Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Misunderstanding a message

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Over on The Aspirational Agnostic Eva has posted what was essentially the testimony she made to her church about her conversion to Christianity: Hopefully this will be the last time I talk about being an atheist. The post has been criticised both in the comments section of the blog and also wider afield such as here and here.

There are assertions that her story is little more than a pack of lies: her story doesn’t fit the facts. Yet when I read her story I most certainly don’t see it that way. To me it’s a story of her experience of the journey from scepticism to faith designed for a specific audience (the congregation). It is not a historical document consisting of documented facts set out in strictly chronological order. And to assume such is to make a grave error in my opinion.

The posts by Makagutu and Tidleb, along with many of the subsequent comments assert some aspects of the story are deliberate fabrications and are patently false. Let’s look at some of those claims.

Tidleb claims Eva lied when she wrote “I was an angry opinionated atheist“, and that those words were a slur of all atheists. His claim is that Eva has almost always been polite and considerate to believers and non believers alike. Yet he has been following her blog for only a few years. Her story starts out around 30 years ago, as best I can ascertain, long before WordPress, and long before he knew of her existence. Tidleb has absolutely no way of knowing what she was like that long ago.

I get that Tidleb is anti-religious, but to assume that everything that a religious person says is a lie is going too far in my opinion. His comment on Eva’s blog (originally deleted, but since restored) is there for all to see. He calls her testimony a lie and ripe with deceit. Apparently this deceit is that Eva intentionally vilified and misrepresented her previous non belief. Can Tidleb or someone else point out where she actually does that?

As to his claim that it was a slur on all atheists, I fail to see it. All Eva said was the she was angry, opinionated and an atheist. She clearly excludes her husband, family, and practically everyone she knows, all of whom are atheists. She does not claim or even imply that atheists in general are either opinionated or angry. In fact I see no criticism of atheism at all in her story. At worst, one could say that for her, over time, atheism didn’t provide what she felt she needed. Where does she state otherwise? Can someone enlighten me.

I’m going to assume that Eva’s statement that The God Delusion was her atheists’ bible is what I would call “poetic licence”, particularly in the context in which it was used. Certainly there was time between when it was first published and her conversion to Christianity in 2014 for her to have obtained a copy. Regardless of whether she actually has read it, she probably would have agreed with much of what it says.

The fact that she didn’t know where to obtain a Bible has been ridiculed. Why? Eva does not live in the USA. If her Native Tasmania is anything like Aotearoa New Zealand, then exactly how should one know where to obtain one? Specifically for this post, I checked the three bookshops in the town where I live (population 14,000) and could not find a Bible on the shelves in any of them. I managed to overcome my embarrassment and asked in one shop, and they directed me to a Christian Bookshop in a nearby city (population 70,000).

Twenty years ago, Christian bookshops were less common, and probably the only readily available source of Bibles would have been through a church, particularly if outside of the four major cities. What non-Christian would be comfortable obtaining a Bible from a church? As for a library, first your town needs to have one (not all do) and secondly, where would the Bible be kept? in the fiction or non-fiction section? Perhaps the reference section, not able to be loaned out? I don’t know, and I wouldn’t want to appear clueless by asking. The simple fact is that Bibles don’t jump out at you. You have to know where to look.

The fact that Eva didn’t know any Christians has also been called a lie. Let’s see, twenty years ago I only knew one Christian (outside my Whānau) and one Moslem. I knew two atheists. Now before anyone comes to the conclusion I only knew four people who were not family members, let me rephrase that slightly. There was one person (a work mate) who I knew to be a Christian, one person who I knew to be a Moslem (another workmate), and two who I knew to be atheists (one also a work mate). For all the rest, I had/have no idea what their belief (or non-belief) was/is. I didn’t ask, nor did anyone tell me. Belief or non-belief was/is something that is not discussed in mixed company if one is polite. By “mixed” I’m not referring to gender but people of differing religious persuasions. That is invariably the norm here, so one’s own religion is never discussed, although religion in general, and particularly some of its excesses might be. I presume it is much the same in Australia.

Makagutu made the comment “Her agnosticism, if real, was poorly informed“. Let’s be real about this. Eva grew up in a family, in which, like most antipodean households, religion plays little part, even in those which are nominally Christian. The only people overtly Christian that one might meet are the occasional Mormon or Latter Day Saints missionary, or soapbox nutter in the town centre. It’s easy to make the assumption that the message they bring is unhealthy. Very little time is put into thinking about theism vs agnosticism vs atheism. It doesn’t affect us and there is little reason to consider it. As a consequence whether one has a religious belief or not, very little though goes into understanding why one has those beliefs.

I appreciate it might be different for those in other parts of the world, but here no-one really cares what their neighbour believes, so long as it doesn’t impinge on their own beliefs. Regardless of what one believes, the majority of the population look favourably on other beliefs as being valid and worthwhile for those holding them. Those that hold to believing that only their own beliefs are true are a very small minority, and it doesn’t matter whether we are referring to religion, politics, economics, or any other human endeavour. Such fundamentalism doesn’t go down too well around here.

On Makagutu’s post, John Zande makes the observation “Saying she’d never read the bible is a little suspect“. In heaven’s name why? She came from an Atheist family, therefore it’s quite likely there was no Bible in the house. So where else would she be able to read one? At school? I’m not sure what the situation is in Australia, but in NZ public education is secular and it’s unlikely that Bibles would be available there. I know from my own experience, the only bible I saw until I was around 13 was a family heirloom that was kept with other family treasures and never opened as far as I know. I did start reading it secretly at about age 8, but that’s a story for another time.

Robert A. Vella Questions Eva’s motive for mentioning Life of Brian. Yes it’s a satirical religious comedy, poking fun at religion in general and Christianity more specifically. Watching the film was mandatory for anyone who was a Monty Python fan, regardless of ones religiosity. And in these parts, that would include half the population. (The other half couldn’t stand them). By itself the film is unlikely to change one’s ideas on religion, but if one held a negative view, as I did at the time, then it could easily reinforce those ideas.

Robert makes the observation “Even the stupidest people on the face of the Earth don’t watch comedies to learn about the Bible“. True, but Eva didn’t state that she saw the film for that purpose. So why does Robert make that statement? Is he really trying to imply that is why she watched it?. I have no doubt that she watched it to be entertained, just as I did some 35 or more years ago. One can hold a particular view, be it religious, racist, political, humanist and even economic, simply by absorbing assumptions held by those around one, without giving much though to the validity of those assumptions. To have a negative view of those who are different from oneself is common, and one needs to be mindful of the fact that much of what we believe comes by the way of “osmosis”, and not by giving those beliefs much thought. Surely this is why she thought the way she did. I don’t know when she saw the film, but in all likelihood is was a decade or more before she bought the Bible. A lot can happen in that time. I see no contradiction between watching life of Brian and buying a Bible. Why can’t the two go together?

Then Robert states he believes that Eva is trying to “sway the Monty Python demographic towards Christianity“. Really? I don’t see that, and I’m a devoted Monty Python fan. She doesn’t mention what her current attitude to the film is so it’s presumptuous to to make that claim. Perhaps, like me, she sees it as an observation about some aspects of the human condition and is therefore a worthwhile commentary. Besides, the testimony was specifically for the members of her church, who I assume don’t require swaying towards Christianity.

I gather Robert questioning Eva’s statement of “I knew no Christians” to mean that she had yet to meet the “nice elderly volunteer woman got us to colour in pictures of Jesus every week“. Surely this is taking literalism too far. That’s something I might expect from fundamentalists, but not anyone else. Perhaps if she has said “I knew no Christians at that time” would Robert have understood better? Certainly the example set by that volunteer was not one to endear Christianity to a non-believer.

Let’s look at the use of the term rampant atheist used by Arielle in a comment on Eva’s post. Tildeb took exception to this as being a deliberate slight by her, not only against him, but against all atheists. In other words Arielle is as guilty as Eva of spreading misinformation about the nature of atheists. Why does he interpret it so? Quite clearly Arielle is referring specifically to Eva and no one else. What is interesting is that Tildeb assumed Arielle was another Christian, but as we all now know she is in fact an atheist. It doesn’t appear that Arielle was offended by Eva’s comments, and if there were any smear on atheists, surely she should be more offended than Tildeb. Could it be that Tildeb’s assumption caused him to read more into those words than were intended?

Why has Eva’s testimony to her church prompted me jump in and comment on it. Well it’s not her post per se, but Tildeb’s reaction to it and the subsequent storm it has caused. It was brought to my attention by Makagutu’s post, and curious, I hopped on over to Eva’s blog. I have little time for claims that atheist are immoral or otherwise flawed. No more in fact than claims that the religious lie and deceive for their faith or are otherwise flawed. I was expecting to see a post denigrating atheists, especially as the title of Makagutu’s post was “Lying for god“, but try as I might, I just don’t see that.

Although I frequently fail to “read between the lines”, I can usually do so if I’m pointed in the right direction. Either there is nothing actually between the lines, or I’m being given the wrong directions. I’ve gone over Eva’s post many times today, and I’m leaning towards the former option. Is this really a case of lying for god or is it a case wanting to believe a Christian lied “because that’s what Christians do”?

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Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

190 thoughts on “Misunderstanding a message

  1. Can Tidleb (sic) or someone else point out where she actually does that(lie)?

    Sure, which I did in my first comment.

    Eva wrote,

    See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. This started early…

    Note the paragraph form. Note the topic sentence. Note the explanation for it. These are not unrelated claims but direct causal claims made here.

    So I responded,

    “What you’re doing here is painting your non belief as if somehow responsible for you being angry, you being arrogant, you being smug, painting all atheist criticism of bad ideas called religion and it’s failed method of insight that promotes faith to be a virtue to be contempt for believers themselves, is all very dishonest and intentionally so. You know is at its core all of this is crap. It’s dishonest. Sure, YOU may have assumed anger and arrogance and smugness in response to faith-based claims and testimonies of belief in supernatural metaphysics, but attributing that to directed and organized non belief itself is the Big Lie.”

    I’m not sure how so many people have missed this false one-to-one causal claim made not just by Eva but by many such testimonials between unpleasant personal characteristics and atheism or can’t wrap their heads around the idea that maybe, just maybe, it’s not fine to attribute to atheism to have caused all kinds of negative characteristics shown by people before they decided to become a believer.

    Also note that I was banned for this comment. This isn’t the first time. It isn’t the hundredth time. Every time I challenge a person who makes this kind of testimonial, I get banned. But so what?

    Well, I think these false claims need to be challenged because they are not true. And the victims of this false portrayal are other atheists whose characters are assumed by association to be just as unpleasant, just as bigoted, just as angry and smug and intolerant.

    They’re not.

    Unlike the vast majority of people welcoming prior atheists into their believing ranks and going along with this Big Lie, I happen to care very much about what’s true. I wish more people did. That’s why I posted about it… because these believers don’t take personal responsibility for what they’ve claimed but avoid it through censorship, through avoidance, through pretending I am the problem here and should just shut up and go away and let witnessed believers continue spreading this manure as they see fit.

    Not gunna happen.

    • I’m trying hard to see her statement from your point of view, but I just can’t see what you do. I simply see that at one time she was (1) angry (2) opinionated, and (3) atheist. I don’t see any cause and effect. I don’t see anything that implies she was either angry or opinionated because she was an atheist. If she thought being so was typical for atheists, what about those “nice breezy atheists” she mentions such as her spouse and family, not to mention Arielle? If they as atheists don’t find offence at her testimony why should I or for that matter you?

      Both Eva and I live in countries where religion is not big. Don’t let statistics fool you. While some 60% of Aussies and 40% of Kiwis claim some sort of religious affiliation, it is rather tenuous for most. Realistically most have a belief closer to deism or pantheism than theism. From my own experience of Christians down under, there is a willingness to accept alternative beliefs as being as valid as their own. Certainly here in NZ atheists are viewed just as favourably as Christians. Of course there are some fundamentalists who are the exception, but then they view everyone whose beliefs differ from their own as being wrong.

      Perhaps in hindsight it would have been more wise for Eva to have reworded her testimony before publishing to a wider audience than her church. As she implied, the nuances of a spoken testimony to those with whom she shares her faith might not be conveyed very accurately when posted on a blog – particularly where readers might not be familiar with religious attitudes in this part of the world. I think your reaction to her post bares this out.

      • Maybe wording it differently when writing, because I assume she was no longer on the spotlight, might have helped. That much I agree.
        Plus, while we should be expected to be generous in our criticism, the same should be extended to those who for various reasons don’t find some aspects of the narrative coherent

        • You have a point, but I don’t think calling Eva a liar and deliberate fabricator of falsehoods an appropriate method of questioning those aspects. How is that any different from what she was accused of?

      • @ Barry, who wrote

        “I don’t see anything that implies she was either angry or opinionated because she was an atheist.”

        Really?

        Eva, by her own admission, wasn’t just a non believer, was she? No. That would have been too innocuous, presumably. No, she was a self-identified atheist. Not the breezy type, mind you, but an angry and opinionated atheist. (There are kinds, you see) Angry at what, she does not say… other than she was not familiar with the dominant culture and its embedded Christianity nor aware of any Christians who had really pissed her off. (Incongruity seems to be a theme here, have you noticed?) And it’s not like she was just angry and opinionated, either. No. There was something more to that, so let’s find out.

        She was an angry and opinionated atheist. Oh yes, one of THOSE. Why, pray tell? Well, she tells us she didn’t like religion. That makes her an anti-theist, which is not a synonym for atheism but hey, literary license, am I right?

        So although she knew nothing about religion she knew she didn’t like it. Enough to make her angry. Now why might that be, with any overt religion nowhere in sight anywhere in her life?

        This is where it gets good, Barry.

        She tells us why: the God Delusion was her Bible!

        See what she did there? She attributed her angry and opinionated atheism AND anti-theism – especially towards Christianity and Christians – to be caused by holding Dawkins’ The God Delusion as scripture!

        Wow. an anti-bible bible!

        And look at what that actually means: Eva tells us in the explanation for this that she was as intolerant and fundamentalist in her atheism as one can get – because of Dawkins, you see, because of the God Delusion, you see, because of her anger and opinions, you see, because of her ATHEISM. You know, the Dawkins kind.

        Now you may be charitable for this kind of unmitigated bull…t – presumably if it has to do with becoming a generic Christian rather than, say,a supporter of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, or Aum Shinrikyo. After all, Eva seems to be a genuinely nice person… right up until it comes to atheism.

        Look, I’m sick and tired of people going along to get along with this kind of intentional and malignant deception. People need to be held accountable for the kinds of claims they make. I imagine if we made the name ‘Eva’ synonymous with lying and being intentionally deceitful, you might not be so ready to presume this is simply a mild form of literary license for which we should be more tolerant and charitable as people use the term more and more often to indicate a kind of excuse for being nasty.

        In principle this is what you’re suggesting in your cloy way when it comes to criticizing Eva. Well, in school yard parlance, she started it so I’m simply holding her accountable for this kind of lying.

        • I have re-read her post and also your explanations at to why you find it objectionable. While I think I understand where you are coming from, I still can’t see that implication in her story. As I mentioned in <a href=”https://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/an-apology/#comment-40191>this comment, religion and secularism are not generally at loggerheads here.

          Perhaps I need to move to the American Bible Belt or east Africa for a while to gain a different perspective.

        • Hi Barry,

          I have asked this question to Eva but unfortunately she did not publish it.
          She keeps insisting that there’s no implied connection between her atheism and her intolerance and fundamentalism. You say you’ve read through her post and can’t bring yourself to acknowledge that there is. Someone declares they were an angry, opinionated, intolerant, fundamentalist atheist followed immediately by telling every one that “The God Delusion” was their “bible” and you say you can’t seen any connection between the two? What does “The God Delusion was my bible” mean exactly? I really would like to know the answer to that question. I’ve been asking for several days now and no one can give me an answer.

        • Somewhere in these comments, Tildeb asked the same question, and I provided a paraphrase of that section of the testimony.

        • Hi Ashley,
          As far as I can see there are no questions for you on my blog that a) I didnt publish and b) didnt answer.

  2. Hi Barry. I am sure you didn’t write this to continue the debate. But since I feature in it, you will allow me right of reply. I believe that is in order.
    First off, I think I start by my statement that her agnosticism or atheism wasn’t well informed. Now I agree with you that in some places of the world, religion or lack of it, is not a big deal. I understand this fully well. What I have difficulty in understanding is why a person living in such a community would want to make an atheist tract their bible. And while it is perfectly possible to not know a religious person, what would drive a person who doesn’t interact with them to hold them in disdain?
    Well, I don’t think I implied anywhere that Christians in general lie. But yes, a case can be made for that in this case. And if you have read my last comments on the post, I have said I believe she didn’t know where to get a bible.
    I am willing to grant her right to use poetic licence for effect or whatever, and because it’s her story, she can embellish to high heaven but while doing that, she should not cry foul when eyebrows are raised.
    Lastly, I commend you for sharing your perspective on the whole story.

    • Just a small clarification. On the uninformed atheism or agnosticism. I don’t mean that in a bad way. If one lives in a family where people are non religious, it is likely they don’t examine the reason for their non belief just the same way, unless one is pushed to, people just believe

    • I’m sure Eva knew a number of religious people. She just didn’t know they were religious. Had she done so her opinion may have been negated or reinforced depending on who those religious people were. I daresay that the volunteer religious teacher didn’t make an especially favourable impression especially as she kept the jellybeans from Eva and her fellow objector.

      I don’t think she meant that anyone should take that The God Delusion was her bible in any literal sense. I interpreted it as meaning she accepted its arguments and those of other atheist tracts as being valid.

      • As I have said elsewhere, I am willing to grant all that. It’s her story.

        • So how are the derogatory comments on Tildeb’s and your blog regarding Eva and Christians in general any different from those seen on some Christian blogs regarding atheists?

          There are times when I think it’s time that a group of religious and non religious from our neck of the woods conspired to to knock together the heads of the various religious and nonreligious groups elsewhere in the hope some sense of moderation might result.

        • I do not know how violence would work. It may make a worse situation worse off.
          Maybe people should be more factual or declare what they are narrating is a tall tale.
          I don’t know if questioning how true a story is is derogatory but I get your point on civility.
          Maybe instead of knocking their heads, you should consider having them all in one room to settle their differences 🙂

        • Violence wouldn’t work. I was using the term metaphorically. What I might like to do isn’t necessary appropriate.

          Was it a tall tale? I’m not really convinced. I’ll acknowledge that conversion stories for public consumption are somewhat rare in these parts, and this is the first one (apart from my wife’s) that I have seen or heard.

          Questioning a story isn’t derogatory but stating outright that the teller is a liar is.

        • I agree calling a person a liar is not in good taste.
          I think some aspects of it read like a tall tale and I have pointed out where I think is though an explanation has been offered which for my purposes seem sufficient.

        • There’s a difference between pointing out discrepancies and and calling one a liar. I can understand being skeptical about the accuracy of her story, but we all adapt our reality from our own experiences.

          If one digs a little deeper into her blog, Eva mentions that she investigated both Wicca and Buddhism before settling on Christianity.She still finds aspects of both attractive, and she’s not adverse to using resources from either source and sharing them with others where appropriate. For that reason I’m more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

        • I think I have said more than once that whereas I treat the testimony with some level of doubt, I am willing to give her the benefit of doubt.

        • A can’t ask for anything more 🙂

  3. Hi, Barry – always nice to see evidence of your activity. When you’re quiet, I worry for you about those migraines. Anyway, this is clearly a longer, “multi-player” discussion, with which I’m unfamiliar. What I would say is that in my experience, you always seem to be on the side of freedom of expression. As a counselor who has had, of necessity, to negotiate some pretty intense conflicts within families, I can report that real breakthroughs in relating come when people recognize that reality is subjective and seek to represent only their own thoughts / feelings / opinions / beliefs, acknowledging them as such and respecting the right of others to do the same, with openness and curiosity. Strongly divisive subjects (such as the current American political field!) of course can challenge the very highest principles. But I admit to feeling puzzled by the personal nature that the conversation you reference seems to have taken. Spring regards to you!

    • Don’t worry about my migraines. They are an inconvenience but I accept them as being part of my life for better or worse.

      Yes we all perceive reality differently, but too many of us fail to acknowledge that.

      I think what upsets me most about the conversation is that it became a direct attack on an individual’s character. Surely a request for clarification of aspects that weren’t understood would have been more productive.

      As for spring, that’s nearly six months away yet, and is accompanied by hayfever. Give me autumn any day ☺

  4. I can’t explain everyone’s skepticism, but I know mine was from how her testimony made similar references as other testimonies I’ve heard over the years. It might be something from the U.S., but every testimony that I can remember included a bit about not believing in the Christian deity/hating people who did believe. It was really bad how cookie-cutter and uniform these testimonies were.

    For an idea of what these testimonies were, check out this quote prefacing Kirk Cameron’s Christian testimony:

    “Kirk was not raised in a church-going home and describes himself as a devout atheist from a very young age. By the age of 14 he was so convinced there was no God that he laughed at those who thought there was. But that all changed one afternoon as he sat in his sports car pondering the first Gospel message he had ever heard.”

    The audio provided also goes into the other parts of testimonies, the part of getting saved and feeling good about it.

    Other than the specifics (like being in a sports car or whatever prayer was uttered), it’s similar to every other testimony I’ve heard. While I don’t have any specific reason to doubt her, the problem is that it doesn’t even matter if her testimony is true or not. American Christians will use it and pick what they want from it, justifying their dim view of people who don’t see the world as they do.

  5. Hi Barry, I’m a minor player in the discussion you reference. I appreciate what you say here and over there, and agree with pretty much everything you say (if that makes any difference to anyone!) Thanks.

  6. I surely haven’t made any friends or influenced any people in this discussion!

    I feel much the same as you and I live in the Bible Belt, USA. I think it’s fair to question her for clarity, but if you’ve been reading her for very long and not just doing a drive-by I question why it became so personal. O_o

    • Asking for clarity and accusing someone of lying is another thing altogether.

      I’m also wondering if the is a subtle shade of meaning that the words used have for some Americans that just doesn’t exist in this part of the world. The best I can understand of Tildeb is that the words used imply that either Eva was angry because she was an atheist or she was that way because The God Delusion was her bible. Neither interpretation is apparent to me.

  7. Barry, consider your own central and misapplied criticism of me here: you bold the sentence “Tidleb has absolutely no way of knowing what she was like that long ago.”

    Right there. You demonstrate that you misunderstand the message right there.

    I don’t have to know anything about what she was like that long ago, Barry, for my criticism that she’s lying to bear up. You’ve been guided by Eva into believing this is important in some way. It’s not. It has nothing to do with my criticism of her lying. Nothing.

    My ‘message’ is that Eva is lying when she claims her angry, intolerant, fundamentalist atheism is somehow related to using Dawkins’ The God Delusion as her bible.

    She didn’t use it, and doesn’t realize she’s proven my criticism for me (but won’t allow me to comment any further on her blog, apparently, so I’ll do it here). Whatever form of ‘atheism’ she once held has NO BEARING ON MY CRITICISM.

    Now, a critical thinker would realize that I’m a bit perturbed here about something. Now what could it possibly be?

    Well, I seem to be almost alone reiterating again and again and again that my focus is on the link she claims exists between using the God Delusion as a bible and her anger, her intolerance, her fundamental atheism.

    That’s what she’s claiming… and everyone just goes along with it, la di da…

    This is the lie, Barry.

    So the question you should be asking yourself is, did Tildeb falsely accuse Eva?

    And the answer is obvious: No, Tildeb did not falsely accuse Eva.

    She’s not telling the truth. How can all of us know this?

    Now, now gird thy loins because this is important: the book came out in 2006. There is no evidence I have encountered that she’s been an angry, intolerant, fundamentalist atheist on her blog I’ve been following for many years. She offers no supporting evidence that she had been such since that time. In fact, she goes to quite some effort to demonstrate she was not nice LONG BEFORE THE BOOK CAME OUT. So, here’s the central question for those lining up to excuse her from her association with that nasty kind of atheism she extracted from Dawkins: Why does she reference the God Delusion to some earlier versions of her supposed angry, intolerant, fundamentalist atheism?

    Read that again, please, Barry. It’s really important because it is essential to my criticism that she’s making shit up to smear her previous self and using the vehicle of a fictionalized Dawkins-onian version of New Atheism to do so.

    That’s the Big Lie and I read this Big Lie many, many, many times in these kinds of bullshit testimonials by some really ‘nice’ people who seem to be clueless that they are attributing to Dawkins and the God Delusion all kinds of negative, made up bullshit that smears all New Atheists. And what’s worse is that so many, many ‘nice’ people just go along with it and even – I know, hard to believe – defend these liars with vigor from legitimate criticism of their intentional deceit and offer a veritable host of rationalized excuses to think they are being really nice doing so. And to add insult to injury, they pretend the injured party is the liar, while the ones who actually care about what’s true to speak up and speak out is vilified for being rude…. ’cause we all know that being impolite and using honest language is by far the greater crime than Lyin’ fer Jesus.

    • Tildeb, your original claim seemed to be that her anger and intolerance was due to Eva being an atheist. Forgive me if I got it wrong. Now you state that it was because The God Delusion was her bible? Sorry, I just don’t see that inference. Of she had written something like “I was an angry intolerant atheist and after The God Delusion came out I accepted its message as the authority on religious nonsense”. That’s one possible interpretation. There could be others. What I don’t see is an implied message that she was angry because ofThe God Delusion.

      Tildeb, if I am still getting it wrong, can you please, please state your objection in one or two short sentences. All the accompanying waffle doesn’t make things easier when one has a migraine.

      • Barry, you seem to be determined to to avoid answering simple questions: to what does Eva attribute her anger, intolerance and fundamentalism? Why doe she specifically include The God Delusion in that paragraph if, as you seem determined to avoid comprehending, the link SHE is making to those attributes is only from my own imagination?

        • To put it bluntly Tildeb, yes the link is your own imagination.

          To answer more fully:

          to what does Eva attribute her anger? The post doesn’t attribute it to anything. All it says is that she was angry. Nothing more.

          Why doe [sic] she specifically include The God Delusion? . I have no idea why she choose to use The God Delusion. To me that isn’t important. What is important is the error in attributing her characteristics (anger, intolerance, fundamentalism) to that publication. that link is just not there. Had Eva considered the possibility that it might be construed that way, I suspect that she would have rephrased it.

          Look, I can’t speak for Eva. All I can do is point out that there is an alternative way of understanding the passage and from what I have read so far (thanks for bringing The Aspirated Agnostic to my attention), I believe my interpretation is closer to the truth than yours.

          BTW doesn’t this whole argument sound much like some Christians have about the interpretation of various passages in the Bible?

          Quite frankly, if you had sought clarification before jumping on the “she lies” bandwagon, the whole episode might have been avoided, and I wouldn’t have felt the need to write this blog post.

          I do want to thank you also for the increase in followers and readers that have resulted from all this.

        • Okay, either you really are determined not to comprehend in order to dismiss Eva’s lying or you’re just excusing it.

          I quote Eva:

          “See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. This started early;”

          According to you, it’s my imagination that links “an angry opinionated atheist” who “didn’t like religion” and “especially Christians”

          Poof! According to you, it’s my imagination that now fabricates “The God Delusion was my bible.” How did that get in there? What has it to do with anything? Let’s pretend that it’s my imagination that magically creates the AND I WAS ABOUT AS INTOLERANT AND FUNDAMENTALIST AS YOU CAN GET.”

          What is the matter with you, Barry? What ‘alternative’ reading creates a universe where none of these stated attributes of being angry, opinionated, an anti-theist bigot has nothing whatsoever to do with atheism yet The God Delusion supposedly has absolutely nothing to do with Eva claiming to be intolerant and an atheist fundamentalist?

          I don;t know the colour of the sky in your world where your alternative reading in any way diminishes my criticism that this paragraph is a pack of lies.

          Now, without overwhelming my porr wittle bwain with too many words, would you please explain your comprehension of this paragraph that supports an interpretation that doesn’t assign to atheism negative characteristics, that doesn’t assign to The God Delusion intolerance and atheistic fundamentalism.

          Go ahead Barry. Show us, please, how this paragraph should be read charitably, keeping in mind that she tells us she had no previous meaningful contact with either religion generally or Christians specifically.

        • I don’t know What Eva intended to say. The best I can do is give my interpretation of the passage, which I thought I have already given.

          You’re going to have to give me some time as I want to make sure there’s no chance of you misunderstanding my interpretation.

        • I’m not sure how much the passage below has been influenced by what I have read on Eva’s blog since first reading the post in question. By that I don’t mean that my understanding of what she wrote has changed, but of the information I have to work with is much larger than the original post. I’ll try not to let any of that affect my rewrite, but no guarantees. I’m not going to do the entire testimony, just those parts I believe you have issue with. Remember this is my interpretation, not necessarily what Eva intended to write.

          I used to be an atheist. My husband, like other nice breezy atheists I know, doesn’t believe in God but is happy for those who do. I wasn’t like that. I was angry, opinionated, and didn’t like religion – especially Christianity. In fact I was as intolerant and as fundamentalist as one can possibly be.

          Even in Grade 3 I was like this. My best friend and I staged a revolt and refused to attend scripture. While the rest of the class coloured in pictures of Jesus each week, we sat outside feeling superior and enlightened.

          I’m sorry to say that was the pattern for the next 30 years. I came to admire the work of Dawkins in “The God Delusion”. I felt I could rely on that book to support my beliefs about the nonsense of religion.

          Five years ago I decided to step things up by going to church. It might seem silly, but I was kind of stressed out about buying a bible and attending church. You need to understand that I wasn’t aware of anyone I knew being a Christian. All my family are solid atheists and I didn’t believe any of my friends were Christian either. I had absolutely no idea where to go.

        • Your interpretation is kinder (omitting entirely the claim of not liking an entire group of people based solely on a particular religious preference one admittedly knows nothing about) but it still contains the root claim for my criticism of it being untrue: relating a prior Dawkins style New Atheism to intolerance, bigotry, and nastiness that somehow drops away when this kind of New Atheism is dropped. The Dawkins kind of New Atheism possesses none of this intolerance, none of this bigotry, none of this nastiness, causes none of this, cannot be used to condone any of this. People who use the Dawkins reference regarding New Atheism are attributing to it what only they themselves bring to it.

          Imagine if people who now believe in specific ghosts attributed their previous Randi style disbelief with the same list of disreputable opinions and behaviours and attitudes… and then claimed all of this nastiness to be rectified by simply believing; I sincerely doubt most of us would go along with it but point out that, hey, not believing in ghosts and maintaining a high degree of skepticism has nothing to do with any fundamentalism – Randi-style skepticism or not – and claims of it causing bigotry and nastiness towards those who do.

          So the question you should ask yourself is why would Eva describe herself this way – making specific reference to a Dawkins style atheism that possesses none of the attributes you so willingly grant it – and connect it specifically to the God Delusion (thinking it promotes an acceptance of these kinds of behaviours and opinions and attitudes when it doesn’t) if she didn’t intentionally make that (false) connection? Why not apologize for making that connection when pointed out that it is false and criticized for it use in her testimonial if she didn’t believe it or even mean it? Why ban the criticizer?

          The most straightforward answer is because she did, and continues to, mean it. She thinks New Atheism as promoted by Dawkins and other New Atheists is fundamentalist, is intolerant, is bigoted towards the religious. None of this is true and I think more people need to challenge the false accusations made about it at its source, need to stop going along with these false attributions and permitting them to go public without pointed criticism, need to stop going after those who do challenge this lie where it is made as if he or she responding to the lie with a challenge is the problem.

          This is what I think you’re doing with your very kind interpretation – accommodating this ongoing fictional narrative that links Dawkins and the New Atheism he helped bring about with promoting bigotry against religious people, accommodating this ongoing fictional association between New Atheism and the intolerance it supposedly promotes towards the religious, accommodating this ongoing fictional narrative that accuses New Atheism of possessing a kind of replacement fundamentalism for religious belief.

          Accommodating what is not true in the name of tolerance and respect for ideas that are not themselves tolerant, not themselves respectful towards real people in real life, is a mewling kind of accommodationism that is at least equally deplorable as the original lies and deceit they attempt to excuse.

        • This is getting ridiculous. No one is saying Dawkins is promoting fundamentalism or intolerance. Eva says she was intolerant and fundamentalist. She used publications such as those by Dawkins to support her beliefs. She doesn’t imply that Dawkins held those beliefs too.

          Look some Christians misuse the Bible to justify such things as the subjugation of women, discrimination against the LGBT community, the teaching of creationism in schools, and many more evils. It was once used to justify slavery and witch burning. Other Christians can use the same Bible to justify strong opposition to those very same things. Don’t you think it’s possible for Eva to misuse some atheist texts to support her prejudices?

        • Barry, you say “She used publications such as those by Dawkins to support her beliefs. She doesn’t imply that Dawkins held those beliefs too.”

          Neither do those publications. Barry!

          For crying out loud, how times must this be stated?

          That’s why it is an intentional deceit! It’s not true; she knows it’s not true; I know it’s not true; she doesn’t retract it. Apologists come out of the woodwork to excuse it.

          Good grief.

          I keep saying she is ATTRIBUTING to Dawkins and the God Delusion what she herself brought to and then laid at the metaphorical feet of her ‘kind’ of atheism. It’s not from atheism. It’s from her. But she doesn’t admit this; instead, she insists that she EXTRACTED her nastiness, her intolerance, her bigotry, her fundamentalism from others, from Dawkins, from these publications, from New Atheism. No, no, no, no, no and no,. All false.

          I keep saying these associations and attributions Eva and countless other convertees makes about atheism and new Atheism especially are not true. I say it over and over and over and many people who should know better seem ready, willing, and quite able not just to go along with the intentional deception but then try their level best to RATIONALIZE the deceit. Furthermore, they then try to paint me and my motivation as somehow the real dishonesty (ahem).

          Yes, it’s ridiculous. Furthermore, it is really quite deplorable and unbelievable that so many people are so willing to be so fully accepting and even so very welcoming of this deception… mostly I must adduce because they themselves don’t want to be accused of being nasty and intolerant and bigoted and a fundamentalist… for standing up for is true. That’s the Big Lie, that New Atheism is somehow intolerant and bigoted and fundamentalist even when it’s not.

          It’s the negative BELIEF that is replacing WHAT IS TRUE in fact that is the fundamental and pernicious root being protected here. At its core, this is the method of faith in action… imposing on reality what is believed to be true about it and then refusing to allow reality to arbitrate. And, like those whose intellectual integrity becomes befuddled by encountering this method, many people are simply mystified how it can be that reality just doesn’t accord to the beliefs one would prefer to have about reality. That’s a real stumper, that is. Could it be that some people try to avoid taking full responsibility for their attitudes and beliefs and might even go so far as to blame anything and anyone else? Imagine having to face up to that deceit. Must be uncomfortable… uncomfortable enough to ban whomever has the bad manners to keep on highlighting it, eh?

        • I didn’t imply that The God Delusion supported her prejudices against Christianity. I was saying that Eva used such publications to support her prejudice.

          She admits she had prejudices, and she said she was an atheist. On this we both agree, right? You then claim she is blaming those prejudices on Dawkins and/or his books. In fact you seem to be saying that Eva is blaming her prejudices directly at the feet of her atheism. Am I somewhere near the ballpark?

        • To be clear, she is not blaming her nastiness on atheism generically; she’s attributing her nastiness to be the same as NEW Atheism… the Dawkins kind, the kind supposedly found and celebrated in the God Delusion. it’s not there.

        • Tildeb, trying to get a straight answer from you is about as straight forward as nailing jelly to a tree.

          Just as I thought I had nailed it, you shift. Are you saying that Eva lays the blame for her prejudices on atheism and/or Dawkins’ books? Or are you saying that Eva claims that Dawkins’ form of atheism was the same as hers, prejudices and all? As you can see I still clearly do not understand what your objection actially is.

        • Yeah, sorry about that.

          Eva is equating her kind of ‘before’ anger first with atheism – but not the breezy kind – and then to a kind of religious fundamentalism she thinks is best described by the strident militant kind atheism of a Dawkins that supposedly is described and promoted in the God Delusion.

          The problem is that this reference has no truth value at all.

          The reader is intended to see Eva’s ‘before’ first related to an angry atheism that is then better described like the nasty New Atheism that Dawkins supposedly promotes, the same one that she thinks – and she’s factually wrong on this – is intolerant and fundamentalist.

          This is a complete and utter fabrication.

          Her ‘before’ beliefs have no links to New Atheism, no links to Dawkins, no links to the God Delusion, no links even to any kind of atheism itself. Atheism is an empty belief set so any kind of attribution to it for anger or intolerance or any other negative reference is false. This is important for people to understand so that when they encounter some kind of nastiness from an atheist, they know not to relate it to atheism.

          So why did Eva make this reference that isn’t true?

          The only benefit this absolutely typical fiction on display in testimonial after testimonial offers is for the benefit of those who presume that New Atheism does indeed contain these tenets, really is described in the God Delusion as a fundamental and intolerant belief directed at believers. That’s why I have taken such exception to this PRATT – first because it’s not true, and secondly because by association, this kind of description and acceptance that relates these negative characteristics to New Atheism is itself really a smear job and a slur against real people in real life who argue strenuously – like Dawkins – about the pernicious effects of privileging religious belief in the public domain. And I think this kind of fabrication embedded in so many testimonials requires challenge and exposure for the intentional deceit it is.

        • I’m not going to respond to all of your comment, but on one thing I agree with you: “Atheism is an empty belief set”. Absolutely true. But Dawkins goes beyond that. He expresses an opinion about religion, and by extension believers. Infantile and delusional are possible conclusions one could come to, and it seems that’s what Eva did.

          Finally, I see no inference, direct or indirect, that a person’s character is negatively affected by atheism. Eva believes she’s a better person since adopting her faith, and she most likely attributes that improvement to that. How is that different from those who move from religion to atheism believing they are a better person for the move?

  8. Then third paragraph should read “According to you, it’s my imagination that links “an angry opinionated atheist” who “didn’t like religion” and “especially Christians” WITH ATHEISM ITSELF.

  9. You are absolutely right Barry. I was not offended in the least! And I’m certainly not the Voice Of Atheism. What’s to be offended by? Eva was sharing a personal experience.

    • Precisely. She was sharing a personal experience.

      I really don’t know why some insist it was something else.

      • Yes you do; you just don’t want to admit it and be cast as an angry, opinionated, bigoted, intolerant fundamentalist for admitting as much. You’re far too nice to be like those nasty God Delusion thumping New Atheists like Eva used to be.

  10. In all of this brouhaha, I am aware of two people who know Eva extremely well; one is an atheist, the other a Christian. Neither of these people doubt Eva’s truthfulness one iota; both believe her account is both accurate and reasonable.

    On the other hand, reading comments in response to her blog and your summation here (which I think is excellent, btw), it seems to me that some folk have a barrow to push, and nothing anyone else can say will shift them in their blind prejudice. I doubt the sincerity of Eva’s friends (both atheist and Christian) in their support will hold any sway with those who are out to crucify her.

    • I think most of those who originally accepted Tildeb’s interpretation without too much thought have now conceded that other interpretations are possible and reasonable. Whether it’s possible for Tildeb to do the same… We’ll just have to wait and see.

      • No, what people did was presume all of the testimonial was in some way fabricated. That’s not what I was saying. For those who thought about what I was actually criticizing – relating Eva’s nasty form of God Delusion-thumping New Atheism to intolerance, bigotry, and fundamentalism that she herself brought to life and was not extracted from anything Dawkins wrote – one will notice that it goes non-refuted. What one sees is accommodationism in action, holding Eva’s deceit to be perfectly fine but criticizing it for the deceit it is to be nasty, intolerant, bigoted, and of course fundamentalist.

        • Look, the only atheist that was criticised was the one that Eva used to be. No other atheist was harmed in the making of her testimony.

          Other atheists both here and on Eva’s blog accept there was no denigration of atheism.

          What you seem to be criticising is Eva’s criticism of herself when she was an atheist as if it’s not possible for her to be as she described because she was an atheist.

        • ‘No, what people did was presume all of the testimonial was in some way fabricated. That’s not what I was saying’

          Quoted from a comment on the post;

          ‘I’m not the one claiming to know no Christians when I live in a culture dominated by them or that I disliked all Christians when very often I have no clue or even interest if someone is or is not a Christian.

          I’m not the one claiming to not know how to obtain a bible in such a literate culture nor suggest that I would have to ‘smuggle’ one home once purchased because of the disapproval of other atheists, it is presumed’

          Sounds like youre ‘claiming’ its fabricated to me, Tildeb.

        • I pointed out that there were many incongruous assertions. I simply listed a couple.

        • All of which have been clarified many times over, here and elsewhere. No one is disputing your right to question the accuracy or even the implied meaning of the testimony. What I take issue with is that you claimed Eva deliberately lied, and you continue with that claim contrary to the evidence provided, including by several atheists.

        • Yes, I know that is how it seems to you. Nevertheless, Eva made reference to the God Delusion and attributed a fundamentalism from it to her atheism that isn’t true. It isn’t even in the same ballpark as being true. It is opposite to what is true. It is in spite of what is true.

          So, Barry, what should I call it?

        • Eva made reference to the God Delusion and attributed a fundamentalism from it to her atheism“. No she didn’t. Surely the story about her refusal to attend scripture is evidence that her intolerance existed long before The God Delusion, unless you are claiming she read that before that happened.

          Tildeb, you are reading into the testimony inferences that I and many others (including atheists) just don’t see. And I accept Eva’s explanations and those of her friends as clarifications and corrections to all your claims.

          What should I call it? How about a delusion on your part?

        • Why the end around for the question? Let me add to it: if you were in my position and ‘interpreted’ her reference to the God Delusion immediately followed by claiming fundamentalism and intolerance to describe her atheism, what word would you use?

        • First, let me apologise for for calling it a delusion. That was uncalled for.

          I have been told by some of Makagutu’s and your regular readers to that I came out of a stinky hole; that I gerflunk to a skydaddy; that I cherry pick the Bible just like every other Christian and am therefore dishonest. I could go on. These are from atheists. To be fair, I’ve had similar claims by theists (such as I lack a moral code; I must be unhappy; my migraines and autism are a result of not believing the Bible is the Word of God), so it’s not a one-way street. leaving aside the personal insults, other claim are based on preconceived ideas that are grabbed at, sometimes due to ignorance, sometimes due to bigotry and intolerance of alternative viewpoints.

          Among the clearly inflammatory and misinformed comments were others that under the circumstances I interpreted as supporting the misinformation. However, by seeking clarification, I realised that in many cases I was mistaken.

          Tildeb, I accept that you will continue to see Eva’s testimony as an attack on atheism and/or atheists. Isn’t it time for you to accept that others (including atheists) don’t see such an inference, and move on?

  11. Hi Tildeb,

    You and I have had some disagreements in the past, but I wonder if you are willing to put that aside and see if we can resolve the concerns you have about this matter? I want to see if I can help, and I want to focus on one thing at a time.

    I’d like to start with your concerns about Eva mentioning Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. And I’d like to approach this by asking you four questions.

    I presume you would understand figures of speech like irony and metaphor? For example, if I say to someone “You have a mountain to climb to convince me of that!”, I don’t mean they have to literally climb a mountain, but I do mean they have a hard job ahead of them. Is that OK?
    Sometimes the Bible is used ironically or as a metaphor. For example, there is a book called the PHP Bible, but it is not a religious book, or in any way like the Bible. It is a book about the PHP computer language that tries to be comprehensive, and so uses the word “Bible” as an analogy or a metaphor to attempt to show that. Are you OK with that?
    When Eva said that book was her Bible, she did not mean literally she thought it was a Bible, or she read it every day like a christian may read the Bible. Rather she was also using an ironic metaphor, meaning that the book summed up what she believed at the time, that she was an atheist who agreed with Dawkins. Can you see that?
    If you are OK with all of this, does that explain to you how she used that phrase as a metaphor. It didn’t mean nothing, in fact it expressed something very true and real for her at the time, but it wasn’t intended in a literal sense?

    So I wonder if you can think through what I have said here, and see if it helps you address this matter. Thanks.

  12. Interesting that there is a statement here that seems to imply that Dawkins The God Delusion ISNT nasty?

    ‘…shes attributing her nastiness to be the same as NEW Atheism… the Dawkins kind, the kind supposedly found and celebrated in the God Delusion. it’s not there’.

    God knows Ive god ive better things to do with my time than reread the God Delusion ( i much prefer his evolutionary biology stuff these days), but looking at the quotes on good reads confirms to me that it was scathingly contemptuous of christianity. Completely.

    “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries”
    ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

    “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.”
    ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

    “Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”
    ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

    I would say that these statements have an air if nastiness about them but hey, maybe you see them as peaced out and relaxed. We all interpret things differently.

    Certainly it didnt give me my beliefs. I never claimed gat it did. But when it came out, i eagerly pounced on it as a means to confirm my prejudices.

    • No, he’s not nasty at all. His criticisms are about the religion and why it’s a very bad idea to grant them any privilege at all. In fact, he demonstrates why this is the case.

      Remember, Dawkins is a famous biologist of renown whose subject was and remains hounded by incredibly ignorant and stupid criticisms from religious circles that try to maintain a belief in POOF!ism by misunderstanding and vilifying a basic pillar of biology: evolution. Dawkins position at the time was to to further the public understanding of science. Because nearly three times as many Americans believe in angels and demons than they do evolution, he set out to rebut religious belief which he saw as the primary meme against scientific literacy.

      Now, any criticism of religion as well as the method used to inform and justify beliefs drawn from it, will always be classified as nasty by those who presume their religious beliefs should be privileged and treated with respect and deference. Dawkins does not do this so of course people are going to claim him a nasty piece of work and vilify his non belief to be not just immoral but in only a slight exaggeration really the cause of the downfall of Western civilization.

      The fact of the matter is that Dawkins does not vilify believers as people, does not advocate for their unfair treatment or a reduction in their civil rights. He does call for people to ridicule and mock beliefs that are irrational and delusional… (specifically mentioning the literal belief and the respect we’re supposed to grant to the belief about the power of the Eucharist – that literally turns bread into flesh and wine into blood – when he said as much at the Washington Reason Rally). He calls for more respect for science and the method we use to navigate our daily lives, to leave behind infantile ideas about creationism and belief in some paternalistic overseer who is incapable of timely intervention and unable to reduce massive suffering upon which life on earth has been predicated and continues to operate.

      The vilification of Dawkins has been vociferous and dedicated not because of anything he has written or said about respecting reality but because he doesn’t grant religious belief any respect. That’s it. That’s the sum of his nastiness. But, like any human being, he sometimes says and even posts stuff on Twitter that quite rightly deserves criticism. But what people too often do is associate the New Atheism he advocates – getting religion out of the public domain where it has no business being – areas like law and governance and education and the military and so on – and insist that we should rely on good reasons backed by compelling evidence to inform public policies. This call is recast as some kind of militant War on Christians to remove privileges far too many presume is deserved.

      The quotes you give above are not indicative of intolerance, of bigotry, of angry and strident and militant atheism. They are quite simply legitimate points to ponder for anyone who thinks religion in the public domain should be privileged, should be respected, should be indoctrinated into youth, should be held exempt from common and criminal law… all privileges that currently exist all over the place.

      By all means people should express their strongly held opinions but they should not smear the character of others by attributing to them an imaginary nastiness by association. Dawkins is actually a very mild mannered and polite man but with a very strong writing style – often very funny – and well examined opinions that many don’t like to hear so well expressed in a very provocative book.

      • I feel that the God Delusion portrays religion nastily.

        When I was an atheist, I felt that it accurately summed up my ideas about christians.

        I read it and though ‘Look, this brilliant man calls them infantile and weird too! I love this book so much’.

        You believe that I have said that I became an angry atheist because of this book. You have stated that I am a dishonest liar.

        Your premise was inaccurate. I did not state at any stage, and categorically refute, that it MADE me into anything.

        You have inferred this. That is out of my control. But your words stand, as do those of the people who believed your post.

        There is absolutely no where else to go with this. You can change your story yet again (as you already have once; you claimed that I have never said I was an angry atheist before. Your silence on this point makes me suspect that you used the search button on my site and found the many many posts where I mention this) but it stands that you are now the only person who feels this way.

        Maybe you’re just more finely attuned to sniffing out manipulative Christians than everyone else.

        • Nice paint job, Eva. You keep better with practice.

          But that’s all it is.

          The fact remains that you claimed by association a set of nastiness with atheism (regarding some nastiness: “But there is one certain variety of atheist that is like that, and I was one of them” only reinforces my point that you continue to apply to atheism) that is entirely from you. It never came from your atheism, Eva, never came from Dawkins, never came fro The God Delusion. It is of your own making, your own contribution to atheism. Your refusal to admit this truth but continue to insist that it somehow comes FROM your atheism is the Big Lie. This is what I am holding you to. And it is a lie, a very intentional deceit. None of this links refutes this at all.

          That I read your posts and did not find the supposed angry intolerance and bigotry you claim was a ‘fundamental’ part your ATHEISM remains the case, remains the truth. . Denying that with these links doesn’t change the accuracy and truthfulness of my unwavering criticism of your false portrayal of atheism. Not one bit.

      • Tildeb, you’re stating your position based on the situation in North America. The situation just doesn’t exist in Australia or NZ.

        I could pick any 10 people at random, and the odds are 4 of them would hold some belief compatible with Christianity, 2 would hold some other religious belief, and 4 would hold no religious beliefs. Of those who are religious, few would express an opinion that religion is very important to them.

        Outside of a small group of fundamentalists & evangelicals, theology is pretty much a non issue. Social issues are much more important that arguments over whether “my god is better than your god”. Neither believers nor non-believers believe the “other side” have privilege.

        • The situation in Australia is different again – even further away from the situation in USA I suspect.

          In Australia, census data suggests the (narrow) majority of people “believe” in God, but the cold hard reality of practice is quite different. Only 10% of Australians find their way into a church during the course of a year – which means 90% of Australians never attend a Christian church. Even more pointedly, on any given Sunday only 2% will make it to church; put the other way, 98% of all Australians can’t be bothered!

          I guess that makes us a profoundly secular society with more in common with communist China (2% Christian) than “religious” USA.

        • Having gone to school in Sydney and having to take mandatory Scripture, I beg to differ that religious privilege in the public domain simply ins’t an issue there.

    • I was avoiding what was said in The God Delusion, as I haven’t read it. I have have read some criticism of it both favourable and unfavourable, and the divide isn’t strictly along religious lines. My argument all along is Tildeb’s assertion that you deliberately lied in your testimony, and the resulting demonisation of you on other blogs. If he had stated that he didn’t agree with your experience and stated why, my post wouldn’t be here. Even after the torturous path of trying to extract Tildeb’s real objection to your post, I simply don’t see your anger and intolerance being caused by (a) atheism, (b) Hawkins, or (c) The God Delusion. All I see is an Eva that was (a) an atheist, (b) an angry and intolerant person, and (c) someone who had read Dawkins and hung onto his words as the ultimate word in what is wrong with religion. I see no inference of cause and effect, which Tildeb seems to do.

      • As I said, the criticism against me has changed as I have refuted it. Which is not an unusual tactic, but not not one I thought Tildeb would engage in.

        That said, and somewhat irrelevantly at this stage I don’t agree with much criticism against the God Delusion by christians. He is a brilliant writer, although my personal favorite evolutionary biologist is Stephen J Gould.

        And yes, the sequence that you set out above is correct. Anything else is just…fantasy and wishful thinking 😉

      • Sure, Dawkins criticizes religious belief. It richly deserves criticism. But what he doesn’t do is what so many testimonials like Eva’s suggest he does: support intolerance against believers, support bigotry against believers, promote a ‘kind’ of atheism that contains these elements as part of its fundamental makeup. This is not true.

        This kind of nastiness comes from people… some of whom are atheists. One does not extract this kind of nastiness FROM atheism, FROM Dawkins, FROM the God Delusion or from ANY New Atheist works as if part of its supposed ‘fundamental’ aspect. That’s the lie and it has got to be challenged and rebutted strenuously whenever it arises because it IS a lie.

        As I said, I did not see any of this supposed intolerance and bigotry she later claims to have exercised as a ‘fundamental’ part of her atheism from Eva’s posts. Go ahead and read all those links and find examples of her fundamental angry and opinionated INTOLERANCE. Not there. Find examples of her fundamental BIGOTRY. Not there. Yet they should be – and plentiful – if, as Eva continues to claim, they were a FUNDAMENTAL part of her atheism.

        They weren’t. They never were. The passing references of some prior intolerance and bigotry are fully Eva’s and not a fundamental part of her ‘kind’ of atheism. The claim she makes remains a lie as well as a smear against New Atheism… even if she doesn’t see it, even if she refuses to admit it, even if she will not retract it. What I won’t do is excuse it and try to rationalize it away. This is the root belief used to attack New Atheism and it is built on a lie.

        • Eva does not claim that her attitude about Christians came from being an atheist, Dawkins or The God delusion. She may have used The God Delusion to justify her attitude, just like some people in the past used the Bible to justify slavery or xenophobia.

          She said she was a fundamentalist, and by that I take it to mean that she thought that people who didn’t think like her (that Christians are juvenile etc) were wrong. To me fundamentalism isn’t about what one believes so much as it is about how one believes. If I happened to believe in the flying spaghetti monster, that doesn’t make me a fundamentalist. But if I thought that everyone who didn’t believe in that monster was not only wrong, but sinful and deserved everything bad that happened to them, then I would be a fundamentalist. does that make sense?

        • Oh I understand just how badly so many people want the term fundamentalist to aptly describe atheists who unceasingly criticize their most dearly held beliefs. The problem is there are no beliefs fundamental to non belief.

          Let’s take a side trip to the Oxford English Dictionary

          Fundamental adj.

          1)Forming a necessary base or core; of central importance:
          2) Affecting or relating to the essential nature of something or the crucial point about an issue
          3)So basic as to be hard to alter, resolve, or overcome

          Fundamentalist noun
          1) A person who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion
          2) A person who adheres strictly to the basic principles of any subject or discipline

          No matter how one comes at it, a non believer cannot be a fundamentalist in regard to the non belief because the belief set is empty. There is no belief. There can be conditions met to fit the meaning of the term.

          The term atheism stands opposite to theism, which means belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe. Again, there is an empty belief set. And this is why categorizing atheists is usually described as herding cats; they fall into all kinds of categories not because their atheism does anything more than describe a lack of belief in gods or a god but because each atheist fills in the set with what they bring to it.

          Dawkins is no different. His atheism has no fundamental core. He assigns a value of 6 out of 7 in his confidence that his non belief is justified. What has a core is New Atheism and the fundamental principle is to stop granting privilege and respect to religious belief. And the reason for that is to promote equality law and secular enlightenment values upon which Western liberal secular democracy stands. The charge of intolerance and bigotry as some kind of central tenet advocated by Dawkins and supported by New Atheism is a monstrous lie of such proportion that the only way to keep this malicious lie alive is to keep saying it and, hopefully, enough people will believe it in order to vilify those who aim to keep theism from being elevated to positions of authority and ever greater effect.

        • “Eva does not claim that her attitude about Christians came from being an atheist, Dawkins or The God delusion.”
          Yes she does.
          “In my mind I disliked Christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this”. Direct quote from her answer to me on why she was an atheist.

        • “Eva does not claim that her attitude about Christians came from being an atheist, Dawkins or The God delusion.”

          (Barry is saying that I didn’t claim that my attitude about christians came from being an atheist. Rather, my decision to become an atheist resulted from my dislike of christians. Are you with me here, Ashley? Because theres an important distinction here)

          Yes she does.

          (No Ashley, I don’t)

          “In my mind I disliked Christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this”. Direct quote from her answer to me on why she was an atheist.

          (What I am saying, in the piece you quoted; Christians stupid, therefore atheist. This is entirely different from what you are arguing.)

          Do you understand this distinction? Because it is subtle, but it seems that the entire argument that you are (still) using, hinges on a faulty interpretation.

  13. Great post, Barry. I was considering writing my own post and many of the points you make are similar to the ones I would’ve made (including addressing the bizarre Monty Python comments that popped up in Mak’s thread). Good for you and your well-reasoned responses to everyone!

    • Sigh. It seems that well reasoned responses aren’t sufficient for some people. To me it’s proof that it’s not only religious extremists/fundamentalists who believe you are lying and being deceitful if you disagree with them.

      • That’s because extremists never see themselves as extremists.

      • It is not a lack of reasoned responses or that that anyone disagrees with me that I stick to my claim. I stick to my claim that Eva lies in her testimonial about her atheism because it is true; she attributes to her atheism what she herself brought to it. She claims a fundamental intolerance and bigotry to her kind of atheism supposedly supported by Dawkins and The God Delusion that is not true. No amount of excusing and rationalizing away using reasoned responses and offering disagreements will alter the fact of Eva’s false claim about her ‘fundamental’ atheism. She’s got it exactly backwards.

        • That’s if she meant all that by her words. Your interpretation of them have been called into question numerous times already. Likewise, it may be true that atheism or Dawkins-style New Atheism doesn’t directly cause a person to become angry and intolerant, but it could also be many angry opinionated people are likely attracted to this style of atheism.

        • There is no such ‘style’ to atheism. Sure, the New Atheist movement has a target – religious privilege in the public domain – but there is no fundamental set of nasty tenets to it. That is what some people bring to their atheism. And they need to own it.

          There is no embedded call for intolerance or bigotry, no militancy or mandatory stridency, no extremism or fundamentalism at all yet, seriously, how often have you encountered this kind of drive-by smear that automatically associates – often in a backhanded kind of way – these kinds of negative attributes to those who actually bother to criticize religious privilege and belief imposed on others? How often have you and other sympathetic readers specifically called these folks out for their false accusations?

          If it doesn’t fall to each of us to challenge this bigotry as soon as we encounter it, this false narrative especially the form of a ‘testimonial’, then I think it successfully smears all of us… and far too many of us just go along to get along not fully realizing the harm we are enabling.

        • There has been research done on establishing atheist typologies (in which they identified at least 6 “types”.) So I think it’s reasonable to speak about ‘style’ of atheism, despite the lack of official tenets.

          As part of that study they also did a correlation study with common psychometric personality tests. Anti-Theists had the highest levels of anger, narcissism, and Dogmatism in comparison to the other atheist “types.” Consequently, they also had the highest levels of autonomy (a positive trait). There are other studies as well, which have found similar results.

          I can’t speak for others, but I have challenged certain theists when they’ve stated questionable things about atheists such as I did here with dpmonahan. (link I do think bigotry and over-generalizations should be challenged whether they are committed by atheists or believers.

        • Even this research expresses some dismay over the width and depth of trying to herd atheists into categories. Sure, one can come up with all manner of styles and kinds into which some atheists can be slotted but generally I think it is quite safe to say that atheists come in all shapes and sizes and leanings. What I think is clear, however, is that none of these can be shown to derive from non belief itself… an empty set, as I previously said but filled by whatever the non believer brings to it.

          New Atheism is a movement and so it does have a fairly robust target of religious privilege wherever it may arise but the charges of some kind of fundamental and nasty tenets to it are opposite to its standard assumptions enunciated repeatedly by not just the Four Horsemen but dozens and dozens of ‘leaders’ (for lack of a better term) about respecting civil and human rights for all.

          So the false charge of bigotry and intolerance of religious believers associated to New Atheism – most commonly attributed to Dawkins and his God Delusion – is particularly odious.

        • Religious privilege is a separate issue, and is not relevant to this discussion. You are the only one making an association between Eva’s testimony and new atheism. Are you saying that there is no-one who holds those ideals that seeks to discredit religiosity at every opportunity? That assumption would be as ludicrous as assuming every every person of religion believes atheist have no moral compass.

          I consider myself religious but not specifically Christian. When I look at the typologies listed in the research, I fall comfortably into both the “Seeker-Agnostic” and the “Ritual Atheist/Agnostic” types. Clearly Dawkins would not. I think it would be reasonable to classify him as “Anti-Theist”.

          Here in NZ, and probably in Australia, I would think most people (80 to 90%) fall into the “Non-Theist” type and what ever you’d like to name an equivalent type for those who accept the existence of God but otherwise couldn’t care less.

        • No, anti-theist is code for bigotry and intolerance. That’s a lie. What Dawkins clearly promotes – as do all New Atheists is anti-theism. There is a huge difference you have missed here. Anti-theism is neither intolerant nor bigoted. Presuming it is promotes the Big Lie.

          And New Atheism is what Dawkins talks about it the God Delusion. To claim one is using the God Delusion as one’s bible is indeed referencing New Atheism. Claiming it possesses some level of intolerance and bigotry, that these elements are fundamental to it, is not true and in no way detracts from the legitimate criticism of all faith-based thinking.

        • I would have thought that an anti-theist was one who practices anti-theism. Bigotry and intolerance is not a necessary part of it, but surely even you will acknowledge that some who promote anti-theism will be bigoted and intolerant.

          Besides, the research undertaken by skeptics uses the term anti-theist in a specific way. Have a look at the typologies list and tell me which one(s) Dawkins best fits.

          Look, I see plenty of columns by atheists where there is an unambiguous assertion that Christians believe that members of the LGBQ community are sinners or that Christians have a right to discriminate against that community, or that wives must be subservient to their husbands, or that God is offended by same sex marriage, or that non-believers are destined for hell, or any of a myriad of other similar claims. None of these are requirements of Christian belief, nor are they the norm (depending on where one lives). Would/do you get as uptight about such claims when you see them?

          But I keep returning to that fact that I just don’t see any inference that Dawkins’ viewpoint is based on bigotry and intolerance. That, I believe, is entirely your own personal take on Eva’s testimony. Thinking someone is very wrong (as clearly Eva does now about Dawkins) does not equate with thinking that person is bigoted or intolerant. Even if Eva does think that (and she’s entitled to that viewpoint), it is not implied in the testimony as far as I am concerned.

        • Sure, I agree that atheists come in all shapes and sizes and leanings, but then again so do Christians, Jews, Americans, Europeans, and any other groups one wishes to name. So that’s not something particularly unique to atheists.

          Bigotry and intolerance can be much more subtle than you’re suggesting (after all, legitimate criticisms can lead to uncritical stereotypes), which is why so many atheists over-generalize in their discussions and comments about theists.

        • legitimate criticisms can lead to uncritical stereotypes. That’s so true in every walk of life.

        • Barry, you’re wasting your time arguing with them. If you and others haven’t persuaded them after 50+ posts and they haven’t persuaded you, I doubt much is going to change with another 50+ posts.

        • You’re probably right, but as long as there’s dialogue there’s a chance of reaching an understanding, and just maybe, agreement.

        • It’s your time, Barry. But you can’t argue with Dogmatism. Any point you bring up will likely be dismissed by one rationalization or another.

        • But there is a very important difference: whereas the atheist brings (and therefore is responsible for) attitudes and opinions they hold about others, the theist can pass this responsibility on to scripture and claim obedience and service to it. Because various scriptures are used as a source, we can legitimately categorize those who adhere to them. This is not the case with atheism.

        • Many theist have no source of authority. For example liberal Christians don’t consider the Bible authoritative.

        • And I sincerely hope that is the direction all religious belief undergoes because that alone would reduce much of the harm done in the name of God. And there is a lot of it.

          But there is a bigger problem than just using scripture as an authority; faith-based belief itself is a guaranteed method of inquiry to fool one’s self. It never has, does not, and probably never shall produce any knowledge. But it is a method of inquiry that yields all kinds of harm.

          The Mother Ship of promoting faith-based belief as a virtue rather than a vice – afailed methodology – is, of course, religion. But there are many other manifestations that are also pernicious – from AGW climate change denialism to anti-vaxers, from unregulated naturopathic remedies to ‘complimentary’ and ‘alternative’ therapies, from crystals to tarot cards, from cleansing to chiropracty, and the list goes on and on… wherever belief is immune from reality’s arbitration.

          When we award religious belief to hold some respect for its supposed knowledge value – as if it had insight into the universe and potentially everything it contains – then we open the door to the same justification for all kinds of beliefs untethered to any means to know anything about the truth value for claims they make about the universe and what it contains and the effects acting on such beliefs produces.

          These concerns are legitimate, as are the pernicious effects from granting legitimacy to these faith-based beliefs we allow to go without criticism for their apparent benign nature.

        • Tildeb, I don’t have the same attitude towards religion as you do, but I have always believed that unless a religious belief can be supported by something other than a claim that it is ordained by one’s deity, it’s not worth holding.

        • You are entirely missing the point, Tildeb. There is no cause and effect claimed between atheism and her dislike of Christians. Both existed at the same time. Neither relied on the other. That situation existed a long time before The god Delusion was even a twinkle in the eye of Dawkins.

          And please don’t confuse “fundamentalist” as used in her post with “Fundamental” as in “she couldn’t be an atheist without a dislike of Christians”. That link, which you claim, I just don’t see.

        • “You are entirely missing the point, Tildeb. There is no cause and effect claimed between atheism and her dislike of Christians. Both existed at the same time. Neither relied on the other.”
          Not True
          See my previous response above.
          From her own mouth:
          “In my mind I disliked Christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this”.
          Now I can’t see how anyone can read something like that and say that Eva’s dislike of Christians had NOTHING to do with her atheism. There is no possible way either of you can wiggle your way out of that claim any longer. That’s as direct a statement as has been made on this subject. It clearly links her atheism to her dislike of Christians. No further debate on that topic necessary.

        • You are using information acquired after the fact. That information is not available from Eva’s testimony. And as I have repeated on many occasions I do not see a cause and effect between atheism and a prejudice against Christians. Tildeb’s objection seems to be that Eva’s testimony makes a general assertion that intolerance etc are part and parcel of atheism. What her testimony states is that she was intolerant and she was an atheist. The testimony does not make any claim that her intolerance was due to her being an atheist. She clearly identifies that her intolerance was hers alone and that other atheists such as her husband weren’t like that.

          Tildeb says that she implies that her intolerance was a result of atheism. He goes further to claim that Eva implies that such intolerance is widespread or the norm amongst atheists, and Eva deliberately lied to vilify atheists. That is the lie that Tildeb is referring to. On the other hand, you (and Eva) say that her atheism, and hers alone, was a result of intolerance. Do you see the difference?

          Eva does not claim that atheists are intolerant or that atheism leads to intolerance. She does not claim that intolerant people are atheists or that intolerance leads to atheism.

          Now let’s get back to your argument that in the case of Eva, she was an atheist because of her dislike of Christians. For Tildeb to be correct in that Eva lied (even though it’s not what he claims she lied about) you need to prove that she deliberately fabricated her claim that she was an atheist because she disliked Christians.

          We can all agree she grew up in a community where non-belief was the norm. So it’s safe to assume that as a child she was an atheist, whether she knew it or not. So how did she come to learn about Christians? I’m going to dive into the realm of speculation here, but I think what follows is a plausible scenario.

          Kiwi’s are not unknown to make jokes and/or unkind remarks about Australia, its culture or its people, and Australians are known to do the same about Kiwis. Here in NZ, Aucklanders make jokes about those living south of the Bombay Hills, and all of us south of those hills make jokes about JAFAs (Just Another F***ing Aucklander). Such comments are usually said in jest, but at times there might be a real grievance behind a comment.

          I’m sure that from time to time, the community in which Eva lived, made jokes or unflattering remarks about aspects of Christianity. If I know human nature, at such times, people can be careless about whether they are referring to a belief or a person who holds that belief. For example, if a joke started with “An atheist and a Christian walked into a bar…“ what is the joke about? The intention might well be to poke fun at Christianity or a particular aspect of it, but another listener might interpret it as poking fun at the Christian.
          A child is less discriminating in such situations and is unlikely to make a distinction between a belief and the holder of a belief. I can remember many times correcting my own children over this very matter.

          So Eva grows up in a community that is atheist and rightly or wrongly associates criticism of Christianity with Christians themselves. So not only is Christianity stupid, but so are Christians. This is not a reflection on atheism, but a reflection on human nature. Eva knows of only one religion (Christianity) and one deity, and decides she wants to have nothing to do with it. She didn’t choose to be an atheist, she was already was one. Her beliefs about Christianity, whether accurate or not, confirmed that the status quo (atheism) was the only sensible option. If Eva lived in a community of Buddhists, her prejudices might well have reinforced a belief that Buddhism was the only sensible option.

          If you read Eva’s blog you’ll also see that she appreciates aspects of Wicca and Buddhism, and has shared resources of such online. Don’t you think it would be a little odd that someone who has a soft spot for for Wicca and Buddhism would want to vilify atheism?

          She still lives in a community of atheists, has an atheist husband and has friends who are atheists. Her joining a faith community, has not caused Eva to part company with those that don’t share the same belief. Logic tells me that no matter what her private opinions are, she’s not going to publicly vilify those who are important to her or their beliefs.

          As I have said, it’s speculation on my part but I think it’s more plausible than Tildeb’s claim that Eva deliberately lied to vilify atheism.

        • Barry, you say ” The testimony does not make any claim that her intolerance was due to her being an atheist.”

          It is Eva who associates this series of nastiness including intolerance and bigotry with using the God Delusion as her bible. This implies a direct connection. So, let me ask you, If your assertion is the case, then what constitutes the ‘fundamentalism’ she claims for her ‘kind’ of atheism?

        • Read coment by unkleE regarding God Delusion as her bible.

        • Apparently I was wrong. One can try and wiggle out of a direct assertion that one was an atheist because one disliked Christians and used The God Delusion as the excuse for bad behavior in the same manner that some Christians use the bible as their excuse for bad behavior and and claim none of it is true. Evidence given “after the fact” is still evidence Barry. Given what I read from her testimony, where she directly says that she was “about as angry and intolerant as you can get” proceeded immediately by “The God Delusion was my Bible” and then my follow up questions as to what exactly that means, I get a direct answer – “Because I thought Christians were so stupid and ignorant, given what I had read by Ken Ham and the like, It automatically followed ( for me) that this god could not exist.” and then “I think that I was an atheist because I believed Christians to be ignorant.”
          Then, when questioned what she meant by “using The God Delusion as my bible”, I get “I supposed that I was drawing parallels between ‘fundamentalist’ Christians, who embody all the worst things about the faith. They use the Bible to justify their beliefs, and cannot accept the truth of anything but their own belief.”.
          Now, if that’s not as direct an implication that she used The God Delusion as her bible to justify her intolerance and fundamentalism in the same manner that Fundamentalist Christians use their bible to justify their intolerance and fundamentalism – or as she puts it “the worst things about the faith”, I don’t know what is. The parallel she refers to is between herself being an intolerant and fundamentalist atheist, using The God Delusion to justify her behavior and Fundamentalist Christians using the bible to justify their intolerant and fundamentalist behavior. It could not be more CRYSTAL CLEAR.
          This has been the crux of Tildeb’s beef since day 1.
          When directly questioned about the intentions of the statement, we get direct answers. That’s pretty much the entire reason one asks questions. If a statement may seem vague or imprecise or can be interpreted in different ways, we ask questions and try to get to the heart of the matter. We get direct, honest, clear, concise answers that clear up any vagueness and ambiguity. Now if you want to assert that none of this was in Eva’s original statement and therefore somehow “doesn’t count” or anything of that sort, go right ahead. If it’s not what she meant, just seems to me that it’s absolutely beyond bizarre that she’d admit that’s what she meant after the fact wouldn’t you say?
          But anywho, as Wilhuf Tarkin would say “This bickering is pointless!” If you haven’t gotten and acknowledged the point by now, you’re never going to. We’ve run out of ways to explain it.

          On a different note, I also can’t help but notice, that for someone who claims that they used to be fundamentalist and intolerant, and now that they have discovered which god is the right one and the correct way to worship him, and that they’ve become less intolerant and fundamentalist, that it’s exxxxxxxxxtremely curious that such a person would ban people from commenting on their site (tildeb) and have to require all of my comments to be moderated/vetted/cleared/checked before being published – deleting one of them that I am aware of to date. Don’t you find that strange Barry – and Eva if you’re reading this? I know I sure do. Seems like you’ve simply traded one type of intolerance for another – wouldn’t you say? It’s almost like she was an intolerant person all along and has now just switched justifications for being so. I don’t think Eva’s Christianity has made her a more tolerant person at all. But don’t mind me, I’m no psychologist. Just making a simple observation.

        • Quite frankly I’m not intersted in Eva’s personal prejudices, either as an atheist or as a Christian. That was not the point of the post. Tildeb claimed that Eva deliberately lied to vilify atheism, and Makagutu made a similar comment on his blog. I visited Eva’s blog and could not see, and can still not see any evidence that she vilified atheism. That being so, how could she have lied about it.

          We can agree that Eva didn’t like Christianity and by her subsequent admission she says that was why she was an atheist. Now think for a moment if the only religion you knew and which you didn’t like was Christianity, precisely what option would you have than to be an atheist?

          Regardless of why Eva decided she was an atheist, and regardless of whether she was right or wrong to do so, and regardless of whether or not she understood Dawkins correctly, what she did not say was atheism and by association atheists are intolerant, bigoted, or fundamentalist. She used those terms to describe herself. She does not apply those terms to any other atheist. Just herself. And so I will repeat that I see no evidence in her testimony that she vilified atheism. What she does is criticised herself.

          I have no idea if Eva is more or less tolerant than she was prior to becoming a Christian and quite frankly it’s irrelevant.

          Eva’s blog is her own, and how she reacts when she is called a liar is up to her. I think I would be tempted to ban or moderate someone who repeatedly called me a nasty liar.

          Let’s see if I can summarise the situation. In her testimony Eva says that she was angry and intolerant and in subsequent discussion she says that she used The God Delusion to justify her intolerance and fundamentalism. Have I got it right so far? If i have, then aren’t we discussing flaws (for want of a better term) of Eva? We are not discussing flaws of atheism.

          My interpretation of Tildeb’s post is that he claimed Eva lied when she said she was angry and intolerant in the period before she became a Christian. In other words Tildeb is saying she was not angry and intolerant when she was an atheist. He then says that the reason she said she was angry (and therefore lied) was for the purpose of vilifying atheism. That is the crux of the whole argument.

          You, like me, believe she was angry and intolerant before she became a Christian (although I’m not sure if we agree why). Therefore she didn’t lie when she said she was angry and intolerant. If she didn’t lie, then Tildeb is mistaken in believing Eva lied.

        • Barry, you say ” she used The God Delusion to justify her intolerance and fundamentalism.” Well, the truth is that the God Delusion does not support this at all so I don’t see how she can be telling the truth here no matter how much spin doctoring you do to it. That’s why I keep asking you – and you keep avoiding – what exactly constitutes this so-called ‘fundamentalism’ in Eva’s kind of atheism that you seem willing to accept at face value. on the one hand to excuse Eva from deceit yet pretend she never made any such claim on the other to pretend the problem is my faulty interpretation.

        • I don’t claim that The God Delusion supports intolerance or fundamentalism. Eva used the book to justify her intolerance and fundamentalism, just like some Christians can find justification of all kinds of evil deeds from the pages of the bible. Eva also states that she doesn’t support much of the criticism of The God Delusion made by some Christians.

          Tildeb, I am not pretending anything. I believe you are mistaken about Eva’s testimony. On the other hand it appears that you don’t believe I could be mistaken. Rather, you believe I am pretending that it’s a problem with your interpretation. In other words, I know you are correct but willfully refuse to admit it – I’m being dishonest. If that is what you really believe, what is the purpose of this discussion?

        • I don’t know, Barry. So that you see yourself as the reasonable one, mitigating the very harsh claim of lying I make about Eva’s testimony regarding her atheism with a dose of linguistic apologetics, of saving peace and harmony from the jaws of some fundamental extremism I import? Your motives are your own but respecting what’s true doesn’t seem to be at the top of your priority list.. just sort of hovering somewhere nearby, I presume.

          You got me why you’re being so charitable to Eva’s deceit but you certainly remain dedicated to excusing it and yet still refuse to identify what you think constitutes Eva’s claimed fundamentalism. You are quite certain it’s not intolerance and bigotry associated to her kind of atheism – the same kind supposedly laid out in the God Delusion – but something else, apparently. What tenets fundamental to her atheism was she talking about, Barry (excusing as you insist must be done to be fair and just regarding the negative terms she used right there in the same paragraph in the correct order for this inference in her testimonial to be extracted while insisting my interpretation just isn’t charitable enough)?

          Please, elucidate and enlighten.

        • Yes it’s true that I believe I’m right, but the do do you. You haven’t persuaded me that her intent was to vilify atheism by lying in her testimony.

          As I said in my post I’m not the best at reading between the lines (it’s one of the disadvantages of being on the autism spectrum). If Eva lied its too subtle for me to see and no one has been able to point out what I’m missing. On the other hand I have seen comments by her atheist friend and others that support her version of the story. If you were in my position what would you believe? The onus is on you to prove beyond reaonable doubt that (a) Eva vilified atheism, and (b) she lied to do that. So far I haven’t seen evidence that supports (a).

        • You’ve looked at. You just choose not to see it. No amount words from me can break through that.

        • I realise I didn’t answer your question about what constitutes Eva’s fundamentalism. I don’t have a clue. She doesn’t elaborate. And I dont see the relevance of the question. All we need to know is that she believed she had it, and rightly or wrongly, She found justification for her beliefs in The God Delusion. I make the point that I have no opinion as to whether The God Delusion has anything to actually support what she believed as I have not read it. If she is wrong, she isn’t the first and won’t be the last person to make an incorrect conclusion about the message of a book. There’s an example here where you and I have come to different conclusions about the real meaning of her testimony.

        • Barry, you say, “All we need to know is that she believed she had it, and rightly or wrongly, She found justification for her beliefs in The God Delusion.”

          No, that’s not enough. And this is rather important to my accusation, Barry. She didn’t FIND any justification for her belief where she said she did. This is a falsehood. She simply made it up and then attributed it to the ‘kind’ of atheism she believed was contained in the God Delusion. That smears the God Delusion and its author and those of us who find its message meritorious.

          In fact, this point is ESSENTIAL to my accusation. Either Eva didn’t read the God Delusion and simply claimed a fundamentalism of her atheism she thought might be in the book (again, what is fundamental to this Dawkinsonian atheism?) OR she was just making shit up and attributing it elsewhere. . Either way, making such a claim is indeed telling a falsehood because even if she believes the supposed fundamentalism is in the book, she knows she didn’t use as her bible (so that’s a lie) OR she’s perfectly aware that the source of the supposed fundamentalism she believes is in it comes from her and is not ‘fundamental’ to he or any other kind of atheism (so the idea of being a ‘fundamental’ atheist is a lie)

          Now, here’s the second but important point: even after I pointed this out, she didn’t retract her claim. She doubled down on it.

          Next, apologists come forth. Here’s where you come in, Barry: you not only went along with the lie but went to some effort to excuse it… yet you agree to the suggestion that it is I who is the ‘extremist’ here. You continue to try to argue that the making up of stuff should be interpreted to be somehow qualitatively different than intentionally lying because… well, just because it’s believed without merit and continues to be believed even after it is exposed as a falsehood..And you have suggested repeatedly that my insistence on respecting what’s true is rather rude and uncharitable, that I should have backed off, should have changed my tone and been more open to interpreting this falsehood more charitably, that the connection Eva made about some negative fundamental aspect to her ‘shared’ kind of atheism and the New Atheism Dawkins so aptly argued for existed only in my mind. All of this is crap and your efforts used as if they ‘counter’ my post about challenging convertees who tell lies about their previous atheism. It doesn’t. It supports it in spade.

        • “Regardless of why Eva decided she was an atheist…” She wasn’t. She was bigoted and prejudiced against Christians. She declared that she believed that their god couldn’t exist because of the likes of ignorant, stupid Christians like Ken Ham. None of this has ANYTHING to do with atheism.
          “, and regardless of whether she was right or wrong to do so,..” You cannot be “right or wrong” about being an atheist. You simply profess non-belief in a deity. There’s nothing to be “right or wrong” about.
          “and regardless of whether or not she understood Dawkins correctly,” She clearly didn’t. Referring to The God Delusions as a “bible” is a painfully obvious dead give away that she didn’t.
          “what she did not say was atheism and by association atheists are intolerant, bigoted, or fundamentalist. She used those terms to describe herself. ” She used those terms to describe her FORMER self – the FORMER self who just also happened to be an atheist. She was one of THOSE kind of atheists. Not the “easy breezy” kind, the intolerant, fundamentalist kind. She is not referring to herself only. She is referring to a group of people to whom she once belonged. The intolerant, fundamentalist group of hateful atheists. She is attributing her dislike of Christians and her reading of The God Delusion as the reason why she once belonged to this group of intolerant, fundamentalist, hateful atheists. Now that she’s Christian, she’s not like that any more.
          If you can’t see that, then I guess you can’t see that.

          “We can agree that Eva didn’t like Christianity and by her subsequent admission she says that was why she was an atheist.”
          Yes I can agree she said that. However, as I have repeatedly pointed out more times than I can count – disliking Christianity HAS NOTHING TO DO with being an atheist. Even if you claim (as you) that you are unaware of any other religion that’s ever existed – which I find absolutely incredulous but will happily grant regardless, that STILL does not lead to you the position of non-belief in god. You are only aware of Christianity, therefore you are either a Christian or an atheist? WRONG. This is a false dichotomy you have created out of thin air. The arrival at the position of non-belief in all deities is arrived at by using logic, reason, common sense and by critical examination of the “evidence” and argument that such an entity exists. Once you notice that any “evidence” is non-existent, and the arguments are fallacious and irrational, you are forced to conclude that you cannot believe in such a being.

          “Let’s see if I can summarize the situation. In her testimony Eva says that she was angry and intolerant and in subsequent discussion she says that she used The God Delusion to justify her intolerance and fundamentalism. Have I got it right so far?”
          Yes you have that correct.
          “If I have, then aren’t we discussing flaws (for want of a better term) of Eva?”
          In a round about way, yes. We are discussing Eva’s flawed scapegoating of atheism and The God Delusion to justify her anger, intolerance and prejudice towards Christians and God Delusion Bible-thumping “fundamentalist” atheism she apparently once practiced.
          NONE of this behavior is the result of being an atheist.
          NONE of this behavior is the result of reading The God Delusion.
          Saying that any of it is, is a misrepresentation.
          If it is deliberate, then its a lie.
          If it’s not, then it’s willful ignorance.
          I don’t know Eva so I can’t comment. Tildeb says he’s been reading her blog for some time now and claims she’s deliberately misrepresenting her former self. I.e. she’s lying. I’m inclined to believe him for the simple fact that Eva has spent the last several days and who knows about many dozens of posts denying the fact that there’s any link between her atheism, her reading of the God Delusion and her past intolerant and fundamentalist behavior, only to admit that there was after I questioned her directly.
          Regardless of whether or not she intentionally lied or was willfully ignorant, the entire point of this discussion is to dispel the myth that being an atheist and reading the God Delusion encourages any of the bad behavior (or vice versa – that bad behavior encourages atheism and reading books like The God Delusion) that Eva associated with it.

        • On a different note, I also can’t help but notice, that for someone who claims that they used to be fundamentalist and intolerant, and now that they have discovered which god is the right one and the correct way to worship him, and that they’ve become less intolerant and fundamentalist, that it’s exxxxxxxxxtremely curious that such a person would ban people from commenting on their site (tildeb) and have to require all of my comments to be moderated/vetted/cleared/checked before being published – deleting one of them that I am aware of to date. Don’t you find that strange Barry – and Eva if you’re reading this? I know I sure do. Seems like you’ve simply traded one type of intolerance for another – wouldn’t you say? It’s almost like she was an intolerant person all along and has now just switched justifications for being so. I don’t think Eva’s Christianity has made her a more tolerant person at all. But don’t mind me, I’m no psychologist.

          Ashley, I banned Tildeb because I realised that anyone who states that they wish to damage my reputation has no place commenting on my blog. If someone directly calls me a liar and states that they wish to damage my reputation then yes, I will ban them. Clearly that makes me an intolerant person.

          Or alternatively, someone who doesnt put up with revenge type bulls&$t.

          And yes, Im putting you into moderation. Ive not deleted any of your comments. Again, not my defenition of intolerant but you are clearly a superior thinker than me ( as I have no idea what you have been talking about recently) so I will bow to your judgement.

          Sigh.

          One last thing…

        • No ma’am. You banned Tildeb and you moderate me, because you are an insecure coward who needs to use whatever scapegoat explanation you can to make sure that all of your ridiculous assertions go unchallenged and your misrepresentations remain unexposed. You were an intolerant fundamentalist person then and you’re an intolerant fundamentalist person now. Atheism wasn’t the problem, Richard Dawkins wasn’t the problem. The God Delusion wasn’t the problem. It’s YOU. It’s always been you. But you go ahead and keep blaming it on everything and everyone else but yourself. You’ve become an expert at it by now. By the sounds of things, it’s how you’ve lived your entire life. Why stop now?

        • Yes Ashley.

          I am an intolerant and insecure coward. All the evidence is clearly there for all to see in my intolerant, judgemental and insecure blog. Also, my comments. All my comment here are very intolerant. And angry.

          You, however, are utterly peaced out and zen.

          You do not seem in any way ranty, or invested, or angry.

          Not. At. All.

        • “I am an intolerant and insecure coward. All the evidence is clearly there for all to see in my intolerant, judgemental and insecure blog”
          I don’t know how intolerant and insecure your blog is, because well hey, you’ve deleted large portions of it haven’t you? I have no idea how many comments and bloggers other than tildeb have been deleted and blocked but more than one is enough. You’re so tolerant of other’s comments and secure in your position, your beliefs and assertions, that you have to resort to deleting comments and blocking people from on your blog…and then with a straight face, try to make yourself out to be tolerant and secure person. And then, why not round off the whole discussion by playing the victim card eh Eva? When all else fails, just start whining. You’ve done very well with your Christianity ma’am. Congratulations.

        • Eva admits to her intolerance when she was a non-believer. What I don’t see is any evidence that she blames her intolerance of Chritianity on her lack of belief.

          Right or wrong, for better or worse, she decided, when she was a child, that Christianity, and by association Christians was silly. Therefore she decided to have nothing to do with them. This was clearly illustrated by her refusal to attend scripture. So, she was stubborn and opiniated, even refusing to be bribed with jellybeans. I would say that is evidence that she had a fundamental belief that Christianity was a load of old Bull. Note that have made no mention of atheism. So we have a child who has a strong negative attitude towards Christianity. She had no belief in the Christian God or any other God for that matter. I’m sure there were many non-believers who did attend scripture but found the bribe of sweets too tempting, or didn’t have the confidence to rebell or didn’t want to be different from their peers. But Eva and her friend felt superior but staging a revolt. We have two young girls who were convinced they were right to make a stand and felt smug about it. Two girls who thought Christianity was a silly motion, and I suspect of they knew of any other religion, those too would have also been considered silly. Two opiniated girls that didn’t believe in any deity. Two girls who were non-believers. They had reached that decision based purely on the knowledge they had in the community in which they lived.

          If you don’t believe the story of the scripture boycott, come right out and say so, but as it has been corroborated by her friend I think it can be taken as essentially true.

          So we have two girls who thought Christianity was nonsense. These two girls didn’t believe in the Christian God. These two girls were non-believers. In the eyes of Christians they would be considered atheists.

          Note that throughout the proceeding paragraphs there’s no claim that it was necessary to be an atheist in order to be opinionated. I’m sure we can all persons of faith who are just that. Nor is there a claim that it’s necessary to be opinionated on order to be an atheist. I’m sure we all know of atheists who are not.

          So at the time of the scriptures boycott can we agree that Eva had very opiniated ideas about Christianity? And can we also agree that at that time she had chosen non-belief over belief? If so, can we agree that at that time she was an atheist and opinionated at the same time? If not, at what point in the above narrative did we cease to agree?

        • I feel like this is all an elaborate prank, and there are hidden cameras set up around me right now, recording my reactions as the comments get more and more baseless…
          Ok, I admit that the claim that Ive deleted large portions of my blog did get a reasonably amusing reaction, but I’ve got my game face on again and Im ready to continue.
          Onwards, Ashley!

        • I know exactly how you feel. I have been vilified by the anti religious brigade and the anti non-belief brigade way back in the dim dark days before I started this blog (about two years ago). In the end it was causing me so much stress that I had no option but to walk away. At least now I have the option of controlling the tone of the conversation if need be.

        • That’s right. I think whatever direction you go in someone is going to criticise. I’ve been impressed at how you have been able to keep a clear head! The turn it’s taken to today has essentially left me bemused… And amused 😉

        • “What I don’t see is any evidence that she blames her intolerance of Christianity on her lack of belief”
          I guess you’re right Barry. Other than the fact that she outright stated that she was an atheist for no other reason other than she disliked Christians and found them to be stupid and ignorant, I can’t see any evidence of how she associated her intolerance of Christians on her lack of belief either.

        • If someone thought religion was nonsense then what else could someone be other than an atheist? It would be rather odd to think of religion that way and still believe in a deity don’t you think? Someone who does not believe in a deity is an atheist isn’t he/she?

        • Barry, I sincerely question your ability to comprehend the written word once you interpret it through a very particular and rationalized filter. So let’s work backwards.

          What KIND of atheism is being described in the following sentence:

          “The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get.”

        • She’s not describing any kind of atheism. She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position. The use of “Bible” in this context has already been explained. It’s a literary tool and is understood to be so by practically everyone who’s read Eva’s testimony. They do not see the inference you do.

          As she looks favourably on Buddhism and Wicca, I can see little reason why she would want to vilify atheism.

        • “Ok, I admit that the claim that I’ve deleted large portions of my blog did get a reasonably amusing reaction, but I’ve got my game face on again and I’m ready to continue.
          Onwards, Ashley!”

          Yup, can’t imagine where I’d get the idea that you’d deleted portions of your blog eh Eva? I must be making that up out of thin air!

          From a comment on Toldeb’s blog: “Oh crikey. I just came over to leave a comment, just in case you don’t get a notification. I reinstated your comment and have apologized for deleting it.”
          That was you apologizing for the first time you banned Tildeb and deleted a comment.

          and then you said: “I’m sorry to say that I’ve actually stopped him from commenting here any more. I know that this will be seen by some as ‘Eva cant handle his truth bombs’, but at this point I think Tildeb needs to step back and I fear he wont do this except by my actions.” to Barry on your own blog after you deleted all of Tildeb’s comments that were made after April 15 and then banned him again.

          You keep your game face on girl! You keep telling yourself your more tolerant and less fundamentalist while banning and moderating people who say things you don’t like to hear, and keep telling yourself the claim I made that you deleted portions of your blog is “amusing”.

          Remember, it’s not really a lie if you believe it!

          Maybe if you pray the right way, your new found imaginary best friend will smite me?

        • I have known Eva for only a couple of days but I feel sure that the reason anyone has been banned from her site is because he/she has exceeded the bounds of acceptable behaviour. Accusations of deliberate lying and intentional nastiness go beyond what is acceptable. Some other atheists who originally supported Tildeb’s accusations have had the courtesy to acknowledge their first impression of Eva’s testimony was incorrect and accept Eva’s clarification. As other atheists accept that Eva was not in fact vilifying atheism, isn’t it possible that you might be mistaken?

        • “Some other atheists who originally supported Tildeb’s accusations have had the courtesy to acknowledge their first impression of Eva’s testimony was incorrect and accept Eva’s clarification”

          You imply this to mean that these other atheists have since thought my original accusation was incorrect. Not so, Barry. Some thought some parts of her testimonial were unlikely to be true and have since changed their minds. That’s what most atheists do when presented with better reasons to think one thing rather than another. But this is NOT the case concerning my original accusation of intentional deceit – lying – on the part of Eva in her testimonial regarding continuing the Big Lie that New Atheism as described in the God Delusion contains fundamental intolerance and bigotry. It doesn’t. New Atheism doesn’t. Any claim that it does is a lie… no matter how fervently someone might believe it to be true. And no has has suggested that when presented with this lie we should just go along with it and claim and only the misguided would think that whoever challenges it does so out of anger and intolerance.

        • “If someone thought religion was nonsense then what else could someone be other than an atheist?”

          They could be a spiritualist.
          They could be a deist
          They could be a theist who believes in a personal god of their very own that doesn’t rely on religious scripture
          The could be a “liberal” Christian (or Jew or Muslim) who hasn’t read or doesn’t know anything about the bible (Torah, Qur’an), doesn’t go to church (temple, mosque), doesn’t participate in any of the rituals or practices, doesn’t like organized religion but still identifies themselves as a Christian (Jew or Muslim).
          They could be a member of Heaven’s Gate Cult or the People’s Temple Cult or The Branch Dividian Cult or The Unification Church cult – none of which are officially recognized organized religions which has some kind of deity attached to a central belief system. (To my knowledge, the first 3 aren’t active anymore because most if not all of their members are now dead, but they were very prominent in their day)

          ” It would be rather odd to think of religion that way and still believe in a deity don’t you think?”

          No I don’t think that.

          “Someone who does not believe in a deity is an atheist isn’t he/she?”

          Yes he/she is. I will point out, for what has to be about the 100th time now, that Eva DOES NOT claim to be an atheist because she found religion to be nonsense and DOES NOT claim to be an atheist because she didn’t believe in a deity.
          She claimed to be an atheist because she disliked Christians and because she found them to be stupid and ignorant and she claimed that she used The God Delusion to support her prejudices and bigotry towards Christians -as a “bible” as she puts it. How do I know this? SHE TOLD ME EXACTLY THAT.

          If you dislike Christians, that does not make you an atheist. That makes you a bigot.
          If you dislike organized religion, that doesn’t not make you an atheist. It makes you anti-authoritarian.

          To break it down in really simple terms

          Dislike Organized Religion =/= Atheist (no relation whatsoever)
          Dislike Christians =/= Atheist (no relation whatsoever)
          Use The God Delusion as an excuse to support bigotry and prejudice towards Christians =/= Atheism (no relation whatsoever)

          I was wondering if you could give me a rough estimate of how many more times I have to repeat any of this before it starts to sink in?

        • I don’t know how many times, but I supect hell will freeze over before you realise you have the completely wrong end of the stick.

        • No Barry,

          You’re at the wrong end of the stick. Eva’s laid out all of her reasons for her previous intolerance and fundamentalism, attributing them to atheism and The God Delusion. She admitted as much. It’s all there in print and anyone can read it. It’s all fallacious reasoning and it’s all a lie Barry. She was an intolerant bigot then and the reason she was, has got nothing to do with atheism and has got nothing to do with The God Delusion. You’ve done your best to make as many excuses for it as you can and to tap dance around it when you’ve been presented with the irrefutable evidence for it (her own words) but I think you’ve worn the heels off of your tap dancing shoes.

        • Sorry I missed this

          “She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.”

          That’s exactly right Barry! Let us explore what else she had to say in regards to who she said she used to be. Sound like an interesting project Barry? It sure does to me! Let’s check it out:

          “See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God ….I was an angry opinionated atheist….”

          So let’s substitute your word “Someone” with what she described herself as: An atheist and see what the sentence sounds like.

          “She’s describing what she was: An (angry, opinionated) Atheist who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.”

          There goes your “She didn’t use The God Delusion to justify her intolerance, you’re just reading that into her story” routine flying right out the window Barry.
          Would I be presuming too much in saying that I am certain that in the course of your excuse making and tap dancing that you didn’t notice how 180 degree contradictory your 2:48am statement: “That’s exactly what she doesn’t do. That is something you read into it.” and your 3:12am statement “She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.” were?

        • Eva: I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion.

          Tildeb: Eva was angry and opinionated because she was an atheist, and she didn’t like Christians because she was an atheist.

          Ashley: Eva was an atheist because she was angry, opinionated and didn’t like Christians.

          Barry: Eva was angry and opinionated and she didn’t like Christians and she was an atheist.

        • Once again for at least the 1000th time

          Eva WAS NOT an atheist because she disliked religion and Christians.
          Eva was AN INTOLERANT BIGOT EXCUSING HER BEHAVIOUR ON ATHEISM AND THE GOLD DELUSION.

        • She does not use either atheism or The God Delusion to excuse her behaviour. She took a stand as an eight year old, long before before The God Delusion was published.

  14. I know that you have done an excellent job Barry, in accurately summarizing my position. And I know that I’m going to move on from this very shortly. But I need to make JUST one more point, I promise, to defend myself against the lying claim. I know there are people reading along here who are not familiar with me, or my blog, or my history so U’d like to quickly clarify.

    Tildeb says

    ‘She’s not telling the truth. How can all of us know this?
    Now, now gird thy loins because this is important: the book came out in 2006. There is no evidence I have encountered that she’s been an angry, intolerant, fundamentalist atheist on her blog I’ve been following for many years. She offers no supporting evidence that she had been such since that time’.

    Here are the posts that he clearly missed in his close perusal of my writings over many years. Even if they don’t all use the word ‘angry’, they certainly use the word ‘delusional’ a lot 😉 There are more, but I think I’ll got over my need to be right now so Ill move on.

    https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2013/08/15/and-behold-she-was-irritated-and-an-atheist/

    https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2011/09/09/5-things-that-atheists-think-about-christians/

    https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2015/08/30/telling-people-to-f-off-is-not-an-opinion/

    https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2015/06/04/has-being-a-christian-made-you-a-better-person/

    https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2015/01/31/a-slightly-ranty-atonement-post/

    https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2014/08/24/jamberoo-abbey-part-one/

  15. Hi Eva, I have not been commenting here, or on your blog, for a while now, but I think a few lessons can now be drawn from this episode. (I’ll post the same comment on your blog.)

    Your critics have attacked you for describing how you used to feel when you were a child and a younger adult, and an atheist. They have inferred certain attitudes that they object to, and maintained their objection despite your, and others’, explanations and exhortations that their inferences were not in fact correct. At the same time they have felt free to call you and your post all manner of quite nasty names – liar, an insecure coward, the Big Lie, unmitigated bull…t, whining, she’s lying, etc. and presumably expect you NOT to take offence at something that is way more nasty than anything they suspect you to have said.

    Now if they can’t see there is an inconsistency here, then their thinking is very different to mine, and I suspect yours and many readers of your blog. Such different ways of thinking are unlikely to ever be able to discuss much.

    Human beings have developed ways of relating that avoid conflict (though we don’t always employ them). We try to behave politely face-to-face, otherwise a family or friendship breakdown, a fight, a libel case or even a war may result. Sadly, these same standards are not followed as often on the web. Calling people the sorts of names you have been subjected to, regardless of any perceived provocation, is simply inexcusably bad manners. If they think you have been guilty of that same fault, gently bringing it to your attention may have achieved far more (and couldn’t achieved less!) than the vitriol.
    Your blog is not public property. It is YOUR blog, and all visitors come as your guests. It is analogous to a stranger knocking at your front door. They have every right to do so provided you haven’t put out signs that visitors are not wanted, but you have every right to ask them to leave. And you have some responsibility for what goes on on your blog – there have been cases of people being held legally responsible if they allowed certain statements by others to remain on their website.

    So you have every right, and possibly even some responsibility to your other readers, to vet what is said and to ask people to leave (by filtering them out) if you find their comments in breach of normal human standards of discussion.

    I think you have paid your dues, you have been attacked way beyond reason and courtesy, and you have tried to be patient (even giving one critic a second chance). You may even be able to find some positive lesson out of it all – or maybe not!

    Best wishes to you and Barry for hosting this discussion.

    • Thanks unkleE,
      I’m going to step away now. The adhominem attacks are becoming increasingly frantic and are more a reflection of the said commenter’s personal issues than anything. They are also a reflection of what I think is the worst possible thing I could ever accuse someone of; absolutely no sense of humour at all.

    • “Your critics have attacked you for describing how you used to feel when you were a child and a younger adult, and an atheist.”
      No we haven’t. We have “attacked” her for attributing “how she used to feel” (i.e. acting intolerant and fundamentalist) to atheism and The God Delusion which is not true. Neither of those things promote intolerance and certainly not fundamentalism. She was like that before and she continues to be like that. Our objections are to her using atheism and The God Delusions as scapegoats for her own failings. It’s what tildeb has been saying right from the word go. To date her defense has been:
      “You’re an angry atheist”
      “You don’t have any evidence that I said that”
      “I don’t know what you’re talking about”
      Even after she point-blank admitted told me that she drew a parallel between fundamentalist Christians using the bible to justify their terrible behavior and her using The God Delusion for the same purpose, she STILL denied there was any link between the book, her atheism and her attitude.
      This is simply being dishonest and disingenuous.

      “Now if they can’t see there is an inconsistency here, then their thinking is very different to mine, and I suspect yours and many readers of your blog. Such different ways of thinking are unlikely to ever be able to discuss much.”
      You certainly have that right UnkleE.
      I don’t pretend to have the mystery of the universe all figured out. I don’t pretend to be able to prove that the one specific god that I believe in exists using mathematic formulae (Bayes theorem). In short, I guess I can put it like this. I don’t believe in 1 specific brand of superstitious, supernatural nonsense while rejecting all the other brands of it and I don’t pretend to know things I don’t know.

      • Our objections are to her using atheism and The God Delusions as a scapegoat for her own failings “. That’s exactly what she doesn’t do. That is something you read into it. Something few others do.

        I don’t know where you hail from but I think your experience is different from Eva’s and also from mine. Would I be correct in guessing that where you live atheism is not well accepted such as in the USA?

        I have no intention if giving a history lesson, but my understanding a significant proportion of early settlers in America were very religious, escaping persecution in Europe. I believe America today still has that religious fervour today, and that is why atheists are so badly maligned. In contrast, Australia, and even more so Aotearoa New Zealand were settled by people people who mostly gave little thought towards religion. Today there are about equal numbers of Christians and atheists. Few believe those of a different or no faith are wrong. Denigrating a different belief system is generally not acceptable. Most Christians downunder would laugh at attempts to prove the existence of God, mathematically or otherwise. Most don’t believe their faith is the only true faith (although they might think theirs is the best). Many value aspects of other faiths, as Eva does with Buddhism and Wicca. As Eva herself says, Christianity is right for her now, but she’s not going to guarantee that it’ll be right for her some time in the future.

        On the internet I don’t identify as Christian because in many parts of the world I would be considered a heretic. On the very rare occasions when someone might enquire what my religion is I’m likely to reply “Post Christian” or say that I’m a non-theist Christian, and everyone knows what I mean. I’ve yet to meet anyone in real life who disapproves, while so many non-kiwis online consider my beliefs worse than either Christianity or atheism.

        I’m sure the target of Eva’s testimony will be mostly accepting of alternative beliefs, and the inferences you and Tildeb see in it would simply not occur to them.

        • “”Our objections are to her using atheism and The God Delusions as a scapegoat for her own failings “. That’s exactly what she doesn’t do. That is something you read into it. Something few others do.”

          Yes, that is exactly what she does do.

          From her own mouth:
          “In my mind I disliked Christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this”
          That’s her attributing her dislike of Christians directly to her “atheism”. She disliked Christians because she was an intolerant bigot. This has nothing to do with atheism AT ALL.
          “I supposed that I was drawing parallels between ‘fundamentalist’ Christians, who embody all the worst things about the faith.”
          When asked what she meant by “using the God Delusion as her bible” That’s her response – drawing parallels between her using The God Delusion as her Bible and excuse for intolerant and fundamentalist behavior and “‘fundamentalist’ Christians, who use the bible to excuse their intolerant and fundamentalist behavior.

          Now go ahead and tell me that this “doesn’t count” because it was “after the fact”
          Or maybe tell me that I’m making up all this scapegoating in my mind and I don’t have any evidence for it. Certainly not her own words. You’ve been playing that record for several days. No reason to stop now.

  16. Barry Post #1: ““She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.”” (“someone” being an intolerant, angry, opinionated atheist – for no other reason than she found Christians to be stupid an ignorant – as described by herself)

    Barry Post #2: “She does not use either atheism or The God Delusion to excuse her behaviour.”

    I believe I’ll just leave this here for you and anyone else who’s reading this, as a perfect demonstration of how you’ve can argue yourself in circles and not even understand what it is that you’re saying and not recognize that you can’t even get your own story straight.
    While I’d love to stick around and watch you do some more wonderful tap dancing and “clarifying”, I think I’ll take a pass.

    Well done Barry.
    Misunderstanding a Message indeed.

  17. Barry Exhibit #1:
    “She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.”

    Barry Exhibit #2:
    “She does not use either atheism or The God Delusion to excuse her behavior”

    I think that about sums up your approach to consistency when arguing or debating.

    • I think you fail to understand cause and effect. She was intolerant, but she wasn’t intolerant because she an atheist and she wasn’t intolerant because she read The God Delusion. She wasn’t an atheist because she was intolerant, and she wasn’t an atheist because she read The God Delusion.

      I’ll concede that her interpretation of The God Delusion may have added to her intolerance of Christians, but anyone with a prejudice can misinterpret a work because of the prejudice.

      Her being an atheist and being intolerant were coincidental. One did not cause the other.

  18. FINALLY!
    Congratulations for conceding something that Eva admitted to in her very first statement and what tildeb and I were arguing for all along. You’ve finally come ’round. It took a long time but better late than never.
    Eva was always a prejudiced person and attributed her intolerance to the God Delusion – which as you just stated she did because of prior prejudice. “…but anyone with a prejudice can misinterpret a work because of the prejudice.”
    That’s exactly right.
    In other words, the prejudice was there BEFORE she read The God Delusion and therefore The God Delusion was NOT the cause of it. The God Delusion was used as a scapegoat (a “bible”) to excuse pre-existing behavior.

    THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT ALL ALONG.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    Good night and god bless.

    • THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT ALL ALONG.“. No it wasn’t. Tildeb’s post claims (a) that Eva’s testimony was a slur on atheists and atheism, and (b) the testimony is a pack of lies.

      His claim is that she was not an angry and opinionated person. He claims that Eva was not prejudiced, and that by saying she was Eva deliberately lied for the purpose of denigrating atheists. Tildeb’s claim is that Eva attributed her intolerance and anger towards Christians to her former atheism.

      In other words, the prejudice was there BEFORE she read The God Delusion and therefore The God Delusion was NOT the cause of it“. That is exactly what I have said all along. At best (or worst, depending on one’s point of view) it was used to reinforce a preexisting prejudice. That is not laying blame nor making an excuse. It’s not making The God Delusion the scapegoat.

      Tildeb’s post was titled “Why do convertees seem to need to vilify atheism?”. To quote from his post: “This once reasonable and admittedly agnostic person gives us the Cole’s Notes version of her supposed transition to becoming a Christian but, of course, she can’t do that on its own merits or take responsibility for chucking reasonable skepticism out the window before diving into the faith pool (usually done, in my limited experience, for meeting some emotional need). What is necessary, apparently, is to create a fiction of the depraved former state of non belief and this is usually done by ‘witnessing’ some highly negative and derogatory references to the previous and deplorable state of being an atheist, of making up lies to describe the atheism one has left behind.

      Not only is Tildeb claiming Eva deliberately lied to cast a slur on atheism, but he implies that she changed from being a reasonable agnostic to a lying Christian. He accused her of lying, and refused to accept what I saw as a reasonable explanation of the words used in Eva’s testimony.

      I will repeat that I see no evidence that Eva lied, nor any evidence that she blamed her dislike of Christians on The God Delusion or to atheism itself.

      • Barry, you can’t even get this straight. There is no reasonable explanation because there is no retraction.

        I said, “What is necessary, apparently, is to create a fiction of the depraved former state of non belief and this is usually done by ‘witnessing’ some highly negative and derogatory references to the previous and deplorable state of being an atheist, of making up lies to describe the atheism one has left behind. (snip) Having followed her writings for years, I am aware of no such intolerant and fundamentalist ‘pattern’. Quite the opposite, in fact. She was almost always polite and considerate to believers and non believers alike.”

        The point in my post was about this promotion of the Big Lie, that it seems somehow necessary in a conversion testimonial to VILIFY atheism. This IS what Eva did.

        She said, “I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get.”

        This is a lie. Atheism is in no way related to some principle of intolerance. Nor does it contain some fundamental principle of bigotry against anyone. Anyone who thinks it does is mistaken. I can live with mistakes but Eva WILL NOT CORRECT THIS MISTAKE and no one else on the blog would challenge her on the truth of this claim. THIS is what I pointed out and was banned for it. There’s your intolerance IN ACTION. It doesn’t come from atheism, Barry. It is not related to atheism. It has nothing to do with atheism. And here you are maintaining the fiction by defending Eva’s lie and not only going along with it but daring to reproach me for a lack of proper tone!

        I’m not the one intentionally lying. I’m not the one refusing to retract the intentional lie. Eva is. She refuses to admit that HER intolerance and HER bigotry had absolutely nothing to do with atheism. It had nothing to do with Dawkins. It had nothing to do with the God Delusion. Nothing. It’s unrelated. It’s imaginary. It’s a fiction. It is a LIE to say otherwise. And it VILIFIES other atheists by presuming there is any – ANY – truth value to this intentional lie.

        • Why should Eva make a retraction for a non-existing lie?
          Atheism is in no way related to some principle of intolerance.” Neither I nor Eva make any such claim.
          Nor does it contain some fundamental principle of bigotry against anyone” Neither I nor Eva make any such claim.
          Barry. It is not related to atheism. It has nothing to do with atheism” I agree, and from my understanding of Eva’s subsequent comments, so does she.
          She refuses to admit that HER intolerance and HER bigotry had absolutely nothing to do with atheism.” I believe she has made it abundantly clear that her intolerance and bigotry had nothing to do with atheism. Even in her testimony she identifies herself as an exception, being less tolerant than other atheists in her circle.

          Yet you still insist that she lied.

          If Eva had had declared that her bigotry was part and parcel of being an atheist, I would not have felt the need to post. There are plenty of people more capable than I who can ably criticise such nonsense. I reluctantly stepped in because I felt she was being criticised, vilified in fact, for something she had not done. And neither you nor Ashley have provided me with evidence beyond reasonable doubt as to why I should reconsider my position.

        • I mean, just wow.

          Wow.

          I state, “Atheism is in no way related to some principle of intolerance.” You then say “Neither I nor Eva make any such claim.”

          Yes, Barry she does. Directly. Unequivocally. Without a doubt.

          But let’s say we don;t know, that we can step back and approach her testimonial with fresh eyes.

          We encounter this statement: The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get.”

          Why include it? If, as you continue to insist, Eva doesn’t claim ANY association with intolerance and bigotry she says she exercised to have nothing to do with atheism, then why write this?

          Let me walk you through it: she uses this sentence to DESCRIBE her atheism – not herself. She uses this sentence to DEFINE her kind of atheism.

          Pretending otherwise doesn’t change this fact.

          The thing is, Barry, she did include that statement. No, seriously. She did. Honest. I’m quoting her, Barry. It’s right there. Look. There’s the claim. What could it possibly be doing right there describing her kind of atheism IF IT DOES’T DESCRIBE HER ATHEISM as you keep repeating? She not describing her intolerance as hers, her bigotry as hers; she’s attributing it to a kind of atheism. Not herself. Not her intolerance. ATHEISM

          Now, you just keep excusing it, pretending it doesn’t relate in any way, shape,m or fashion to her kind of atheism, suggesting it’s imaginary, that it wasn’t written, that it doesn’t mean anything.

          Well, it does. That’s why it’s written. That’s why she USES it to describe her kind of atheism.

          That’s why I consider your comprehension skills deeply questionable. In fact, perhaps YOU are wrong presuming otherwise. Perhaps YOU are the one making up excuses here, rationalizing away what is absolutely crystal clear. Eva ATTRIBUTES to the kind of atheism described in the God Delusion as intolerant and bigoted. If she didn’t, as you propose, she would not have ASSOCIATED HER KIND OF ATHEISM TO BE THE SAME AS THE KIND IN THE GOD DELUSION. She really is associating the intolerance and bigotry she says she once exercised to be OF A KIND. That’s the lie; atheism does not contain intolerance and bigotry. At all. Not. One. Bit. To say otherwise is a lie, a lie you are continuing to prop up.

        • If I wrote: I was an angry opinionated Pakeha, and I really didn’t like non-Europeans. Especially Maori. The Passing of The Great Race was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. 
          Is that a statement about Pakeha or a statement about me?

        • Are you familiar with the concept of mutual exclusivity Barry? Are reading your question (Is that a statement about Pakeha or a statement about me?) I don’t think you do.
          Let me explain.

          Since you are identifying yourself as a Pakeha, you clearly mean to associate your behavior and attitude with not just yourself, but also with Pakeha. Otherwise, why would you mention that you were a Pakeha? There would be absolutely no point in it.
          Furthermore, The Passing of the Great Race is a book about eugenics and race, and is clearly meant to be not only a reference to yourself, but to the Pakeha (who separate themselves from the rest of New Zealanders according to race)

          In other words, the two entities under discussion (you and the Pakeha) are NOT mutually exclusive.

          That statement you made is about BOTH you AND Pakeha.

          You cannot include yourself in a group in the first sentence, make statements that can be attributed to you as an individual and to the Pakeha as a group, and then magically claim at the end that it’s about one or the other.

        • Reference to Pakeha is an introduction to my background, nothing more. It is you that is reading something into the statement that I as the writer does not intend nor infer. There is no “as”, “because”, “so”, or any other word that implies cause and effect or that “Pakeha” is has any relationship to racism apart from both being present in the same person. There is nothing derogatory about describing a person as Pakeha or Maori no matter how else that person is described unless the statement makes that clear. Using the conjunction “and” does not do that.

        • Reference to Pakeha is meant to associate yourself with them. You have identified yourself as a Pakeha. This is not “an introduction to your background”. This is not something that I am “reading into your statement” It describes in part, who you are as a person. It immediately identifies you as person who associates with a group that have certain beliefs and who hold certain views. I can directly infer, that since you identify as a Pakeha, you identify yourself as a member of a group who consider themselves to be New Zealanders of European decent or a non-Māori New Zealander. Does this make you a racist? No. What makes you a racist, is that you say you use The Passing of the Great Race as a bible. I can immediately infer that you contend that the book is something more than it is (a man made book) and that you consider it something along the lines of sacred scripture, or a book inspired by a deity of some sort. Why? Because that’s what the bible is. I can immediately infer that you contend that the contents of that book warrant the view that it’s ok to be a racist. Actually, more than just ok. That a deity of some sort sanctions racism.
          So for some strange reason, you are not content with just identifying yourself as a racist, but you need to associate yourself with Pakehas as well. And not just any Pakeha, but the angry, opinionated kind of Pakeha.
          And if you don’t mind my asking while I am here – what, exactly, is that you’re so angry and opinionated about Mr Pakeha?
          Why in the world would you tell me that you’re an angry, opinionated Pakeha, who used The Passing of the Great race as a bible and then in the next sentence, say that the fact that you’re an angry, opinionated Pakeha has no bearing on the fact that you’re a racist? Why not just tell me you’re a racist who uses The Passing of the Great Race as a “bible”? If Pakehas (especially the angry, opinionated kind) have nothing to do with any of this, then why mention it? Why waste everyone’s time relaying completely useless, unrelated information?
          Unless, of course, you wanted to indirectly infer that Pakehas are racists….without directly saying it outright. So that if someone accused you of trying to tie your status as a racist and as a Pakeha together, you could weasel your way out of it by claiming that you didn’t directly say that. Kind like being all sneaky and underhanded and disingenuous and stuff.
          Personally, I can’t see any reason why you’d want to degrade yourself by claiming you’re a racist in the first place. That’s the kind of thing I’d generally want to keep to myself. And I certainly can’t see that once you’ve done that, you’d feel the need to identify yourself as a Pakeha as well and then claim later on that one had nothing to do with the other. Seems absolutely bizarre. Unless of course, you’d want to scapegoat your racism on everything else BUT you – like say being a Pakeha or The Passing of the Great Race. Because if you did, that would be a fantastic way to do it without taking any direct responsibility for your own actions.

      • “Tildeb’s post claims (a) that Eva’s testimony was a slur on atheists and atheism, and (b) the testimony is a pack of lies.”

        Rebuttal for a) Direct testimony from Eva herself “I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get”
        What kind of atheist was she? The angry, opinionated kind! – but wait, there’s more! She was also the intolerant and FUNDAMENTALIST kind. How fundamentalist an atheist was she you ask? The-God-Delusion-Bible-thumping kind of fundamentalist atheist! How wonderful!

        (We’ll even put aside the fact that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be a “fundamentalist” atheist because there’s nothing to be “fundamentalist” about. Soooooo, she lied about THAT too.)

        Yep, can’t see where she slurred atheists and atheism! No siree. Tildeb and I must be making this up.

        Oh but wait – you already knew that because you said this a month ago (April 21st) “She’s describing what she was: Someone who was intolerant and used The God Delusion to justify her position.”
        So you knew she was intolerant, and you admit she used the God Delusion to justify her fundamentalist and intolerant position

        Sooooooooo
        So much for THAT argument

        Rebuttal for b) “I’ll concede that her interpretation of The God Delusion may have added to her intolerance of Christians…”
        NOT POSSIBLE. The God Delusion contains no incitement to bigotry and intolerance.
        ERGO, IT’S A LIE TO CLAIM OTHERWISE.

        Oh but wait, you already knew that Eva’s prejudice against Christians existed before she read The God Delusion. “….. but anyone with a prejudice can misinterpret a work because of the prejudice.” You simply “conceded” that her reading of that book might have “added” to that prejudice.
        Once again, NOT POSSIBLE. The God Delusion contains no incitement to bigotry and intolerance, therefore it cannot “add” to anyone’s pre-existing prejudice.
        ERGO, THAT TOO, IS A LIE TO CLAIM OTHERWISE.

        Sooooooooo
        So much for THAT argument

        She was never an atheist to begin with Barry. I’ve said this several times throughout our discussion.
        She was anti- authoritarian/anti-religion (disliked/rebelled against organized religion – Christianity)
        She was an intolerant bigot (hated Christians because she found them to be stupid and ignorant)

        She SCAPEGOATED her behavior on atheism and The God Delusion.
        Why?
        So she could attribute all of her character flaws – intolerance, bigotry, etc with atheism and the God Delusion “bible” (not to herself of course – atheism and The God Delusion caused her to behave like that, or at the very least, reinforced pre-existing character flaws) and then claim to be redeemed by her conversion to Christianity, leaving behind her old intolerant, fundamentalist, angry atheist self and throwing the God Delusion “bible” in the trash and accepting the REAL one.
        ALL OF THIS IS A LIE.
        She clearly demonstrated that doesn’t even know what the word atheist means.
        “In my mind I disliked Christians….and I was an atheist because of this”
        As I have said, probably at least 10 times by now, HATING CHRISTIANS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN ATHEIST. IT MAKES YOU AN INTOLERANT PERSON OR A BIGOT.
        I hope this is the last time I have to say this.

        She was never an atheist. She doesn’t know what it means. She was an intolerant, hateful bigot blaming her character flaws on atheism and The God Delusion.

        YES, THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT ALL ALONG.

        • I was an angry opinionated atheist“. So she was an atheist. So what? There’s no big deal in that. It’s not the Bible Belt of America. Atheists are a dime a dozen in these parts. No one needs to hide being an atheist. You’re not going to loose friends by being one (except perhaps if you happen to have fundamentalists as friends). She’s also angry and opinionated. So what does that have to do with atheism? I know a few angry and opinionated people. I have no idea if they are religious or not, But the odds are they’ll be evenly divided between the religious and the non religious. What I struggle with here is that I don’t see the phrase implies either (a) she was angry and opinionated because she was an atheist, or she was an atheist because she was angry and opinionated.

          That really is the end of the matter. She says she had no intention of denigrating atheism. Others who know her, atheist and Christian support that claim. They don’t believe she lied. I accept what they say. I have read some of Eva’s posts and the overall tone of her blog does not indicate to me that she has an axe to grind with atheism. I am following her blog, as I enjoy her style of writing, even if I don’t agree with some of what she says.. But if she provides evidence that you and Tildeb were right all along, then I’ll be the first to apologise.

        • It’s true.
          This literally is like talking to a brick wall.
          She can call herself an atheist all she likes. She never was one. She doesn’t even know what the word means. She never once said she didn’t believe in God. You “read that into her message” because she absolutely, positively NEVER said it. She said she was an atheist because she hated Christians and found them stupid and ignorant. This, as I have repeated ad nauseum now, DOES NOT make you an atheist.
          So why did she claim to be an atheist if she never was one? So she could blame her intolerance and bigotry on atheism and The God Delusion.
          “…The God Delusion was my bible and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you could get”
          “The God Delusion was the sacred book of atheism that told me that God sanctions intolerance and fundamentalism towards Christians. That’s why I called it a “bible””
          Yup, sure can’t see how she meant to smear atheism.
          But go ahead and ignore that message Barry. You’ve ignored it the previous 25 times I’ve stated it. No need to change now.
          Just keep right on telling me she was an atheist, even though she’s clearly demonstrated that she has no idea what the word means. It doesn’t suprise me because judging by the bizarre conversation on my blog where you tell me that atheism is compatible with all Quakerism and pantheism, it’s quite clear that you have no idea what the word atheist means and you have non intention of trying to find out.

        • Atheism is compatible with all Quakerism? I think you are making that up. It most certainly is not compatible with evangelical Quakers and probably not with conservative Quakers. I believe what I said was that it’s compatible with Quakerism as practised in NZ. This WP app won’t let me view another comment without wiping the current one.

          Likewise I have not claimed that atheism and pantheism are compatible. My previous comment about the comparability of the two depending on the definition of God was meant to be taken tongue in cheek as I have made no claim that they are compatible.

          The above are two examples where you have misread what it wrote.

          If I don’t understand what the word atheism means, then please tell me what I have got wrong. Are you telling me that it’s not a lack of belief in gods?

        • By the way, your “she was never an atheist” sounds very much like some Christians claim of deconvertees: “she was never a real Christian”.

        • “I don’t claim to be atheist, just that definitions of atheism are fully compatible with what I believe.”
          “I don’t claim to be a Quaker, just that my beliefs are compatible with Quakerism as it’s practised in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
          Actually Barry, given what you’ve written above, it’s impossible to tell what you’re trying to say because it’s waffling gibberish.
          Are you a Quaker? Well, no, not exactly you see. You just have some campatible beliefs with the way it’s practiced in New Zealand. Are you a atheist? Well no, not really, it’s just that some of your beliefs are compatible with the way atheism is sometimes defined. How that can even make sense to you is beyond me. Atheists have no beliefs with regards to deities. That’s the whole point of being an atheist.
          How convenient and easy it makes it for you to argue! Refuse to commit to anything and waffle on everything so you can weasel your way out of any counter argument! I didn’t claim to be this, I didn’t claim to be that. I didn’t claim to believe this, I didn’t claim to believe that. There’s ALWAYS an escape hatch!
          Great work Barry!

        • By the way, unlike Christianity, atheism is really simple. It means one thing. I don’t believe in God. That’s it. There’s no fairly tales, there’s no divine saviours, there’s no holy books, there’s no salvation, there’s no heaven and hell – none of this garbage. Just plain old simple non belief.
          So when I see someone saying they used to be an atheist and they used a book written by a new atheist author as a “bible”, I know straight away that they don’t have a f*^king clue what they’re talking about and they have no idea what it means to be an atheist. It’s a dead give away.

        • Give it up Ashley. We know what you believe. I and many others believe differently. Restating the same thing over and over (you say 25 times but I’m not counting) hasnt convinced me to look at Eva’s testimony in a different light.

          “I don’t believe in God”. If one is being pedantic, not believing in God does not exclude believing in other gods. So not believing in God is not sufficient to make a claim of atheism.

          I don’t claim to be an atheist, a pantheist, a Quaker, a Christian, a socialist, a capitalist, an environmentalist, a pacifist, or any other label. These are terms other people apply to me because they see me that way. Altenatively the definitions of those terms do not exclude me because of my beliefs. I don’t believe I’m an atheist, yet as I don’t believe in the existence of gods then the term atheist could be applied to me.

          I don’t believe in a literal God. It’s simply a concept I find useful. I don’t see evidence that supports the existence of any God. There are fairy tales. They are everywhere. Some are wonderful allegories of real life. I see no evidence of divine saviours. I’m not convinced any book is holy. As I’m not convinced there’s a heaven or hell, salvation is kind of meaningless. I really don’t know why you need to keep repeating this kind of stuff. You are preaching to the converted as far as that goes. What you don’t seem to understand is some people view the world in ways that are different to the way you do. To me all the nonsense of nonverbal communication is incomprehensible, and I’ve been struggling with that for 67 years. Just as I am unable to see, let alone understand body language, you seem to be unable to see that others might be able to view the world in terms you don’t understand and then ridiculing them for doing so. In some ways that would be like me ridiculing body language and other forms of nonverbal language because I don’t see them.

        • Even if you know that Barry, there is no evidence that Eva does. As a matter of fact, all the evidence is to the contrary. But anyways, lets forget all that. Let’s try a different approach.
          What is the bible Barry? And what do you think it means to Christians?
          Do you think it’s fair to say that the bible is a, if not THE foundational document of Christianity and that without it, Christianity couldn’t exist?

        • What’s the Bible? You really have asked the wrong person about that. But by coincidence Eva has a comment in her most recent post that might be relevant.
          There’s a quote which I can’t remember exactly (please let me know if you do) which says something along the line of the people of the old days were smart enough to understand that the Old Testament was allegory and myth and story, but today we seem to have gone backwards and we have groups who believe that it is literally true.

          Would Christianity be around if it wasn’t for the Bible? Hard to know really. I dare say it wouldn’t be the same. Early Christians didn’t have the Bible and let’s face it, it took almost a millennium to be frozen in it’s current form. Personally, I think Christianity would have been better off if instead of fixing the content, they simply had a collection of works or an anthology which would change over time as our understanding and knowledge grew. As content became less relevant, older documents could still be valued, but as witness to (sorry, I’m going to use a Quaker term) continuing revelation. Let’s face it, any document is current only at the time it’s published. To remain current it should be updated, revised, or replaced. As far as I’m concerned, that applies to religious works as much as for any other work.

          I think the Bible has its place, but it’s not as an authority on morals or law or history. What it does do is reveal the beliefs and practices of a long gone era. In this part of the world, few Christians believe that the Bible is literally the word of God.

          Personally I place more value in more contemporary works. When I first read Towards a Quaker View of Sex it help clarify my understanding on human relationships. Writings by Sir Lloyd Geering, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, are more relevant today than much of the Bible. He is a man I I grew to respect when I was in my teens (See Wikipedia entry)

        • Once again, Eva is implying something to be the case that really isn’t actually the case. The quote she ‘likes’ says in part something along the lines of “the people of the old days were smart enough to understand that the Old Testament was allegory and myth and story, but today we seem to have gone backwards and we have groups who believe that it is literally true.”

          Think of it this way: what constitutes labeling one’s self not as a deist, not as a believer in some nebulous ‘universal mind’ or some other ‘spare tire’ (like ‘love’), but much more specifically as a Christian? Remember, Eva has identified herself as a Christian (“I am utterly happy with my decision to become a Christian.”) What does it mean to claim to be a Christian?

          Well, at the very least, Christianity to be Christianity must contain belief that “the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices” Wiki) is true.

          This is where things get a bit sticky for anyone who believes in some kind of universal priesthood with direct access through prayer to either Jesus-as-God or the father-of-Jesus God (which is why Jews and Muslims consider Christianity to be idolatry.) According to the Gospel writers including 1 Peter (important for Quakers, yes?) Jesus is not the embodiment of a universal mind or personified ‘love’; he’s a real guy doing real things saying real stuff. Stuff we should pay attention to. Stuff that is divinely inspired. Stuff in this sense is really important because it’s divine; the Christian belief to be Christian requires belief that ‘the revealed word of Yahweh’ interpreted and preached by Jesus is true.

          Central to Jesus’ message is accepting that the Old Testament is the divine Word – the Law to use Jewish parlance – revealed. All the Gospel writers insist that Jesus really hammered this point home INCLUDING the belief that the OT central characters were historically true, that Abraham and Moses really were real people who lived real lives (hence, the important lineage linking Jesus to Abraham). Moses in particular was a really important historical figure in that he really did lead the Jews out of a real exile in Egypt, really did go to the mountain, really did talk to God, really did come down with commandments, really did lay the foundation for Jewish Law, the very Law Jesus supposedly preached as Divine Law.

          Today’s post-modern ‘believers’ in Jesus’ historical place in history who think they can interpret the New Testament to not be about brutal Jewish Law, not be about Hell, about how not to properly live in fear of the Lord, and freely able to be dismissive of all the capriciousness of Yahweh and radically alter Jesus’ teachings to be about love and being nice to one another haven’t the first clue about Jesus’ reported teachings by the Gospel writers. If such people are Christians, then they’re not very good ones because they SAY they are Christian without really knowing much about the central tenets of what constitutes the identity: belief in the person and teachings of Jesus (raising the similar specter of what constituted a ‘good little Nazi’ from a ‘bad’ Nazi) And it’s not nice. It’s not loving. It’s about obedience to a Dear Leader or suffer the very brutal consequences for failing to do so. It’s also about enjoying the benefits of such submission, the real power to move mountains by prayer, and so on, as long as one drops any attachments to family and friends, of course.

          As a Jew, this was Jesus’ central message. Most Christians seem oblivious to the fact that it is Jesus – love personified, so we’re told – and not anyone from the Old Testament who introduces us to Hell and eternal damnation. So nice. So loving. And central to Christianity. 1 Peter (again, rather important for those favourable to universal priesthood to this Jewish God) tells us about Jesus’ decent into Hell after dying but before being resurrected. That’s how we know about it, see? Very loving stuff, eternal and everlasting damnation.

          When one tries to make the entire OT (and not just particular fantastic bits from Genesis) a mythology, allegory, and/or story, then one is undermining Jesus as anything other than prophetic radical socialist in sandals. One is undermining Christianity itself. But it’s also equivalently ignorant and credulous to assume the OT’s historical accuracy including the fantastic bits from Genesis.

          So we come back to Eva – like most ‘good little Christians’ – who wants her cake and eat it, too. This necessarily involves cherry picking the good bits from scripture and discarding the unpleasant ones and claiming some special divinely inspired insight in order to do so and then then holding in some measure of contempt those who point out the truth of this confirmation bias.

          Again, I don’t think Eva is being particularly honest in her own god musings while claiming membership to a religious belief she doesn’t actually own (Christianity). And because she’s merely borrowed an idea that makes her feel a particular way – a good person – I don’t think it’s worthy of respect as if representative in itself of her identity. Like her previous claim to atheism without understanding what it is, her claim to Christianity is similarly befuddled.

        • Why is 1 Peter important to Quakers any more than any other book of the bible or any other book for that matter?

        • @ Barry

          The reason I laid out what defines Christianity was to demonstrate that even the most liberal of Christians who claim Christianity as a religious identity still adhere to a fundamental set of precepts. It’s a misnomer to refer to biblical literalists as the only fundamentalists; the point I’m making here is that all Christians must be fundamentalist over the central tenets that define a Christian identity.

          Atheism, in stark contrast, contains no such set of tenets and so there can be no fundamental principles of belief that constitute non belief. For clear thinkers, how can non belief be a belief? It makes no sense.

          That’s why I included Penn’s article that describes the difference between non belief in a god or gods – atheism – and belief in no gods or a god – antitheism. The difference is important and does make sense.

          You’ll notice that what Eva describes as her prior state was much closer to antitheism – a belief in no Christian god. This is revealing because, by her own admission, she knew very little about it and so we can understand her position to be borne out of ignorance yet quite biased against Christians. This ignorance and bigotry has nothing to do with atheism and this can be shown because most atheists who claim atheism here in the West do in fact know a very great deal about Christianity. Atheism is not borne out of ignorance and does not relate in any way to it. It is simply a position of non belief… a position all of take by default over most claims until we find good reasons to invest our belief in something.

          New Atheists like Dawkins do invest a belief in no gods or a God (Dawkins has rated himself as a 6 out of 7 on this scale) and for a variety of very compelling reasons…. none of which is intolerance or bigotry. Eva is very badly confused about all of this and will not tolerate correction but finds it easy to assign to atheism her own ignorance and bigotry. This is what I call the Big Lie and those who support and promote it are lying with intention if the error is pointed out and explained but then they continue to do so. That’s the intentional part and differentiates people who don’t mean to be deceitful from those who do. Clearly, Eva falls into the later category and those who continue to support her in this deceit do not serve what is true but what they would prefer to believe is true.

        • Wow. That took an awful lot of words to say absolutely nothing.
          Since you don’t seem to have any idea of what the bible is and what it means to Australian Christians, I have attached a Nielsen poll that gives us a pretty good indication. Take a look at the numbers for yourself.
          http://www.smh.com.au/pdf/Nielsen%20Poll%20Faith%20Dec19.pdf
          I think it would quite shock you to know that 34% of all religious people surveyed believed that their respective book is the word of God. Of those 34%, 58% of them were Christians. 58% of 34% of the population is Australia is approx. 4.7 million people. 27% of religious people surveyed thought their respective holy book was meant to be taken literally. Of those 27%, 25 % of them were Christians. 25% of 27% of the population of Australia is approx. 1.5 million people.
          So it would appear that the bible is a pretty damn important book to an awful lot of people. It’s not a majority by a long shot but it’s still about 20% of the population of the entire Continent of Australia. I don’t think I’d call that insignificant. Would you?
          So let me ask you this. What is organized religion and where do you think organized religion claims its authority from?

  19. Actually I believe I made a mistake in interpreting those numbers. 50% of the population of Australia believes in God (others believe in universal spirits and so on but I’ll just focus on God for now)
    My overall population numbers should be chopped in half.

  20. I believe what Tildeb wrote earlier could be referred Sola Scriptura.
    “Sola scriptura is a formal principle of many Protestant Christian denominations, and one of the five solas. It was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers, who taught that authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man.”
    In other words, anyone can believe anything they like and call it Christianity.

    • “In other words, anyone can believe anything they like and call it Christianity.” Well, that’s something we agree on.

      • Well, that may be what a great deal of Christianity’s mushy adherents believe (like Eva for example), but it’s not actually what the religion says about itself – and certainly not the organized part of it. It’s quite specific in it’s doctrines and it’s pronouncements. There’s one saviour, who was born of a virgin, who died for our sins. There’s one path to salvation – through him.
        Furthermore, if one believes they can basically make it up as they go along, in what way are they a Christian? Why not call oneself a Hindu or a Buddhist? How can you call yourself a Christian and believe next to nothing about Christianity?
        I might impress you, but it certainly doesn’t impress me.

        I don’t know if you missed my earlier post about the bible and Christianity but I was wondering if you were shocked to find out that approximately 20% of Australian Christians consider the bible as the word of God, written by God. In the US, that number is 34% However, a further 52% of American Christians believe that the bible is a book written by men but inspired by god. That means that 86% of American Christians believe that the bible was either written by god or inspired by god. If I assume that the number of people in Australia who believe that the bible was written by men but inspired by god is roughly proportional to that of Americans I can conservatively estimate that 20/34 x 53 = 30% of Christians in Australia believe the same thing. That would put us at over half the Australian Christian population that believes that the bible is god written or god inspired.
        Do you have a better idea of what the bible might mean to Australian Christians now Barry?
        Do you think it is fair of me to say that Christians who believe that the bible is a god written or inspired book probably believe its pretty important? Probably more important than any other book?

        And I noticed you never attempted to answer my other question.
        What is organized religion and where does it derive its authority from? Like take for example, confession. Where does a priest get his authority to take confession from someone?

        • Well, that may be what a great deal of Christianity’s mushy adherents believe (like Eva for example), but it’s not actually what the religion says about itself – and certainly not the organized part of it. It’s quite specific in it’s doctrines and it’s pronouncements. There’s one saviour, who was born of a virgin, who died for our sins. There’s one path to salvation – through him.

          Yes, that’s what fundamentalists believe, and may even be in the creeds of some other denominations by tradition, but take for example the founding document of the Uniting Church of Australia, to which Eva is affiliated:

          The Uniting Church enters into unity with the Church throughout the ages by its use of the confessions known as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Uniting Church receives these as authoritative statements of the Catholic Faith, framed in the language of their day and used by Christians in many days, to declare and to guard the right understanding of that faith. The Uniting Church commits its ministers and instructors to careful study of these creeds and to the discipline of interpreting their teaching in a later age” (emphasis mine).

          I also found this:
          The aim of such law is to confess God’s will for the life of the Church; but since law is received by human beings and framed by them, it is always subject to revision in order that it may better serve the Gospel. The Uniting Church will keep its law under constant review so that its life may increasingly be directed to the service of God and humanity, and its worship to a true and faithful setting forth of, and response to, the Gospel of Christ.” (emphasis mine)

          While it doesn’t say “anything goes”, it does imply that nothing is fixed in stone, and that the understanding/interpretation/meaning of such creeds may change over time.

          Furthermore, if one believes they can basically make it up as they go along, in what way are they a Christian? Why not call oneself a Hindu or a Buddhist? How can you call yourself a Christian and believe next to nothing about Christianity?
          Perhaps there’s enough in common for most (but by no means all) to recognise each other as Christians. But it’s not a question you should ask of me. I’m not a Christian. It’s conjecture on my part

          I was wondering if you were shocked to find out that approximately 20% of Australian Christians consider the bible as the word of God, written by God.
          No not at all. What I find shocking is that some atheists attempt to make 1 in 5 Christians representative of all Christians. For example “Christians believe God made the world in six days”.

          a further 52% of American Christians believe that the bible is a book written by men but inspired by god”. The question then must be “what is meant by inspired?” Let’s say for the sake of argument that Paul’s road to Damascus experience was a delusion. All his subsequent experiences and writings were coloured by that experience. Could not one say that his writings were God inspired, or inspired by his belief in God? Throughout history, writers have been inspired to write because of a particular event or experience. In other words, I don’t believe the authors of the Bible decided to create a fictitious story for the purpose of deceiving readers. Another way of saying it might be that the biblical writers strongly believed that their understanding of God needed to be shared with others and because of that belief they were inspired to write. No hand of God is required either directly or indirectly. In fact, there doesn’t need to be a God at all, just a belief in one. I’m sure I’m not unique having this understanding of “God inspired”.

          Frankly, I don’t care if 100% of Australian Christians believe God directly moved the hand of each biblical writer. It’s what they do with that belief that is important. And apparently that’s not much. Yes, Australians are more religious than Kiwis, and less religious than Americans.

          And I noticed you never attempted to answer my other question.
          What is organized religion and where does it derive its authority from? Like take for example, confession. Where does a priest get his authority to take confession from someone?

          And no, I haven’t attempted to answer your other question. Firstly, I don’t know your purpose for asking the question as I don’t see its relevance to my post. Secondly it’s not something I know much about as I’m not a Christian and I don’t have an association with specifically Christian organisations. Thirdly, I have already spent over seven hours composing replies to you today (try writing coherent passages when your language and writing skills are compromised by migraine) and several hours on other blog activity. I’m not going to trawl the Internet for several more hours to find incomplete information just so you can pick it apart. I still have a life outside the blogosphere which doesn’t go away, migraine or not. So I’ll pick and choose when and what I want to answer.

        • My goodness. Sooooooo many paragraphs of words to tap dance your way around a question and avoid answering it.
          The point I was trying to make Barry, the one you seem absolutely determined to avoid acknowledging, was that the bible is a really important book to Christians. The most important to some and really important to others. Ya know, since it was either written or inspired by the almighty creator of the universe. I didn’t think that would be all that hard to grasp. Who knew it required hours and hours of Internet research and paragraph after paragraph of writing to still not be able to definitely define what the bible is ornrecognize its importance. Somethings you just don’t see coming.
          I’ll lob a couple of soft balls in at you Barry. These should be very simple ones that you can answer without requiring 7 hours of Internet research and typing. Well, it shouldn’t but you might surprise me yet!
          1) Is atheism a religion Barry?
          2) The God Delusion is
          a) a god written book
          b) a god inspired book
          c) a purely human written book

        • The seven hours I mentioned was the time I took to type my responses to you. Absolutely no time was spent on any other task No googling. No research. No browsing. Just typing and correcting that typing. Nothing else. Nada, zilch. I think you are incapable of comprehending what I wrote. If your response is so callous after the time I spent (wasted?) carefully and sincerely trying to answer your questions, tell me why I should bother continuing any conversation with you. Migrraines effect one’s ability to keep cohesive thoughts together. It’s difficult to remember what one said/wrote two sentences ago. It means that fingers refuse to cooperate. It means forgetting words and struggling to to find ways to express oneself. It means parts of the computer screen disappearing or words looking scrambled. It means reading a sentence, recognising all the words but having no idea what the sentence means. It means holding one hand with the other to make it steady enough to type with. It means failing to understand a common everyday word. In my case it can even forgetting my own name and failing to recognise loved ones.

          And I haven’t mentioned pain yet. Can I suggest slamming a door on your finger in time with your heart rate. When that finger no longer feels each slam, move on to your next finger. Now while the slamming is going on, try to perform an everyday task such as carrying out a conversation. How well do you think you would do?

          That’s what I have To face practically every day and you have the audacity to say your new questions shouldn’t take 7 hours to answer but that I might surprise you.

          To answer your ridiculous questions which should be obvious to anyone with a brain, even one like mine:
          1) No
          2) c

          Now I’m done with you.

        • Finally.
          A straight answer to a question. I didn’t think you had it in you Barry. I really didn’t. A very pleasant surprise.
          I hope you don’t mean to say that you’re not going to answer any more questions. (I’m done with you”). Who would have thought that a simple question “What is the bible and what does it mean to Christians” could get someone so upset and defensive? But then again, I also never thought that it could inspire someone to write a small novel without actually answering the question either.
          Anywho, So if atheism isn’t a religion, and The God Delusion is written by a man can you please explain how
          a) you can be a fundamentalist atheist if atheism isn’t a religion
          b) you can compare a book (The God Delusion) that is written by a man, to a book (The Bible) that is the foundation of a religion and is believed by millions of people to be written or inspired by God?

        • BARRY: I have already spent over seven hours composing replies to you today (try writing coherent passages when your language and writing skills are compromised by migraine)
          ASHLEY: Who knew it required hours and hours of Internet research and paragraph after paragraph of writing to still not be able to definitely define what the bible is ornrecognize its importance. Somethings you just don’t see coming.

          These should be very simple ones that you can answer without requiring 7 hours of Internet research and typing. Well, it shouldn’t but you might
          BARRY: [Explination of why so much time involved in answering]
          ASHLEY: Who would have thought that a simple question “What is the bible and what does it mean to Christians” could get someone so upset and defensive? But then again, I also never thought that it could inspire someone to write a small novel without actually answering the question either.

          Ashley, you create fictional stuff about me doing hours and hours of internet research, pass my efforts off as inconsequential, and then think I’m upset and defensivde abpout a question? Your comen t about writikn g a small nlovel just adds tol tnhe in sult.

          Isn’t it intresting that the only person here askng questions is you and and tildeb, and the only person doing all the answering is me. Now why do you think that is?

          Why you think I feel we are not havng a discussion, but instead are have an interrogation?

          What is the aim of all the questions? What otcome are you seking?

          Is it to trick me into saying something simplistic, and no full and complete answer, and then claiming that answer is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as I believe you have done with Eva?

          Are you not able to regognise yhat the answers I give are as straight forward as I know how to give, given that I don’t believe anything in absolute terms?

          Don’t you thinl using expressions such as “I didn’t think you had it in you Barry. I really didn’t. A very pleasant surprise” are somewhat patronising, and unnecessarily offensive to someone who is genuinely trying to be accommodating?

          This editing is geting tedious.As you don ‘t apprecate time i do to make commen t comprehnsib;e, you do editing from here on.

          Why should I spend anther couple of hour trying to respon to 2 questions that ;probab ly co mp;olsded in 30 ceconds, KI? FDor whose ben efkitgf is it?

  21. @Barry

    To Ashley’s questions that you supposedly failed to answer, were these the answers you were giving:

    What is the bible Barry?

    Barry’s answer: It is an anthology of works that includes allegory, mythology, and stories. “It’s not an authority on morals or law or history. What it [the book] does do is reveal the beliefs and practices of a long gone era.”

    And what do you think it means to Christians?

    Barry’s answer (strongly based on inference): It means different things to different Christians. Some holding it as a fixed book and some holding it more as guidelines that should be updated and revised.

    Do you think it’s fair to say that the bible is a, if not THE foundational document of Christianity and that without it, Christianity couldn’t exist?

    Barry’s answer: It is hard to say whether Christianity would be around with or without the Bible as this is speculative history and there is no way to definitively know. Early Christians seemed to have done fine without a written Bible.

    Barry, how accurately do those reflect your answers? Or am I mistaken and those are not what you meant?

    • will respond when comprehended your comment.

      • It is basically in this format: Ashley’s question followed by what I think your answer to his question was in your response (designated by “Barry’s answer”). I wanted to know if how I paraphrased your response accurately reflects what you believe you were saying and meant.

        • There are times like yesterday (NZ time) when my cognitive skills abandon me. I should probably keep away from the internet at such times but at such times I desperately feel the need to communicate but at a pace I can manage. With online communication I can go at my own speed instead of at the speed of others.

    • “What it [the book] does do is reveal the beliefs and practices of a long gone era.”
      And yet, there it is sitting on the pulpit of every single church in the world, being preached as the word of God every single Sunday (and many other days of the week as well) to hundreds of millions of people all over the world.
      80% of American Christians believe that Jesus was God or the son of God and in excess of 90% of Australian Christians believe that. Beliefs of a long gone era you say eh?

      “What’s the Bible Barry?”
      “A story book, mostly. Certainly not an authority on anything”
      Really? No mention of God or Jesus Christ or anything like that? Hmmmm. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/bible?q=Bible

      “What do you think the Bible means to Christians Barry?”
      “Geez, it’s really hard to say you know. It really means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s just too hard a question to nail down.”
      Really? Nothing about maybe being the written or inspired word of God? Hmmmm
      http://www.gallup.com/poll/148427/say-bible-literally.aspx
      http://www.smh.com.au/pdf/Nielsen%20Poll%20Faith%20Dec19.pdf

      “What’s organized religion Barry?”
      “I don’t fee like answering it, I don’t know anything about it
      Really? No idea what it could be? Hmmmmm
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organized_religion

      But anyways, this stuff is just too complicated so we’ll just agree to disagree and leave it at that. However, that does lead me to more questions though

      When Eva referred to The God Delusion as a “bible”, what do you think she meant by that?
      When she said she was as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get, what do you think she meant by that?
      What was it that she was so intolerant and fundamentalist about do you think?

      • Ashley, both “bible” and “fundamentalist” are used in everyday speech such as “the Edmonds Cookbook is every housewife’s bible” or “he’s so fundamentalist he should join ACT”. Neither term is being applied strictly as per a dictionary definition, but the implied meaning is understood by the targeted audience. Perhaps if Eva had considered the potential audience was going to be much larger than that targeted, she might have expressed herself quite differently.

        • Well I’m not sure about the implied meaning Barry, but I do know exactly what Eva meant, because I asked her directly. And she told me flat out. She told me that she meant to draw parallels between her intolerant fundamentalist behaviour as an atheist and the type of intolerant fundamentalist behaviour that Christians engage in. The kind of behaviour that “embodies the worst elements of the Christian Faith”. So I am afraid it is not me who is “reading anything into a response.” Rather, it’s you making up stuff out of thin air. I don’t have to guess at implied meanings. I know the exact meaning because she told me so.
          Any idea why she’d do that Barry? Any idea why she’d compare her old intolerant, fundamentalist atheist self to intolerant, fundamentalist Christians Barry?

        • A-fucking-mazing.
          I give you a link to the oxford dictionary definition of the word bible, which, if you read it says : informal Any authoritative book
          and then gives an example: ‘“Larousse Gastronomique,” the bible of French cooking’
          And what do you do? Ignore that, say that the word bible is used in “everyday speech”, that’s its not being applied strictly as per a dictionary definition and then give me an example which is almost identical to the one listed in the dictionary!!!!!!

          You have confirmed that talking to you is exactly like to talking to a brick wall.

          Good Bye Barry.

        • Ashley, I am using an app on an android device eith a 4 inch screen. It frequently chokes and dies when following links unless those links are to other WordPress sites. The app does not allow me to copy text or links so that I can paste into a browser. So I am rather handicapped in that respect until I can get to a “proper” computer.

          In the case of the bible definition, no I hadn’t seen it. So given that “bible” can mean any authoritative book, with no spiritual overtones where has Eva gone wrong by describing The God Delusion as her bible? Are you saying that it is impossible for someone to regard the book as an authoritative one on the delusional belief of God?

    • Sorry for the misunderstanding. My migraine was particularly bad at the time and I was having dificulty comprehending what you wrote. I’m now in the position of having better cognitive skills.

      Yes that is very much what I was meaning. Thank you for your precise summary.

  22. @Barry

    I also asked for additional clarification of her viewpoints in the Debrief thread. By fundamentalist she meant someone who “doesnt want to hear any justifying shit about what you believe, its all bunk and Im right” and by intolerant she meant someone who “doesnt believe in the ‘live and let live’ creed and believes that there should be no religion in the world because it predominately does harm” Likewise, in the same post she said she was mostly describing herself and believes that those similar to her make up “a small percentage” of the overall nonbeliever population.

    As I already stated I think fundamentalist is a poor word choice. She seems to be describing dogmatism (in the psychological sense).

    • It might be a poor choice of words, but unfortunately I frequently hear “fundamentalist” used when “dogmatic”, “narrow minded”, “intolerant”, or similar such words would be more appropriate. I think because fundamentalism is considered synonymous with those terms, the word “fundamentalist” is used to describe someone who is intolerant or dogmatic. Perhaps it’s the same in Australia, which would explain why Eva used “fundamentalist” the way she did.


  23. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsGreat post. I detailed some very real spiritual experiences I had that could make even an Atheist a believer that there’s a higher power. Check it out, truthseekers33blog.wordpress.com

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