a paranoid faith it would be surprising if you weren’t paranoid too. And paranoids over-react to perceived attacks; just not agreeing with a paranoid is enough.

      Religions can be toxic.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    We can’t know if they are serious threats, but we can know if some of those emulate pathological behavior.

    The one that says ‘supply me with an address an I will do it’ should be one of those. But we would need a sample to compare with (included a null sample, natch).

    What is the boundaries of criminal behavior in US, would the justice system be interested in death threats? Because I think* zero tolerance is the only useful option here.

    ————–
    * If anyone knows that there are better reactions, or that it doesn’t work, please tell me.

  10. Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    These religious buggers seem to have a hair trigger. A couple of years ago, a rabbi threatened to incite his congregation to kill me because I said I took Christmas as a holiday for reasons of fun rather than because I secretly believed in god. It was really a perfectly lovely argument up to that point.

    I’ve also had threats of graphically sexual violence from the owners of a particular fundie Christian site for – oddly – clarifying some slightly wrong points another atheist made about evolution.

    I fail at predicting what will set these nutjobs off. If I could predict it, I’d do it more.

  11. Gabrielle Guichard
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Almost all have better to do during their holidays and prefer to mandate other people to do the job. “Kill, shoot, while I work my tan.”

  12. saintstephen
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    These people are nothing more than cowards, hiding behind their guns and delusions. Take a good look, accommodationists and theists. Clearly the morality on display here comes from a loving God.

    Now we all see what life used to be like under the Catholic Church. Can you imagine.

    This kind of thing only underscores the great courage of our public figures like Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens, Coyne, Myers, and Kirby, who in a sense put their very lives on the line every day for the noble cause of Science and Truth.

  13. Joanna
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Religious people are so evil.

    • Egbert
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      This is a silly claim. Surely you mean religion is evil, not religious people are evil? Is this a kind of irony post or a bit of trolling? I can’t tell.

      • MosesZD
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Religion is made by the religious. When Paul of Tarsus made up Christianity, he stole from local religious traditions and added stuff of his own.

        When Joseph Smith made up Mormonism, he stole from local religious (and non-religious) traditions and added stuff of his own.

        When Josiah re-wrote Judaism from polytheism to monotheism he stole from local religious traditions and added stuff of his own.

        Judaism, itself,derivative religion of the Canaanite religion. Which borrowed heavily from predecessor religions…

        And so on back to some cavemen who just made shit up to explain a world they did not, in any way, truly understand.

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          Religion is made by the religious.

          But most people are religious. Does that mean most people are evil? Or that people who aren’t evil aren’t truly religious? I’m unclear on what is being asserted or on how we’re defining “evil” at this point.

      • Tulse
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        I duuno, Egbert — what do you call people who threaten others with death?

        • Egbert
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          Tulse, do you therefore agree with the sentiment of the comment 13 that all religious people are evil?

          • Notagod
            Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            Christianity is built on the premise that christians are the original sinners.

      • Joanna
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        I guess I should have said “religious people can be so evil.” When Christians are less about the love and peace and more about the smiting, you sorta need to question their moral standards.

    • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      What, all of them? That’s one hell of a claim. I doubt you even believe it.

      • Joanna
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Well most of them. I’ve heard of someone who lobbed off his wife’s nose because of his religion. That’s pretty evil. Priests who rape little boys are fairly evil I’d say. Anyone who feels the need to kill someone who doesn’t conform to a particular religion…yeah that’s sort of evil. Unless my definition of evil is completely wrong =o

  14. MadScientist
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    And the same people will say that religion doesn’t brainwash them into hating everyone else.

  15. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    .. and then there’s this creep (who thinks it’s smart to threaten his jury -behind their backs of course-):

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/07/29/texas.polygamist.jeffs/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    • Marella
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      That link is truly appalling, so this guy thinks his dick is sacred? Is he insane as he seems to be, or just an abusive con artist?

  16. Patrick
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to live on the planet anymore!

    • Patrick
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      *this

    • wilsim
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      (futurama reference?)

      *gets in space ship and flies to remote uninhabited planet, nanites get loose wreak havoc on the local ecosystem, intelligent self aware robots then evolve overnight.*

  17. Drosera
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    The homicidal aggression of these good, Christians is only matched by their stupidity. A guy called Michael Perri writes: “these people are f’ing scum of the earth. can we start killing them now? few groups are filled with more hatred than athiests.”

    Now, which groups could that be? Let me think…

  18. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    How do you react to people like this?
    I guess you would have to keep it REALLY simple.
    Something like:

    Dear Christians:

    1. The word is “atheist”. Not athiest, not atheiest, and you don’t have to spell it with a capital A. Also, if you like to use the word in combination with an article (you know, words like ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’) then it would become ‘an atheist’ (not ‘a atheist’).

    2. Those ten commandments: look ‘m up one day (they’re in that thick leather-bound book) and read them! There are multiple sets to choose from! (Oh wait, scratch that, that’s WAY too confusing!)

    .. etc.

    • SES
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Regardless of how much these comments offend us, we have to ask, what can we actually do about these death threats? I think reminding them of their own religious laws is a great starting place…but what is the real solution?

      I’m becoming so frustrated with the hysteria. I like to hope that these people aren’t nearly as terrible as their internet comments make them sound. Hopefully, if they were face-to-face with an atheist they would realize we’re humans too and wouldn’t be so quick to make death threats.

      I like to think education is a solution but with education funding diving in the country…my hope disappears. Where are the MLKs and Mother Theresa religious folk these days that actually cared about human suffering and wanted world peace?

      • Kassul
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Reminding them of their own religious laws isn’t exactly ideal IMO, since it makes it appear like we agree that their laws are a worthwhile thing to consult. I really don’t think that those laws are especially good, nor that people should be encouraged to use them to guide behaviour.

        Plus, there’s the whole bit where chunks of their religious laws frequently can be easily interpreted to say that I and others like me deserve death and regular torture and eternal torture.

        • Kassul
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          Oh, and Mother Theresa might not really be an ideal person to pick out as a paragon for reducing human suffering. >_> I haven’t read Hitchens’ The Missionary Position, but I have read/viewed multiple other sources talking about her behaviour and significant parts of it certainly didn’t strike me as particularly good.

          There are people who work at the local homeless shelter or kitchens that do purer good IMO.

      • Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        As Kassul notes, Mother Theresa’s sense of caring was warped, to say the least.

        My work puts me in contact with a fair number of liberal clerics. They are admirable humanitarians. This kind of person is out there. I think it reflects badly on our current society, that such religious figures are not more popular – like MLK or Gandhi were.

        • Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

          Barring, of course, the possibility that such figures are less popular because more people (like me) are ditching religion altogether.

  19. Dominic
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I suggest that these so-called christ/god lovers offer themselves up as martyrs, perhaps against some rival religion. Why do they waste time on earth when they have eternal life re-clothed in flesh just around the corner? They are vacuous morons.

    • Egbert
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      So this is a passive-aggressive way of saying Believers should die. It’s still the same sentiment, not said literally.

      • Tim
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        No, he said “these so-called christ/god lovers”. I assume he’s referring to the particular individuals who posted oomments advocating the murder of atheists who committed the heinious act of stating why they are atheists. It seems to me that you have twisted his words by omitting “these”.

      • Jack van Beverningk
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        No, he’s not saying that at all!

        There’s a difference between expressing a desire to KILL people and to point out to people who believe in an indescribable fantastic afterlife, that it’s entirely consistent with their beliefs to kill themselves, especially when it’s for a ‘good’ cause.

      • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Dominic isn’t the one conflating people who casually issue death threats while wrapping themselves in faux moral superiority with all believers. You are.

        I understand your point, and I even support it, but you’re making a dishonest stretch here.

      • Gabrielle Guichard
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        No. Believers will die, and non believers as well. To wish it to be sooner is not the same as making it sooner.

      • Dominic
        Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        “this is a passive-aggressive way of saying Believers should die” – Is it Egbert?

        Let me be clear –
        I do not understand why followers of a broadly pacifistic religious creed, christianity (I refuse to capitalise it) can say such violent and aggressive things in the name of their god(s).

        It follows quite reasonably to say that if these professional haters believe they are so right & are assured of going to ‘heaven’, that they would be eager to embrace it as soon as possible in god’s p’plan’ for them. That would leave the meek to inherit the Earth & rid us of the lunatic fanatics.

        Yes I know there are places where Jesus says I come with a sword & will set children against their parents etc, but the broad thrust is “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” If the people who sent those hate messages were christians according to those values they would not say those things. Perhaps they should read the Sermon on the Mount and acquire a little self-reflection and humility.

        If these people are ‘Believers’ [& why the capital B? Oh yes, only to emphasis that you think they are 'right' & clearly presume to understand their god/s better than many theologians] it is not christianity that they believe in, rather some self appointed deity that justifies their arrogant narrow views of the world.

        Clear now?

        • Dominic
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Er, not sure what “god’s p’plan’” is, unless it is a cure for stuttering typing!

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          Even your romanticized version of Christianity is unwarranted.

          Take a moment to re-read the Sermon on the Mount, and you’ll discover that Jesus condemns to eternal torture all men who look at a woman, think, “Yeah, I’d tap that,” and fail to immediately gouge out their eyes. He most emphatically condemns those who divorce to the same fate — do you have any idea how many women have suffered literal torture, even unto death, because of those words? And, again — that’s the Sermon on the Mount.

          Hitler often directly quoted Jesus, in context and without distortion, to justify his campaign against the Jews.

          Jesus himself commanded that all who were unwilling to submit to his rule should be slaughtered at his feet.

          And the whole point to his story is that he will one day “real soon now” bring Armageddon (literally, not figuratively), destroying the entire planet in the process, and send all but the faithful to be tortured for all eternity.

          Christianity truly is evil, as evil as religions come. The parodies Christians make of Satanists are nearly dead-on perfect descriptions of Biblical and historical Christianity. Christians just have an excellent PR team, is all.

          To be fair, many modern Christians hardly pay any attention at all to their origins — much to their credit. But the core is still rotten and festering, as this outpouring of Christian “love” from Fox viewers demonstrates.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Dominic
            Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            True, possibly. Besides, I am never going to win an argument with you! ;)
            “The light of the body is thine eye. Wherefore if thine eye be single all thy body shall be full of light. But and if thine eye be wicked, all thy body shall be full of darkness. Wherefore if the light that is in thee be darkness,how great is that darkness.” -Tyndale’s superior version.

            I am not excusing cristian-inanity, or what it has caused to happen. But then I do not believe in evil which probably makes me a bad person! But you knew that!

          • Egbert
            Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

            I agree that Christianity is evil (and I define evil rather carelessly here as deliberate causing of harm) and I also think that religions are evil because they deliberately cause harm.

            However, that’s not the same (as I’m sure you’re aware) as saying people who belong to a religion are evil. Or confusing a few comments on a blog as representative of all Christians.

            Hence my disagreement above, which has caused all sorts of hostility and ruckus and even insults my way (see comment 6) which I don’t think belong on a rational blog. Is there not a bit of irony going on here in regards to the article?

            This hostility and defensiveness because of disagreements (whether such disagreements are justified or not) does not come across as critical thinking, but more about in-group politics. The more extreme version we see in the comments in the above article.

            • Tulse
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

              So if a religion makes some people do bad things, those people aren’t themselves bad? Doing evil in the name of religion isn’t, well, “evil”?

              • Egbert
                Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                I think it all comes down to whether a person is responsible for their actions or not, and whether they understand the difference between right and wrong. I think there are plenty of examples where authority can literally take away a person’s sense of right or wrong and make them do the most terrible things.

              • Posted July 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

                Milgram!

                /@

              • Tulse
                Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

                So the people who spontaneously posted death threats in response to a tv interview were forced?

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

              “that’s not the same (as I’m sure you’re aware) as saying people who belong to a religion are evil.”

              For the purpose of a sane discussion I am going to substitute “evil”, which is a religious description valid within some beliefs, with “unjust behavior”.

              I would think it would be difficult to entangle the correlation between religiosity (say) and unjust behavior since according to Paul et al religion correlates with social insecurity. Presumably social insecurity promotes unjust behavior all by itself.

              On the other hand it would be unsurprising if religion, who historically has promoted everything from unjust warfare (“the crusades”) to suppression of cultures (“missions”), women, science, democracy, wouldn’t affect its members. How can it not? The question is only how much.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                It would be *surprising* if religion doesn’t affect its members, naturally.

          • Posted July 31, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            Although I think that Ben overstates Jesus command to kill in Luke 19:27 [it's part of a parable], he raises a fundamental question for Xians – which Christ is it that you follow? One can find a bit of NT scripture that will fit any type of behavior from being a pacifist to slavishly following the demands of the state. From the Amish to the Southern Baptists, every sect and denomination picks and chooses what to emphasize and what to ignore. Most seem to ignore the teaching re loving your enemies.

            • Posted August 1, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

              Actually, the fact that it’s a parable makes the situation worse, not better. Much worse.

              The whole point of parables is to teach a moral lesson.

              The moral lesson of Luke 19 is that you’re either with Jesus or against him, and those who’re against him are only fit for blood sacrifices.

              Jesus (or, rather, the author of Luke) had to go out of his way to manufacture the story for the parable, and the only possible reason for doing so is to make clear the point of the parable.

              Besides which, it fits perfectly in with all the rest of the paranoid millennialism of the Gospels. It’s the “love thy neighbor” stuff that’s the rare exception that doesn’t fit the rule, not the other way ’round.

              And, I ask you: even if the bible were 100% pure sweetness and light except for that one parable, would that not be more than ample reason to still be utterly horrified by the entire thing?

              I’ve got some lovely chocolate mousse pie for you for dessert, topped with just a small dollop of shit. Wait, why won’t you eat it? Where’re you going? Hello?

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

                Ben – you are once again over-reactive and hyper-sensitive. My first point was rather simple – that the author of Luke put the statement in a parable, which may or may not be taken literally….that’s all. The second point was affirming what you said – that you can find the sweetness and light, but there is a lot of non-sweet-non-light that folks have to ‘overlook.’ So WTF? I suggest you eat some of your own dessert before you make such ridiculous comments.

              • Posted August 2, 2011 at 5:34 am | Permalink

                Overreacting? Hyper-sensitive? Ridiculous comments?

                You claimed that the fact that the command to make human sacrifices of all non-Christians is embedded in a parable means it might not be something to take seriously, which is simply worng. Even Christians like to explain that Jesus’s favorite didactic technique was to make a point in a parable, and it’s the point of the parable that matters. Here, the point of the parable is, “slaughter all non-Christans as blood sacrifices at Jesus’s altar.”

                And my second point isn’t that there’s non-sweet-non-light that you have to overlook, it’s that the presence of even a bit of this sort of shit is enough to ruin the whole thing. There’s no point in overlooking it any more — it’s time to toss it all out, exactly the same way you’d do with anything else so contaminated.

                Or, shorter, that your claims that Luke 19 is ignorable because it’s a parable and that there’s benefit to be gained from overlooking the 95%+ of the rest of the similar nonsense…that those claims are disingenuous, unfounded, dangerous, and counterproductive.

                If I pointed out a couple sweetness-and-light bits in Mein Kampf, you’d rip me a new one for suggesting that we should therefore overlook the rest, right? How on Earth is the Bible any different — especially considering that Mein Kampf is “sophisticated” Christian theology, well supported with copious in-context Gospel quotes?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Posted August 2, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

                BG – not sure how you handle being right all the time. However, you should note that I never said that Luke 19 or anything on the long list of non-edifying things in the OT and NT should be overlooked. I pointed out that Xians have a real problem picking and choosing which “teachings” they are going to honor, which is reflected in the 1000’s of Xian denominations and sects. In Indiana, Clinton Frame split with Clinton Brick over what building materials to use! A personal favorite that I love to use on my fundamentalist right-wing relatives is the divorce stuff – you should hear the contortions that my thrice-wedded cousins constructs to justify his marriages.

  20. mikeyB
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Splendidly shows the difference between science and religion. In science, when you disagree with someone, you vociferously argue and debate but in religion you dehumanize, demonize and even threaten to kill.

  21. Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Fox News hate storms are a particular problem these days, and certainly much of the language is Christian Fundamentalist, but essentially Fox is a political movement undertaken for financial gain.

    I’m not somebody who thinks merely rhetorical violence has nothing to do with real-world violence, which is what makes anti-accomodationism dangerous. Better we should find some way to get along, even if we have to compromise.

    • Notagod
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Cool! We should start by eliminating all the special privileges awarded to christians don’t you think?

      • Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Tax breaks for churches, certainly. What else were you thinking of?

        • Notagod
          Posted July 31, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          Yes! Go ahead and start with the discriminatory practice of not allowing the christian corporation to disclose Its income and to pay proper taxes thereon. Once you are finished with that, come back and I will give you another assignment. I don’t want to overwhelm you with a more complete list, as long as you are willing to put your full attention there. And as you complete that task some of the other privileged christian practices may come into clearer focus for you.

          However, I will admit to being a bit dismayed that you seem to think that the tax advantage is the only unfair privilege given to christians.

    • wilsim
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but i will never compromise when i have all the evidence on my side. They need to learn to accept reality, and if they can’t do that, they need to learn to keep their personal reality out of the public sphere.

      • Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        I mean maybe we could not sweat a piece of old iron in a museum basement somewhere.

        (Also on the other side, maybe we could not sweat somebody building some other church-like thingy somewhere nearby, either, as long as they didn’t actually make bombs there or anything.)

        • Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          If you had watched the Faux News clip, you’d know that the lawsuit demands that either all religious perspectives be presented in the exhibit or none. The objection is in no way to religious expression, but to exclusive expression at the expense of all others.

          It’s the same thing you should have learned in school: if you didn’t bring enough cake for the whole class, then you can’t have any for yourself.

          As usual, the hyperactive Christian persecution complex sees anything less than a heartfelt Christian prayer as persecution. They’re throwing a tantrum, as usual, the same way Johnny does when he’s told he has to share his cake.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            This particular object was actually present during the 9/11 event, and it was an emotional focus for various participants, so it seems to me that that particular object has an excellent claim to museum-grade provenance. Other objects with an equal provenance should be considered yes, what did you have in mind?

            Down the road it might turn out to be an interesting icon in a history of the war between the Islamisticsts and the Christainistiicsts. This war is an actually dangerous thing loose in the world today, and why the atheist community would think that fight a good thing to get into, you will have to explain to me.

            • Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

              Far be it for me to suggest what sort of display would be suitable to the Jews, Hindus, Muslims (yes, Muslims), Wiccans, and others of various religious persuasions for the best way to present their religious perspective on their response to the tragedy. That’s the job of the curators, to approach the various survivors and work with them in building such an exhibit.

              The 9/11 attacks are the most dramatic example of religious parochialism resulting in senseless violence against outgroup members. And here you think that the proper response is to encourage exactly that same type of religious parochialism, just because it’s now being perpetrated by the victims? And when the parochialism is being fueled by the same murderous rage?

              Somebody needs to get between the brawlers, pull them apart, throw cold water in their faces, and try to bring them back to their senses. The miscreants sure aren’t going to do it themselves; who else is left but us?

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                Senseless violence against ingroup members, too…

                /@

              • Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

                @AA:
                Yup. Senseless violence is where you find it.

        • Chris aka Happy Cat
          Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          An ordinary fragment of crossbeam, no different than numerous crossbeams resulting from the tragedy save that it was “upright” (from an Xtian perspective) gave comfort. To Xtians. So that gives it a special place in a historical memorial at the exclusion of any other faith, or no faith?

          I recall Bush 2 referring to our military blitz and erosion of civil rights as a “crusade”. A crusade that continues to kill innocent civilians in their own country (and slide the US further toward a police state). Can you see why a pretend cross from the Xtian Gawd might offend some nonXtian Americans who also were attacked that day?

          I’m not sure how your point is relevant to the FB death threats, unless you are attempting to blame the victims of death threats and hate because they dare speak up. Xtians are losing their place of privilege in a secular society, and it shows.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      “I’m not somebody who thinks merely rhetorical violence has nothing to do with real-world violence, which is what makes anti-accomodationism dangerous.”

      The problem with that is that the evidence points in the other direction:

      – Science on advertising gives that firm promotion is an advantage. (As Rosenhouse has pointed out on his blog.)

      – It is economic and demographic factors that decides insecurity (and so violence, crime et cetera).

      I don’t think it is a given that anti-accomodationism (which does not include rhetorical violence) should promote violence. And if it did, there is still something to say for human rights of free expression.

      • Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        You understand that those folks on Fox-FB are anti-accommodationists? In the sense that they are against accommodating what they don’t agree with? And that’s the problem you and I both have with them?

        …I stated it badly the first time: I believe that rhetorical violence moves the Overton window in the direction of real violence. Move the mean, you move the tail.

  22. cid
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    One more front in America’s Cold Civil War.

  23. aspidoscelis
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    It seems interesting that in a hypothetical crucifixion, these folks cast themselves in the Roman role.

  24. David Leech
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Well it is progress I suppose that they are just issuing threats on Facebook rather than burning us atheists at the stake like in the good old days.
    Us atheists have the moral high ground and if the religious disagree we only have to quote their holy books to prove it.

    Though as someone quoted above the comment section of pharyngula does leave a bad taste in the mouth. What is wrong with the people who comment there, It really is the cesspit of atheism.

    • lordfenriz
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t agree more about Pharyngula. I’m no accomodationist-I definitely lean toward the gnu atheist side-but many of the regulars over there have taken the ridicule thing way too far. I mean, they’re not even strategic about the way they use it, it’s just all insults, all the time for anyone who disagrees with anything PZ or the majority say. It’s sad really. I used to love visiting PZ’s blog, but the last few times I walked away from my computer shaking my head with disgust. I thought, “These people are scientists and ‘rational’ atheists?”

      Sam Harris is an excellent example of an atheist who actually knows how to use ridicule to make a point.

      • satan augustine
        Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:21 am | Permalink

        Sadly, it seems that the Pharyngula comments section has been taken over by a bunch of arrogant, pushy, and needlessly rude individuals. Sure, it’s often had that tone, but now it’s just coming out unfiltered. It’s as though the core commenters have claimed ownership of the comments section and will vilely attack all dissenters and often each other. It’s as though they’ve become spoiled brats because they’ve been allowed to have the run of the place and some of the wiser commenters have wisely departed for other blogs. It’s kinda sad really. I occasionally enjoyed the comments. People used to actually have something to add to PZ’s post and further discussion about the actual blog topic ensued. Now it’s more like:

        Comment 1: “I don’t completely agree with PZ, but he makes some good points.”

        Comment 2: “Who the f*ck are you and why should anyone care what you have to say? Get the hell off this comment thread moron.”

        • satan augustine
          Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:23 am | Permalink

          …or words to that effect.

      • David
        Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:21 am | Permalink

        Citation needed.

        • satan augustine
          Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:39 am | Permalink

          This was obvious hyperbole, but only slightly so. There’s no way that I would be able to find the comment that I loosely based my example on, but it was written by “Caine” and was in one of the Rebecca Watson threads. Someone merely disagreed with Caine and Caine demanded (insisted?, instructed sternly?) that the dissenting commenter leave the comment thread. Pretty sure there were some expletives thrown in for good measure. If I recall correctly – and I may not be – the commenter Caine was responding to left a reasonable, non-insulting comment.

          I will not attempt to find said comment. Those threads were far too depressing to read the first time around – so many miscommunications, so much anger, so much unnecessary divisiveness, so little reason. Like I said, depressing.

          I still read PZ though. I just can’t hack the comments anymore.

          • Egbert
            Posted July 31, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

            There is a definite level of hostility (much of which I am or was guilty of too) not only against religious believers, but those who make disagreements or polemics with fellow rationalists.

            I think I am beginning to understand why all this ugliness is going on, hence why I’m trying to expose it.

            That old saying ‘power corrupts’ is perhaps applicable. When you become popular and gather a large following, you also start having power. And power can sometimes make you blind to your own failings, especially when plenty of people are willing to follow and agree with everything you say.

            We should end this hierarchical group thought and view atheists as individuals and judge accordingly. I know this is futile but I will persist on.

          • Tyro
            Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

            That has happened to me a lot. A Lot.

            I left a comment on a global-warming awareness blog which was critical of organic food and some stick-up-their-butt commenters complained to get me banned rather than address my points.

            I left a comment on a media watch blog which was critical of Islam and the same thing happened.

            It’s never happened to me here or on Pharyngula. I may get insulted, my argument may get shredded, or I might get ignored but never asked to leave. I have seen it happen to others but generally people seem to either like jumping on people with different viewpoints or they just ignore trolls. But who knows, maybe different people have had different experiences – no reason it needs to be everything to everyone.

        • lordfenriz
          Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          The comment thread on this Pharyngula blog post is a perfect example:

          Why I don’t believe in gods

          These individuals are “rational” atheists? Considering that Pharyngula is the most popular atheist/science blog on the internet, it’s hard to rebut the common christian claim that atheists are a bunch of arrogant pricks engaged in scientism after I read comment threads like this.

          • Tyro
            Posted July 31, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            I skimmed through the first 30 comments and I don’t see anything jumping out at me. There are over 250 comments in total, surely you can be a little more specific.

            • lordfenriz
              Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

              You’re not looking hard enough. Pay particular attention to the dialogue between Kristoff, dweezil, and everyone else (Nerd of Redhead for example). I’m not going to quote any specific example, as it may take the comment out of context. Read the entire exchange-yes, it’s long-and judge for yourself. I’m not necessarily siding with any viewpoint on the thread. I’m simply saying that the discussion doesn’t strike me as rational.

              • Tyro
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

                You aren’t taking a position but you think it’s irrational? Don’t be such a disingenuous coward. You have a strong enough belief that you dug out this example. Now is your turn to defend it.

                Why don’t you come out and tell us who you think is the irrational group and what you think the problem is. Surely that’s the point of an example.

                Digging up citations, dropping them without comment and without defense and then dancing away is something we see from drive-bys only. If you can’t even sketch out an argument, what good are you?

              • lordfenriz
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

                I think the overall discussion, which involves both sides, is irrational. I think both sides have something to contribute to the discussion, but it’s often lost in all the insults. That is my point and I think the thread supports it.

                “Don’t be such a disingenuous coward.”

                This is precisely what I’m talking about. If this is the level of discourse I’m going to find on atheist blogs, I may as well not even bother. I’d understand it if I instigated the hostility, but I didn’t. You can make your points without insulting me. It is possible you know. Let me guess . . . the next step is to call me a “tone troll” and ask Jerry to ban me, right?

                “Digging up citations, dropping them without comment and without defense and then dancing away is something we see from drive-bys only.”

                I’ve been reading Pharyngula and WEIT for a long time, but I rarely comment, so I’m not as quick as others with my replies. Moreover, I don’t track any blog posts by email, so I don’t necessarily know when someone responds. I don’t track because I don’t comment enough to make it worthwhile.

              • Tyro
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

                Tone down your martyrdom complex there, sheesh. I don’t want you banned, I just hoped that you would eventually try to contribute something. You say that people are behaving irrationally yet you won’t say who or why. That’s nonsense. You have an opinion, clearly, yet you refuse to discuss why you hold that. I think that’s either cowardly or trolling.

                Looking at the thread you cited, I see a troll who’s only interested in unsubstantiated personal attacks and his sockpuppet/cheer leader buddy. The rest of the thread seem admirably calm. Where is the irrationality? Is trolling irrational? Is treating a troll with some courtesy irrational? I have no clue what you’re saying because you aren’t saying anything at all.

                Or maybe this is some sort of performance art, demonstrating how your own irrational dialogue provokes irrational responses? I can’t figure you out. If you have a point, have the courage and courtesy to make it.

              • lordfenriz
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                “You say that people are behaving irrationally yet you won’t say who or why.”

                I’m not sure how much more clear I can be about this. I cited a specific comment thread on Pharyngula and gave you specific names so that you would know what discussion within the thread I was talking about. I could cite particular comments, but I won’t for two reasons:

                1. There are way too many. It’s much easier for others to simply read the thread in its entirety.

                2. Citing specific comments would take them out of the context of the thread, which I think is unfair.

                “You have an opinion, clearly, yet you refuse to discuss why you hold that.”

                My opinion is clearly stated within this thread. Let me reiterate, many atheists-particularly over at Pharyngula-are starting to take the ridicule thing a little too far. Is ridicule a useful and justified tool to use sometimes? Absolutely. Some people-creationists for example-simply can’t be argued with. I don’t think it has any place in rational discussion, however, between two individuals who both claim to hold reason in such high regard. I guess I simply expect more from a bunch of rational atheists on an atheist blog.

                What makes the individuals on that comment thread trolls? The fact that they expressed unpopular opinions regarding PZ, philosophy, and the relationship between philosophy and science?

                I think this “discussion” of ours is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. What have we learned so far from your comments? That I’m supposedly a disingenuous coward with a martyr complex (and probably a troll, right, because I said something unpopular about Pharyngula). Is this what you consider to be a rational argument on your part? It’s known as poisoning the well, and is the exact opposite of rational thinking. I’m used to pointing out logical fallacies on Cnet and Engadget, but never thought I would have to do it on an atheist/science blog.

                “Looking at the thread you cited, I see a troll who’s only interested in unsubstantiated personal attacks and his sockpuppet/cheer leader buddy. The rest of the thread seem admirably calm.”

                This reveals your bias. If you think the “trolls” were the only ones throwing insults around, and the others were “admirably calm”, then you must be reading a different thread than the one I’m familiar with. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. As I said, read it and judge for yourself. If you don’t agree, so be it.

              • Posted July 31, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

                See, the thing is, we’ve been through this before. Multiple times. Constantly. Most famously with Tom Johnson and Phil Plait.

                Unless you can support your claims with specific, well-documented examples — the exact same way an HR department would expect you to support claims of harassment or an hostile work environment — then we’re left with the obvious conclusion that this is just more of the same.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • lordfenriz
                Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

                “Unless you can support your claims with specific, well-documented examples”

                Yes, I followed the whole Tom Johnson/Phil Plait affair, but that isn’t related to my argument. I’m not saying that atheists should never be rude. I’m clearly advocating the strategic use of ridicule in one of my posts above. What I’m saying is that there’s no need for it when we’re arguing among ourselves, you know, rational atheists who value reason. If we’re going to take the “rational high ground” so to speak, then we need to start walking the walk.

                My claim is supported by the thread I cited with a link. I explained my reasons already for not pulling specific comments from the thread, however, it is all there for you to read (I even gave names and the approximate place where the discussion starts). If you don’t want to read it, then that’s your choice, but don’t turn around and accuse me of failing to provide evidence. Pulling comments out would be dishonest, as many individuals who read this thread aren’t going to take the time to link over to the original comments. As a result, the comments will be out of context.

                I want to also say Ben that I enjoy most of your comments. As I said, I’ve been reading WEIT for a while now and I always enjoy the wit, sarcasm, and intelligence that you typically display. This comment of yours, however, disappoints me. Phil Plaits argument applies to the interaction between atheists and religious people (so far as I understand it), not the interaction between rational atheists (neither “troll” on the Pharyngula thread claimed to be a christian. One for sure said he was an atheist).

                As I said, I rarely comment, and I doubt that I’ll waste much time doing it in the future. This discussion has been about as enlightening as trying to convince an individual over at “Cult of Mac” that iOS is no longer the dominant mobile OS, or an individual over at “Phandroid” that android may never catch up to the iPad.

              • Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

                Okay, I just took the time to skim the thread. Made it almost halfway through, into the triple digits.

                As you note, up until the 60s or so, it’s a pretty good thread with all sorts of people explaining why they’re not atheists.

                Then this “Kristoff” person comes in and — I kid you not — accuses PZ of failing to keep astride of applied research methods and claiming he’s no good whatsoever at evidence-gathering and testing. PZ is, of course, a well-published developmental embryologist and a professor who’s brought a great many students up from the ranks from freshman through doctor; such an accusation is laughably absurd.

                The regulars politely challenge Kristoff, asking for clarification. Kristoff continues the insults and is joined by “dweezil,” who reads as at least a Kristoff fanboy if not an actual sockpuppet. The two of them continue escalating their rhetoric, best I can see without ever giving concrete examples of the incompetence they accuse PZ of exhibiting. The regulars escalate their own rhetoric, but with a suitable lag.

                I’ll agree that this is a prime example of why I don’t wade through the Pharyngula threads very often, but I find fault in this instance only with the interlocutors and not with the regulars.

                Kristoff and dweezil made serious allegations against PZ, allegations of the highest possible forms of professional incompetence. Allegations which, if true, would be grounds for the termination of his employment with UM. Maybe they eventually followed up with proof of their allegations; I don’t know. “TL/DR.” But the fault for the incivility of that thread is entirely theirs.

                If you disagree with my analysis, I’d appreciate specifics of what I’ve missed. Perhaps there’s some substance to Kristoff’s and dweezil’s allegations after all? Perhaps they supported their allegations — even if misguidedly — and I just missed it?

                Cheers,

                b&

            • lordfenriz
              Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

              You may have to get down past the first 50 or 60 comments.

              • Egbert
                Posted August 1, 2011 at 2:32 am | Permalink

                I understand exactly what you mean by the hostility, and most likely it does put people with different views off posting. Perfectly intelligent and rational people will not perceive the hostility no matter how you try to point it out, with their hands firmly over their ears going “lalala”.

  25. George
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Of course, “.. I hope God kills them…” can hardly be considered a death threat.

    • Jack van Beverningk
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      No, but “Someone show me where they live&they will live no mere [SIC]” (Richard Silvia) IS!

  26. Marella
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    You gotta love the christian god, “Thousands of people are going to be killed by the heathens but I’m gonna save a couple of girders in the sort of shape of a cross to remind you all that I can’t or won’t do anything to stop it happening.” If you needed evidence that god doesn’t give a shit I would have thought this was it. The ability of christians to see what they want to see never ceases to amaze me.

    • Kharamatha
      Posted August 1, 2011 at 4:10 am | Permalink

      Humans are usually so good at seeing faces. I’m sad it didn’t result in a troll face.

  27. Posted July 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    This is the typical mentality of those compromised by the “God Virus”. A defensive mode activates the moment the viruses continuation feels threatened. Why should anyone be surprised? Look at that stinkin’ tome “The Bible”. It’s violence and hatred preached under the pretense of love makes even Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, and any other murder, r@pist, thief, and lecher seem tame by comparison.

    • satan augustine
      Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

      Indeed, Manson and Hitler were both heavily influenced by the Bible.

  28. Helena Constantine
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I don;t have a facebook account, but has anyone that does reported them to Facebook for hate speech? Tat seemed like the most obvious thing to do, but I don’t think anyone has mentioned it? I checked the ones that called for crucifixion of atheists and their accounts seemed ok.

  29. Peter
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Hate, killing, and violence are not from God but from Satan.

    God is harmony. Satan is discord.

    True Christians behave Christlike. Those threatening violence have no faith in the God they profess to believe in.

    This is a basic truth and easy to understand by everyone.

    • Sili
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      How kind of you to inform us that these are indeed not true Scotsmen.

      Could you be a dear and a pop over and tell them that?

    • Scho
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      He sounds like a top bloke, this god you call God. But why doesn’t he stop this other god (the one you call Satan) from going around doing nasty things all the time?

      • Sajanas
        Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Hey, Satan at least had the decency to tell Abraham not to kill his own son.

    • Posted July 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      Really? Because as far as i remember god does most of the killing in the bible…

      • satan augustine
        Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

        Oh, by far. When it comes to killing in the Bible it’s something like:

        God: 1,230,000
        Satan: 4

    • Dominic
      Posted July 31, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      A dualist eh? Like the ancient Persians. A god of good & a god of evil.

    • Posted July 31, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Isaiah 45:7 English Standard Version (©2001) I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

      Sounds like the god of the bible is the source of hate, killing, and violence to me.

      Christians never read their own shot. So annoying…

    • PeteJohn
      Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      So when the authors of the OT spilled shitloads of ink explaining how God wiped out any one who crossed his chosen people, they were mistaken? That was actually Satan doing those things?

    • Kharamatha
      Posted August 1, 2011 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      “Christlike”? As far as I remember, the christ was sort of a prick. A lesser prick among a breed of super pricks, possibly.

    • Dan L.
      Posted August 1, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Basic truth: atheists don’t believe in God OR Satan so your little clarification is lost on us. You should explain this to folks who make death threats and yet call themselves Christians. They’re the ones who need to hear it, not us.

  30. Dominic
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    For those of you in the US who want to cause a fuss, one of the haters is Raylene Ingmire of Tulsa, who has a web page –

    http://clinton.tulsaschools.org/faculty/resource_teachers/raylene_ingmire/

    awww – she likes fluffy kittens – but hates atheists. Funny – her school has a policy about discrimination – http://www8.tulsaschools.org/non_discrimination_main.asp
    apparently they are against it – “Tulsa Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion” etc. perhaps this does not include messages teachers leave on public web pages.

    • Dominic
      Posted July 31, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Also, in the U.K. we have laws about incitement to murder – this looks like incitement to murder to me. I wonder why Fox does not moderate comments before they appear. At the very least they should report those people to the police.

      • PeteJohn
        Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        Because while they disagree with the tone they only-sort of disagree with the core meaning of the comments, which is that non-Christians aren’t really American and aren’t all that important.

    • TomZ
      Posted August 2, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      But but but… she said “Just kidding” so it’s all ok.

      It reminds me of Ricky Bobby’s, “Don’t take this personal…”

  31. WhiteHawk
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    To those poor, sheltered souls who disagree with Egbert’s claim in post #6 that modern atheists do indeed make similarly chilling comments, here are a few comments for your edification. I stumbled across these several days ago at the popular blog for atheism, DebunkingChristianity.

    “I long for the day when you people are put into camps and made sterile, so you cannot spread your destructive hate and child abuse any longer.”

    “What a glorious day that would be, indeed, if all fundys would jump offf a cliff.”

    “I never said anything about burning or terror. Let them live amongst each other in peace. You know, kind of like the U.S. did with the Indians. No torturing or killing, just make them sterile so they cannot have any children and let them die out.”

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/10/quote-of-day-by-jeffrey-myers.html?showComment=1287931855795#c3386430471840556443

    Oh, of course don’t forget the popular Sam Harris quip:

    “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.” – End of Faith, pp. 52-53

    And yet atheists wonder why others do not want them anywhere near the vicinity of political power, especially given the fact that state-sponsored irreligion, particularly Marxism (which is an inherently and foundationally atheistic ideology), claimed the lives of perhaps 150,000,000 persons in the 20th century, by far the bloodiest century on record!

    True, most modern atheists distance themselves from such statements. But then what’s the point of Coyne’s post, seeing as (1) the overwhelming majority of Christians would condemn these appalling provocations to murder, and (2) no contemporary seminaries, Christian universities, or schools of theology would accept these people as “Christians” to begin with? If you disagree with (1) or (2), then frankly you either do not know any Christians or are being dishonest.

    It’s simply a statistical certainty that there will be people like this, given their numbers. I mean, honestly, is this breaking news to the contemporary atheist community, or did your lot seriously think that Christians were unaware that there are many nutcases that bear the label “Christian”?

    [P.S. The self-righteousness that's been put on display here is completely unwarranted. God only knows how different the tone of atheists would be if (1) they were the majority or (2) gain political power. If history is any indication, they would be more despotic, murderous, and capricious than Christians could ever hope to be; and, unlike Christians, if or when atheists choose to "correct human nature" through the cruel mechanisms of a "provident State," they will not be in any theoretical discord with their atheism]

    • raven
      Posted August 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      “Whitehawk lying:

      God only knows how different the tone of atheists would be if (1) they were the majority or (2) gain political power.

      There are so many lies in your comment, that it isn’t worth covering them all. This one we do know about from data.

      1. The most peaceful and prosperous societies on earth today are the least religious. The Scandinavian countries, most of Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The last election in NZ was between two candidates. The atheist won. Of course, they were both…atheists.

      2. The most violent and poorest countries are the most religious. Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Texas, and the USA.

      We know from history what xians do. They kill and kill and kill. Xianity has 2,000 years of history and it is drenched in blood and hatred. Up until a few hundred years ago, being an atheist was a death penalty offense.

      US xianity is dying though. Last year according to the NCC, 1.5 million people dropped off the church roles. What doomed them was real simple. Xianity lost its most effective means of keeping itself going, the hangmans rope, stack of firewood, and guns. Without the power to kill anyone they want, they are fading out.

      The world will be a better place when xianity is gone. Wherever it has faded, that is the what has happened.

    • raven
      Posted August 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      I’ll put my experience here.

      I’ve been getting death threats from fundie xian cultists for over 10 years. A lot of scientists do and when it isn’t me, its some scientist I know or hear about.

      It takes very little to set them off and it’s routine, predictable, common.

      I haven’t had a public internet presence since they hacked my computer once, got my real name, and started sending them to my home addressed to me. Pretty dumb, death threats are felonies, and the FBI picked them up and charged them.

      The MD assassins take it a step further. The xian terrorists have been bombing, arsoning, and killing MD’s for decades now.

      Oddly enough, for most of that time I was a xian myself. It was the fundies that convinced me xianity was just mythology and did far more harm than good.

      I know what fundies think of me and people like me. They want to kill me. They tell me so often. On a good day, PZ Myers has gotten up to One.Hundred.Death.Threats.A.Day.

  32. Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Who cares if somebody thinks the people at Pharyngula are taking anything too far. They sure as hell are not making death threats. That would be taking things too far. There is no comparison.-

  33. Dave Ricks
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Sindy Clock’s line “I hope God kills them all” is equivalent to PZ’s title “NPR can go die in a fire”. Both writers stop short of saying they would do the killing, or directing others to do the killing, so their statements are not death threats legally. But both authors have their readers visualize the deaths of their opponents, and imply the deaths would be good. And they belong to social networks of people who enjoy this rhetoric.

    I support what Egbert is getting at in the following way. If we made the standard of equivalence between Christians and atheists to be a legal reading of threatening violence, then most atheists would be smart enough to write to the edge without going over the line, and we would not agree to the equivalence. For example, if I look up the original appearance of “sideways with a rusty knife” at the Pharyngula Wiki, I find Cath the Canberra Cook wrote this about Bill Donohue:

    Fuck that shithead sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)

    Cath made a game of it — going to the edge of threatening violence (“heroically”) without going over the line. I call this The Rusty Knife Game (a.k.a. The Porcupine Game), and I claim this Pharyngula game is equivalent to what the Christian death threats are doing — as a social game — if we would remind the Christians to add Cath’s “but only metaphorically” (*wink*) that makes it legal.

    Dominic at #30 posted a web page for Raylene Ingmire, but I don’t see why. Raylene’s post on Facebook said, “kill the group…just kidding, you figure it out.” I read that as equivalent to Cath’s post, “Fuck that shithead sideways with a rusty knife…but only metaphorically”. Well played, Cath and Raylene, well played.

    Egbert’s more strategic point is to ask if we want a social movement, and what sort of social system and language would be best for that (tribes and insults probably being suboptimal).

    • Posted July 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Back in the USENET days, we used to get quite creative with it.

      When a theist would unreservedly endorse genocidal mass child rape — and they do this with frightening regularity, as Phosphorus99 recently has here — we would suggest all sorts of interesting things they might consider doing to themselves with, say, a redwood two-by-four wrapped in rusty barbed wire, sideways, AND NO LUBE! The “AND NO LUBE!” is the traditional conclusion, and it’s customary to work “sideways” in there somehow.

      Cheers,

      b&

  34. Lee Seligman
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    You should see the threats and comments concerning Mikey Weinstein,founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, 95% of whose “clients’ are Christian, just not “Christian enough for the so-called christian “amerikan taliban” evangelicals ! … check it out in the “inbox” heading @

    NOt only are these people sick, they’re dangerous … witness the most recent “christian” action in Oslo … and their captive legislators in way too man states are providing them with unlimited “carry permits” and/or blanket authority !

  35. Dawn Oz
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    To give an example of hate-speech – one of our ironic columnists from Australia spoke about climate change – and I’ll let him tell you the story…

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/a-climate-change-wave-of-hate-20110609-1ftix.html

    • Scho
      Posted August 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I’d say it’s a fairly mediocre and un-funny article from Glover. But what an extraordinary reaction! Makes me wonder if there is a correlation between being a Christian and refuting man-made global warming.

  36. Posted August 1, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    @Dan L.

    “Geez, latsot, if you hate bullying comments then you must be REALLY pissed off at all these Christians making death threats, huh?”

    Yes I am. They’re horrible. I’ve written elsewhere about how much I hate those comments.

    “Though it’s weird you seem more focused on criticizing the atheists here…”

    Yes, you’re completely right. I wrote about one thing on one thread therefore I don’t care about anything else.

    So you are free to decide what it is I focus on. Providing you are an idiot.

    • Dan L.
      Posted August 1, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      The two important words there are “seem” (so the impression that I get, regardless of your intentions) and “more.” So judging by the content and length of your comments on this thread, the impression that you gave me was that you were more concerned about “affect…LOL” than about the subject actually under discussion.

      If that is not the case I apologize for using reasonable heuristics to infer your intentions.

      • Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        What an odd conclusion. Bullying does bother me and I’m hardly ashamed to point it out wherever it happens. In the context of that comment – WHICH WAS ABOUT BULLYING – I was more concerned with bullying than I was about whatever other subject you personally think I should have been concerned with.

        Actually, I did write another comment more directly relevant to the thread. Did you bother to read that before rushing to judgement?


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] decent, godly folk react to the appearance of an atheist on FOX News’ America [...]

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  3. [...] Which side can rightly claim to be reasonable and tolerant?” His motivation was my post on the death threats issued by the faithful against Blair Scott, an official of American Atheists, especially my statement, “Perhaps some [...]

  4. [...] blogger David DiSalvo was intrigued by a Jerry Coyne post about the kind of hate mail and death threats received by atheists. So now he wants to discover whether the vitriol is as one-sided as Coyne’s post suggests, or [...]

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