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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dammit! Bill Maher, There is A Difference

I love Bill Maher. I do. I look forward to him every week and agree with him on a lot of things. But this is the second time recently that I have been so put off by something he said that I was compelled to write about it. I wonder if I will be able to piss off as many people as I did last time?

Last night in a quick aside when he mentioned the question from the GOP Debates the night before about whether or not any of the candidates had ever spoken to God (giggle, I know if there had not been a national audience at least Cruz and Huckabee would've answered in the affirmative and offered the myriad conversations full of the good Lord's glorification of their own good deeds), Maher said 7.5 million Americans are atheists and 9.8 are agnostics. He then said, "By the way, they're the same thing. People try to make a difference, there is none." There most certainly is, dammit.

I take it personally that I would be considered an atheist. I think that the non-existence of God is as knowable as the existence. I am not sure. I wouldn't ever want to be in a theological discussion and be misunderstood as an atheist because that would mean that I am negating the possibility of whichever beliefs another person holds true. I don't know. I do not believe that anyone has a way of knowing (aside, of course, from Cruz and Huckabee, I suppose).

I was raised a Methodist. I went to church and took classes to be confirmed because my parents said I had to. I was 13 so I did what I was told. I didn't really pay attention in the classes and the confirmation to follow meant nothing to me. I don't mean to disrespect anyone who thinks that is a poignant moment in their lives, but it was not one in mine. When I went to college I was excited to take the Comparative Religion class because I thought the idea of so many different ideas about faith would be cool to learn about, much in the way I am interested in many other aspects of history and sociology. The thing I walked away from at the end of that semester was the number of commonalities of most religions. Many had strikingly similar stories and offered the same basic tenets. My mind wandered off to question, "Well, maybe there is a God and he/she/it sent prophets with similar messages to different times and places when and where they were needed."

The nice thing about not having any personal investment in supporting the ideas of a specific ideology is that I can embrace any of them. I do not need to be right. I don't care who is right. It is curious to me that religion, for some reason, is the only thing I have yet come across in my life that I do not HAVE to understand. I honestly don't care either way. I tell people that I want to be a good person even if there isn't a hell. And I mean it.

I am offended by people of any religion who insist that I am wrong not to follow their faith and insult me for not believing what they do (or worse, insult me for not allowing them to believe what they do, which I would never consider but when you are offered too many opportunities to dismiss all other people with different beliefs, sometimes you end up with the arrogance that those who aren't 'on your side' are against you). Similarly I am offended by those who condemn those of faith to ignorance for having a belief in something which contradicts their atheist views. Its just shitty, in my mind, to tell someone they are ignorant for believing (or not believing) in something no one can prove.

Having faith doesn't make you stupid. Faith can be a lovely thing. I remember when my dad was dying over 3 weeks in the hospital. Countless times I wished I knew what it meant to have faith. I wanted to have a place to lay my heavy heart and feel my pleas may be heard. I would've done absolutely anything to go down to the chapel in the hospital and make a deal with God. There is very little I would not have promised to God in trade for alleviating my dad's pain. If having the capacity to pray and believe that there is hope makes people feel better or safer in their lives, wonderful. If they sincerely believe that it is a positive influence in their lives, who am I to tell them they are wrong? I've never seen God. I've never had proof either way. And I don't need it.

This will probably end up being a pretty irrelevant entry for most of my readers. The distinction was important for me. It is crazy o'clock in the morning, however, and I cannot even really be sure if I made my point. I am adorable like that sometimes.


  1. Einstein was a great mathematician, and his logic if flawless. Too bad there are so few left like him.

  2. It seems to me you are trying to cover your ass in as many ways as you possibly can. Your take on agnosticism versus atheism is a huge expanded version of Pascal's Wager. You either believe in a supreme being or you don't. Why does this have to be cerebral wrestling match? There is no proof any god exists and there of course is no proof any god does not exist. The non-believers rely on observation and their natural instincts to draw their conclusions about deities and other theistic positions promoting an afterlife of eternal bliss. I don't debate Christians because it is a monumental waste of time for everyone involved. I don't believe in god, jesus , etc and I don't care about anyone else's opinions or beliefs.

    1. If you don't care about anyone else's beliefs then don't spend your time here reading mine while offering nonsensical replies. I'm not trying to cover my ass. What are you even talking about Pascal's Wager? I've clearly stated I don't care either way. I never extrapolated on my beliefs or fears regarding an afterlife. It's always telling when people throw philosophical arguments into places they have no place being mentioned. It's great that you've heard and can recite things, but without comprehension and proper application, you kind of just look like a dick.

      I'm explaining what it means to be agnostic versus an atheist. It's not a cerebral wrestling match (for me anyway, though you seem to really be having a hard time). That was my point. I don't struggle with it at all. Unlike you, I really don't care. Maybe there is a God. Maybe there isn't. I'm good either way. My only issue is with people who either do believe or don't believe who allow their arrogance to condemn the rest. Your incredibly simplistic and, obviously, uninformed explanation of non-believers proves your incapacity to have a reasoned or thoughtful debate with anyone regarding theism. Keep that in mind the next time you 'anonymous' ly dive in the deep end of what really should've been a clear and easy read for any with the capacity for either.

    2. "I'm good either way" Depending on one's perception of the blog post I was referring to in my reply, there is your limp nod to "Pascal's wager". That's the way I saw it and still do. So, I'm a dick, so what? I read a lot of blogs about Christianity, Atheism, etc. If you really don't care either way then why are you posting a blog that is attempting to define for others what is Atheism and Agnosticism. What is your problem not being able to take a stand one way or the other? Agnosticism is nothing more than Atheist-Lite. I take it from your reply that you don't take criticism well. People who believe any form of afterlife myth, who have faith in the correctness of their beliefs aren't necessarily stupid but they are deluded and I feel sorry for them spending the only life they will ever have in service of a figment of someone else's imagination.

    3. I am good either way isn't even a minimal nod to Pascal's Wager. You do understand its premise, right? I'm good either way because I am content not having an answer, moron. I have a very hard time believing you read the article. I was adamant in it that the reason it's important for me to distinguish between the two is Because I find some atheists (you, for example) to be incredibly arrogant in their assertions and their own superiority for having made them. There is a huge difference between the two and I'd never want to be confused for an atheist. I'm not trying to take a stand. Your ignorance is unsettling. I believe the existence of a god(s) is unknowable. I believe it arrogant to demand that I know something that I don't. And for you to demand another person choose a side for your own satisfaction is ridiculous. I contend you are the one who is so uncomfortable with their stance or you wouldn't sit so awkwardly atop it begging others to join. I don't care either way. My incapacity to take criticism isn't the problem here. You were never even critiquing my writing. You were literally trying to redefine that WHICH I BELIEVE. Pretty astounding statement for anyone really, especially a stranger. We have a problem because you refuse to accept the vast chasm between atheism and agnosticism. I'm not atheist lite. I don't not believe or believe. I simply don't care either way. I don't need the answer. And I don't need for anyone to agree with my non-answer. I will not sit here on my site, however, and go back and forth with a joker who can't even open a book or at least a dictionary app before tossing his bullshit definitions around. Honestly, it's really tragic that you exercise this ignorance while concluding by defining others ignorance with another series of unknowables. It's exhausting. I demand you are the one who fails to take criticisms. In coming back with the same shit you said last time, thus negating my having written the piece or the previous reply. It's as if you only came here (twice now) to demand that I'm really an atheist and its your job to explain it. Here. How's this: I understand your interpretations of what my beliefs are and your interpretations of agnosticism. I accept that you are welcome to believe whatever you want and hope you find a place in your life where such demands of others are less important to you. Best of luck... Kiss kiss

  3. You made the same point I've made for years Angie. Where's your proof? How can I take sides when there is no proof either way. If I'm going to put my faith in something it would have to be the Great Spirit because of the great respect the Native Americans had for OUR mother, the Earth! That was the common bond all the tribes shared and something we should all share and put our faith in as well!

  4. You made the same point I've made for years Angie. Where's your proof? How can I take sides when there is no proof either way. If I'm going to put my faith in something it would have to be the Great Spirit because of the great respect the Native Americans had for OUR mother, the Earth! That was the common bond all the tribes shared and something we should all share and put our faith in as well!

  5. Cute. Lol. I do not deny or embrace the idea of a God. There is little more tragic to the thinking person than another whose scope is so narrow as to dismiss truths being explained to them simply because they conflict with what they would really rather believe. The bulk of those people identify with the Tea Party. You obviously neither read the article nor know how to use that dictionary you find to be such an asset. Sorry for your ignorance. Best of luck with the next word you try to define without regard for its actual meaning. Genius.