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(Patheos)   Seminary professor announces that he will "live like an atheist" for a year as an experiment. Step 1: Facing religious bigotry as your seminary fires you less than a week into the experiment   (patheos.com) divider line 347
    More: Asinine, religious bigotry, seminary, Adventist Church, Hemant Mehta, experiments  
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13633 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Jan 2014 at 2:08 PM (33 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-06 02:40:53 PM
Just to be clear, you can (pretend to) be an atheist and be employed by a religious organization. That's not really a big deal.  What is a big deal is (pretending to) be an atheist and be employed by a religious organization to teach religion.

If you're in accounting or IT at a religious institution and someone says, "Do you believe in God?" your answer has no bearing on your ability to do your job.  If you're a religion teacher and a student asks what you think of the material you're teaching and you're answer is, "It's a nice story with lessons we can learn but a story none-the-less" then you've got some issues that arise.

That said, the school seems pretty but-hurt over this and they reasons they give are not religious in nature (they even praise it's merits). They're simply worried about funding. That's something they need to worry about for sure but it just seems wrong to do so.
 
2014-01-06 02:40:56 PM

EvilEgg: How does one "live like an atheist"?  Most Christians don't go to church, don't talk about Jesus much, and pretty much ignore Christ's teaching.


Not necessarily. Christ (or people writing decades after his death allegedly quoting him) said some pretty interesting stuff, as did many of his Classical contemporaries. But he also said some fairly inflammatory things that would tend to tick off the establishment Jews and the Romans of his time.

If you read Christ like you read Plato, or Marcus Aurelius, or Plotinus or even the emperor Julian, it's all good. Currently applicable life lessons may be drawn from "the collected sayings of" and can be used as part of a functional moral compass by any old atheist.

It's when you start with the actual religious edifice built on these sayings, which many people (not only non-religious people) find pretty much diametrically opposed to the intent of the words of the teacher who (again, allegedly and almost certainly heavily redacted) said them, that it all becomes problematic.

Christ the wisdom teacher is fine, if a little "local". Christ the magical fairy with the complicated god/man origin story and the church full of heretic-smiting, gold-loving kiddie fiddlers? Not so much.
 
2014-01-06 02:41:31 PM
"Hey guys, I need more media attention for my thingy. Could you fire me for a year? K THX BYE!"

I applaud their marketing acumen. His "reaffirmation" to God next year should pull big ratings!
 
2014-01-06 02:41:32 PM
how would that work? not go to church , not say prayers , sleep in on Sunday , eat meat on Fridays. He might enjoy himself.
 
2014-01-06 02:41:37 PM
You know, he could have done all his reading and research on atheism without being an AW about it.
 
2014-01-06 02:41:51 PM

Satanic_Hamster: Captain Darling: Not teaching at a seminary sounds like part of living like an atheist.

Yep.  Also, how exactly does one live as an atheist?  I don't go to atheist lectures or clubs, apparently I'm doing it wrong?


We don't even have a secret handshake. :(
 
2014-01-06 02:42:35 PM
What does "living like an atheist" even mean aside from having a lot more spare time and far less guilt?
 
2014-01-06 02:42:49 PM

JusticeandIndependence: Nothing, I just kind of stopped thinking about religion entirely.  It just didn't really come up.  I stopped going to church after moving out of my parents house.  I just plain don't think about why I don't believe.  I don't have to be defensive enough about it to read on it or protest some church.


Which is reasonable. As is having an interest in matters of religion for cultural circumstances or as belief in finding answers to major questions. As is having an interest in matters of philosophy and ethics, which is what tend to be 'atheist texts'. But when you do not know what atheism is or this is a choice, sometimes the more aggressive antitheistic texts and such are needed to frame.
 
2014-01-06 02:42:55 PM

Satanic_Hamster: Captain Darling: Not teaching at a seminary sounds like part of living like an atheist.

Yep.  Also, how exactly does one live as an atheist?  I don't go to atheist lectures or clubs, apparently I'm doing it wrong?


First, purchase a dog that doesn't bark in the night?
Second, purchase two loaves and five fishes. Serve about a dozen.
Third, relax and enjoy life. It's the only one you've got.
 
2014-01-06 02:43:26 PM
"A lot of atheists remain in the closet precisely because they're afraid of the ramifications of coming out."

Yes, and a lot of Christians hide their faith for the same reason.  Sorry if I am not surprised that humans across the board tend to be biased against people who are different than them.
 
2014-01-06 02:43:27 PM

manbart: ftfa:

I don't think you can even pretend to be an atheist simply by reading books by atheist authors and attending atheist gatherings when your religious beliefs are still somewhere in the back of your mind - but I still applauded the fact that he was exploring atheism and wanted to learn more about it.

Who does this shiat?  Atheism is simply the non-belief in the supernatural, what is there to discuss? Sounds like a lame circle-jerk.

I think the experiment is a fail because these people are not representative of the vast majority of atheists.


This is why I've started using the term apatheist. Too many people hear atheist and think if the minority who are vocal about the non-existence of god. There's agnostic, but even then people try to pull you in to some kind of debate because you acknowledge there COULD be something given the right evidence.

Theism just has no relevance to my perspective on life, and I don't care enough to discuss the merits until it infringes on my life.

/care enough to bring up the distinctions though
 
2014-01-06 02:43:54 PM
He should hook up with that guy who wrote for Gun's and Ammo for like 30 years as well as hosted a gun show on the Outdoor network was fired from both jobs because he said that the idea of gun-control should be entertained.
 
2014-01-06 02:44:43 PM

Satanic_Hamster: Every night, I put a few cd's into the turn table, open a beer, and play Counter Strike.  Does that count?


You still have CDs? And yeah.
 
2014-01-06 02:45:19 PM

The Southern Dandy: meanmutton: jigger: HotWingConspiracy: LOL

So very Christ-like.

Here's some trivia for you: Jesus hated anyone that wasn't a Christian.

He doesn't hate them. He loves them. Just because he sends them into a lake of fire for eternity doesn't mean he hates them.

Technically, Christians believe that Jesus tries to get people to go to heaven but they choose the lake of eternal fire.

So Jesus/God is impotent?  He has no power to stop a person from going to hell? Why pray to him if he's impotent?


You're like that guy who has questions at the end of the Amway meeting, aren't you?

/why does god need a starship?
//best part of that steamin' load.
 
2014-01-06 02:46:12 PM

drxym: What does "living like an atheist" even mean aside from having a lot more spare time and far less guilt?


Here's a good way to envision what it's like to live like an atheist.

Imagine living like a person that doesn't believe Zeus is real.
 
2014-01-06 02:46:29 PM

Valiente: EvilEgg: How does one "live like an atheist"?  Most Christians don't go to church, don't talk about Jesus much, and pretty much ignore Christ's teaching.

Not necessarily. Christ (or people writing decades after his death allegedly quoting him) said some pretty interesting stuff, as did many of his Classical contemporaries. But he also said some fairly inflammatory things that would tend to tick off the establishment Jews and the Romans of his time.

If you read Christ like you read Plato, or Marcus Aurelius, or Plotinus or even the emperor Julian, it's all good. Currently applicable life lessons may be drawn from "the collected sayings of" and can be used as part of a functional moral compass by any old atheist.

It's when you start with the actual religious edifice built on these sayings, which many people (not only non-religious people) find pretty much diametrically opposed to the intent of the words of the teacher who (again, allegedly and almost certainly heavily redacted) said them, that it all becomes problematic.

Christ the wisdom teacher is fine, if a little "local". Christ the magical fairy with the complicated god/man origin story and the church full of heretic-smiting, gold-loving kiddie fiddlers? Not so much.


My favorite is still Jesus with the moneylenders.  Mainly because Jesus hated capitalism.   Free market put those thieves in that temple, damn it!
 
2014-01-06 02:46:37 PM

meanmutton: It's not religious bigotry when a seminary fires you as a Pastor because of your religious beliefs.


The problem with that is that his beliefs have not changed. He never said he no longer believes in God, just that he will try to "live like an atheist" for a year.

By the way, how does this man think atheists live? The atheists I know do not seem to have a different way of living their life other than the fact that they do not go to church. This makes them, in behavior at least, exactly like most of the Christians I knew.
 
2014-01-06 02:46:59 PM
Step Two: Find something to stick it in then repeat.
 
2014-01-06 02:47:26 PM

ggecko: The internet has made me "hard", right now I think this guy is just being a troll.


Well if it lasts for more than four hours.......
 
2014-01-06 02:47:46 PM
I hope he thanks God for the roughly $9,000 in donations he received from people on the internet ............
 
2014-01-06 02:47:55 PM

StopDaddy: "Hey guys, I need more media attention for my thingy. Could you fire me for a year? K THX BYE!"

I applaud their marketing acumen. His "reaffirmation" to God next year should pull big ratings!


Thank you
 
2014-01-06 02:49:16 PM

Itstoearly: "A lot of atheists remain in the closet precisely because they're afraid of the ramifications of coming out."

Yes, and a lot of Christians hide their faith for the same reason.  Sorry if I am not surprised that humans across the board tend to be biased against people who are different than them.


It's not quite as bad as one imagines.  I came out as an atheist in circumstances one would usually choose not to.  You deal with shiat for a while (usually very bad shiat from family, if you were in my boat), then people realize that they never actually cared what you believed to begin with, because it had very little to do with whom they were committing adultery or screwing over.

On the plus side, some of the family members who went absolutely bananas on me are now atheists themselves.  Not necessarily for reasons I like (the whole "Why would God let someone die so horribly?!" theodicy bit really isn't strong reasoning, IMO), but hey, it works.
 
2014-01-06 02:49:31 PM

HotWingConspiracy: LOL

So very Christ-like.

Here's some trivia for you: Jesus hated anyone that wasn't a Christian.


Is this a troll?  The number of practicing Christians while Jesus was alive varies between 0 and 12ish.
 
Ant
2014-01-06 02:50:24 PM
How the hell do you live like an atheist? Do you just sleep in on Sunday?

/atheist
 
2014-01-06 02:51:04 PM

The Southern Dandy: drxym: What does "living like an atheist" even mean aside from having a lot more spare time and far less guilt?

Here's a good way to envision what it's like to live like an atheist.

Imagine living like a person that doesn't believe Zeus is real.


Thats an amazingly concise way of putting it.  You.... I like you.
 
2014-01-06 02:51:07 PM
The "live like an atheist" thing bugs me too.  I don't research atheism, I don't prosletyze and I don't go to meetings.  I *did* read the bible which, as someone pointed out upthread, a fair number Christians probably don't (other than the cherry-picked passages someone told them to read).
 
2014-01-06 02:51:32 PM

firefly212: Next up, he can pretend to be gay


He's a fundamentalist preacher, pretending to be straight is more likely to be part of his skill set.
 
2014-01-06 02:51:33 PM

EvilEgg: EvilEgg: How does one "live like an atheist"?  Most Christians don't go to church, don't talk about Jesus much, and pretty much ignore Christ's teaching.

I thought about it, and I decided he could read the Bible, that's one thing many atheists do that Christians don't.


I've found that atheists are generally more willing to discuss theology logically than religious folks. Lots of religious folks get their panties in a twist when you ask uncomfortable questions. Very rarely do you find one that will discuss a touchy subject without condemning you.

The above is my experience. Not my intention to paint with a broad brush.

I had one girl condemn me to Hell in the beginning of a rather volatile conversation about televangelists and hypocrisy. By the end, she told me that "Jesus had forgiven me."

/shakes head
 
2014-01-06 02:51:38 PM

TheOnion: How does one live like an atheist? Stop praying and going to church?


I think his employers were worried that he was going to open a baby and feast on the goo inside.  Like a true atheist does.
 
2014-01-06 02:51:40 PM

DontMakeMeComeBackThere: Captain Darling: Not teaching at a seminary sounds like part of living like an atheist.

Ding Ding Ding

If he really wanted to "live as an atheist", and not just, you know, research it like a non-attention-whoring person would do then NOT being employed by a religious organization should be an expected part of that "living as" arrangement.  Are we supposed to feel sympathy for him?


Why would you have to be part of the organization's religion to be employed by a religious organization?  If you are teaching people about the Bible as a religious text, why would it be required that you think it is?  Not being snarky, but I would imagine lots of people who work in many faith-based organizations are not of that faith.  Aren't most hospitals faith based for the advantageous tax and zoning rules?
 
2014-01-06 02:52:02 PM

DeaH: The problem with that is that his beliefs have not changed. He never said he no longer believes in God, just that he will try to "live like an atheist" for a year.


I know Fark is not in the habit of reading articles, least of all a reference to a previous article which is itself a reference to another article, but I wanted to note this is wrong; his beliefs have changed and are changing:

In short, I will do whatever I can to enter the world of atheism and live, for a year, as an atheist. It's important to make the distinction that I am not an atheist. At least not yet. I am not sure what I am. That's part of what this year is about.
 
2014-01-06 02:52:04 PM
I'll try to explain what "living like an atheist" means since nobody seems to get it. Imagine your head was literally inserted into your anus. This was the normal way a large majority of the planet lived. Then imagine one day, you pulled your head out of your anus and got a chance to see reality, instead of the walls of your anal cavity. That's what "living like an atheist" means, pulling your head out of your ass. It means not being ignorant to the reality around you in the non existent chance a god will punish or reward you after you die. It means having the self will to say, humans don't know everything and we never will,but I'm okay with that. And that doesn't mean we should stop learning just because we can't know everything. The opposite, we should always be chasing the elusive knowledge.
Or just, you know, you hairless apes can keep killing each other over imagined slights to imagined deities until you don't exist anymore and the universe can collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
 
2014-01-06 02:52:24 PM

ampoliros: Just to be clear, you can (pretend to) be an atheist and be employed by a religious organization. That's not really a big deal.  What is a big deal is (pretending to) be an atheist and be employed by a religious organization to teach religion.

If you're in accounting or IT at a religious institution and someone says, "Do you believe in God?" your answer has no bearing on your ability to do your job.  If you're a religion teacher and a student asks what you think of the material you're teaching and you're answer is, "It's a nice story with lessons we can learn but a story none-the-less" then you've got some issues that arise.

That said, the school seems pretty but-hurt over this and they reasons they give are not religious in nature (they even praise it's merits). They're simply worried about funding. That's something they need to worry about for sure but it just seems wrong to do so.


This guy seems to be doing okay with not believing in the religion he teaches.  However, he is at a state school and not a religious one, but it is possible to be an expert in a religion and not practice that religion.
 
2014-01-06 02:52:37 PM

Ant: How the hell do you live like an atheist? Do you just sleep in on Sunday?

/atheist


I believe the general answer to your question is this:

The only objective difference between atheists and Christians is that atheists tend to be more ideologically independent, are better educated, slightly wealthier, have higher rates of charitable giving, and usually score higher on empathy tests.

So, I guess the answer is that he'd go to school, learn to reason better, get a better job, care more about the people around him, and give back to society.

Cool part was I didn't have to say anything about Church or religion in there.
 
2014-01-06 02:53:09 PM
Looking to do anything for a buck?  Yep.  Welcome to the rest of the world, Padre.
 
Ant
2014-01-06 02:53:55 PM

Pants full of macaroni!!: You also have to loudly inform everyone within hearing range that you are an atheist


I've never done that. Usually it starts with a question from a believer like "What church do you go to?" or "has your son been baptized?"
 
2014-01-06 02:54:18 PM
Other than not going to church, I don't see how that's much different from being religious. Most atheists aren't particularly activist. Even those who take potshots at religion on the internet usually don't go to "atheist gatherings" or anything.
 
2014-01-06 02:54:36 PM
It's weird that he somehow thinks that atheists seek out jobs within religious organizations in the same way that Christians seek out employment in secular institutions and then act surprised that their duties involve something they personally don't believe in.
 
2014-01-06 02:55:29 PM

EvilEgg: How does one "live like an atheist"?  Most Christians don't go to church, don't talk about Jesus much, and pretty much ignore Christ's teaching.


My experience has shown me atheists live a more Christian life (minus the praying and church attendance) than the most vocal fundamentalist Christians I know.
 
2014-01-06 02:55:54 PM
He'll have to learn to be charitable to everyone and be able to accept charity with no strings attached. This might be hard for him. The workplace might be challenging, too. Companies reputations are built by treating their customers right. They have to deliver products to get paid. Unlike his religious experience, customers don't come back on faith alone.

He actually might have a good chance of getting work. Of course, he won't be able to use his Christian connections and actual work will need to be done, but I imagine sales, or police interrogator wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Con artist would probably be the easiest, but they have to have a lot of faith they won't get caught. Shouldn't be any surprise most convicted felons are Christians by the time they leave prison.
 
2014-01-06 02:56:12 PM
You know this guy's going to have a "come to Jesus" moment very soon, overcome Satan's temptation, see the error of his ways, be led from the darkness, and all praise be unto Him and other Christian catchphrases.
 
2014-01-06 02:56:19 PM

Itstoearly: "A lot of atheists remain in the closet precisely because they're afraid of the ramifications of coming out."

Yes, and a lot of Christians hide their faith for the same reason.  Sorry if I am not surprised that humans across the board tend to be biased against people who are different than them.


ic.pics.livejournal.com
 
2014-01-06 02:57:29 PM

Ant: Pants full of macaroni!!: You also have to loudly inform everyone within hearing range that you are an atheist

I've never done that. Usually it starts with a question from a believer like "What church do you go to?" or "has your son been baptized?"


How those conversations actually go down in my experience.

Religious:What church do you attend/denomination do you subscribe to/another religious question
Atheist: Oh sorry I'm an atheist, I don't believe in any of that.
Religious:OH AN ATHEIST, HEAR THAT EVERYBODY AN ATHEIST, OHHHH AN ATHEIST.
Atheist: Yeah, I don't believe in organized religions as they are all organized by man as ways to control the masses and ignorant.
Religious:OH AN ATHEIST, HEAR THAT EVERYBODY, ETC.....
Atheist: I'll just be leaving now.
 
2014-01-06 02:57:50 PM

Raider_dad: how would that work? not go to church , not say prayers , sleep in on Sunday , eat meat on Fridays. He might enjoy himself.


That meatless Fridays thing is only during Lent, you know. And even then, children under the age of 13 (I think that is the cutoff) are exempt.
The very old might be exempt too, but I'm not sure about that.

I don't get why folks just don't adopt a 'live and let live' attitude. You want to believe in Allah, Buddha, Odin, FSM, or nothing at all? Knock
yourself out. You don't have to believe in the same God (or any god) as me in order to be a good person. It's your actions that define you,
not whether or not you show up to a pretty building once a week for an hour.
 
2014-01-06 02:58:49 PM

Itstoearly: "A lot of atheists remain in the closet precisely because they're afraid of the ramifications of coming out."

Yes, and a lot of Christians hide their faith for the same reason.  Sorry if I am not surprised that humans across the board tend to be biased against people who are different than them.


Where are these hiding Christians? I worked for an engineering firm for many years. They had a lunch break Bible study. The company I worked for before than had morning, afternoon, and evening prayer groups.  All these activities were voluntary and not run by the business owners, but no one was hiding.
 
2014-01-06 02:58:50 PM

ScaryBottles: A Cave Geek: [global3.memecdn.com image 850x890]

[media.tumblr.com image 500x282]

I bet that goes over great with all the wannabe psdeudo-intellectual libertarians sisterfarkers on your facebook wall doesn't it.

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."

Neil deGrasse Tyson -


Atheism...the religion of peace
 
2014-01-06 02:59:11 PM
This is just like the guns n' ammo editor whose entire career was utterly destroyed just because he suggested that it might be reasonable for a state to require handgun training before issuing a concealed carry permit.

This is how right wing groups respond to critical thinking.
 
2014-01-06 03:01:07 PM
I happen to think that there are a lot more atheists out there than you would find on a survey though many would decline the label.

I was raised in a religious household and quite frankly my early life revolved around church. My father was ordained (though never preached often), I spent summers in camps (do not send your children to these, these places are rife with molestation, etc), completed in Bible competitions (yes, they are real), went to a private Baptist college, and everything else.

Then in college, things changed. Even in that highly conservative space there was a lot to open my eyes. Hell, one of my roommates in college was gay and did cross-dressing shows out of town a few times per year for fun. During and after college I slipped away from religion as I formed my own opinions about it. And now, I am an atheist though I might never call myself that.

I still go to service with my parents when I'm in town, I observe many of the traditions I grew up with and I'm unlikely to call myself anything other than "Christian". It would break my parents hearts if they knew and that's more important than a label.

My wife and I have even talked about joining a Unitarian Universalist church so that our children can grow up with traditions and have perspective on religion. Too often I've seen those unexposed to religion convert later in life and become zealots because it fills a need they never knew about or pursued and I don't want that to happen to my kids.
 
2014-01-06 03:01:08 PM

Vangor: Satanic_Hamster: Every night, I put a few cd's into the turn table, open a beer, and play Counter Strike.  Does that count?

You still have CDs? And yeah.


Of course I still have cds.  You trust digital distribution?
 
2014-01-06 03:01:40 PM

meat0918: My experience has shown me atheists live a more Christian life (minus the praying and church attendance) than the most vocal fundamentalist Christians I know.


Makes sense.  What are the two great commandments?  "Love God" and "Love Your Neighbor."  Fundies aren't big on the whole "loving your neighbor" thing, and while atheists may not believe in God, they at least have enough respect for the idea of a benevolent God not to attribute to Him the horrific character traits seen in the god of the Bible.
 
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