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In Atheists We Do Not Trust

You folks consider me about as trustworthy as a rapist. Science says so:

...[A] team of psychologists at the University of British Columbia and University of Oregon... conducted a series of six studies with 350 American adults and 420 university students in Canada, posing a number of hypothetical questions and scenarios. In one study, participants found a description of an untrustworthy person to be more representative of atheists than of Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists or Jewish people. Only rapists were distrusted to a comparable degree ["Distrust of Atheists by Religious Believers Explored by Psychologists," University of Oregon Media Relations, 2011.11.30].

I can't even get a break from my fellow atheists:

"What we find is that unlike typical in-group vs. out-group phenomena -- like racism or nationalism -- nonbelievers do not end up trusting their own kind more," [University of Oregon psychology professor Azim] Shariff said. "While the degree to which someone's belief in God -- particularly the belief that being watched by this God makes people act better -- did affect the strength of people's distrust of atheists, those people who did not identify with a religion still tended to find believers to be more trustworthy" [U. Oregon, 2011.11.30].

Good old Rick Perry isn't just providing great comic fodder; he's flaunting his piety as basic social-science-based campaign strategy:

"Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them," he said. "While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists' absence of belief as a public threat to cooperation and honesty" [U. Oregon, 2011.11.30].

But remember: lots of people believing something doesn't make it true. A 2005 study in the Journal of Religion and Society found higher rates of belief and worship of a creator correlating "with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies."

(Speaking of STDs and god-fearing people, South Dakotans are setting a new state record for STDs.)

One might also note that it took the Christian President of most Christian nation in the world to wage a recent war of regime change under false pretense. Another Christian President and a current Christian Presidential aspirant have both violated marriage vows and engaged in verbal gymnastics to excuse them.

Atheists do rotten things. So do Christians, Jews, Muslims, and every other member of this imperfect species. Using purported religious faith as a proxy for trustworthiness is a sure recipe for getting hoodwinked.


  1. Bill Fleming 2011.12.11

    Ha! That's a good one, Cory. Here's why. There are far more agnostics and atheists in the world than will ever, ever admit it (because of the obvious social stigma you highlight here.).

    So what the research shows is that the ones people trust the least are the ones who tell the truth about their belief system.

    In other words, Cory, all you have to do to get people to trust you is to lie.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.11

    But Bill, that's among British adults!

  3. Bill Fleming 2011.12.11

    Oh. Didn't look at that part, Cory. I was just trying to make you feel better.
    Well at least you'll get some respect from those of us who can read English.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.11

    I appreciate the kind effort, Bill! But yes, your advertising crew doesn't do well. You beat Kristi Noem, but you're just a tick below Stace Nelson. Uff da!

  5. John Hess 2011.12.11

    But it makes sense, and that's a good thing. Atheists like reason over other things, don't they?

    Someone being an atheist does not prevent trust from developing. That person just has, or appears to have more unknowns initially. Like Bill said, some people want to fill in those blanks with something acceptable which may or may not mean anything. Trust takes time.

    It didn't take long for Republicans to realize Perry looked good on paper, but in real life: Next! Maybe they should take a nod from the Atheists and evaluate more from what they see over time.

  6. Bill Fleming 2011.12.11

    I'm with you on that one, John.

    Yeah, Cory, it looks like maybe Stace should have kept being a cop. ;^)

  7. Rachel 2011.12.11

    I am delighted that my untrustworthiness has finally been documented appropriately.

  8. Douglas Wiken 2011.12.11

    As a Mt. Blogmore poster wrote too often, "Holy Cow." There must be a lot of atheist car salesmen and lawyers to get the level of distrust up.

    I keep banging on the Freeman Dyson book review in the NYRB. It seems to have much to say about "thought" processes that lead to terrible errors, waste and misinformation.

  9. Bruce Whalen 2011.12.11

    I don't get it. Without out reading the methodology behind the study for me it is meaningless. How is a subject qualified as a "religious believer" and just what is an atheist in the context of the study? What is the point in mentioning a Christian President, Christian nation, South Dakota or Perry?

    Please remember that in providing an answer that "God" is watching you. At least as it seems according to the study. Except for Caheidelberger, I suppose.

  10. larry kurtz 2011.12.11

    Heard at breakfast: "GOP relying on the element of surprisium."

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.11

    Bruce: for methodology, first, read the lay description in the first paragraph I quoted. Second, see the draft of the paper on lead author Gervais's website.

    An atheist is an atheist. The authors are testing public perception; thus, they testing how people respond when they hear a person labeled as an "atheist," defined in the paper as "person who does not believe in God."

    The point of the mentions you mention, Bruce, is made clear in my concluding paragraph.

  12. Bruce Whalen 2011.12.11

    Okay, I have the paper. I didn't go far enough through the links. Thanks for fishing for me.

    As someone who doesn't believe in God or a god, how do you know if a president, state or nation is Christian or following a crowd of religious believers. Seems like a strange comment from an atheist. Not being funny here. Just trying to understand.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.11

    Good question, Bruce. Press the issue, and we must admit that we really don't know anything for certain about another person's thoughts or beliefs, only the outward manifestations. But I'm disinclined to run down a Cartesian-agnostic rabbit hole. Lots of people identify themselves as Christian, including every recent President. For the most part, I have little reason not to take them at their word. I don't feel I'm abusing the language or confusing the general reader when I say that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and most Americans are Christians any more than when I say I'm an atheist.

    (Does that answer your question?)

    Besides, this study didn't ask people to distinguish between good Christians, Sunday Christians, and fake Christians, just as it didn't ask about shades or inaccurate uses of the term "atheist". The study is about certain religious labels and the prejudices attached thereto. My counterexamples are about piercing those prejudices.

  14. RGoeman 2011.12.11

    So Cory, we haven't heard an opinion yet on the new Muslim worship center located just north of the Presbyterian Church at the corner of Egan and 4th in Madison. Madison is evolving.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.11

    4th and Egan? Is your dad hosting them at his house?!

  16. RGoeman 2011.12.11

    No, but it is across the street to the south next to the creek. I think it went through two meetings at the Planning Commission level, but zoning for the change of use may not have gone before the full commission yet. Not sure.

  17. Bob Newland 2011.12.11

    My first reaction at hearing ANYONE proclaim his "Christian faith" is to protect my wallet, then my nuts. I have had much experience doing business with self-proclaimed "Christians." Not much of it has been pleasant.

  18. Stan Gibilisco 2011.12.11

    "But remember: lots of people believing something doesn’t make it true."

    Indeed! Even if that "something" is atheism.

    Cory, I continue to wonder why you don't call yourself "agnostic." Don't you have an open mind, a tabula rasa?

    For my part, I cling to childhood conditioning and call myself Christian, because I want to believe that Christ was (and is) the son of God, and all the rest. But I can no more prove that as an absolute fact than I can prove that antimatter galaxies exist.

    I'll profess to believe in Christ one breath, and then dismiss all organized religions as cults in the next gasp. I don't think those two sentiments are mutually exclusive. But I'm not ready to embrace agnosticism yet. I take Pascal's wager, maybe ...

    As for people comparing atheists to rapists and other dark sorts, I suppose that sentiment comes out of preconditioned notions, that is to say, prejudices. I suspect that in fact, religious extremists commit more evil acts than atheists do! They apparently believe that Christ's forgiveness translates into a license to sin. Atheists have no such way out.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.11

    Agnosticism doesn't pour the raisin bran, Stan. I take the practical position that adding the statement "God exists" to my set of operating postulates does not help me make sense of or function in this world. I thus leave it out of my beliefs and reasoning.

    Rigorous agnosticism also doesn't not assist my understanding or practical action. I can say "Gee, I don't know..." but I still have to decide whether I'm going to church or crack a Bible for guidance... and I continue to decide not to.

    I do remain open to the possibility that I am wrong... but I do not act on that possibility. I do not take Pascal's wager.

  20. Stan Gibilisco 2011.12.11

    Wikipedia, that bastion of absolute truth, says in its first paragraph of the article "Atheism":

    Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.

    I have from time to time tried to corner you with the argument that atheism is a religion because it comprises the firm belief that no deity exists, making "God does not exist" a postulate.

    This article would seem to take the wind out of my sails on that score.

    Rarely have I seen "God" defined, but we must do that if we're to call ourselves "theist" or "atheist." As for "agnostic," I guess we can get away with leaving "God" as an undefined concept.

    Certainly if one tells me that God exists as a cosmic Santa Claus with a tendency toward sadism in the vicinity of sinners, I will reject that notion, I will postulate its falsity, I'll rebel against it.

    If on the other hand someone takes an Einstein-like view and defines "God" as the collection of all consciousness in the Universe, then I'm prepared to postulate that God does exist.

    How many angels can vomit on a pencil eraser?

    I suspect that my Christian faith (as far as it goes) constitutes an intellectual weakness. Amen.

  21. Ken Blanchard 2011.12.11

    This is a great thread and I have to acknowledge that I have been getting a lot of material from the Madville Times of late. I just finished a piece for the Aberdeen American News on this topic.

    Let me say that I trust Cory at least as much, if not a bit more, than a lot of Methodists I have known. I think he is a very fine fellow, if more than a bit confused about economics. Still, there is a problem with atheism.

    What do you swear on when you prepare to testify in court? A book by Christopher Hitchens? To be sure, anyone can pretend to be pious. That's why a lot of religions have a lot of inconvenient rules, like not eating shellfish or sacrificing your first born to Zog. It's on the test.

    Can atheists come up with their own tests? That would be a first.

  22. Stan Gibilisco 2011.12.11

    Just read (for the fourth time in as many years, probably) the following fabulous interchange. It comes from page 52 of Osho's Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic (Osho International Foundation, 2000).

    Q: Do you know that you will live in some form beyond this life?

    A: Not in any form. I will live without form.

    Q: Eternally?

    A: Eternally. I have been here eternally and I am going to be here eternally.

    Q: Will you have consciousness beyond death?

    A: Yes, because death has nothing to do with consciousness.

    Q: Will you have identity beyond death?

    A: No identity.

    That passage strikes at the heart of the religious question. Why do we engage in believe systems, God concepts, and all that? Why all this madness from "time immemorial"?

    I believe that consciousness exists because I'm here to say so. I do not doubt that other people have consciousness too, and animals as well, and maybe even plants and rocks and planets and stars.

    So a collective consciousness exists, and "I" am part of it.

    Death might get rid of the "I" in each one of us, but consciousness, like matter and energy, defies creation or destruction.

    Atheism, agnosticism, theism -- all nonsense!

  23. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Good, Stan. As Richard Dawkins explains, most people are atheists in respect to other people's Gods. Conversely, saying that one believes in all of them is the same as not believing in any of them, just a more positive way of saying it ( per Gandhi — "I am a Muslim and a Hindu and a Christian and a Jew and so are all of you. ")

  24. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Just reviewing an old William Irwin Thompson Book that I mentioned in another thread as it pertains to Stan's mention of Osho (I still call him "Bags" — short for Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh).

    He lays out an ontology in the form of a mandala that describes what's going on at any given moment — an idea that can be perceived via meditation, wherein sentient plants are consuming light, conscious animals are consuming the plants, reflective humans are consuming the animals and the transcendent divas are consuming our thoughts (egos) as we all move through the eternal cosmic dance to the music of the spheres.

    If nothing else it's a delightful image to contemplate.

  25. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    To put this on linguistic terms for Cory, looking for God in the above construct would be like trying to rip the grammar from this sentence structure here and examine it and examine it as a discrete object.

    Or as Thompson puts it in musical terms, the animal responds to the sounds, the child the melody, the musician the harmony and structure of the composition, and the mystic the song inside the song.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.12

    "Consuming light"—I do like that idea, Bill. It inspires thought and poetry.

    Ken is right that I lack some external validation for promises I make to tell the truth. I am intrigued by Ken's mention of the inconvenient rules and tests that believers have. They put themselves through the wringer to demonstrate their fidelity to their religious principles so we know they aren't pretending to be pious. Then when they swear on their holy books, we know they're not just joshing.

    I prefer to think that my "test" is more straightforward. To demonstrate my trustworthiness, I don't fast during Lent, rend my garments, or wave both hands and both feet toward Stonehenge at every hour that is a prime number. I just tell the truth and keep my promises. Should I go to court to testify, my own past is the only validation of my testimony I can offer. Take it or leave it, judge.

    Say: wouldn't a religious test for participants in a trial be as unconstitutional as a religious test for candidates for President?

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.12

    I must admit, Stan, I just can't access the affirmations Osho makes. Nothing in my experience suggests that I can live without form. Death appears to have everything to do with consciousness: I have never encountered a conscious but dead being. Osho makes consciousness, or at least the collective consciousness with which he says we identity-lessly re-merge after death, sound like the ether, a fun idea, but one without empirical basis or explanatory power.

  28. LK 2011.12.12

    I suspect Dr. Blanchard is being a bit facetious when he asks "What do you swear on when you prepare to testify in court? A book by Christopher Hitchens?"

    There are worse choices. To quote Terry Eagleton in Reason, Faith, and Revolution, "Before I conflate Hitchens and Dawkins too peremptorialy, however, let me draw a contrast between the stylish, entertaining, splendidly impassioned, compulsively readable quality of the former's God Is Not Great and Dawkins's The God Delusion, which merits absolutely none of these epithets."

  29. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Cory, you hit on it with the the question of consciousness.

    Now what remains is to examine what you mean by it.

    Is it a byproduct of a life evolving biosphere, exclusive to life infested planets? A happy cosmic feedback accident? Or is it, as some suggest, the mystic spiritual aspect of existence interwoven into the very fabric of the cosmos?

    The limitations on this type of reasoning depend on several factors, not the least of which is our concept of time and the uncertainty of the future. That's where science lives and what it addresses.

    The other is a preoccupation with anxiety having to do with an adversarial conflict between Eros and Thanatos at the expense of Logos.

    Distancing ourselves for a moment from the traditional religious arguments and staying with the ancient Greeks, the argument turns on whether one aligns one's self culturally with Archimedes or Pythagoras...

    i.e. are we out to alter and control nature via agriculture, industry and the military or are art, science and religion all part of our contemplative nature? Further, as per Quantum theory (and now experiment — see Higgs Boson and Higgs field) it appears that on the sub atomic particle level, "reality" has more to do with a math formula than anything we would call "material."

  30. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "belief and worship of a creator"

    The analysis is way too shallow. Need to break out the New Age Theocrats and Freemasons from true Christians.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.12

    They could have, Steve... but then none of the survey respondents would have understood what the heck the researchers were talking about.

  32. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "“I am a Muslim and a Hindu and a Christian and a Jew and so are all of you. “

    Bill, Gandi can speak for himself and you, but not me.

  33. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "none of the survey respondents would have understood what the heck the researchers were talking about"

    That's my point Cory. So neither do most of you. The deceivers are viewed as Christians and/or Jews. See Revelation 2:9"

    “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

    And Mathew 24:4-5:

    4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

    The influence of secret societies are hidden to the masses. Members of secret societies (synagogues of Satan) are the ones we should trust the least.

  34. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    But Sibby, you're supporting a secret society even as we speak by not revealing the people who put up the John Birch Society GOP "litmus test" site, telling us what JBS is all about, why you support it and why you don't want to talk about it.

    I think all your yammer about New Age whatever is just a smoke screen so nobody will ask you those questions.

    Come on, Sibby, bust it out. Confession is good for the soul, brother. Time to drop a dime on your good ol' Birchy Buddies.

  35. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    p.s. yes Sibby, you are one of those mentioned above, caught in the conflict between Eros and Thanatos at the expense of the Logos.

    Your "stuckness" in this regard causes you to deny the Holy Spirit in others, which, as every good Christian knows is the greatest and most unforgivable blasphemy*.

    Better shape up Sib, or the big G will deep-six ya.

    *"And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come." Matt. 12-32

  36. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Bill, you show your true colors by being one of the great deceivers. Did you know the John Birch Society is heavily infiltrated by Mormons, who believe that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers. Sounds like that belief would fit the thinking of a monist like you and Gandi. Certainly does not fit my beliefs.

  37. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12


    Is the Holy Spirit in Satan too? Is it in Cory and fellow atheists?

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.12

    Point made, Steve. You enter the conversation with your Masonic paranoia, and suddenly it becomes incomprehensible to most readers and useless to most discussion of practical policy. Sigh.

  39. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Bill, your New Age Theology is not Biblical:

    Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:15-17)

  40. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "You enter the conversation with your Masonic paranoia, and suddenly it becomes incomprehensible to most readers and useless to most discussion of practical policy."

    Cory, it makes the policy discussion of those who ignore the Masonic component irrelevant. Yes Cory, they have even deceived atheists. Not too late to accept Jesus Christ and begin taking path to the Truth.

  41. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    I don't have any argument with the Gospels, Steve.
    But it appears that you do.

  42. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Bill, your denial has no substance.

    Cory, is it wise for scientists to discard a large amount of data and evidence simply because they are told that if you do, you are just being paranoid?

  43. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    And to Cory and your readers,

    By adding the Masonic evidence and reserach to the policy discussions makes people like Bill Fleming very paranoid, so they resort to strawman arguments.

  44. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Oh, so you want substance, Sib? Not sure what you mean by it, but how about this?

    From a 1926 review of E. Stanly Jones's "The Christ of the Indian Road" by Reverend W.P. King (then pastor of the First Methodist Church of Gainsville, Georgia).

    "Dr. Jones says that the greatest hindrance to the Christian gospel in India is a dislike for western domination, western snobbery, the western theological system, western militarism and western race prejudice. Gandhi, the great prophet of India, said, "I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity." The embarrassing fact is that India judges us by our own professed standard. In reply to a question of Dr. Jones as to how it would be possible to bring India to Christ, Gandhi replied: First, I would suggest that all of you Christians live more like Jesus Christ. Second, I would suggest that you practice your Christianity without adulterating it. The anomalous situation is that most of us would be equally shocked to see Christianity doubted or put into practice. Third, I would suggest that you put more emphasis on love, for love is the soul and center of Christianity. Fourth, I would suggest that you study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically in order to find the good that is in them, so that you might have a more sympathetic approach to the people."

  45. larry kurtz 2011.12.12

    You said the Gospels were written by the Whore of Babylon, Steve.

  46. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    p.s. Steve, you've still not told us who the Birchers are that put up the GOP purity test website on Nelson's server. Why are you protecting them if you think their organization is demonic? Are you in league with the devil or what, buddy? ;^)

  47. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    " I would suggest that you study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically in order to find the good that is in them, so that you might have a more sympathetic approach to the people."

    Bill you are proof that that does not work.

    larry, which version of the Gospel?

  48. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    I have plenty of sympathy for you Steve. I think you should seek more advanced counseling immediately, and get back on your meds.

  49. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    And Bill, perhaps you anger will subside if you realize that those Christians that Gandi are referring to are the false teachers that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24 and Revelation.

  50. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    larry, is peyote the path to God or to demon spirits?

  51. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "Steve, you’ve still not told us who the Birchers are that put up the GOP purity test website on Nelson’s server."

    Bill, since you know they are Birchers, please tell us who they are yourself.

  52. larry kurtz 2011.12.12

    Using the description of what you have defended as the true capitalized Christianity, Steve, or a culture that believed that capital ownership is the greatest sin?

  53. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Because I don't know who they are and you do. You know the truth here, Steve, and are refusing to tell it. Kind of like getting caught with your pants down, isn't it?

  54. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "I think you should seek more advanced counseling immediately"

    Bill, that is how the world deals with problems that it created for itself. So now we have 6 of the top 20 South Dakota government employees being shrinks for the Department of Social Services making a quarter of a million dollars each or more.

  55. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    p.s. I know what Gandhi was talking about, brother. I'm the one who agrees with him, remember? You are the one who says he doesn't.

    Man Sibby, you're starting to sound like Herman Cain here. "I got all these things twirlin' around in my head."

    Deep breaths, Sibby. Relax... relax... o-o-o-mmm.

  56. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "Because I don’t know who they are and you do."

    Bill, if you don't know who they, why are you saying you know they are Birchers? You are making no sense. Why don't you drop the troll routine and start being straight with everyone? Why does Herman Cain make you paranoid? And since you got, "things twirlin’ around in [your] head", perhaps you need to get them straightened out by a shrink.

  57. larry kurtz 2011.12.12

    Equating capital prosperity with godliness scares the crap outta me. It's how FOX controls our consumption and spending habits.

    Rewild the West.

  58. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "Equating capital prosperity with godliness scares the crap outta me."

    Right larry, the prosperity gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just more stuff from the false teachers.

  59. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    I described the site as a Bircher page because several anonymous posters on SDWC who are sympathetic to the site have said that it is, and no one has denied it. In fact, when I questioned them, they affirmed it.

    That's why I'm asking you to clear things up, Sib. Because it seems like you would know the truth.

    But instead, you refuse to talk about it, and continue to hide the identities of those who created the site.

    Very interesting.

  60. larry kurtz 2011.12.12

    Dominionism intersecting with the sovereign citizen movement to repel a black president: right, Steve?

  61. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "I described the site as a Bircher page because several anonymous posters on SDWC who are sympathetic to the site have said that it is, and no one has denied it. In fact, when I questioned them, they affirmed it."

    I was not one of them, since I am not allowed to comment at SDWC. Want to know how false conspiracy theories are created by secret societies? You just described one. Thanks for confirming one of my points (from Revelation 2:9) Bill.

  62. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "Dominionism intersecting with the sovereign citizen movement to repel a black president: right, Steve?"

    larry, I am not denying your point, but I would like to point out that the idea of creating the Kingdom of God on earth now is also the theology of the Social Gospel left that the black president promotes.

  63. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    And Bill, sine you claim that you are not fond of rabbit holes, why are you going down a rabbit trail now?

  64. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    So are you saying the JBS is not involved with that site, Sibby. No JBS members or sympathizers there? So why would somebody say there were? Especially somebody who seems to support what they're doing?

    It seems you're having trouble taking your own medicine here, Stevie. You're the big conspiracy theory guy, and are now trying to put that on me? That's laugh-able.

    I could care less if the Birchers sponsored that site or not.

    What I find amusing is that you know, and won't tell anybody.

    Then you accuse everybody else of belonging to some secret conspiratorial society.

    It makes you sound like an irrational crackpot at best, Steve, and an intellectually dishonest information broker at worst.

    In either case, not someone to be either believed or trusted.

    Don't blame me for this, you brought it on yourself. I told you a long time ago that I was going to ridicule you if you kept this happy horsesh*t up.

    So here we are with you making a fool of yourself one more time.

    Seems like you never learn.

  65. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "So are you saying the JBS is not involved with that site, Sibby. No JBS members or sympathizers there? So why would somebody say there were? Especially somebody who seems to support what they’re doing?"

    Bill, I am saying I do not know all of those who are involved, only the ones who asked me questions. Why are you defending RINOs? Do you agree with their monopolistic capitalism?

  66. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "I told you a long time ago that I was going to ridicule you if you kept this happy horsesh*t up."

    Bill, does "ridicule" fall in line with your ecumenticalism? I am trying to prevent others from the foolishness coming from New Age Theocrats such as yourself.

  67. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    I am defending reason Sibby. Rational discourse. Critical thinking. And you have already told us that you are not, because you perceive thinking, reason and logic (the Logos) to be the work of the devil.

    That leaves us little, if anything left to discuss. Sorry.

  68. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Bill, then go away angry, denying that you are angry. So much for rational discourse and critical thinking.

  69. troy jones 2011.12.12

    "Christianity must always remember that it is the religion of the "Logos." It is faith in the "Creator Spiritus," in the Creator Spirit, from which proceeds everything that exists. Today, this should be precisely its philosophical strength, in so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the irrational, and reason is not, therefore, other than a "sub-product," on occasion even harmful of its development or whether the world comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and goal. The Christian faith inclines toward this second thesis, thus having, from the purely philosophical point of view, really good cards to play, despite the fact that many today consider only the first thesis as the only modern and rational one par excellence. However, a reason that springs from the irrational, and that is, in the final analysis, itself irrational, does not constitute a solution for our problems. Only creative reason, which in the crucified God is manifested as love, can really show us the way. In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the "Logos," from creative reason, and that, because of this, is also open to all that is truly rational." (Cardinal Ratzinger two weeks before becoming Pope Benedict XVI)

    Because God is wholly and perfectly rational, to know Him as best we can requires us to pursue rational thought for He is found in the Truth.

    Michael Heller (Priest, Dr. of Philosophy, and scientist) says it better than me: "If we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about the cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the great blueprint of God’s thinking about the universe; the question on ultimate causality: why is there something rather than nothing? When asking this question, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes. Science is but a collective effort of the human mind to read the mind of God from question marks out of which we and the world around us seem to be made."

  70. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Troy, yes. Great.

  71. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Yes Troy, very enlightening. The problem is our impossible taxk of dealing with the infinite God, who has no beginning and no end. I am also noting that you did not mention Jesus Christ.

    Here is where I believe Bill is coming from:

    "The Enlightenment is a name given by historians to an Intellectual Movement that was predominant in the Western World during the 18th Century. Those involved in the Enlightenment were known as "Free Thinkers" or "The Enlightened Ones". Strongly influenced by the rise of modern Science and by the aftermath of the long religious conflict that followed the Reformation, the thinkers of the Enlightenment were committed to the idea of critical inquiry emphasizing logic and reason, rather than having faith in a Supreme God. Anything that could not be "proven" by Science, was regarded as unworthy of acceptance, including Religion. Thus, the "Enlightenment" period also became known as "The Age of Reason". The dramatic success of the new Science stimulated an enormous sense of self-confidence and pride in the intellectual abilities of man. They assumed that Science could unravel all mysteries and solve all problems."

    And then we have how this brings about the heresy of the New Age Theocracy that man is above the infinite God, and the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ:

    "According to the Intellectuals of their day, sometimes referred to as "the Philosophes", who were the self-proclaimed apostles of the Enlightenment, God did not reveal Himself through revelation of the Scriptures. All of man's knowledge of God came through His Creation... Nature, by means of rational inquiry. There was no need for formal Religion; one "worshipped" God by living in accord with Human Reason. The Bible, while it contained some inspiring passages, was considered a hodge-podge of man-made tales, many of them actually harmful, if even believed!

    For the most part- the Intellectuals of the Enlightenment period held to a morality that was similar to Judaeo-Christianity, but derived it solely from reason and recognized no religious authority in moral matters. Virtue was regarded as better than vice, but virtue's definition was decided by man's own reason, and the performing of virtuous acts was done by man's own power... God was left entirely out of the question. Man's inner nature was regarded as being "naturally good" from birth (the typical Spiritualist/New Age belief), and so it was "natural" for him to want to do the right thing and to be good, supposedly without any help from any "outside God figure."

  72. larry kurtz 2011.12.12

    Geez, Troy: I'd like to see the mass arrests of Cardinal Ratzinger and the guys that elected him for crimes against humanity by creating an international legal mechanism to try the Whore of Babylon in court.

  73. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    So Bill, besides ridicule, what are the monist New Agers going to do with the Christians who refuse to say we are born good and can use reason to become gods, and instead belief we are born sinners in need of a Saviour who is the only Way to the Father who sends the Holy Spirit?

  74. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Sibby, why are you still avoiding the John Birch question?

    More to the point, why are they?

    Here's what their site says under "Who are we?"

    "The people that put this site up, and prepared the voting reports, are all dedicated registered active Republicans in various positions within our state Republican Party. What is NOT important is who each of us are. Too often politicians attempt to shoot the messenger so that they can distract from the spotlight."

    So far, the only people we know who are involved with the site are You and Stace Nelson and that, only because somebody dug the info out of the sites encoding.

    Why are the rest of them being so secretive? And what's more, why would they put a link up on their site that says "Who Are We?" only to rub everyone's nose in the fact that they are keeping it a secret? What are they afraid of?

    Pure Paranoid Politics if you ask me.

    I've not seen one person come out using his real name and admitting to involvement on this site. If it truly is a group of "dedicated registered active Republicans in various positions within our state Republican Party," what's the big secret?

    It's not like South Dakota is a strong Democrat state and that being an "R's" means having have to be careful about letting anybody know about it.

    That's really more of a Dem thing, don't you think?

    This whole thing doesn't pass the smell test, Sibby. Put it this way... if the only person willing to admit having involvement with the site is you, Steve, that doesn't bode well for their claim that the group is made up of mainstream SD Republicans.

    On the contrary, it sounds kind of ultra-right-wingy-lunatic-fringy-black helicopterish. You know... your usual stock-in-trade goofball stuff.

    You could of course dispel such notions by simply mentioning even one widely respected main stream Republican who sponsored the site and thinks its "litmus test" evaluation of "real" Republicans is accurate.

    Any chance THAT's going to happen?

  75. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Note this language: "What is NOT important is who each of us are."

    In other words, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, you billowing bale of bovine fodder!"

  76. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12


    I advised them not to be anonymus and they did not listen. So you do have somehting in common with them. I am sure that makes your monist worldview feel better. And second, what is it to you. Have you joined the Republican Party?

  77. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "it sounds kind of ultra-right-wingy-lunatic-fringy-black helicopterish"

    Now Bill, is that anyway for an ecumentical monist should talk?

  78. troy jones 2011.12.12

    Christ is the Logos described in the beginning of the Gospel of John and as said by Heller: “that Christ is the logos implies that God’s immanence in the world is his rationality.”

    Steve, much of what came out of this period did denigrate God and His what I call the "alls and omnis" (ie all knowing and omnipresence). But it also contained an expansion of the pursuit of knowing God within the physical creation He placed us in stewardship. All in all, I think it a net Good, despite the bad. For instance, the Enlightenment (besides the impact on the sciences) gave broader understanding of the dignity of each person made in God's Image, led to greater freedom including democratic principles beyond the Magna Carta, put mankind on a path to end slavery, etc. John Locke in particular greatly influenced Adam Smith, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and George Washington.

  79. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Troy, I am not denying that the movement was about "man's good works", but then we have this Biblical principle from Ephesians 2:9:

    "Not of works, lest any man should boast."

    Then there are these Biblical principles that should deflate the Enlightenment Movement's good works as man becomes like god:

  80. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    “it sounds kind of ultra-right-wingy-lunatic-fringy-black helicopterish”

    Bill, you just gave reason for those who are too chicken to identify themselevs. Not at all paranoia, you have just made it a reality.

  81. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Steve, the "litmus test" page identifies most of the Dems in the SD legislature as being just as "Republican" if not more than most of the Republicans. That concerns me for any number of reasons.

  82. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "That concerns me for any number of reasons."

    Bill, why? Shouldn't a unifying ecumentical monist be given hope?

    And second, is it Democrats being like Republicans, or is it RINOs being more like Democrats?

    And third, no Democrat was above 60%, and most were below 50%. Not very Republican. So stop being so paranoid about it.

  83. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    "John Locke in particular greatly influenced Adam Smith, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and George Washington."

    Troy, that supports the recent discussion that instead of arguing whether America was founded secular of Chirstian, we have the third possibility...a Masonic Nation:

  84. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Regarding monism, Steve, I have been clear throughout every conversation we've had that I don't consider it a belief system and that it really doesn't make any difference whether anyone believes it or not.

    It's an ontological description of reality more than it is a dogmatic belief system. And just as it doesn't make any difference whether you believe a tuning for vibrating at 440hz is generating an "A" note or that the earth goes around the sun and is approx. 4.5 billion years old, things are what they are, brother.

  85. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Bill, monism is an important component of the New Age Movement, so I plan on continuing to treat it as such. Sorry if that makes you paranoid, but things are what they are.

  86. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    I hope Cory and others will be interesting the see what the American Atheists think about the Enlightenment and Freemasonry:

    In the history of Atheism, no period is as complex and exciting as that time we know today as the Enlightenment. Cultural historians and philosophers consider this era to have spanned the eighteenth century, cresting during the French Revolution of 1789. It was a phenomenon which swept the western world, drowning in its wake many of the sclerotic and despotic institutions of l'ancien regime or old order, and helping to crystallize a new view of man and the roles of reason, nature, progress and religion.

    And too, the Enlightenment was a feverish period of Atheistic thought and propaganda. Many of the leading philosophers of the time were Atheists or deists, opposed to the cultural and political hegemony long exercised by the Vatican and its shock troops, the Jesuits.


    My purpose here is not to write a history of the French Revolution, or even attempt the herculean task of digesting the complex fabric of the Enlightenment. We do know, however, that much of the best in western civilization today rests on some of the ideas germinated or reformulated during that age of revolution, ideas formulated by Atheists, deists, rationalists and state-church separationists. What I hope to undertake here is a twofold task: an examination of Freemasonry, with its founding and subsequent role in the Enlightenment, and an examination and defense of the maligned, little-understood sect of the Illuminati — a defense long overdue.,_Freemasonry,_and_The_Illuminati

  87. Bill Fleming 2011.12.12

    Whatever Steve. Feel free to distort every concept that crosses your mind into whatever perversion of it that suits you.

    Clearly that's what you've chosen to do with Republicanism, Liberalism, Christianity and Democracy.

    Just don't expect anyone to take you very seriously when you do it.

    That said, and short of your getting some serious mental health therapy, I do understand your need to feed your persecution complex. It's not unlike a growth phase all my children went through in their tweens through their early teens. Fortunately for both them and the rest of us, they finally snapped out of it.

  88. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Bill, I am not a member of the American Atheists, so go complain to them. Sorry that they made you so paranoid. Is that why historians skip over the Masonic component of world history studies, because of all the paranoia it will create? And why scientists exclude this most important movement from the social studies, as was done here? Or are there other reasons?

  89. troy jones 2011.12.12


    I'm confused about your boasting and "good works" comment. I'm just saying much good came from the enlightenment and I believe more good than bad. Your comments in context are about what saves us and what separates us from God. But they don't mean we shouldn't pursue making God's gift a better place or knowing God better.

  90. Douglas Wiken 2011.12.12

    Deities of any kind are untestable in any scientific way. They explain nothing. Religious ethics may make society more liveable, but so does simple adherance to "Do unto others as you would have them due onto you." which seems like a pretty good idea or ideal without necessity of any deity to justify it or scare the crap out of you.

    Religions are mostly a threat to peace and fair justice.

    As to swearing an oath in South Dakota courts, a Bible is not required, nor is religion.

    23A-20-7.1. Affirmation permitted in lieu of oath. Any person required to take an oath pursuant to §§ 15-14-11, 23A-5-7, 23A-20-7, and 23A-25-5.1, who, having conscientious scruples against oath-taking, shall be allowed to make affirmation. Such person may also substitute the words, "under pains and penalties of perjury," for the words "so help you God."

    Source: SL 2007, ch 131, § 5.

    End of Quote.

  91. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Troy, see my second link on the ties of the Enlightenment to Freemasonry.

  92. Steve Sibson 2011.12.12

    Troy, the Enlightenment fueled French Revolution was very bloody. So I disagree with it being beneficial. And once you understand the Masonic influcence and carry that forward to the Civil War in America, and both World Wars...Satan's influence has not been good.

  93. larry kurtz 2011.12.12

    Heard at breakfast: Occupy Kepler 22B!

  94. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.12

    Doug! Thanks for the statute! I need to remember that language should I have the pleasure of visiting with a judge and jury.

  95. Stan Gibilisco 2011.12.12


    23A-20-7.1. Affirmation permitted in lieu of oath. Any person required to take an oath pursuant to §§ 15-14-11, 23A-5-7, 23A-20-7, and 23A-25-5.1, who, having conscientious scruples against oath-taking, shall be allowed to make affirmation. Such person may also substitute the words, "under pains and penalties of perjury," for the words "so help you God."

    Doug, excellent quote! Jesus himself advised exactly that: Don't do oaths, just say "I do" or "I don't" or "I will" or "I won't."

    Cory, based on your earlier comments, I take it that you're a materialist, in the sense that life comprises only the biological and physical manifestations of the body. I wonder, then how would you define "consciousness"? Is it something like the software in a computer? Or the operating system? Can't software and operating systems exist independently of the computer hardware? (Tangible versus intangible, part of the great tax debates of states and nations!)

    Can we get away with denying that "consciousness" even exists?

    The quote from Osho is hard to grasp unless you've thought (or daydreamed) about matters of cosmos and cosciousness a great deal, and come to the same basic notions that he came to. I have been a daydreamer all my life, and I have plenty of time to daydream in my line of work, so I get these feelings or notions, but I can't prove any of them.

    So where does that leave us? Certainly the body is a machine, but it's quite a marvelous one, yes? If evolution is not guided by a cosmic consciousness of some sort, one must say that evolution is a remarkable process nevertheless -- maybe not "God," but a pretty good facsimile, and for some people, good enough.

    Generally I would trust an atheist no more or less, all other factors held constant, than a religious fanatic. We are who we are on account of the things that we do.

  96. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.12

    The body is a remarkable machine, Stan, and the consciousness I find residing in it is a great puzzle. I don't know what it is, but I know it is.

    The hardware/software analogy intrigues me, since I've long viewed my consciousness as software subject to deactivation at the flip of my physical switch. Turn off my body, and my software no longer does anything. Maybe we can copy or transfer that software... heck, we're doing it right now, aren't we? In typing these messages to each other, do we not transfer at last some small shadow of our consciousness to each other? Do you not now hear my voice in your head as I hear yours? By using language effectively, do we not permanently seat ourselves in the thoughts of others?

    Think of how we write about literature: "In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck tells us that...." There's Steinbeck, still speaking to us. There's Gandhi, Tolstoy, Asimov, preserved in verbal simulacra, still acting on reality through their albeit (albethey?) pale echoes.

    So I wonder: after my death, will my echoes reverberate less effectively through the remaining consciousnesses of humanity because I was an atheist? Will people trust my written record less than that of more pious folk?

  97. Steve Sibson 2011.12.13

    "after my death"

    For atheists there is no "after my death".

  98. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.12.13

    Trust me, Steve, I mean no deception when I use that phrase. I simply deny solipsism and acknowledge a world that exists independently of me.

  99. Bill Fleming 2011.12.13

    p.s. As per Hofstadter, Cory, you're on the right track in denying solipsism. It is precisely the "me" part that is the illusion.

  100. Bill Fleming 2011.12.13

    Stan and Cory, regarding consciousness and time, it is perhaps significant to consider that time exists ONLY as a function of consciousness and only as subjectively measured, usually by the span of a human lifetime, but also in the context of "how old" the universe is.

    Disagreements on these issues drive much of our political and social debate, and yet have little if anything to do with what actually IS.

    To illustrate, consider the relative immortality of the amoeba, a life form that has no beginning or end... it never dies, it simply divides and replicates itself endlessly. This is also the function of our DNA... in fact its only function... to make copies of itself.

    "We" are the interim result... the flowering of an immortal tree.

    Our issue is that we forget we're just the flowers.

  101. troy jones 2011.12.13


    I agree the French Revolution and its successor Napolean are indeed tragic negative outcomes of enlightenment thought. However, the French Revolution is more than a "one-off" as it included a outright rejection of individual dignity in its warped understanding of "freedom" and the resulting anarchy. It was an overt abrogation of any social contract.

  102. Bill Fleming 2011.12.13

    Troy, there were two French Revolutions. I'm trying to figure out which one Sibby thinks was conducted by the Knights Templar or whatever, and what he thinks should have been done instead. Also trying to understand whether he thinks the American Revolution was legitimate. ...not trying very hard, by the way. Just sorta trying.

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