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Scott Adams Suggests Bill Gates For President 1224

gerrysteele writes to point out a recent post to the Dilbert blog, in which Scott Adams discusses the atheist ascendancy in America and rationalizes the need for an atheist leader. From the article: "Ask a deeply religious Christian if he'd rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists don't seem so bad lately. I think that in an election cycle or two you will see an atheist business leader emerge as a legitimate candidate for president. And his name will be Bill Gates."
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Scott Adams Suggests Bill Gates For President

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  • How is this news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:42AM (#16912222)
    I fail to see how this is news. I also fail to see how Scott Adams' opinion on who should be president matters.
  • Re:Not compatible (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:46AM (#16912238)
    It's hard to see how the US could cooperate less with the world community than it does at the moment.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:49AM (#16912256) Homepage Journal
    We're a country who has had one Catholic President and one Quaker. Arguably we've had pagans, if you count the deists. But their particular brand of deism was not too far from standard Christianity.

    I predict that we'll have a Jewish president before an athiest.

  • Re:Not compatible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmv ( 93421 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:52AM (#16912276) Homepage
    Dunno, they could build a giant, 50km tall wall all around the US... which in turns would help a lot reducing global warming (in the rest of the world that is). :-)
  • M$ jokes aside... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvilCowzGoMoo ( 781227 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:53AM (#16912286) Journal
    Would it really be so bad to have the government run with a more business like model? The current administration has blown away all hope of a balanced budget, would it be so bad if the government actually made a profit?

    Put aside the perceived greed that drives M$ and you see that Bill Gates is actually quite a philanthropist.Would it really be so bad to have the government run with a more business like model? The current administration has blown away all hope of a balanced budget, would it be so bad if the government actually made a profit?

    Put aside the perceived greed that drives M$ and you see that Bill Gates is actually quite a philanthropist. I can see some good things coming from his presidency.

    On the flip side though, it may spell doom for small businesses trying to find a fair playing field against the giant almost monopolistic corporations out there.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:57AM (#16912308) Homepage Journal
    • Ask a deeply religious Christian if he'd rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house.

    The question presupposes too many things. Namely that muslims are either praying or plotting terror 24/7 and that no athiest ever plans to hurt anyone else.

    Muslims, especially arabs, have become what black people were in the time period between reconstruction and the 1960s. The scapegoat for every one of society's ills and a panic button that people with an agenda know that they can push.

    Today we have sneak and peek warrants because idiots are afraid that "Da Moose-lims" are going to blow things up. Do you know how people succeeded in getting cocaine criminalized? By scaring the white masses by crafting the idea of big black bucks who were out of their mind on the drug rampaging and raping white women.

    Maybe a muslim president would succeed in severing our ubmilical relationship with Israel.

  • by EvilCowzGoMoo ( 781227 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @06:57AM (#16912310) Journal
    Would it really be so bad to have the government run with a more business like model? The current administration has blown away all hope of a balanced budget, would it be so bad if the government actually made a profit? Put aside the perceived greed that drives M$ and you see that Bill Gates is actually quite a philanthropist.Would it really be so bad to have the government run with a more business like model? On the flip side though, it may spell doom for small businesses trying to find a fair playing field against the giant almost monopolistic corporations out there. (Wow this is one I realy wished I had hit preview fist on!! Copy / Paste gone wild!)
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:00AM (#16912332)
    The more I think Bill Gate is the ultimate PHB. Yes, he knows some tech, but does he get it? I read his book years back (his first book) and have found nothing insightful.

    The Zune and the Xbox and the Microsoft school in Philadelphia lead me to believe that he will throw money at problems and bring minimum vision - I would also cite he derogatory statements about the $100 laptop, but then I don't know how much of that opinion was intertwined with business interests.

    In any case, if you have watched South Park lately, with episode of Cartman waiting for a Wii, one of the points it made, with its atheist skeptic future was that atheists/skeptics can be just as intolerant as religious fanatics - these people are just directing their zeal in other beliefs.

    I don't know if Gates is religious, but it's my opinion he does have a zealous and rigid belief system shaped around Microsoft/Software_Patents, and other things that I find it incredibly disturbing that he could wield presidential power. I'd almost rather give Bush a 3rd term.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:05AM (#16912350)
    I know that it's intended to be humorous, it's more than a little imbalanced to state 'may or may not be plotting a terror attack' against 'may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network'.

    It is also unfair to make the neighbour contrast -- yes, I make an effort to live in an area where people share my values. This includes the ability to drink beer and appreciate the neighbour's wife in a bikini.

    At any rate, Bill Gates is not an atheist - he's agnostic. The atheist religion (sic) has a bizarre tendency to justify itself through accusing various prolific hand-picked figures over history of being atheist. Most of these charges are inaccurately levelled by taking a quote out of context to further their own agenda (does this sound familiar...?).

    There are extremely bright people with (Beethoven) and without (Mark Twain) convictions.

    Personally, Mark Twain gives me laughter and insight, while Beethoven gives me inspiration.
  • Not so fast. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:09AM (#16912372)
    Scott Adams refers to Professor Dawkins' splendid new book. The following comes from the preface:

    The status of atheists in America today is on a par with that of homosexuals fifty years ago. Now, after the Gay Pride movement, it is possible, though still not very easy, for a homosexual to be elected to public office. A Gallup poll taken in 1999 asked Americans whether they would vote for an otherwise well-qualified person who was a woman (95 per cent would), Roman Catholic (94 per cent would), Jew (92 per cent), black (92 per cent), Mormon (79 per cent), homosexual (79 per cent), or atheist (49 per cent). Clearly we have a long way to go.

    Now, admittedly, the date on the study is 1999, and Scott Adams suggests that times have changed because of 9/11; but seriously, do you imagine that an atheist is going to win in Utah any time in the next fifty years? Dare to dream.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:09AM (#16912374) Journal
    And I fail to see your sense of humor.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:18AM (#16912432)
    Why would Gates want to give up so much power to become president? Wouldn't that be a step down?
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:24AM (#16912482)
    Yes, he knows some tech, but does he get it?

    This is the great misunderstanding about Bill Gates. Many people think of him as a brilliant technologist, but he is actually a brilliant businessman with a good understanding of computer technology. Unfortunately I expect he will go into the history books as a brilliant technologist.
  • Re:neighbors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ContractualObligatio ( 850987 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:27AM (#16912502)
    On the child molestor odds:
    Have you heard the stories about some Catholic priests? Or the activities of some cults? Or Michael Jackson? Hardly a scientific study, but arguably in the public mind child abuse is more likely with those who have a strong belief (however bizarre in Jackson's case...).

    Irrespective of whether Adams is right or not:
    Suggesting that the US electorate is more willing to vote for an atheist than a member of a religion that is (however unfairly) associated with the current war in Iraq, 9/11, etc, seems to me an entirely reasonable thing to suggest.

    Why is suggesting an atheist president so stupid? Have I missed something? It seems to me Adams is simply hopeful that there might be a president who bases his decisions on facts and thinking, rather than an unaccountable belief system within a framework no one can quite agree on anyway. And again, it seems a reasonable proposition for a debate that the electorate might go for a well respected (outside of the tech community!), successful, famously philanthropic atheist before a Muslim, even if it is only for all the wrong reasons.
  • by gerrysteele ( 927030 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:33AM (#16912532)

    People become atheists generally through an intellectual choice. Religious people are so because that is the way their personal influences have made them. They therefore inherit the prejudices that go along with that. They are therefore unlikely to objectively consider many other real life issues outside the context of their religious prejudice. Ergo, an atheist will not refer to religious preconception upon appraisal of any options presented in a given situation. A vote for an atheist is therefore a vote for someone who can make a choice and justify it rationally. For example, Tony Blair and G. W. Bush both justified the Iraq invasion by deferring to the judgment they shall receive from their god.
  • Re:neighbors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:38AM (#16912564) Journal
    I have to agree with l3v1. We will not have an atheist president anytime soon. The superstitions of Americans are just too strong. In fact, we couldn't even have an agnostic. I'm praying we won't have a Mormon in 2008.

    The funny thing, is that I don't believe will have a Jewish president either. I argued with my wife (who was not born in America) the other night about if Americans will elect a person of color, a woman or a Jew as president first. Forget about Hillary for a moment (and despite our mutual distaste for the thought of her as President). I think a woman will be president first. Then a person of color, and perhaps never a Jew. I've spent enough time in Red State America to know how deeply antisemitism and racism run in this country.

    As an American of Italian ancestry, I also think it will be a good long time before a Southern European president will be elected. Just wait and see how the media chews up Giuliani.
  • by zoogies ( 879569 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:50AM (#16912628)
    I find it remarkable how you back up your scathing opinion of Bill Gates with episodes of South Park. "I've read his book, I've found nothing insightful" is weak enough to begin with.
  • Re:End of faith (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seebs ( 15766 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:51AM (#16912640) Homepage
    Sam Harris is as much a demagogue as the people he opposes. Dissenters are no safer in his idealized world than they were in Calvin's Geneva. I see no improvement here.
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @07:55AM (#16912656) Homepage

    Would it really be so bad to have the government run with a more business like model?

    Are you kidding me? Fuck yes it would!

    What is the one, single thing any business is intent on doing? Making profit. When you have a government operating like a business, what does it do? It tries to make a profit. And governments can only reasonably make a profit in three different ways: 1) tax the bejesus out of the population, 2) actually print money, and 3) take wealth out of other nations without their consent.

    You can not truly 'create wealth'. You can do more with fuel and machines, but commerce and taxation is only shifting wealth around, when you come down to it.
  • Re:End of faith (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:01AM (#16912694)
    I wouldn't disagree although I suspect his intolerence stems from logical rather than theistic reasons which I feel slightly safer with. On balance, I like his reasoning but not his lack of compassion for those 'blighted' with the God Gene.
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:08AM (#16912738)
    No, I wouldn't like to have Bill Gates for president, not because he's an atheist, but because he's dishonest. From obvious lies he told during the antitrust trial to the one-sided, biased spin he puts on almost anything having to do with Microsoft, I simply cannot trust him. Once a person has lied to me, it is very difficult and often impossible to re-earn my trust. In Bill Gates' case, I think it is impossible. I think this is sad for him, but it is his own doing. He is not someone I admire or respect because of it. At least he has his riches to bask in, but I could never trust him.

    I suppose some will come to his defense and say that he was just defending or promoting his company, and that's the way business works. Well, I don't buy that. Does a person's integrity have a price? This is also why over time I am becoming more and more cynical and distrustful about almost any information provided by corporations - it is almost always one-side, biased in their favor, with any relevant negative aspects suppressed. This unethical behavior is defended, even encouraged, in the name of capitalism, business promotion, salesmanship, and so on as a good, positive thing.

    To be forthcoming, in the past I too have twisted the truth to my employer's customers to please those who signed my paycheck, and I feel terrible about it. But it is unethical and very wrong, and it is wrong for society to encourage it as a positive virture. I have decided that I simply won't do it anymore. Thankfully my life situation permits that the moment. I realize others aren't so fortunate. But that isn't an excuse for Bill Gates.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:11AM (#16912750) Homepage
    So let me get this straight: athiests have free will and self-determinism, but people who hold religious beliefs, by their very nature, do not? Is this your way of saying athiests are superior intellectually, and possibly biologically as well?

    Most self-acclaimed athiests I know are not, in the least bit, analytical. They have grown up being taught that the facts are in, and they are conclusive: we evolved. Regardless of the fact that it's a theory, it's taught as doctrine. I'm not saying anything else has any more validity, mind you, but when a single doctrine is taught for an hour a day, 5 days a week, for several years of a child's upbringing, the principles are ingrained to a certain degree - whether it's Sunday school or science/Biology class.

    There are a great deal of people who were raised as an athiest, or as nothing at all, and have acclimated towards faith in religion after hopping around on ideology for years. The reverse is also true. And there are those who have tried both sides, and couldn't decide, resulting in agnosticism.

    There is no such thing as a person void of prejudices or personal influences. To so much as say that there are demonstrates an extremely unquestioning mind, and what's more, one which isn't even aware of it.

    You sir, are a biggot and a fool - to put it kindly!

  • So does Hinduism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Clueless Nick ( 883532 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:13AM (#16912762) Journal
    And its various sects. And so do Buddhism, Jainism, Shintoism, anything-you-can-thinkaboutism. Religion is not a means to direct spiritual affairs. It has evolved as a set of guidelines about how to lead your life by reducing disharmony with your environment (to varying degrees, o constant cynic). It has also evolved from mankind's need to understand its environment, when the concept of scientific thought was in its infancy.

    So tell us something new. Going by the doctrine of Islam, is Bill Gates qualified to lead a large, powerful nation?
  • Re:End of faith (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:15AM (#16912776)
    The bit about eating fish was just a 'top of my head' thought to save me looking up a real one. One could get in to a discussion about OT versus NT but a quick look at e.g. Leviticus will reveal a whole bunch of 'laws' which most modern Christians choose to ignore yet others which they hold to be absolute truths to live their lives by.
    As for the bible's comment on homosexuality:
    18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
    In other places the bible notes death as a good solution for abominations..
    How about stoning to death for non-virgin wives?
    If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her ... and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say ... these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. ... But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:13-21
    Christians like to ignore all this stuff yet claim the good stuff. It doesn't wash.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:31AM (#16912880)
    There's no afterlife or later judgement so they're far more likely to think about the soldiers they're sending off to die.

    Anyway if they claimed to be humanist most christians would be completely unaware that it isn't a christian sect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:37AM (#16912904)
    Uhm no. Their deism was about as close to atheism as you could get in those days. They mocked the idea of a personal God (i.e. someone who hears your prayers and acts upon the world). I'm convinced that if these people were alive today they would be atheists, it's just that in those times the social conditions were such that not believing in ANY God was unthinkable, so they chose to believe in a God which was impotent and didn't matter for human life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:39AM (#16912920)
    This article deserves the tag flamebait. It is CLEARLY intended to start a massive argument; it is the verbatim definition of flamebait.
  • Re:neighbors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BakaHoushi ( 786009 ) <Goss DOT Sean AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:46AM (#16912970) Homepage
    I really have to agree with you. I mean, if you think about it, a lot of geeks may have some grudges against Gates, but are they REALLY that big a deal? Sure, we joke about the Borg and all that, but let's compare Microsoft's business to Halliburton's or *Insert Oil Company Here*.

    Outside the BSoD and Open Source jokes, Bill Gates is a respectable person, I'm sure most of us will (if grudgingly) admit. And I like the idea that logic and fact (Or at least SOME kind of observable data) could be used to make decisions, rather than gut instinct, faith, or however else you want to call making decisions via a dart board.
  • by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @08:49AM (#16913004) Homepage
    Yes, TFA was in humor. But is there no basis in fact? In the US, only the ultra-rich run for (and win) the presidency. Bill Gates in the richest man in the US. Now, it's true not every rich candidate can get elected (as nicely pointed out in the book Freakonomics), but still, the possibility can't be discounted. Like Scott Adams says, give Bill a decade or so of charity work, and his popular image will look pretty voteworthy. A chilling thought.
  • by Milton Waddams ( 739213 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:09AM (#16913156)
    He'd get my vote anyway!
  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:10AM (#16913168)
    Filling kids' heads with absurd notions of god, the devil, hell &c. is just another form of child abuse -- and I really can't see that it's any less damaging than sexual molestation. At least if you've been subjected to physical violence of some description (including sexual violence), there's something solid that you can get a handle on and eventually learn to deal with. When the abuse has all been in the mind, it's that much harder to deal with.
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:16AM (#16913240) Journal

    Sam Harris puts it well in The End of Faith when he points out that the only thing you must be to get elected in the United States is religious. You need no education in political science, economics, resource management, social studies, or any other field that is typically involved in serving as President or most public offices. Instead, you must profess a belief in Christianity. Failing to do this and you stand no chance of becoming elected no matter how well informed or qualified you are otherwise. Now, while a cut-throat business man who heads (or headed) a criminal organization is the last person I would choose for the job, I do agree that it would be nice if we eliminated faith as the basis for electing leaders.

  • Re:God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Total_Wimp ( 564548 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:17AM (#16913258)
    Forget Bill, the rest of article says something even more beautiful than his possible presidency.

    I'm so happy that Atheists might possibly be able to achieve the lofy satus that homosexuals enjoy in our society, and might be even more respected than terrorists. Considering that I've been told by more than one Christian (true story here) that atheists do not have the capacity for morality, I absolutely love the idea that I might be able to catch up with gay people on the social pecking order. Now if only I had the chance of being less of an outcast than blacks in the south, but I'm sure unwed mothers and pickpockets will always beat out the both of us.

    Read the ariticle. It's hope (sniff).

  • what?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oyenstikker ( 536040 ) <slashdot@sbyrn e . org> on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:21AM (#16913294) Homepage Journal
    What does religion have anything to do with setting up a wireless network?!

    I am a Christian. I work with a Muslim and a Hindu. Any of the three of us will help you set up your wireless network. None of us are planning on blowing anything up, save maybe lightbulbs in our microwave ovens.
  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:22AM (#16913304)
    Although Scott Adams may be the best political and business parodist/cartoonist since Dave Barry, he hit upon a serious deficiency in American Politics: Most voters don't know what the job qualifications for President are. The President is supposed to be a leader and executive, guide the country in resolving problems (if possible), but his main job is to UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (It's in his oath of office.) This has nothing to do with his religion, gender, party affiliation or appearance, but those are the qualifications upon which the voters seem to select our politicians these days.

    Which brings up problem number two: Most Americans don't know the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, and are probably not qualified to vote. The Declaration of Independence defines the principles upon which this country was founded and the Constitution defines the process by which we govern ourselves. It is embarrassing that I meet so many foreigners who know all about the Constitution and the Declaration, but I seldom find an American college student who can even tell me what's in the Bill of Rights.

    I hope some of you are feeling guilty... [] dler/dp/0020641303 []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:33AM (#16913390)
    To answer your question, I believe that the editors included it because, the general tone of Slashdot is anti-religion.

    In a country where fundamentalist Christians are in the majority, and scientific facts are widely regarded as being "just theories", this can only be a good thing. It is always a good idea to challenge and oppose the majority.

    Surely you wouldn't want people to accept religion just because they knew nothing of any alternatives? Wouldn't that take away the "free will" thing?
  • Re:neighbors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:38AM (#16913420)
    I see your point, but really when 90% of a population uses the dominant religion's ceremonies as the way to "do" life's important events, not participating on point of principle is going to make you one very alienated person. e.g. Most people invite you to "the Christening" of their baby, not because they want to show off their Christianity, but because they want to share the joy of their baby with you (because presumably they care about you too), and to celebrate giving a name to this new person. I agree it is not nice that religions co-opt important events in life in this way, but they do so because they know that people want something to mark the event, and by offering that something they have an easy in to people's lives. Make your own ceremonies for the events in your own life, but begrudging others the local standard ones is mean spirited IMHO. (I am an atheist)
  • by mattgreen ( 701203 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:43AM (#16913468)
    I'd prefer no bias either way. Some of us prefer to get our news without having opinions pushed on us.
  • by IckySplat ( 218140 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:43AM (#16913470)
    Right now, generally speaking those with faith are thought of as uneducated and unenlightened

    Hmmm... Might it have something to do with the extremist loonies
    Banging on about Intelligent design, Earth only 6000 years old
    world is really flat etc...

    If the moderates keep quiet and only the nut cases get themselves heard...
    Just what do you think the wider public reaction is going to be?

    I've seen just as many Pro religious comments on slashdot as anti.
    But in general the Atheists 'TEND' to be better behaved and not get into
    as many flame wars as the Pro crowd (Just my own observations here)

    And if you think it easy being an Atheist in this day and age your dead wrong.
    I don't discuss my beliefs with friends and co-workers anymore...
    Got sick an tired of all the arguments and other crap that it generated.
    IMHO people should be free to believe whatever the hell they like.
    As long as they don't hurt anyone other than themselves :)

  • by HairyCanary ( 688865 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @09:49AM (#16913520)
    Good luck with that. There is no such thing as news that is not biased. If you think you know of any, then it just proves that they are either good at hiding their bias, or they happen to have precisely the same bias you already have.
  • Re:God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markh1967 ( 315861 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:08AM (#16913728)
    I've been told by more than one Christian (true story here) that atheists do not have the capacity for morality

    I think this says far more about the lack of morality of the person making this statement than it does about the morality of athiests - they are obviously only held in check by their fear of divine retribution and are incredulous that anybody who is not so constrained would act in a moral manner because they themselves wouldn't if they thought they could get away with it.

  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:10AM (#16913750)
    I can think of two reasons why it might be on Slashdot. The first being that cover it yesterday. And as of right now it is holding as 2nd place for the hottest topic.

    The second reason is probably related to online sources from MSNBC, Slashdot, Reddit and other forums, as well as the New York Times best selling list that have included elements of anti-religion and anti-god media.

    To answer your question, I believe that the editors included it because, the general tone of Slashdot is anti-religion.

    Yeah, cause the other explanation doesn't make sense... or it couldn't be because the county has done nothing but talk about who might run for President in 2008... or because it is a story that contains Scott Adams AND Bill Gates.

    Right now, generally speaking those with faith are thought of as uneducated and unenlightened.

    Perhaps that is because you seem unable to make a logical argument, and has nothing to do with your faith. Or does your faith contribute to that?

  • by OneSmartFellow ( 716217 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:14AM (#16913812)
    You are joking of course.

    The official religion of France was Catholocism until 1988.
    The official religion of Italy was Catholocism until 1984.
    The official religion of Spain was Catholocism until 1978.

    The official religion of the USA was........oh, sorry we never had one.
    The USA remains one of the few countries in the entire world which declares and enforces a seperation between Church and State.
  • Re:neighbors (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bemopolis ( 698691 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:16AM (#16913842)
    That's a level of detail that, by and large, you don't see in Christianity.

    False — that's a level of detail you don't see in most WESTERN Christianity TODAY. That ludicrous amount of Islamo-micromanagement you cite was mirrored exactly in the early Catholic (and, later, early Protestant) Church. Pick up Bede's "History of the English Church and People" and find the letter written from the Bishop of England to the Pope asking for guidance on such minutiae. Must women eschew churchgoing during their period? Can a man enter a church if he hasn't washed since his last intercourse? Just like you describe, except with a guy nailed to a tree in the front instead of a cresent moon.

    Now, if you want to argue that today's Islam is less enlightened than today's Christianity go right ahead. Me, I think that's like trying to figure out the warmest guy in an igloo.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:23AM (#16913948)
    Considering that Denmark, Finland, and I think Sweden (just to name a few) have official religions and that everyone born in the country becomes a memeber of that church, AND that church recieves tax monies. I don't think you have the nonreligious highground.

    America- where religion is opt-in, not opt-out.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Das Auge ( 597142 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:24AM (#16913964)
    So let me get this straight, it's not okay to say that atheists, as a group, are immoral, but it is okay to say that religious people, as a group, are less intelligent.

    Nice double standard you have going there.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:28AM (#16914016)
    I agree. The point of the article is more about gaining some of the acceptance for atheists that other minorities enjoy. References to Bill Gates are more tangential.

    I think this links with a study a while back that had atheist as the most distrusted minority in America. I doubt there is an out of closet atheist anywhere in US politics.

    I think I have finally getting a handle on the fear/distrust of atheist after watching a few 30 days documentaries (atheist/christians, Pro-choice/pro-life) and the "Root of all evil" documentary with Richard Dawkins, and Jesus Camp. You eventually get the strong sense that it is drummed in from day one that there is nothing worse than being without the word of god. So an atheist is unfathomable.

    If you are taught from day one that the only "righteous" people are those that are steeped in the word of god. How do you understand someone that thinks about each issue independently? How can you know what they will think? Of course the old chestnut of atheist not having morality crops up. Having no authoritative source, how could they?

    Though it is largely inaccurate,I guess I can understand where it comes from. So maybe Scott is correct and we are at least seeing the baby steps of having a very tiny minority of those in the public eye come out on atheism and one or two TV shows with atheists. We may be in the position of starting some very basic education so religious people can eventually get to have some tiny understanding of atheists.
  • by I am ignorant ( 1029686 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:37AM (#16914118)
    It would be more accurate to state that there is a strong corrolation between being a fundementalist/zealot (of any kind) and being uneducated. The problem is not with being religious, it is with being uneducated. There are plenty of uneducated atheists in the world. Distribution of intelligence creates a bell curve. There are more uneducated religious people because there are more religious people. If you spliced out the fundementalists, I would expect the bell curve of intelligence within religion to look like the bell curve of the atheists.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by empaler ( 130732 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:37AM (#16914130) Journal
    Actually, China is more capitalistic than most other countries in the world. The really bad form of capitalism, at that. People exploited for less than minimum wager because there are so many that there's always another worker but not another job. The main criteria for communism is simply that the workers control the means of production - which is not really the case.
    Interestingly, some American and European capitalistic companies have found giving some control to the workers a god incentive (stocks/options) for better productivity, and thereby, greater shared wealth.
    See, that's ironic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @10:53AM (#16914402)
    I'm sure there are many that would indeed see it as predjudiced, but that's hardly the case. It's just a matter of logic that those with better education and critical thinking skills will be better equipped to select between multiple alternatives (science vs religion) on a rational basis. Those on the lower end of the intelligence scale are more easily indroctrinated since they can't see the alternative (e.g. it's easier for them to accept that free will is a matter of magic/god than to intellectually accept that we don't actually have it since everying - our neurons included - obeys the laws of science).
  • Re:End of faith (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigbird ( 40392 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:04AM (#16914594) Homepage

    It's always amusing to read stuff from people who've picked a few verses from the Old Testament and ask why Christians aren't doing what they say.

    Christians aren't Jews. It's the *Old* Testament. Christians aren't subject to Old Testament law. Try reading Galatians or Hebrews.

    For example "The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under supervision of the law" (Galatians 3:24-25).

    For Christians, the Mosaic Law no longer applies. It is meaningless to ask why Christians aren't following Leviticus. They aren't required to.

    The more interesting question is why Jews aren't following the Old Testament, not Christians.

  • Re:End of faith (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigbird ( 40392 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:24AM (#16914906) Homepage

    The OT isn't to be ignored. The God of Judaism is the God of Christianity. The Old Testament is the history of God's chosen people, Israel, and how he promised them a Messiah.

    The NT explains how that Messiah was Jesus Christ (which Jews don't agree with of course - they are still waiting). The OT is the historical backdrop to the NT, and hence is crucial to understanding the NT.

    But that doesn't mean Christians are obliged to obey Mosaic Law. The NT clearly points out that for Christians, we are under a different (and new) covenant (agreement).

  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:33AM (#16915066) Homepage Journal
    It's not religion stupid, it's representation. Look here at the demographics [] and you will see that the United States is composed of only 8.4% non-religious people, while the other non-christian religions compose only 3% of the population, so 88.6% Christian (26.8% begin Catholic, 19.8% Baptist).

    So tell me again why being Christian shouldn't be a pre-requisite to being the top political and commander in chief of this nation? 88% is a pretty convincing argument IMHO.
  • Re:God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Associate ( 317603 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:35AM (#16915084) Homepage
    Noting more pathetic than when an adult fails to ever self actualize. I think it rather bad-joke-and-groaning-about-it that someone determines North on their moral compass from some imaginary man in the sky, but thinks it impossible for someone to come up with their own rules seemingly from out of thin air.
  • Re:God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by COMON$ ( 806135 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:42AM (#16915196) Journal
    Interesting indeed. I would assume the Christian in question was referring to some kind of consistent morality. Although most of my fellow Christian are woefully ignorant about their own faith and could not distinguish the difference between Christianity and any other mainstream religion. Chances are someone they respect said the same thing "Atheists have no moral capacity" and thought, hey this person is saying something bad about Atheists, it must be true!

    That aside, in my opinion, the atheist moral issue is more of a concern because it allows the scope of human stupidity larger reign. Regardless of whether a person thinks there is a God or not, there is a certain amount of respect to be paid to moral laws that are 8-10K years old. Humanity has learned certain lessons in the past and we need to heed those lessons. Example, even my atheist friends agree, If humanity would be more careful with its sexuality, (be more picky with partners, or abstain to a bonding relationship), we would be able to make STDs a very manageable problem. Many major religions have included abstinence in their moral law.

    Now from a Theological standpoint, a Christian should not fear breaking the law because God will smite them. The proper fear comes from the human consequences. Eat Pork in 1500BC and you will have issues, weave different kinds of thread, you will have issues, or the bigger laws, Covet and you will pay $5K for a PS3.

    The advantage that a Theistic group has, is it can enforce moral law without explaining it all. But if you delve into each Law it usually has a good, nontheistic, reason for it. The whole Wrath of God idea, just makes it easy to enforce. Whereas an atheist has to rely on his/her own discipline to maintain a moral law. Good luck controlling mass stupidity that way :)

  • Re:End of faith (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigbird ( 40392 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:56AM (#16915470) Homepage

    You should probably explain this to Ted Haggard, Oral Robberts, Jimmy Swaggert, etc - since they're fond of using the old testament as an excuse for one wacko stance or another (hate gays, hate working women, hate other religions, hate witches, etc, etc, etc).

    I'm not too familiar with them, not being an American. However since the Bible condemns homosexuality (for example) in the Old Testament, it isn't unreasonable to be cautious about endorsing it. Since the New Testament is also clear about sexual immorality, it is entirely consistent to refuse to endorse homosexuality.

    Refusing to endorse homosexual behaviour doesn't imply that one hates homosexuals though - although unfortunately this attitude does seem to come across with some Christians. Christians are supposed to love, not hate.

    Note also that this inability to get the story straight is another reason to be very skeptical of an "all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good god": why would it create such an imperfect message - so prone to misinterpretation and so useful as an excuse to kill one another?

    Sadly I don't think it would matter what was written. If people want to hurt or kill one another, they'll justify it any way they like.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @11:58AM (#16915504)

    Considering that I've been told by more than one Christian (true story here) that atheists do not have the capacity for morality

    I've heard that one too. Always really creeped me out.

    Why? Because you can infer from that statement that the only reason they are moral is because they believe there is an invisible man watching their every move who will drop them in a boiling lake of sulfur if they misbehave. So the other side of that coin is that they would be completely amoral if The Big Guy wasn't watching them. If religion suddenly went away today, first thing these people would do is go berserk and give in to their every urge - since there would be no reason not to.

    Maybe religion isn't such a bad idea after all.

  • Re:God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rujholla ( 823296 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:00PM (#16915544)
    You want to find a real terrorist? He won't wear a turban or follow Islam. No, the real terrorist is the man that uses religion itself as a weapon and fuel for hatred.
    WTF do you think islamic terrorists are doing? Have you read what the president of Iran is spewing lately? Their belief that the only way to bring about their prophecies is by the total and complete anihilation of Israel doesn't qualify as using religion as a weapon and fuel for hatred?
    I think that many of these hateful Christian terrorists (again, not saying that Christians as a whole are hateful people, only that some few decide to be that way)
    I'm not saying that all members of the islamic faith are hatefull people only some few that decide or are taught to be that way.

    If you want to advance the idea that radicals of any religion are terrorists I'm right behind you there, but to espouse the idea that people who try and convert you to Christianity by preaching of hellfire and damnation are more terrorist than people who blow up themselves and others in the name of advancing their religion is complete and utter BS

  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:05PM (#16915670) Homepage Journal
    >the "separation of church and state" is not in the constitution and, IIRC, is not in any official government document.

    No, that exact character string is not in the Constitution, and it doesn't need to be given the multiple clauses disentangling religion and government.

    "Separation of church and state" isn't in the Bible either, but Jesus drew the distinction repeatedly: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" in Matthew 22:21, and "My kingdom is not of this world" is John 18:36.
  • Re:God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:19PM (#16915924)
    All truly religious people, being Absolutist Authoritarians, have no capacity for morality by definition. They simply believe and do what they are told by the church authorities without question or conscience.
  • by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:20PM (#16915936)
    There's absolutely nothing wrong with crackpots buying airtime rights. Thats protected under the freedom of speech, Bill 1.

    And you have a choice whether to send that crackpot your money. Or are you dismissing self-choice?
  • by shaneh0 ( 624603 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:40PM (#16916276)
    Let's pass a Constitutional Amendment that repeals term limits (the 22nd Amendment) as well as removing the "Natural Born Citizen" rule.

    Which would let Bill Clinton run against Ahnold. And from basically every opinion poll I've seen since 1998, Bill Clinton would be the President until he dies, or his penis falls off, which I suppose is redundant.

    In all seriousness, though, I think both of those things SHOULD be repealed.

    The 22nd Amendment was only passed because Democrats and Republicans were pissed off at FDR for running for a fourth term when he knew his health was so poor. Even JFK supported it at the time. Looking back, though, it's a bad idea. While I do like the fact that W can't be elected again, if the rule wasn't in place, he'd never have been elected to begin with.

    Besides, we have a word for term limits. It's spelled E-L-E-C-T-I-O-N-S.

    And as for the Natural Born Citizen thing, well, that should go too. As long as it's replaced with a "Must be a US Citizen, residing in US territory, for at least 15 years" or something like that. We're a country of immigrants, and a lot of them have a lot to offer. Look at Jennifer Granholm in Michigan, Madeline Albright, and, yes, The Ahnold.
  • by Lysol ( 11150 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:43PM (#16916328)
    Absolutely! Welcome to the world of indoctrination! People are taught from a very young age their various religious beliefs and morals.

    It's funny tho, the whole 'morals from God ' thing. Any Christian I talk to (including relatives) all believe not only in words written on pages thousands of years ago (written by dudes named John and Paul, which are very Jewish names, and also hand-picked by the Catholic church in later years) but also usually support whatever bloodhsed in any part of the world as long as it's in God's name (the 'extremist' and uneducated Muslims love this too). Whether it's the (re-)invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever their morality points them, they all belive in and break the concepts 'written' down thousands of years ago. How hypocritical, yet, it's God's morals they're following. And they know it .

    I was indoctrinated into Christianity from a young age. Was told all the scary stories of judgement and this and that and in my late teens/early twenties realized that it was all bullshit. All about control, judgement - all negative. I've never met anyone who is Christ-like in the western world. And I've come to realize that Judeo-based/Christian morals are the last thing I'd ever impart on my kids (if I ever have any). They're, in my opinion, totally backwards and have nothing to do with modern living and have nothing to do with living a decent, educated, fair, and compassionate life.

    The best thing that could happen to the future of the world is the advent of a more universal, worldly, consciousness and an ascendency of non-theism. After all, there'd definitely be less or no wars (no God to justify them, no virgins in Heaven), less suffering (no wars plus no religious barriers to medical research), better integration (no separation of the righteous and 'wicked'), and hopefully more compassion (less Godly judgement), and definitely more time spent on learning about science and the natural universe and less about the supernatural, religious texts.

    While I say each to his own, it's clear to me that the Judeo-based religions are fundamentally flawed and have little place in the future of humanity. Some day, they will be realized (hopefully) as the primitive thinking they are just like the Greek and Roman and even Sumerian or Egyptian gods (which we dismiss as ridiculous nowadays). Of course, I won't live to see it, but it will probably happen. It has to, otherwise humanity will destroy itself. You have only to glimpse any religious leader/figure around the world to be sure of that.
  • Re:neighbors (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Acer500 ( 846698 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:51PM (#16916454) Journal
    Excellent point. And I'd rather have religious events than marketing-created events (say, Father's Day), although most religious events have been slyly co-opted by now (see Christmas).

    Though it would be very annoying for me to go through a church wedding (the local style, which is very formal, and requires going to some religious classes and such), it's very moving and makes for a much better event than a dry state wedding ceremony (I understand in the US you have different choices).
  • Re:God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ndansmith ( 582590 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:56PM (#16916552)

    I think this says far more about the lack of morality of the person making this statement than it does about the morality of athiests - they are obviously only held in check by their fear of divine retribution and are incredulous that anybody who is not so constrained would act in a moral manner because they themselves wouldn't if they thought they could get away with it.

    I think that is a pretty reductionist way of looking at things. Most Christians in reality do not think all atheists are immoral by definition (regardless of what a few vocal Christians say). Most Christians are motivated to morality by more than just divine retribution (whether they realize it or not).

    Despite how well that anecdote fit your argument, its black/white conclusion is no better than that of the foolish Christian who says such about atheists.

  • Re:God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:58PM (#16916594)
    I'm having trouble telling if you're joking.

    Religious based rules are the worst at being twisted. How many killed in Jesus name? Allah's? How many poor are ignored in Christian countries? How many Christians commit murder (of various definitions) adultury etc ad nauseum? We have bible-thumping retards supporting vicious wars, and you're saying that athiests have flexible morals?
  • by The_Wilschon ( 782534 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @01:04PM (#16916688) Homepage
    you can infer from that statement that the only reason they are moral is because they believe there is an invisible man watching their every move who will drop them in a boiling lake of sulfur if they misbehave.
    And where do you get that idea? Ok, ok, I know where you get that idea. Why do you think that since you can possibly infer that, it must be true? After all, there are certainly other things that you could infer, many of which are not nearly so... creepy.

    If I understand the origins of the "atheists can't have morals" idea, it has nothing to do with atheists lacking a big-catholic-nun-with-a-ruler in the sky. Instead, it has everything to do with atheists not necessarily having any particular first principles instead of other first principles. One's moral codes derive (if we take an analytic (mathematical) view of philosophy) from one's first axioms. First axioms, otoh, by the very fact that they are first axioms, do not derive from anything. Saying "I am a theist", or stronger, "I am a Christian", is essentially a declaration of a particular first axiom. Saying "I am an atheist", is also a declaration of a particular axiom. However, "I am a Christian" is a much more constricting axiom than "I am an atheist", particularly in the realm of moral codes. "I am a Christian" leads directly to establishing several moral tenets (which could be viewed as logical propositions) as true. "I am an atheist" does not.

    Now, of course, the atheist can then turn around and say, for instance, "The survival of the human race/my seed is paramount", and in so doing (s)he establishes an axiom which directly leads to some moral tenets. However, the atheist could just as well (and by just as well I mean without causing a logical contradiction with atheism) say "The death of all life that I see is paramount", which also leads to some moral tenets, but very very different ones. Or, the atheist could say "Whatever whim I have must be followed", and then you have someone who is driven entirely by their animal instincts. The point is, what reason does an atheist have to choose one of these over another? Or, what reason to choose some axiom which leads to one of these over some other axiom which leads to another one of these? Axioms, as I said, do not derive from anything, and thus there can be no reason to choose one over another.

    In my experience, most atheists (and agnostics as well) do find themselves following moral tenets which comport quite well with the rest of society. However, the origin of the "Atheists have no morals" is, as far as I can tell, the fact that the statement "I am an atheist" does not logically necessitate any particular morality, whereas "I am a Christian" should.

    And yes, I do realize that a) "I am a Christian" can lead to a number of different and conflicting moral codes, depending on various interpretations of eg scripture, and b) many people who say "I am a Christian" do not follow a moral code that could reasonably derive from that axiom.

    So, I might well be wrong, and the people you have encountered who have said that could merely be afraid of the wrist-slapping-ruler in the sky. However, that is not the only, and certainly not the most reasonable, basis for the statement.

    For further reading: Anything C.S. Lewis has written about what he calls the "Tao" (not to be confused with eastern philosophy). For instance, The Abolition of Man.
  • by Domomojo ( 886220 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @01:06PM (#16916716)
    Maybe so, but I think the common definitions are inadequate since they don't accurately describe non-theists. I agree that dictionaries should be descriptive and not prescriptive, but by those common definitions I'm not a theist, atheist, or agnostic. I guess it's like the word "theory". There's the definition used by the public at large (and creationists) and there's the definition used by scientists. If you're going to get into a philosophical discussion on the meaning and existence of god(s) it's important to define all the terms accurately.
  • by dsanfte ( 443781 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @01:23PM (#16916970) Journal
    Why is it wrong to kill? Simply saying "because its wrong to deny another person life" implies that there is a higher value to human life.

    Atheists do not believe in gods. They can still believe in man. There is no contradiction.
  • by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Monday November 20, 2006 @01:31PM (#16917092) Journal
    3. Being an atheist Jew doesn't make me stupid or immune to reality. I surely do not want to live next door to a Muslim.

    I once lived next door to a Muslim for years before I found out he was a Muslim. He had seemed like such a nice, normal guy, too.

    Maybe they should have to wear some kind of badge so we can identify them more easily.
  • by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:12PM (#16917762)
    We need an INTELLIGENT leader.

    No, we need an educated ELECTORATE, and an end to the social more against talking politics if you're not on TV.

  • Re:God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by civilizedINTENSITY ( 45686 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:14PM (#16917792)
    And you think society is doing well now? Check divorce rates, the youth entitlement generations, prevalence of STDs, Breakdown of families, the suicide rate, and on and on. As a Christian I attribute this to original sin. As an Atheist, you can attribute it to societal growing pains.
    I think most rational, educated people would agree that society is doing much better now than 1000 years ago, and much much better than 2000 years ago. I personally attribute this to Science.
  • by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:15PM (#16917808) Homepage
    No, presidents should be given 1, 6 year term. That way it is spent doing their god damn job and very little is spent campaigning. They can get reelected again after some other idiot gets to play with the chair for 6 years.
  • Re:God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:47PM (#16918372)
    You sir, are either very funny or very scary.

    Can't I be both? A fertilized egg and an 11-month-old baby have two things in common: neither of them is a sentient being but both have the potential to become one. I don't see how a rational person can defend the killing of a fertilized egg and the euthanization of an animal but not of a pre-sentient baby.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:55PM (#16918528)
    I'm a human being. Like everybody else, I was not born religous. Some people are immersed in religion from the day they are born, but nobody is intrinsically religous: it's always just an option.

    I am not an athiest. I'm a person. People who elect to pray to deities can call themselves "religous" if they feel like it, but that's their problem, not mine.

    People who choose to be religous may revel in a label, but stop labelling non-religous people. We haven't chosen to be non-religous, any more than we've chosen not to be cannibals or house painters.

    If religous people choose to be religous and believe in idols, well fine, whatever floats their boat. But they shouldn't be labelling others who haven't made bizarre philosophical and lifestyle choices.
  • Re:God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot@castlesteelst o n e .us> on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:04PM (#16918670) Homepage Journal
    A person who followed Biblical laws to the letter (i.e. kill your disobedient children, kill homosexuals, kill nonbelievers, etc) would be headed straight for prison in a modern, secular society.

    Funny. Even when Israel was an independant state, the Talmudic death penalty was rarely enforced. And as soon as Jesus of Nazareth started saying "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", well, the modern sense of compassion and mercy became law.

    (And I'd be interested to hear your quotes for any one of those things, btw -- I'm pretty sure that you had be worse than "abomination" to merit the death penalty, and that's all that homosexuality was classified as. No worse than a menstrating woman going to temple.)

    How many of the Ten Commandments are actually laws in any modern society? Two, maybe three? God is only 25% correct?

    Taking the Roman Catholic Version []:

    1: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." Democratic socieites prohibit the enforcement of a state religion, meaning that Christians are not forced to have any other gods. Plus, there are still several American communities where not going to church will get you ostracised.

    2: "Do not take the name of the Lord in vain." Nope, no legal effect.

    3: "Observe the sabbath and keep it holy": I just had a weekend, as did some 80% of my countrymen. Those of us who worked on that day chose to work it, and their employers have a legally-mandated fiscal incentive to give them at least one day in seven off.

    4: "Honor thy father and thy mother": Elder law requires us to take care of our parents, either directly or through paying taxes. And parents have standing to file an array of cases relating to their children and grandchildren that ordinary folk have to fight tooth and nail for.

    5: Murder. (Yep, all kinds of laws against that.)

    6: No Adultury (It's a crime in NY, and either a crime or a cause for divorce elsewhere.)

    7: Do not steal (Yep.)

    8: Do not bear false witness (ever hear of perjury? Libel?)

    9: "Do not covet your neighbor's wife" -- actually, more than a few states still have laws against interfering with someone's marriage.

    10: Don't covet anything else (nope, no legal effect.)

    So, on a modest view, 8/10 commandments are still legally enforced at least somewhere in America. If you want to be more strict, 6/10 are core principles of a modern democratic society. And either way you splice it, the other 2 or 4 are seen as "very good ideas."
  • by FatSean ( 18753 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:22PM (#16919016) Homepage Journal
    Why not just pull out the wheat-rules and discard the chaff? The Bible says that homosexuality is wrong. The Bible says to kill those who would attempt to convert you. I disagree with both these assertations, which is part of why I reject Christianity. I agree with you that most religions are simply old old old social rules codified. I just feel that one can extract the good ideas and leave the bad ones. There is too much bad baggage mixed in with the religions.
  • by kaoshin ( 110328 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:28PM (#16919120)
    Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were unpatriotic?
  • by obtuse ( 79208 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:29PM (#16919154) Journal
    Damned by ignorance. That's the atheist's lot. The faithful redefine both atheism and morality to suit their purposes and argue from that.

    "Morality requires that there be things that are inherently good and things that are inherently bad. True atheism rejects these concepts, as they deny that there is a higher power than the natural state of the world."

    No, and No.

    Let's look to Wikipedia for a more reasonable definition of morality:

    "Morality is a system of principles and judgments based on cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which humans determine whether given actions are right or wrong."

    Nothing about inherent good and evil there. Atheists have values which are no less valid just because we didn't get those values from the authorized representative of God (even indirectly.) You complain that atheists don't explain their beliefs to you. It's no wonder, but I will try. Since atheists aren't a homogenous group, I can only explain my own beliefs, but I'm a pretty standard-issue humanist in these. Allow me to proceed from first principles.

    My values originate in my experiences. My experiences include empathy, pleasure (inherently good) and pain (inherently bad.) Empathy allows me to realize that those around me have similar experiences of the world. My experience demonstrates that suffering pain may produce benefit in the future, and that pursuit of pleasure may produce pain, so in addition to considering the effect of my behavior upon those for whom I feel empathy, I need to consider the future effects of my immedeate behavior. You can pretty much derive all my morality from this. Golden rule, altruism, truthfulness, honor, etcetera.

    Was my morality influenced by religion? Sure, and I can see Orion in the stars, but my ideas about those stars are more than the product of ancient religion. If our values often overlap, it only flatters those religious laws that actually are good ideas. Still, we don't correspond exactly. I'll never be OK with slavery or killing infidels, unlike most of the Gods in the world.

    It's always odd when someone argues morality with me, claiming that it's impossible to be moral unless you accept your morality as received wisdom without question. To me, there is a moral imperative to take responsibility for your own behavior and beliefs. To call something bad, one should then be able to say why it is so, or else you're just calling names.

    This is all stuff you would have gotten in an entry-level philosophy class, but you haven't bothered, since your absolute beliefs protect you from thought. Still, perhaps someone reading this will be inspired to take a philosophy class. I don't mean to change anyone's beliefs, but perhaps you might not treat us atheists so badly out of sheer ignorance.

    Read some philosophy. Look into the difference between external and internal motivation.

    Unfortunately, these are exactly the reasons people are prejudiced against atheists. Those absolute rules make religious people paint atheists as nihilists or worse. This is why I rarely argue religion. When the folks come to the door in their Sunday best, I wish them good weather and thank them for their kindness. Arguing will do neither of us any good. That's my morality. Treat people well, even if they are different from me.
  • Re:God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:32PM (#16919210)
    I guess I'm just not seeing it.

    Slavery has been good according to these unchanging moral absolutes. So has subjugation of women and other races. Beatings and killings for various reasons were also condoned by religious moral absolutes. Moral absolutes based on religion are far more fluid than you claim. Some religions, to this day, consider all remarried sex to be adulturous.

    It seems more rational to devise a moral and ethical framework based on logic, human compassion and understanding, and mankind's experience.

    The news is full of religious people committing atrocities, so I don't think "unchanging moral absolutes" are very effective at controlling human behaviour. If we spent a bit of effort educating people to treat others like people I think things would be better.

    Our problems aren't because evil athiests decide crimes are morally acceptable. They're usually because religious people aren't used to thinking critically and passing responsibility for their actions to some made-up framework.
  • Re:God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EvilSuggestions ( 582414 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:04PM (#16919708)

    but thinks it impossible for someone to come up with their own rules seemingly from out of thin air.

    Luckily for us, morals, even for an atheist, do not come out of thin air. Presumably, even an atheist participates in a society, and there are certain guidelines for meaningful conduct in said society. The distinction between those guidelines and some academic definition of "morals" proper, is what is actually rather thin.

  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @04:32PM (#16920150) Homepage
    On a slight tangent, I find true strong atheism somewhat humorous, and, in a way, not very different from religion. Christians have an unflagging, irrational belief in Jesus Christ and God; atheists have a similarly irrational belief that no god exists.

    Most rational people - atheists and theists alike - are agnostic. They admit that the answer to the existence of gods is unknowable. This stems from the way in which gods are typically defined: supernatural beings outside our sphere of observation and understanding.

    However this rational decision says nothing about their belief. Belief is not a choice. You can't say "rationally I know that the question of existence of gods is unknowable, therefore I choose to not make a decision about my belief". Your belief is something that you have, not something that you decide.

    If you don't believe in the existence of gods - either strongly (belief in non-existence) or weakly (lack of belief) - then you're an atheist. If you agree with the "don't know" argument of agnosticism then you are also an agnostic. They are completely orthogonal so you can be both an atheist and an agnostic.

    Most agnostics are actually atheists as well. However they're under the mistaken impression that agnosticism is a rational form of atheism. That's a misunderstanding perpetuated mostly within the USA. In Europe where philosophy was a mandatory subject in middle school, the difference between agnosticism and atheism is better understood.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @05:09PM (#16920750)
    If you specifically believe that there is no God, then you're an atheist. Nobody is born this way; it's a choice you make.

    What about unicorns? Has everyone made the choice to believe or not believe in unicorns? What about the people that never sat down and made a decision one way or another? Or the people that know there aren't unicorns, but still act as if there are?

    And none of this addresses why there has to be a special word just for people that don't believe something when there aren't words for aunicornist, alochnessmonsterist, etc. It is not the athiests that made or wanted this label. To many atheiests, it makes as much sense as creating a negative for everything. "Do you have a cell phone?" "No, I'm acellphoneist." They've obviously made a conscious decision to not have a cell phone. So, why not toss a label on them. The great thing is that after tossing on that label, we can then group all of them together and pick the outlayers and assign the worst of their characteristics to all of the newly created group. Convenient, huh?

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