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Penn Jillette: Time for atheists to stand up and be counted

Dragonfly

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Penn Jillette: Atheists, stand up and be counted - CNN.com

(CNN)This weekend on the Mall in Washington, a bunch of atheists — tens of thousands, including me --will get together just to be counted as not having a personal god.Why? Whether the pollsters bemoan it or celebrate it, the percentage of Americans who are losing their religion is rising. And in a presidential election year, candidates need to take note.

This made me laugh:

The only good news about Donald Trump, and this is from a rose-colored-glasses-crazy-optimist, is that Silly Donny shows us that even on the right wing, religion no longer really matters. Trump wouldn't know a verse from the Bible if it were tattooed backward on his backside so he could read it in the mirror.

This weekend on the Mall, some of the grooviest, smartest, most loving people in the country will get together and cheer about not having a personal god. Some of the ugliest, silliest, stupidest people will be there, too.

This has some relevance:

It's time for people to see what atheists really look like.Atheists look like Americans. We are Americans, and we've always been your neighbors and friends.


Shall be interesting to see how this gathering turns out. Will there really be 'tens-of-thousands"? Or just a hundred or two?

The comment about Gary Johnson rings loud too.
 

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I've heard they're expecting 50 thousand. This isn't the first time this event has happened. Wish I could go, TBH.

Also, really love Penn and everything he does is pretty awesome. Regular listener to his podcast, Sunday School, it's always entertaining.
 

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I've heard they're expecting 50 thousand. This isn't the first time this event has happened. Wish I could go, TBH.

Also, really love Penn and everything he does is pretty awesome. Regular listener to his podcast, Sunday School, it's always entertaining.


I wish I could go too. I need to go to at least one of these kind of events before I finally kick the bucket.
 

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Despite the wording of the OP article, and the typical view of looking down on atheists. There is a point to be made about certain demographics in the nation not being organized enough to have a seat at the table of discussion on issues this nation faces.

According to Pew, the percentage of the nation that identifies as Atheist or Agnostic could be as high as 7%. Even if you back that down to 5%, we are still talking about almost 16 million people in this nation that arguably have little to no representation. The NRA has something like 4 to 5 million active members, ACLU has something like 500K active members, NAACP has something like 300K active members, we could go on and on down the list of organizations that have a voice at various tables of discussion.

You get just 25% of those 16 million Atheists and Agnostics to organize and you have a membership list that rivals the NRA numbers.

Now that is all fine and good with just numbers but the point is the article may have accidentally made a point about how we organize in this nation just enough to ensure political and financial capital in order to guide issues of importance. We cannot talk about guns without mentioning where the NRA is on the matter, we cannot talk about civil rights issues without mentioning either the NAACP or the ACLU. You get some organization behind Atheists and Agnostics and it becomes a political force to contend with on religion in politics, social issues, etc.

It may not happen anytime soon, but there is no real reason to rule out eventually this silent and unrepresented group saying they have had enough of being excluded.
 

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I find it puzzling that atheism is viewed as such an important part or maybe the most important of a person's identity. Well, it's only puzzling if what I repeatedly hear from atheists that it's a simple non belief. I, personally, give very little thought to things I don't believe in. I don't believe in flying ponies. Let's have a non belief in flying pony rally.

On the other hand, my own religion is a very large part of my identity and that I would rally for, or I might rally against something I'm hostile toward. Is this an anti-religion rally? That doesn't seem like that's what Penn wants. I think an event like this is all good but I also think atheists who truly don't see their atheism as any kind of big deal would be unlikely the ones to go to this, so that I think the hostile, mocking, evangelical atheists will be over represented and Penn's idea that this will showcase that atheists are nice, caring, and "normal" probably won't pan out, but we'll see.
 
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countryboy

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Despite the wording of the OP article, and the typical view of looking down on atheists. There is a point to be made about certain demographics in the nation not being organized enough to have a seat at the table of discussion on issues this nation faces.

According to Pew, the percentage of the nation that identifies as Atheist or Agnostic could be as high as 7%. Even if you back that down to 5%, we are still talking about almost 16 million people in this nation that arguably have little to no representation. The NRA has something like 4 to 5 million active members, ACLU has something like 500K active members, NAACP has something like 300K active members, we could go on and on down the list of organizations that have a voice at various tables of discussion.

You get just 25% of those 16 million Atheists and Agnostics to organize and you have a membership list that rivals the NRA numbers.

Now that is all fine and good with just numbers but the point is the article may have accidentally made a point about how we organize in this nation just enough to ensure political and financial capital in order to guide issues of importance. We cannot talk about guns without mentioning where the NRA is on the matter, we cannot talk about civil rights issues without mentioning either the NAACP or the ACLU. You get some organization behind Atheists and Agnostics and it becomes a political force to contend with on religion in politics, social issues, etc.

It may not happen anytime soon, but there is no real reason to rule out eventually this silent and unrepresented group saying they have had enough of being excluded.
Atheists don't believe in God. In what way are they not being represented?

I think if we're going to be honest, a large number of non believers could more accurately be described as anti-theist.
 

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Organizing atheists is much like unionizing the unemployed - the only thing that they have in common is the lack of something.
 

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Atheists don't believe in God. In what way are they not being represented?
I think this can easily be oversold but I do think there is an element, especially in the US, where a lot of consideration is given to religious beliefs, opinions and practices rather than beliefs, opinions and practices in general. A lot of the debates around moral questions (homosexuality, abortion etc.) seem to be focused on people expressing their religious freedoms, which (if only unintentionally) excludes anyone who has the same moral objections but without any religious or theistic basis.

I think if we're going to be honest, a large number of non believers could more accurately be described as anti-theist.
Only if you also describe any large numbers of theists as “anti-atheist”. I don’t see anything in this article or the event that suggests they’re being anti-anything though, they’re just looking to make a statement that they exist as well.
 

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I think this can easily be oversold but I do think there is an element, especially in the US, where a lot of consideration is given to religious beliefs, opinions and practices rather than beliefs, opinions and practices in general. A lot of the debates around moral questions (homosexuality, abortion etc.) seem to be focused on people expressing their religious freedoms, which (if only unintentionally) excludes anyone who has the same moral objections but without any religious or theistic basis.

Only if you also describe any large numbers of theists as “anti-atheist”. I don’t see anything in this article or the event that suggests they’re being anti-anything though, they’re just looking to make a statement that they exist as well.

Of course a lot of consideration is given to religious beliefs. Christians make up the over whelming population of this country.

Fighting back against anti-theist nonsense is not "anti-atheist".

This group is clearly anti-theist, will they be participating in the godless heathen rally? https://ffrf.org/
 

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I, personally, give very little thought to things I don't believe in. I don't believe in flying ponies. Let's have a non belief in flying pony rally.

I'm pretty sure if the vast majority of people around you believed in flying ponies, and for hundreds of years the very culture of your community was wrapped up in flying pony belief to the point where laws and governance were tightly intertwined with flying ponies, you might feel a little different.

When you're part of the overwhelming majority, you don't see things quite like those who are looking from the other side.

Imagine if ALL of the political nominees for POTUS were Muslims who seriously wanted to implement Sharia Law into every aspect of the USofA.
You might spend a little more time thinking about the things you don't believe in then. Right?
 

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I'm pretty sure if the vast majority of people around you believed in flying ponies, and for hundreds of years the very culture of your community was wrapped up in flying pony belief to the point where laws and governance were tightly intertwined with flying ponies, you might feel a little different.

When you're part of the overwhelming majority, you don't see things quite like those who are looking from the other side.

Imagine if ALL of the political nominees for POTUS were Muslims who seriously wanted to implement Sharia Law into every aspect of the USofA.
You might spend a little more time thinking about the things you don't believe in then. Right?

What you're describing, though, is hostility and rallying against something you're hostile toward, I actually understand. So why not just say that this is a rally against religion?
 

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Atheists don't believe in God. In what way are they not being represented?

I think if we're going to be honest, a large number of non believers could more accurately be described as anti-theist.

Organizing atheists is much like unionizing the unemployed - the only thing that they have in common is the lack of something.

It is about the idea of how this nation is governed in today's terms. Call it a study of sociology across today's US political landscape.

Arguably we can offer that modern conservatism has little to do with constitutional conservatism, and more to do with social conservatism. Further we can argue that is based, at least in part, on the nature of religion in politics. More or less confirmed by how Republicans these days (not so much Trump, more an exception than the rule) brand themselves and where they obtain support.

On the flip side modern liberalism is neither pro-atheist or anti-atheist, which is to say that group is not purposefully included or excluded. From my chair I do not see their voice, and when I do I see modern liberalism leading the charge. Not so much Atheists & Agnostics.

The only reason I am going through all that is to offer that in terms of today's political landscape there is no active effort to include Atheists & Agnostics in the discussion. Even if we determine that some percentage of Atheists & Agnostics are purposefully anti-Theist it still does not change the conversation on how this group is represented.

By the numbers there is a sizable portion of the population that is Atheist & Agnostic, and perhaps more that would sympathize with their position on religious influence into governance. The political and social pendulum in this nation has been wild enough since WWII alone to tell us we have been through periods of strong social conservative lean and period of more liberal social revolution. Somewhere in the mix the Pew Survey results tell us the following groups are on the incline. Atheists & Agnostics, those who are theists but not affiliated with an organized religion, other non-mainstream religions.

At some point those groups are going to want to be seated at the table of discussion on social matters. You both may not like them, not like their views, consider them all "anti-Theist" in some regard but that does not mean we get to purposefully silence their position. It is only a matter of time as plenty of other demographic oriented or view oriented political groups have formed for whatever stated purpose.

You both may disagree and suggest they should not be present in discussion on social issues this nation faces, but that would be an argument for at a minimum fascism and worse totalitarianism.
 
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Skeptic Bob

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I find it puzzling that atheism is viewed as such an important part or maybe the most important of a person's identity. Well, it's only puzzling if what I repeatedly hear from atheists that it's a simple non belief. I, personally, give very little thought to things I don't believe in. I don't believe in flying ponies. Let's have a non belief in flying pony rally.
.

It would be foolish to have a rally for those who didn't believe in flying ponies. But what if most the people in the country believed in them? What if it was next to impossible to get elected to office if you didn't espouse belief in flying ponies? What if people were less likely to trust you and your family disowned you because your lack of belief in them. What if the teachers at your kid's school kept trying to make your kid believe that flying ponies exist. What if, while at work, your colleagues asked which flying pony was your favorite and when you admitted you didn't believe in flying ponies your boss told you that perhaps you should find a different place to work? What if there are countries where admitting that you don't believe in flying ponies could get you killed or jailed?

In a world like that wouldn't it feel good to find out that you aren't the only person that doesn't believe? If you learned there was a group of people that were going to rally to show the world that you don't have to believe in flying ponies to be a good person wouldn't you be tempted to support their cause? If flying ponies don't exist then why would they bother organizing?
 

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It is about the idea of how this nation is governed in today's terms. Call it a study of sociology across today's US political landscape.

Arguably we can offer that modern conservatism has little to do with constitutional conservatism, and more to do with social conservatism. Further we can argue that is based, at least in part, on the nature of religion in politics. More or less confirmed by how Republicans these days (not so much Trump, more an exception than the rule) brand themselves and where they obtain support.

On the flip side modern liberalism is neither pro-atheist or anti-atheist, which is to say that group is not purposefully included or excluded. From my chair I do not see their voice, and when I do I see modern liberalism leading the charge. Not so much Atheists & Agnostics.

The only reason I am going through all that is to offer that in terms of today's political landscape there is no active effort to include Atheists & Agnostics in the discussion. Even if we determine that some percentage of Atheists & Agnostics are purposefully anti-Theist is still does not change the conversation on how this group is represented.

By the numbers there is a sizable portion of the population that is Atheist & Agnostic, and perhaps more that would sympathize with their position on religious influence into governance. The political and social pendulum in this nation has been wild enough since WWII alone to tell us we have been through periods of strong social conservative lean and period of more liberal social revolution. Somewhere in the mix the Pew Survey results tell us the following groups are on the incline. Atheists & Agnostics, those who are theists but not affiliated with an organized religion, other non-mainstream religions.

At some point those groups are going to want to be seated at the table of discussion on social matters. You both may not like them, not like their views, consider them all "anti-Theist" in some regard but that does not mean we get to purposefully silence their position. It is only a matter of time as plenty of other demographic oriented or view oriented political groups have formed for whatever stated purpose.

You both may disagree and suggest they should not be present in discussion on social issues this nation faces, but that would be an argument for at a minimum fascism and worse totalitarianism.

I don't "consider" them to be anti-theist. Vocal atheists ARE anti-theist. https://ffrf.org/
 

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I don't "consider" them to be anti-theist. Vocal atheists ARE anti-theist. https://ffrf.org/

That does not change the subject at hand.

Are you arguing that they should not have representation at the table of discussion on social matters?

It is a fairly straight-forward and non-loaded question. You either do or do not.
 

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Of course a lot of consideration is given to religious beliefs. Christians make up the over whelming population of this country.
So that means the opinions of anyone who isn’t in the majority should be second class or entirely dismissed? My point is that everyone has opinions, views, beliefs and morals regardless of whether they’re Christian, follow some other religion (theistic or not) or if their non-religious and non-believers. Why should the belief of any of those various sub-groups be given any kind of greater attention or priority? If you weren’t in that majority, I’m sure you’d be among the first to complain.

This group is clearly anti-theist, will they be participating in the godless heathen rally? https://ffrf.org/
That’s a matter of opinion. The statement I challenged you on suggested any large group of non-believers should be considered anti-theist by default.
 

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It would be foolish to have a rally for those who didn't believe in flying ponies. But what if most the people in the country believed in them? What if it was next to impossible to get elected to office if you didn't espouse belief in flying ponies? What if people were less likely to trust you and your family disowned you because your lack of belief in them. What if the teachers at your kid's school kept trying to make your kid believe that flying ponies exist. What if, while at work, your colleagues asked which flying pony was your favorite and when you admitted you didn't believe in flying ponies your boss told you that perhaps you should find a different place to work? What if there are countries where admitting that you don't believe in flying ponies could get you killed or jailed?

In a world like that wouldn't it feel good to find out that you aren't the only person that doesn't believe? If you learned there was a group of people that were going to rally to show the world that you don't have to believe in flying ponies to be a good person wouldn't you be tempted to support their cause? If flying ponies don't exist then why would they bother organizing?

That really depends. Personally, I'm not hostile toward a belief in flying ponies. If the rally itself is inundated with folks intent on aggravating, mocking and ridiculing the flying pony believers, then how would that rally accomplish showing what good people us non believers in flying ponies are? If I truly wanted someone to know that my own disbelief does not mean I'm hostile toward them, I would not want associate myself with those who are.
 

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That does not change the subject at hand.

Are you arguing that they should not have representation at the table of discussion on social matters?

It is a fairly straight-forward and non-loaded question. You either do or do not.

Do all atheists think the same way politically? For atheists to be properly "represented" does that equal laws or legislation against or hostile toward religion? Do you automatically oppose a law that religious people support? Atheists and believers have nothing in common?
 

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Do all atheists think the same way politically? For atheists to be properly "represented" does that equal laws or legislation against or hostile toward religion? Do you automatically oppose a law that religious people support? Atheists and believers have nothing in common?

I honestly have no idea, I cannot speak for the group overall. Only offer what I think.

Really, I am trying to understand why Atheists & Agnostics should be excluded from the political landscape.
 

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I find it puzzling that atheism is viewed as such an important part or maybe the most important of a person's identity. Well, it's only puzzling if what I repeatedly hear from atheists that it's a simple non belief. I, personally, give very little thought to things I don't believe in. I don't believe in flying ponies. Let's have a non belief in flying pony rally.

On the other hand, my own religion is a very large part of my identity and that I would rally for, or I might rally against something I'm hostile toward. Is this an anti-religion rally? That doesn't seem like that's what Penn wants. I think an event like this is all good but I also think atheists who truly don't see their atheism as any kind of big deal would be unlikely the ones to go to this, so that I think the hostile, mocking, evangelical atheists will be over represented and Penn's idea that this will showcase that atheists are nice, caring, and "normal" probably won't pan out, but we'll see.

Exactly!

If all atheism is...is a lack of belief...there would be no rallies.

But for MANY atheists...there is hypocrisy at work. The do have an active BELIEF that no gods exist.

I am an agnostic.

I lack a belief that gods exist...just as I lack a belief that there are no gods.

There may be...there may not.

Penn Teller is an oaf...and he is NOT an atheist by virtue of simply lacking a belief in a god. He is an atheist because he BELIEVES there are no gods...just as theists BELIEVE there is at least one.

I wish him good luck with his rally...but like you, I doubt it will be particularly productive.
 

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Penn Jillette: Atheists, stand up and be counted - CNN.com



This made me laugh:





This has some relevance:




Shall be interesting to see how this gathering turns out. Will there really be 'tens-of-thousands"? Or just a hundred or two?

The comment about Gary Johnson rings loud too.


I would be shocked and amazed if many people went. I remember all the 'million man marchers' on Washington, including a bunch of truckers that were going to shut things down where, a dozen showed up at most.
 

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Exactly!

If all atheism is...is a lack of belief...there would be no rallies.

But for MANY atheists...there is hypocrisy at work. The do have an active BELIEF that no gods exist.

I am an agnostic.

I lack a belief that gods exist...just as I lack a belief that there are no gods.

There may be...there may not.

Penn Teller is an oaf...and he is NOT an atheist by virtue of simply lacking a belief in a god. He is an atheist because he BELIEVES there are no gods...just as theists BELIEVE there is at least one.

I wish him good luck with his rally...but like you, I doubt it will be particularly productive.

I am agnostic too. Where's our rally? :mrgreen:
 

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But for MANY atheists...there is hypocrisy at work. The do have an active BELIEF that no gods exist.
Even if that were true, where’s the hypocrisy in it here? Many (probably most) theists don’t just believe in some kind of god or gods but believe in specifically defined gods (and by definition, disbelieve in any others).

The point of this doesn’t have anything to do with what people believe or not though, it’s about how the political process addresses people with different beliefs, particularly those who don’t believe in any gods (regardless of whether they’re the outspoken atheist type or not).
 
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