Is “atheist” like “a-golf-ist”?

I don’t know much about Cristina Rad, but on those occasions when I see her videos, I always like them.  Here’s her latest, on Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his recent and vociferous disavowals of the word “atheist”:

I love this, “When people assume you’re a chicken, just fly and show you’re an eagle.”

How come she’s never asked to speak at atheist/skeptic/humanist conferences?

h/t: The Friendly Atheist


  1. Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    She was in DC at the Reason Rally/American Atheist Convention.

    • pktom64
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink


      • Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        “I have a personal relationship with reality.” Looking for that T-Shirt now.

      • Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink


        Thank you for posting the video; I really loved it: “especially with the wind and the rain and baby Jesus crying.” She’s brilliant.

    • SimonSays
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      She also spoke at TAM last year.

  2. Sines
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    It’s not so much that she isn’t asked, it’s that its not an option. She lives in Romania and isn’t exactly rich nor (I think) big on free time. So her ability to appear at any conferences is extremely limited.

  3. Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Keep in mind that she is from Romania, so she very well may be invited to speak at a lot of conventions…in Romania. Ones you may not be familiar with being in the US. Her Reason Rally speech was solid, though, and I also really enjoy her work.

  4. Mark Plus
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    In practice, atheism more resembles veganism than “a-golf-ism,” in that many atheists, like vegans, combine the rejection of certain beliefs and practices in our culture with an advocacy agenda to try to persuade others to follow their examples. Atheists and vegans also make empirically testable claims about the consequences of their respective agendas.

    • Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      You’re talking about anti-theists. The only thing all atheists have in common is a lack of belief in a god or gods.

      • Notagod
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Belief in god(s)? I don’t have it, I don’t want it and I certainly don’t lack it.

        • Achrachno
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          Like lack of gangrene infection, lack of belief in “God” is a good thing.

          • Notagod
            Posted May 15, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

            Have you read the definition of lack? The focus of the whole definition list is ‘to be wanting’ or ‘to be without something that is needed’.

            Read the definition from several dictionaries and if you still think the word merely means ‘not having’ then please explain why you think that.

      • Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Absence, not lack.


      • Mark Plus
        Posted May 15, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Again, I go back to what many atheists do, especially as seen by others. If you went to random people in the mall and asked them to provide examples of “atheists,” assuming they have paid attention to us, they would most likely point to people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris or others they may have seen on TV. The younger ones might also refer to atheists popular on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites who have yet to become household names. The typical observer of “atheists” can easily develop the impression that “atheism” means something like a critique and rejection of god beliefs and similar notions.

        • Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

          Yep, just like people easily develop a (mistaken) impression of football fans from the very visible activities of football (soccer) hooligans. 😛


  5. gbjames
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink


  6. Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    That was awesome. Christina Rad rocks!

  7. Kaare
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    “How come she’s never asked to speak at atheist/skeptic/humanist conferences?”

    She has been invited and joined a few the last year.

    Reason Rally + AANC after RR as an example

    Sorry if i misunderstood you.
    Cristina have made an impact on many of us cultural-accomodation-kristian-atheists like myself.
    The cultural stance that “religion is benign” and that we have to be nice to religion to not offend it believers is not a way to the future.

    • Kaare
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Haha, nice, alot of timely reactions here. There are a few fans around.

  8. Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    a+sexual, a+gnostic; a+theist: This way of defining certainly inclines one towards a+theist (“theism is a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God”) vs. a+gnostic (gnostic= “relating to knowledge”): no can be disinterested in knowledge surely…

  9. Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Great video. The way to educate people that atheism doesn’t include all that baggage is to accept the term and correct their misunderstandings about it. Saying you aren’t one and that there needs to be a different term implies that all that baggage associated with the term atheist is actually true. He’s missing an opportunity here and it’s a damn shame. Rather than educate, he’s choosing to perpetuate a stereotype.

  10. Posted May 14, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Well, I like her too. As she points out on the video, “atheist” is a label we *give ourselves”. What she doesn’t address is why so many people are annoyed at having the label forced on them.

    If someone is upset that their town water supply is polluted, should I demand they call themselves an environmentalist? They ARE concerned with the environment, after all.

    • gbjames
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      What, exactly, are you so worried about?

      Like Cristina says, just because people attach negative associations to the word doesn’t make you less an atheist, it just makes them terminally stupid.

      • Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Not scientifically correct, GB. If being stupid were a fatal disease, I’d be dead by now. 😉

        I think we’re still stuck on whether or not the word atheist is a single-meaning word. Again, language is fluid. Ask Stephen Pinker. He’s a respectable guy (and I still think this is a question of linguistics, not right or wrong).

        The word atheist can mean one thing, or to others it can have other implications. If someone does not feel they fit those other implications, they have every right in the world to object to the label.


        • gbjames
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          But what EXACTLY keeps your knickers all bunched up? What are these dreadful characteristics that you keep fainting over? You must be going broke on smelling salts.

          • Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

            You seem to think I’m scared of atheists. Don’t flatter yourself. I am simply not willing to follow a herd of people who get all freaked out if anyone criticizes Richard Dawkins.

            And as I’ve said, the constant talk of God in the same sentence as evolution, no matter what the point, gives credence to religion more than it seperates it.

            Want to disagree that’s what atheism does? Fine! But don’t try to claim that atheists are a diverse group and then tell me what my opinion should be.

            • Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

              (Sorry, forgot to add the most important point): science cannot be attached to any “ism”. Not environmentalism, not humanism, not atheism. If someone wants to be a credible scientist, they leave that at the door.

              • gbjames
                Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

                Did I say you were afraid of atheists? Where, exactly? What is clear is that you simply can’t abide being associated with this dreadful term. I’m wondering why. If there is a theme to your comments on WEIT it is that you really don’t want this icky term attached in any way to you. Why? What EXACTLY are you objecting to?

                No “ism” is going to stain your science? Give me a break. We’ve been down this road before. Empiricism? Rationalism? Leave them at the door?

            • whyevolutionistrue
              Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

              By “herd of people who get all freaked out if anyone criticizes Richard Dawkins,” do you mean “all atheists,” or just “readers of this website.” You’re wrong about both cases, and the second is an insult to readers here.

              • Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

                Not at all. I am merely pointing out that **specifically** the atheists who insist I use that label are also the ones who seem to have a very narrow mindset and yeah, get insulted if I criticize Dawkins.

                I have great respect for many atheists – Rebecca Watson, Tesla, etc.

                The difference is, as one commenter pointed out, they see and appreciate a great diversity of nonreligious folks: secularists, atheists, non-believers.

                The “cause” of getting ID out of the classroom would be stronger with a diveristy of voices.

                It’s merely the handful of atheists (but also the most vocal ones here) who demand that I use the term atheist. I don’t mind debating, but I try to make lighthearted jokes and it’s still all angry responses.


              • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

                There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the plurality of atheism. Of course there is great diversity. Atheism encompasses a broad category of people whose only real commonality is the lack of a god belief. Nothing wrong with going further and subcategorizing. I just think that refusing the term atheism altogether gives the impression that it does in fact include a specific belief or set of beliefs.

              • Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

                @ Amelie

                If you think that all atheists critical of those who belive in no gods rejecting the “label” of “atheist” have a fanatical devotion to RD, then you’re very much mistaken.

                @ Beth



              • Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                * believe

          • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            Oh please, GB. Check out what you yourself just said.

            “What are these dreadful characteristics that you keep fainting over? You must be going broke on smelling salts.”

            Now you’re claiming that does not imply fear. You aren’t serious, are you?

            It is I who never used the term “dreadful”, but you keep putting that word into my mouth. Atheists are not dreadful. Nor is Dawkins or anyone else here.

            But you guys do seem to be very controlling.

            • gbjames
              Posted May 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

              Smelling salts are not generally used for conditions related to fear. Their use (not so much any more) was typically to revive people who had fainted.

              Your posts on WEIT have, as I mentioned above, one common characteristic. They repeatedly insist that this one word should not be in any way associated with you, because you are a scientist. Or something.

              I’m just trying to find out exactly why you find this word so problematic. Because it accurately describes what people (like you), who don’t believe in deities, ARE. Do you go on web sites that talk about environmental issues and insist that you are not an environmentalist?

              Nobody has insisted that you use the word in your science class. Nobody is trying to control you in any way, unless you think that a demand for clarity is a form of control.

              • Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

                And they fainted because……don’t tell me you were worried that atheism would give me hyperthyroidism, GB. I mean, really.

                Dont’ get me wrong, GB. I enjoy everyone’s company. I like Dr. Coyne’s blog. “Cat’s Funeral and Homer’s Wine-Dark Sea” was bloody genius.

                I used to be a veterinary nurse. I agreed with all of PETA’s ideas, disagreed with lobsters being boiled alive, etc. However, I specifically said I was NOT an animal rights activist. Call me an educator, a nurse, whatever. Not an activist. (By the way…my science class? Just how young do you think I am?)

                It’s fine with me if a scientists **choose to call themselves atheists. But again, linguistic disagreement. Atheist does not just mean one single thing.

              • gbjames
                Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

                I have no idea how old you are nor do see how that question has any relevance.

                No matter what dictionary I look at, I just can’t find the place where the word “activist” is part of the definition of “atheist”. But then I don’t have a copy of your personal dictionary.

          • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            Reply to you is below. Sorry. Reply fail.

          • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            GB, I’ll leave this as my last reply as I’m sure I’ve overreached my comment quota. 😉

            “Empiricism? Rationalism?”

            Yes, absolutely. If a scientist goes around announcing they are a rationalist, empiricist, anything that seeks to label themselves, they will be constrained by that and will have no credibility.

            To do science, one must remain faithful to whatever the evidence shows them. That means, as much as possible, stepping outside the human mind and into the world of what you’re studying.

            The cell. Evolution. The bloodstream. The solar system. It takes the ultimate removal from our boundaries. And that is why we leave labels at the door.

            • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

              If a scientist goes around announcing they are a rationalist, empiricist, anything that seeks to label themselves, they will be constrained by that and will have no credibility.

              and then

              To do science, one must remain faithful to whatever the evidence shows them.

              (Emphasis mine)

              I am completely puzzled now. Isn’t being “faithful to whatever the evidence shows them” the most commonly accepted definition of empiricism? Then isn’t the scientist who does the former, but doesn’t want to get called an “empiricist” just playing unimportant lexical games. The kind of lexical game where you “reject” the label of being a “human” because you don’t really like that there are other humans who eat animal meat (for example).

              • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                My point is not that the person is being *empirical*. My point is that people are insisting that some “ist” label be announced out loud. Stop being distracted by labels and let’s just do our jobs.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

                And of course we all know, or should know, that science is indeed colored by our society and its history. The areas we study, the technology we can and will use (for ethical concerns, say), the possible results that comes from laboring under such limitations, et cetera. Empiricism and rationalism here is nowhere removed from “our boundaries”.

                In the same way that something akin to humans are rare in the universe, our science will be. Not the basics such as cosmology, evolution, something analogous to our cells, et cetera. But the specifics are contingent.

            • gbjames
              Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

              To be opposed to labels is to be opposed to adjectives. Language use would be much deminished were the to be “left at the door.”

              The problem is not the use of labels. The problem is whether or not particular labels are accurate. Everyone uses labels. Even scientists.

        • gravelinspector
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          Not scientifically correct, GB. If being stupid were a fatal disease, I’d be dead by now.

          There are graduations of stupid, from “typo”, through “the wheels are skidding”, onto “Stercus stercus stercus moriturius sum” (Latinish for “Excrement excrement excrement, this time I’m really going to die”, I’m told), all of which are not necessarily terminal.
          Then there are plenty of examples of truely terminal stupidity on the Darwin Awards website. Or, in many local newspapers.
          The important question of what meaning of “atheist” is being used is not the meaning in your mind, or even in GB’s mind ; the important meaning is the one in the mind of the not-dead zombies with the flaming brands and the pitchforks. If they think that “atheist” means “brainzzzz” or “the spawn of Satan has come to eat my babies”, then it really doesn’t matter if you think it means “nice avocado dish”, or “personal theological solution” ; it’s time to start running!
          Sigh – another 15 minute foray through the bowels of WordPress to get logged in. At least I saved the post before hitting the “post” button.
          And now I’m losing my cursor. Is this normal behaviour for IE? I use it so rarely (client’s computer this week ; client’s network ; no Admin rights to install something workable) I’m not sure if it’s me or IE or WordPress.

          • Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            It’s WordPress. Trust me.

            I think my grade of stupid could be any one of those you listed. 😉

            • gravelinspector
              Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

              Try to keep it to one grade of stupid at at time {GRIN}.

          • S A GOULD
            Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

            Recently took the Dawkins 7pt quiz on Atheism, and according to that I am at least a 6.5. (I have many strange beliefs, but god ain’t one of them.)

            So when I was called to be part of a Special Grand Jury, I got the states attorney aside and asked “There’s not a problem if I don’t put my hand on the bible and swear ‘So help me God’ is there?”

            I am a pretty harmless-looking little old lady, but he froze like a dear in the headlights for a full two-beats before saying “NO! NO PROBLEM AT ALL!” and rushing off.

            Using the A word does change things.

            • Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

              On Dawkins 7 point scale, I am a 6.66

            • gravelinspector
              Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

              Why would you even need to ask before the jury selection is over? If you’re selected, simply tell the bailiff (sheriff’s officer here) that you wish to affirm, not swear an oath on the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. God departs, sobbing and weeping, while you bask in the Touch of The Noodly Appendage.
              Or are you implying that your opinions on religion are likely to colour your understanding of factual evidence presented to you?
              (I’ve never been on jury duty here – been selected a couple of times for the panel ; went into the court’s office to tell the “I’m perfectly willing, but don’t have a working schedule, and am rountinely out of the house for weeks or months.” I didn’t even need to tell them the futility of attempting to ask for a mobile phone number – they’re used to the working habits of the area. But I do know that I’d not tell them about my opinions on either hair colouration or religion, and I certainly would insist on being affirmed, not sworn. If it’s different in your jurisdiction, then surely that’s a procedural problem that needs to be cleared up sooner rather than later.)

              And todays WordPress-ism is : you can’t write a reply when logged-in that extends more than a couple of lines without having to type blind. Or copy’n’paste. This is an atrocious system!
              Oh, but you can get to the bottom of the scroll-box when you paste ; you just can’t navigate there from the page.
              And after that work-around, I can’t see the button to post my comment! Atrocious!

            • Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

              He might’ve thought you were a Quaker, not necessarily an atheist.


              PS. Of course, Quakers were socially stigmatised in their time, and barred from many professions, which is why so many UK banks, manufacturing and confectionery companies were founded by Quakers.

  11. S A GOULD
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    she is fun. thanks.

    • Roz
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I like her sarcastic and witty approach. She’s like a young Dawkins

  12. Strider
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    The only thing non-golf players should get together and strategize about is how to deal with the dreadful clothing golfers wear. Kidding, of course, because their clothing does nothing to affect non-golfing society beyond the confines of the golf course.

    OTOH, most religions were designed to affect society outside the confines of the temple walls in myriad, and typically pernicious, ways. Thus, contrary to what Dr. Tyson seems to suggest, atheists *should* be strategizing about how to counter efforts by the religious to affect society.

  13. Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I so liked her approach that I have contributed to her cause. See You Tube How about anyone else showing similar support?

  14. DrDroid
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Neil is acting like a politician and a celebrity; he does not want to be labeled an “atheist” and become a target of conservative Americans. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium and is therefore much in the public eye as a celebrity of sorts (and obviously loves it). Can you imagine what it would do to his career if he became a fire-breathing atheist like Dawkins?

    • Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Who says he would have to be fire-breathing? Can you imagine what it would do for atheism if he turned out to be a warm, cuddly and charming atheist? Not that I disagree that this isn’t exactly why he doesn’t accept the label. I understand his reluctance given the fundamentalist climate in America – it’s just a shame people like him don’t also rise up and show the faces of atheism other than fire-breathing.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        As I said above, the problem isn’t really in Tyson, it’s in the Fundamentalist UnDead of America who equate “atheist” and “firebreathing baby eater”.
        And now my browser is getting worse. I can’t see to edit my typing. Bloody machines, but it;s the same point in reverse – it doesn’t matter what WordPress is sending to my browser if the browser is broken in regard of it’s display. Unfortunately, it’s a locked-down system, so it’s not woth trying to figure out what is actually broken.

      • Kevin
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        I think Dawkins as about as warm and cuddly as you can get.

        Ditto Dan Dennett. For crying out loud, he looks just like Santa Claus! How much more warm and cuddly can you get?

        Hitchens, not so much…but of course, he’s dead and I don’t recommend cuddling against the dead.

        • Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          Agreed – Dennett and Dawkins both make good cuddle-buddies, no doubt. Christians are really missing out.

      • DrDroid
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I would rather Neil just say something like “atheists are people who don’t see any evidence for god(s) and I don’t either” and quit dancing around the word. I’m pretty sure what his actual opinions are; he’s just trying to avoid being lumped in with Dawkins, Hitchens, and the “New Atheists”, who pull no punches in their criticism of religion. They are 100% right, but have become reviled targets of conservative America, something Neil is trying to avoid.

        • Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          NdGT has said some things every bit as critical of religion as some of the things RD et al. have.


          • DrDroid
            Posted May 15, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

            Why does he go into a song and dance over the word “atheist”? Can you give me a link to where NdGT has said highly critical things about religion?

            • Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

              Now, I didn’t say he was highly critical. 😉

              Better perhaps to have said, dismissive of religion. F’rinstance: “If that’s how you wanna invoke your evidence for god, then god is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance, thats getting smaller, smaller and smaller as time goes moves on.”


    • Caroline52
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      I agree. By analogy to gay rights in the 80s–stop trying to force Tyson to “out” himself. Go become as famous a public figure as he is, and do it yourself.

    • Sajanas
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      I guess my problem is that he’s objecting because its a ‘label’… he seems to think the agnostic ‘label’ is a better one for his career, and is sticking with it. You know who else is an atheist and a celebrity? Adam Savage. He doesn’t make a big deal about it, but he’s still willing to call a spade a spade, and not make some sort of weird calculated decision because he’s afraid his show will get pulled if he doesn’t. As if conservative America doesn’t hate agnostics too. I doubt they’ll hear “I’m an agnostic” and think, oh, well, that’s better.

  15. emmageraln
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln and commented:
    She’s great!

  16. VikingWarriorPrinces
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    That was fantastic.
    “They are terminally stupid” – can not be said enough times.

  17. Caroline52
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    We need Christinas AND Neils. Consider the Overton window.

  18. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Excellent, Christina!

    I absolutely love the guy, but now I’m wondering if astrophysicist Neil Tyson is truly agnostic about Bertrand Russell’s teapot…

    C’mon now, Dr. Tyson… you don’t seriously believe there’s a teapot orbiting Mars, do you?


    Where does the esteemed Dr. Tyson fall on the Dawkins seven-point scale, for instance?

    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      BTW there isn’t any such thing as a non-golfer. We golfers simply call such people “high handicappers“.

      • Notagod
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Damned christian gods, pasture wanderers are all alike.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      ^F teapot

      well done.

    • articulett
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Is Neil agnostic about demons? Satan? Xenu?

  19. smudgemartens
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Funny that you should mention non-golfers because that is directly on-point.

    Golf and religion are both incredibly destructive practices. Golf consumes vast water resources, huge riding mowers generate air pollution and emit greenhouse gases, fairways and greens require fertilizer and pesticides which pollute ground water and run into rivers.

    There are many local and international organizations of non-golfers dedicated to opposing new courses and imposing reasonable ecological practices on current clubs.

    So yes, there are large organizations opposed to golf courses – just like religion.

    Atheists are not just people who don’t believe in god, but rather those who oppose the special privileges extended to religion and the evil that they propagate.

    • S A GOULD
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink


    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Golf began as a game played on the unspoiled coastal dunes of Scotland. The earliest golfers simply dug a few 4-inch diameter holes in the ground, marked their locations with sticks, and off they went, whacking around leather pouches filled with bird feathers. The environmental impact was precisely zero(

      If I had my druthers, that is how the game would still be played. And it would be just as enjoyable for me.

      I also despise the religious overtones currently seeping into professional golf. (The current Masters champion is a bible thumper, for instance.) And although I can hear your protests already, I can’t, and won’t, take responsibility for what golf has become in the 21st century. Furthermore, I rarely even play actual golf, because (1) it’s way too expensive, and (2) it’s way too slow, due mostly to poor players and business-oriented yahoos who refuse to practice and thus can’t hit the ball out of their shadows, even with 5000 dollars worth of modern equipment. I get tired of their delusions about the game, and their shouted frustrations.

      Golf is a pure sport — one of the purest. Golf to me is like a martial art, similar to kung fu or tai chi. I think you must be referring to the capitalistic business of golf, a business I mostly despise.

      Lastly, I actually view the golf scene as an opportunity to encourage religious skepticism in young adults and children, and I for one intend to do just that.

      • smudgemartens
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        That’s a similar argument that I hear from the sincerely religious – religious thinking was originally pure and personal, and only through the unholy marriage of church and state has religion become debased and evil.

        I agree with your history of golf. That’s why I dropped conventional ball golf years ago and embraced disc golf – a great egalitarian game that embodies many of the wondrous characteristics of ball golf but is simpatico with the environment and where greens fees are usually free or only a few bucks at great private courses.

        Take a look at these three new disc golf videos:

        • abrotherhoodofman
          Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          With all due respect, I think your analogy sucks. I brought up the origins of golf because in its original form, there was virtually zero environmental impact. You’re trying to pin a “religious” charge on someone who is thoroughly, rabidly, militantly atheist, and the attempt is laughable.

          95-percent of my golf is at driving ranges, and their environmental impact is very small compared to golf courses. They are mostly just abandoned lots, with a sleepy human behind a desk taking your money.

          I also enjoy frisbee golf, from time to time! But I doubt I’m going to impact the minds of very many religious children mixed in with the pot smoking liberals…

          Thanks for your concern, though!


    • Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      “Atheists are not just people who don’t believe in god, but rather those who oppose the special privileges extended to religion and the evil that they propagate.” – Sorry, Smudge, but that’s just wrong.

      There are very many atheists who do not oppose religion (see “accommodationist”), just as there are many who are not skeptics, not philosophical naturalists, not humanists, and so on.

      Narrowing the definition of “atheist” engenders the attitudes that NdGT, Amelie, and others have with the word.

      What you said is closer to a description of new/gnu atheists, but we are, I think, only a small minority of all atheists in the world.


  20. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    now I understand his recent tweet about the world needing “more words”.

    presumably NDT would identify as a scient-ist. I do not think Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the baggage of scient-ists, but there presumably are many who do. by the arguments in this video – I would say he just took on that baggage.

    or perhaps NDT would be quick to identify as an astrophysic-ist – thereby sidestepping the baggage.

    but guess what – there’s always baggage.

    (trying to resist getting a twitter account).

  21. Kelly
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Good book: What’s Wrong With The World And How To Fix It — Ken Smith

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      If it’s by the same Ken Smith who wrote Ken’s Guide to the Bible it’s probably a very good book.

  22. Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I think we should quit harassing Neil De Grasse Tyson over what really amounts to semantics. Anyone who has seen his YouTube talk on Intelligent Design – (The Amusement Park next to The Sewage Outlet) should be in no doubt as to where his loyalties lie

    • articulett
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      I think it was his backhanded slap of atheists in order to win favor with theists that bothered people the most. He could have just said he thinks of himself as an agnostic without having to add to a straw man view of atheism.

      He furthered a prejudice when he could have helped alleviate it (by owing up to the label). It’s sort of like a closeted homosexual who maligns homosexuals so that he is not maligned.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:35 am | Permalink

        Yes, exactly the impression I get from those few brief excerpts that Cristina quoted in her video (I’m assuming they’re not misleadingly out of context). Methinks he doth protest too much. It really does him no credit.

  23. stevehayes13
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    The word atheist comes from the gods bothering people. They imposed the label as a pejorative on people who did not accept their gods. The had a whole bunch of them: infidel, heathen, pagan, etc: but the most feared group were the ones who had no gods: the a (without) theos (gods) and being so labelled was seriously dangerous; indeed, in many places today, it is still seriously dangerous. As Neil’s refusal of the label makes perfectly clear, it is still not respectable to be an atheist.

  24. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    First time I’ve seen her. I’m in love 🙂

    • BillyJoe
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 4:09 am | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure that was not her intent. 😉

  25. greyhound1405
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    At The Reason Rally…

  26. greyhound1405
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    On Q&A in OZ…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 2:13 am | Permalink

      Ouch. I watched part of it, couldn’t make it through. Cristina was totally outnumbered by the nauseating hypocritical religious sympathisers on the panel. Just wish Hitch had been on it too.

  27. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    For a much more entertaining Cristina video see this one: (Maybe if I put it in quote marks WP won’t imbed it?)


    Incidentally, I detest rap, Cristina’s rap at the end is the first one I’ve ever liked.

  28. toniclark
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    If golf-playing were as pervasive as religion is, there would certainly be people willing to identify as agolfists.

  29. Roz
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only a few more minutes on here, so sorry if there’s typos..

    A conversation with a vegan who it turns out, has a hang-up about being called a vegan;

    Me: Hey, I’ve heard you decided to become a vegan.. it says alot about how much you care for animals. I’m thinking that way lately, myself

    Vegan: I’m NOT a vegan, thank you.

    Me: Oh, I do apologize. OK, so what is your diet? So I can invite you over for tea

    Vegan: I’ll eat anything that is not sourced from an animal

    Me: I’m confused. Why are you saying you’re not a vegan then?

    Vegan: Because I just don’t want that label placed on me, ok?! I’m not some person who goes around throwing paint on fur coats! I’m not even a left-wing greenie. I don’t want to be associated with those people! I just don’t consume animal products!

    Me: Alrighty then! So you’re a non-vegan vegan?

    Vegan: I’m a person who abstains from animal products.

    Me: Ok. I will be careful not to call you a vegan in future

    Vegan: Thanks for understanding 🙂

    • Roz
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      And this is why people shouldn’t buy into other peoples stereotypes about themselves..because they end up sounding that silly

    • gbjames
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink


  30. Hayden Scott
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    She also presented at the 2010 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne.

  31. CNR
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I think Jerry and Christina aren’t completely correct here.

    What is their purpose? To claim yet another atheist for the team? Do they want Neil Tyson to join the ranks of Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris?

    We have the bulldogs, we need the Tyson’s.

    As a former Christian (for the first 30 or so years of my life) I can tell you that you need all of these types of people to communicate the concepts of science and critical thinking.

    It takes the Hitchens and the Dawkins to lay it all out there, bare for the world to see.

    But they also scare away some believers.

    As a kid, I was always fascinated by astronomy. It is that fascination that was the gateway to my becoming an atheist. My desire to learn more opened my mind to some truths that were orthogonal to my beliefs.

    I used to watch “Star Hustler” with Jack Horkheimer on PBS. He was a great communicator of basic astronomy. He drew me in. I don’t know one way or the other, but if he was an avowed atheist, I would have probably been turned off to him just due to my beliefs at the time.

    So you see, we need the Neil Tyson’s. And sorry, you are not going to erase that stigma of the word anytime soon.

    So I am glad Neil is focusing on communicating science. We need him to do exactly that.

    • Posted May 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      @CNR: Thank you for saying that it is pretty close to what I wrote a day or two ago. People seem to get their knickers in knots over words!

      • CNR
        Posted May 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, sorry, didn’t read all the comments. Was just something I had been thinking about for a few days.

        But I think the point further is that we shouldn’t be pushing the issue at all.

        Semantics or not, again, we need the Neil Tyson’s who can communicate real science in a non-threatening manner to the people who most need to hear it.

        For example, if Neil came out and labeled himself an atheist, I can guarantee that when Cosmos comes out on Fox, it would affect who would watch it. I think you would have fewer non-atheist/agnostics watching it just because of the label. That would be the true lost opportunity.

    • gbjames
      Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      Nobody is objecting to NdGT focusing on communicating science. And nobody is trying to “claim another atheist for the team”. You are posing straw man arguments.

      This has been pretty clearly articulated already. Repeatedly. The objection is to a dishonest characterization of the rest of us non-believers who are working hard to de-stigmatize the word.

      This whole kerfuffle was triggered by NdGT’s comments on matters that are clearly not what you would call “communicating science”.

      • Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink


        We’d be glad if NdGT did self-identify as an atheist, but in the meantime, would rather he didn’t dis those of us who already do.


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