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Atheists Request Low Profile at South Dakota Atheist Conference

I report today from SkepDakota, a conference for freethinkers of various stripes in Sioux Falls. I hope to do some interviews with fellow atheists, agnostics, and skeptical humanists to ask what their flavor of non-churchly skepticism means and what it means for them to practice that skepticism in South Dakota.

Alas, the conference begins with an exhortation that, at a conference open to anyone in the public willing to pay $40, we respect people’s privacy. The organizer (am I allowed to say the organizer’s name?) opens the conference with an exhortatiom to participants not to tag fellow attendees in social media. We wouldn’t want to “out” anyone who works for a Senator (that’s the organizer’s joking example) or whose wife doesn’t know he or she is here.

My wife knows I’m here. Her knowledge is not endorsement. It’s simply how things work in our house: we do lots of things together, but we also respect each other’s autonomy to do our own thing.

I ache for my neighbors who do not enjoy such respectful freedom in their relationships. I ache for my fellow South Dakota disbelievers who bear their disbelief like a disgrace.

I understand that being oneself, openly, publicly, in a way that differs from the prevailing culture, is more than just a matter of personal courage. Sometimes society—yes, you, South Dakota, insular Christian, white, straight, conservative—exact too high a price for personal courage integrity. And I will not criticize my neighbors for deciding they can use their energy more constructively in many endeavors other than confronting the guff they’d get from you if they admitted they don’t believe in God.

But holy cow (a phrase I use mirthfully in this setting)! If disbelief is shameful even among disbelievers, we’ll never get believers to stop dishing out that shame. We don’t need to be militant, but we need to not be afraid, and our Christian South Dakota neighbors need to not view our abandonment of fear as militance.


  1. Roger Elgersma 2015-08-29

    We have both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That does not mean we should get persecuted for using either. Unless our religion killed babies or our speech intimidated old people. Neither do I think that an atheist should apply for a job in a church or that I should try to be a leader of atheists.
    But as a Christian when I was a kid in the sixties, I heard two different facts about six months apart. One was that this country had one third born again Christians and the other was that Russia had one third born again Christians. My analysis then was that if we had lots of social pressure to go to church and the Russians were persecuted by the government if they went to church, then there were lots of pressures one way in one country and the opposite direction in the other country. But if God worked the same success rate no matter what all the earthly influences, then Gods plan was simply undetered by the worlds pressures. So if Christians would realize that they are not really the ones that make a difference, it is just God, then we should not get all bent out of shape if someone disagrees with us.

  2. grudznick 2015-08-29

    I hope all the godless heathens have a hell of a time.

    Wish I was there.

  3. happy camper 2015-08-29

    I was thinking the other day there isn’t a good name for those of us who are not believers. Atheist carries a stigma like devil worshiper. Agnostic like you can’t make up your mind or hiding behind a blurry name. Nonbeliever or disbeliever like we don’t believe in something and automatically secondary to the believers. We’ve spent the time to look it over, study it, and often somewhat tortuously decided against the majority and well as how we were probably raised that god in a human fabrication. We believe in science, logic, and being a decent and loving human being. We do believe!!! So what we need is a warmer, friendlier name for it. One that invites community rather than isolated beliefs.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-29

    Humans, being gregarious herd critters, crave similarity. My guess is that is the majority of us. The rest of us are braver. Nope, that doesn’t mean the larger group are cowards, but they are willing to surrender a certain bit of autonomy to get along. I don’t think that is a bad thing.

    But there is something in others of us that demands a different way, and we cannot suppress it. I’m sure we’ve all tried, because we want to get along too. I wonder if it is as innate as sexuality?

    I attended the baptism of a young woman in her mid 20s. She had never been baptized because her parents were not Christians. She went her own way, because she had to. She could not suppress it. BTW, her middle name was Ray-of-Sunshine. Seriously. Hippy parents.

    I can understand the reluctance of the atheists to come out. As their numbers grow, and trends show they are, it will get easier. In the meantime, they are the best judge of what they need to do.

    From a personal standpoint, I don’t understand those who vilify atheists. I’ve known atheists, pagans, Wiccans, Druids, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who are wonderful people. Religion of any type, or its absence, does not make one good or bad. I find that the self-righteous are most likely to condemn different types of people. That’s probably because righteousness given by the self is no righteousness at all.

  5. Ben Cerwinske 2015-08-29

    There are those who vilify non-believers. I suspect though it’s a character trait more so than one brought on by their religion. I got fairly deep into a conservative Christian worldview. Deep enough that when I walked away it turned my world upside down. I still keep in touch with people from that part of my life. A few are still confidantes. I never really received condemnation from those whom I confided in. With those whom I avoided the subject, I wasn’t really afraid of condemnation. I just didn’t want to explain myself because to do so would take too long for anyone who would ask.

    Maybe these people who want to keep their status secret would be vilified by those close to them. I would at least want them to consider that it might just be fear of the unknown. Coming out would change relational dynamics. It’s hard when what used to bind you together is no longer there. But I suspect that more often than not, being open could give you some freedom.

  6. happy camper 2015-08-29

    When you can’t fit in, it forces you to look at the world very differently and see what the herd is too afraid to see. Obama’s mother took him to places he was the social outcast. When you’re gay in a small town other gays may not associate with you if you’re out, cause you’re dangerous. People crave acceptance. You see them stay in their safe place without expressing an opinion (only privately), then jump ship as expedient seemingly without any core beliefs, but they’re often the survivors.

  7. happy camper 2015-08-29

    I’ll always remember watching a video of Japanese executives from the 1980s who were taken out in public and made to scream and draw unwanted attention to themselves. Because the Japanese are especially homogeneous the point of the training was to break down the need they had to conform. Especially people in our part of the country, Minnesota nice, we’re not in to discussing conflicts and exploring differences. Don’t rock the boat. The younger generations are coming out different thankfully!

  8. grudznick 2015-08-29

    Just get back in line for your turn to dip your head in the birdbath just inside the front door.

  9. Tim 2015-08-29

    My wife knows I’m here, too, but I am also wise enough to buy her some Scentsy products from Tiffany’s booth for abandoning her for the day.

    Particularly for old folk like me, there’s the concern about what employers, customers, clients might think and how it could affect them. We’re from the era when atheist and anti-American were synonymous because of those “godless Commies” who wanted only to destroy America. And even for younger adults, it’s difficult to “come out” in a rabidly Xian state.

  10. mike from iowa 2015-08-29

    Grudz-why do you want people to get avian bird flu? How un-kristian of you.

  11. mike from iowa 2015-08-29

    Robert Service wrote a poem about men who don’t fit in.It is called,oddly enough,The Men That Don’t Fit In.

    Your cultural lesson for the week,

  12. Kate 2015-08-29

    It’s sorta like Democrats gathering in western SD. A lot of people don’t want to be “outed” as being enlightened.

  13. Porter Lansing 2015-08-29

    It’s dental-like the way you bore into the nerve of the jaw of South Dakota itself, Cory. As testament, you know it’s the essence when you get people to speak deeply about their favorite subject; themselves. Bravo, good sir.

  14. Spencer 2015-08-29

    It would be interesting to see if the perception of atheism in South Dakota would drastically improve if a certain segment of professed atheists and free thinkers would make a concerted effort toward behaving a little less like some sort of obtuse Grinch-like caricature. It should not be too shocking that people in general are suspect of a belief that is rooted in a sad combination of self-pity, moral laziness, and self-worship.

  15. larry kurtz 2015-08-29

    It would be interesting to watch ‘Spencer’ masturbate with a rodent.

  16. larry kurtz 2015-08-29

    christianity is a solution like glyphosate is a cure.

  17. happy camper 2015-08-29

    Probably Freethinker is a good term, but most people don’t know what it means, or maybe they do now. There is that image of the cranky old atheist alienated from society, but you can’t sacrifice larger principles. Spencer sounds like he could use a good hug.

  18. Bill Dithmer 2015-08-29

    None of those definitions of nonreligious beliefs fit me. I would have to take one from column A and two from column B to even come close. Aint it something, none believers are now at about the same level as the Salam Witches for approval in SD.

    Small town views gives me the rumor blues
    Ya live on the faith that you came from
    Nothing much to say when being different aint ok
    You wont admit you bang a different drum

    But with a drink on the table
    And a bible in your right hand
    You are trying to convince us
    That you know the man
    Hypocrites talk real loud
    When your on the run
    But its who your talking to
    When the job gets done

    The Blindman

  19. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-29

    Spencer, your opinion is only that. Based on my experiences with a variety of people, your opinion reflects as many Christians as those who aren’t.

    But thank you for sharing!

  20. grudznick 2015-08-29

    Ms. Geelsdottir, I think that the Atheists have basically kicked your but on this blog.

    Put on a new undergarment that is so comfortable you probably don’t even know you are wearing it. Our friend Lar can give you some experience advice if you need it. I say just kind of tug up a bit. Tug it up.

  21. grudznick 2015-08-29

    I apologize to the libbies here who are envisioning Ms. Geelsdottir “tugging it up”.

    I am not sure what you are thinking is what her reality really is..

  22. leslie 2015-08-29

    still playing cowboy and indian, eh spencer ?

  23. leslie 2015-08-29

    dithmer-here’s one for yah:

    we’re just two folks tryin’ to live together

    and we’re just tryin’ to make it work

    so who are we to judge one another

    that could cause a whole lotta hurt, a lotta hurt.

    small town talk-butterfield blues band

  24. mike from iowa 2015-08-30

    Ain’t it sumpin that fauxknee kristians use basically the same standards to condemn Obama and godless kommie libs as Puritans used to condemn witches? Treat the fauxknee ones as you would a voracious mountain lion. When it bares its fangs,don’t assume it is smiling at you.

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-30

    Happy, I felt the same difficulty in settling on a label for the attendees of this conference, as did the conference attendees themselves. I agree that “disbelief” or “nonbelief” gives “belief” primacy, a sense that belief is the normal state and that disbelief is the divergent derivative (like unleaded gasoline?).

    Personally, I have no problem claiming the label “atheist,” bad press be darned. It suffers the same problem of “disbelief”, defining the atheist in terms of the theist, but I don’t know if there’s any other term that more simply and accurate captures the nature of the worldview.

  26. C. Carter 2015-08-30

    Some commenters seem to have the idea that atheists, or agnostics or skeptics, profess some kind of belief. Atheists simply decline to believe. We evaluate the evidence for a god (or gods, or ghosts, or other supernatural phenomena) and conclude that the probability that these things exist is extremely low. Therefore it would be perverse to believe in such things. Declining to believe in a god is not in itself a belief, it is simply the rejection of unfounded belief. This is an important distinction. Atheists typically develop our understanding of the world from a perspective of evidence-based analysis, as opposed to faith (belief without evidence)-based philosophies.
    Catherine Carter (one more cranky old atheist)

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-30

    Spencer, can you name some atheists who run around acting like obtuse grinches in public? And can you quantify that number against the number of Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. who exhibit obtuse grinchliness? I understand what you’re getting at, but I must admit, your statement sounds more like prejudice or hasty generalization rather than an objective, empirical observation of actual atheists.

    For that matter, how many atheists, obtuse and grinchy or otherwise, can you name?

  28. Richard Schriever 2015-08-30

    Pantheist here.

  29. happy camper 2015-08-30

    The thing is Catherine you do have a belief system even if it’s just nature, science, and your guiding principles. Atheists can be kind of stuck in reality. And disgruntled but who wouldn’t be when you look around, although overall I don’t see them as a light-hearted group. Or was this a fun gathering exchanging ideas and such? I was unable to attend.

  30. C. Carter 2015-08-30

    Happy camper, it seems that you misunderstand what atheism (as well as science) means. Perhaps this recent post at WEIT may describe it better than i can: .
    It is a misnomer to refer to science as a belief system. Science is not just a set of facts, it is a way of acquiring and analyzing evidence. And science does not require people to “believe” in anything. Furthermore (and this is crucial), any information gained through science is provisional; it can always be overturned by new evidence. And all evidence must be acquired by observation, and evaluated and tested (i.e., science is falsifiable).
    I would add that being “stuck in reality,” as you put it, is a pretty good place to be.

  31. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-30

    John’s link to Salon is interesting. I do wonder how a guy could jump to and from such diverse belief systems without being a bit off mentally. It took him a long time to get past mythology.

    Happy Camper, there are Christian scientists who somehow manage to maintain a mental break between science and their Christian faith. I doubt any of them consider science to be a faith.

    Science is a tool for understanding reality that actually works. Most of the modern world relies on science for weather prediction, building systems, information, medicine, etc. etc. Religion is a mythological view of a “reality” that does not exist and mostly generates misery and murder as well as ignorant bliss.

  32. leslie 2015-08-30

    ah, but perhaps the bliss is worth it, and in fact vital to survival in a cold, cruel, dangerous and unpredictable world, ignorant or wise

    remember, married people seem to survive longer

    i think that is true for believers too

  33. happy camper 2015-08-30

    From that link: Theism makes a positive claim about the nature of reality: “God exists.” Atheism is simply the lack of that belief. Atheism makes no claims. Therefore, the burden of proof falls exclusively on the theist. Yet, the fact that we continue to debate the topic of God’s existence proves theism has thus far failed its probative responsibility.

    That’s an acceptable definition, but with that simple definition there was no reason for people (that share that simple belief) to have a convention. Let’s all get together to say we don’t believe! How ridiculous. It’s obvious being an atheist does not satisfy man’s hunger or atheists wouldn’t continue to attend Christian services (as we’ve discussed here) and atheist churches wouldn’t be forming in larger cities. They’re has to be something more unifying. A set of beliefs people who don’t believe in god will ascribe or you’ll continue to be that cranky old atheist down the street.

  34. mike from iowa 2015-08-30

    Rev Jim Jones and followers will endlessly auger about believers living forever.

  35. Spencer 2015-08-30

    Yes, I vividly remember one of my Physics professors who constantly had to refer to established scientific theories as “little miracles of Jesus” among other unforced remarks about Christians. Or, one of my religion professors who quit his pastoral call because he decided that his real call in life was to portray the Apostle Paul as a depraved lunatic in lecture and in print. The irony was palpable since this was a Lutheran college. The difference between the forceful, in-your-face atheist and the comparable Christian is that one can usually tell the Christian to leave your doorstep, and they will politely comply. On the other hand, we have institutionalized the atheist or freethinker while lavishly praising their ingenuity in inventing their own religion of convenience.

  36. larry kurtz 2015-08-30


  37. larry kurtz 2015-08-30

    imagine a refugee camp for atheists fleeing sectarianism.

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-30

    Richard—pantheist? Does that mean you believe God is a good cook?

    Thank you, Spencer: You’ve offered two unnamed atheists who rubbed you the wrong way, along with a vague generalization that Christians are obviously more polite. Now tell us how many atheists have come to your door to convert you. (I’ll give you a real example: if I knock on your door and ask you to sign my petitions, I will leave the moment you tell me to. Dang: looks like my real example trumps your comforting hypothetical.)

    I would suggest that Spencer’s physics professor is no more offensive than the person who told me I’m not really an atheist but that I just don’t realize I’m a Christian yet, or the numerous Christians (shall we list their names?) who claim that Barack Obama is not a Christian, contrary to all available evidence.

  39. grudznick 2015-08-30

    As an especially grinchy obtuse and obese atheist, I submit we are the most discriminated against people in the part of America where some people whine about low teacher pay when they really just need to work harder and stop begging for handouts.

  40. larry kurtz 2015-08-30

    your SS has kicked in, grud, so has your Medicare, your interstate highway, and war-hungry congressional delegation.

  41. jeniw 2015-08-30

    Something that rarely gets mentioned about Grinch and Scrooge; at the end of the stories both characters change their beliefs and behavior.

    So when calling people Grinch or Scrooge, are people really understanding what they are really saying? That Grinch was really soft hearted, and Scrooge was generous?

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-30

    I generally encourage people to have positive attitudes, but Grudz may have a point. The treatment that beats many of the attendees at SkepDakota into shame and silence gives them pretty good reason to feel grinchy. Asking them not to vent their frustration with the insensitivity laid on them by their neighbors is asking them to be tougher than their comfy majoritarian Christian neighbors.

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-30

    I wonder if we should watch for Annelie Rufus’s name to pop up in the GOED contracts. We should also watch for signs of San Franciscans flooding Joe Foss Field.

  44. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-30

    “remember, married people seem to survive longer”

    I hope so. Wife and I have survived 46 years so far.

    Although, a friend was driving through Winner and wanted to call me. He stopped into a store here and asked if he could use the phone. Said he wanted to call me and he had introduced my wife to me years ago. One of the women in the store told him, “Well, you sure didn’t do her any favor.”

    Sorry about the little diversion. I am not at all sure of the longevity effects of either marriage or religion. It probably depends on which religious wars the data excludes.

  45. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-30

    HC and Spencer are good examples of why the attendees at Skepdakota are hesitant to be known. Catherine is very eloquent at describing atheism and science, yet those 2 simply decide they know better. Based on what? You’re telling atheists what they Really Believe? How arrogant! And completely wrong. It’s not for you to describe another’s world view any more than it is accurate for Larry to describe what Christianity Really Is.

    One thing I’d add to the descriptions Catherine and others have written for science. It’s about knowledge, information, intellectual rigor. Facts.

  46. leslie 2015-08-30

    Spencer is a decorated young science teacher.

  47. larry kurtz 2015-08-30

    i grok christianity the way you do it, deb but giving the keys to the tax code to the roman church or any other is antithetical to democracy and it’s never so clear as it is in my home state where the KKK believed that sect was satanical.

  48. happy camper 2015-08-31

    Goodness Deb if an atheist can’t be slightly challenged (from a fellow atheist) they aren’t much of an atheist. I don’t think you got my point which is atheists still seek out many of the same things religious people do, even church. If all they shared was a lack of belief in god they wouldn’t feel a need to get together for a weekend to confirm that disbelief. Every person has a belief system operating even if they don’t believe in god.

  49. C Carter 2015-08-31

    The fact remains that atheism is simply the absence of belief in god(s); atheism makes no assumption of belief in anything else. If one takes a broad definition of belief, then it could include provisional acceptance of information substantially supported by evidence (e.g., scientific facts), although this does not of course imply any particular “belief system.”

    But I think it is important to address the more popular understanding of the term “believe,” which implies the acceptance ideas without evidence; i.e., belief is often considered synonymous with faith. There is a popular notion (alluded to in much children’s media, unfortunately) that simply believing in things for which there is no evidence is a desirable approach to life and thought, will make our experiences in life more enjoyable, and is expected by the authorities. It is typical of many theists to insist that atheists also indulge in this expedient.

    Nevertheless, atheists are like other folks in that it is enjoyable to be together with others who think along similar lines, and to hear and discuss new thoughts with those who also appreciate a skeptical, rational and/or scientific approach to life. Certainly, in our culture, where religious delusion is rampant and the rejection of unfounded belief is deemed a danger to society, there is little enough opportunity for such a conclave. So I congratulate the organizers and attendees of SkepDakota; wish I could have been there.

  50. happy camper 2015-08-31

    Catherine I never meant that a belief system is accepting something unproven, but it seems clear to me that disbelieving in god leaves a void in people’s lives. There are many intelligent, educated, and otherwise logical people who identify as religious, so it must be the emotional side of themselves that either need the comfort of everlasting life, or the strong social aspects of church. My guess it’s more the latter.

    If the atheist movement wants to grow something will have to develop to replace what church provides in my opinion because the emotional side of people is not gonna go away, the part of people that seems to need that sense of community and shared values (a word I’ll use instead of belief).

    Personally I enjoy Richard Dawkins and Laurence Krauss on Atheist TV. Great minds of science and good spokesmen for atheists in many ways, but there’s a missing piece. For the lack of the right word spirituality.

  51. Bill Fleming 2015-08-31

    Happy camper, for an interesting take on spirituality from an athiest, you might want to read Sam Hariss’s most recent book.

    Recently I’ve been persuaded that there is in fact a biological (evolutionary) advantage to beliving things without proof. i’s not unlike Pascal’s wager only far more fundamental. Believing that the motion in the grass is a lion or a big snake even if it’s not has survival advantages.

  52. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-31

    Bill, believing a lion or a snake is in the grass is a testable “belief”.

    I think the reason most religious folk fear atheists and agnostics is that their own faith or untestable beliefs has problems or is weaker than the proclaim. Religion can be a comfortable refuge from a world of crap, but it can also be a blanket over your head.

  53. Bill Fleming 2015-08-31

    Douglas, yes, but it’s testable only “after the fact” (aka, survival.) ;-)
    And if — at the moment of decision on what to do next, you’re wrong, you’re lunch. :-)

    Conversely, if you think it’s a lion and it’s just the wind, there’s no real penalty for being a believer.

    I really do think that might be how the whole “belief system” thing caught on back in the day. We could ask Grudznick, he was probably around in those days.

  54. happy camper 2015-08-31

    Wow, “Waking Up” had very good reviews and was only 6 bucks with shipping. I’m eager to see what he has to say. The thing is, if you aren’t a believer, you’d still like to think of some innate goodness in man which isn’t that easy to see. Madalyn O’Hair predicted atheism would take over, but while the numbers are down, religion is sure hanging on. She was a wonderful debater and fighter who made a big impression on me when I was a kid, but became that most hated person people still think of, and she did get pretty mean in later years. Atheism today needs a happier face. Also ordered On the Move by Oliver Sacks, his last book.

  55. Bill Dithmer 2015-08-31

    ” It should not be too shocking that people in general are suspect of a belief that is rooted in a sad combination of self-pity, moral laziness, and self-worship.”

    Spencer, I won’t take up much of your time, lets take this post one issue at a jump.

    Self-pity, while I’m sure there are some atheists that are like that, isnt that a religious thing? “They wont let us put the big ten on a plaque so people will be forced to see what my religion is. We need to take this country back from the nonbelivers and those following any other faith. Why dont people just stop their BS and think the same way we do?” Lets face it the atheists didnt start the pity party, and I’m not to sure they even wanted one.

    Moral laziness, what the hell is that? Would it be molesting kids in the name of religion? Could it be as simple as a good old fastion flock fleecing? Or might it be the “act” of going to church on sunday, and finding a way to screw your neighbor on Monday? If you are going to be honest, very few chistians could or would follow the ten camandments if they were locked in a room with a chair, a bible, and a bucket. But then again why bother when you can ask to be forgiven and walk out the door with a clear concience even when your guilty as hell.

    Ive got the Golden Rule, I dont need anything else.

    Self-worship, and you can write this with a straight face? I have never met a preacher, priest, or minister that didnt slip into type A every time they stepped in back of that pulpit. Their very existence depends on them convincing the people in the pews that he or she has a direct link to the congregations imaginary friend. Christianity has no corner on the market as far as moral intrusion goes, its common to all religions.

    As far as I can tell the religion game is simply a pissing contest. Like a bunch of little kids out behind the barn the religious leaders are stepping up to the mark leaning back and trying to hit the highest spot proving once and for all whoes god is the very best god. While this is going on, the atheists, agnostics, and skeptical humanists are following the proceedings, but their interest is in who is going to clean up the mess when the compitition is over.

    It does seem a little strange that a group of nonbelivers would even get together to discuss the fact that they just dont believe. They further dont want their names known, but they want people to know that they did meet. Man, that sounds a lot like people bragging about going to church to me.

    Here’s a thought, if there is a god why do we need doctors? If god didnt want a woman to have an abortion, why did he invent it? If your god created absolutely everything, shouldn’t he or she have to take some responsibility for the bad as well as the good?

    I guess it all boils down to this. If you believe, you want someone to pat you on the back and say good job. And to be completely truthful, from this post there are nonbelievers that need the very same thing. One might ask if this is a religious thing, or a human thing.

    The Blindman

  56. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-31

    Happy: “a void in people’s lives”? I feel no such void, no God-shaped hole in my heart. Naturally, I can’t put myself in the shoes of a me who believes something different, but I have trouble imagining that my life would feel pleasantly fuller or richer if it were peopled with incomprehensible and uncooperative supernatural beings.

  57. bearcreekbat 2015-08-31

    Nice post Blindman – thanks!

  58. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-31

    Blindman, does God follow the Golden Rule in his dealings with humanity?

  59. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-31

    HC said, “Goodness Deb if an atheist can’t be slightly challenged…”

    Of course anyone can be challenged about their opinions, facts, etc. That’s not what you’re doing. You are challenging how they feel about their lives. They’re saying they are happy, content, etc. You’re saying, “No, you’re not.” That’s rude and arrogant. If you say that you love your spouse, what business do I have saying, “No you don’t!”

    You are welcome to say that you think atheism is a mistake, or religion is fake. That’s a different matter. Do you understand?

  60. happy camper 2015-08-31

    I didn’t realize my general statements would be interpreted personally, but you have a point. Happy atheists, rock on.

  61. Bill Dithmer 2015-08-31

    ” Blindman, does God follow the Golden Rule in his dealings with humanity?”

    Wow, dont throw that bucket of slop at me, that would be admiting there is a god. I’m here to tell you “I dont know.” I do know that a person could hunt for a long long time for just the right kind of god. Some find something they like, some keep drifting and searching for faith, while others like myself become so fed up with the extremism, and again it doesnt matter which faith, that I choose to follow The Golden Rule.

    Here’s an idea Cory, I’m pretty sure you’ll see god, if there is one way before I ever get a chance. Why dont you ask her!

    The Blindman

  62. Bill Dithmer 2015-09-01

    Cory, this is my simplistic view of religion as a group, a mass, a crutch, or a den.

    Religion is completely subjective. People might be looking at the same thing and yet see different things. Depending on your beliefs, or lack of, you look at religion in three different ways, you might say from three different angels.

    First the real believers. They always see their religion comming towards them. “The time is near.” “He is going to return.” And like a man sent to pick up pot in Colorado, and bring it back to a dry town, they get excited thinking about his return. They see their religion as their future.

    A theist on the other hand sees the exact same thing as the religious person only from a different angel. They look at it from either side getting closer sometimes and further away others. But always looking in case some proof surfaces to prove an actual existence, ever ready to climb on for a ride.

    An atheist also sees the same religion, even if they dont want to admit it. They see it from behind, its always moving away from them, and it continually gets more blurry and less defined with the passage of time.

    I’m saying all these different groups of people are seeing the exact same thing, only from a different angel. Your subjectivity is fueled by where your setting when the religion train rolls through town.

    The Blindman

  63. mike from iowa 2015-09-01

    Religion is like an abortion. Don’t want one? Don’t get one!

  64. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-01

    Bill D, if I see Her before you do, I will definitely ask Her a bunch of questions. If our meeting place has Internet access, I’ll blog Her answers. If you meet Her first, I hope you’ll do the same.

  65. Porter Lansing 2015-09-01

    Remarks here indicate ….. Those who deny “white privilege” seem to also deny “Christian privilege”. As sure as you can get away with dumping beer on kids and calling insults at them, you can’t be elected or treated equally in South Dakota unless you claim a Christian belief.

  66. mike from iowa 2015-09-01

    Keep eye and brain bleach handy.

  67. leslie 2015-09-01

    Porter-not guilty today in rapid city magistrate court. the city attorney who bravely prosecuted the case took all the heat and the elected republican states attorney, DCI and city/county law enforcement took a hit/ or side-stepped like Jackley and crew.

    New Mayor Allender already predicted the not guilty result for trace o’connell last week.

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