Americans are stupid, throw rocks at them

Okay, this is a title that is just designed to piss people off. I’m in that kind of mood, unfortunately. Sorry, Americans! You know I am fond of you really. Here is why I have chosen it:

Gallup (1999) took a poll asking Americans what factors they might vote against in an election. They proposed a candidate that the voter would agree with on policy, but would have a certain characteristic (for want of a better word) and they were curious to see how this would affect the voter’s likelihood to vote for them. Here are the results:

Woman – 95% would still vote for her
Roman Catholic – 94% would still vote for him or her
Jewish – 92% would still vote for him or her
Black – 92% would still vote for him or her
Mormon – 79% would still vote for him or her
Homosexual – 79% would still vote for him or her
Atheist – 49% would still vote for him or her

Hang on?! Being an atheist seems to be incredibly unpopular (I always wondered why I was so friendless, at least I have an answer now). Maybe God has something to do with it, he is never on our side.

So that is why I am feeling slightly anti-American today.

On a related note, here is George Bush Snr’s response to a question asked about whether he recognised the equal citizenship and patriotism of American atheists:

“No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

I won’t go into detail about how he is wrong; when you consider the hyper-religiosity of the US today it seems incredible to think that Thomas Jefferson and his friends, whether they were theists or not, were so vociferous in their insistence that America be founded as a secular nation.

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23 thoughts on “Americans are stupid, throw rocks at them

  1. When you thought about writing this were you reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by any chance?!!

    I think it is very odd that GB Sr would say something so absurd – after all, isn’t he a very intelligent clever sort of bloke?

    And you are popular with me my dear, even if you are an atheist. I don’t understand your view on the subject, but I can accept it.

  2. What is WRONG with some people? Oh. That’s right. Religion.

    Thank god, I’m an atheist.

  3. For the record, I’d choose ‘atheist’ over ‘satanist’. Does that make you feel any better? 😉

  4. That’s an interesting choice.

    Here’s a question: Which poses a greater danger to a rational person: wandering through an unmarked minefield, or dressing all in black and lying in the middle of the road at night?

    (There is potentially a second question… but asking it would just be nasty. So, I’ll not enquire which poses a greater danger to Americans.)

  5. Brilliant, Welshy, I didn’t realise there was a hierarchy of acceptability.

    Where do Muslims, Jews, etc come in your list?

    Oh, and I should probably reciprocate… er, I’d choose Christian over, er, Mormon?!

    Stephen, depends on how busy the road was, but I’d probably choose the landmines. I like to feel I’m in control!

  6. Calm down! Calm down! Things go in swings and roundabouts. No one (in the seventies) thought that flared trousers would make a come back, yet suddenly there they were, back with a vengeance in the nineties. Same with athiests. Your day will come again at some point. At some point people will tire of a diet of right wing religious mania and eventually all the God botherers will say, oh shit, those athiests were right all along.

  7. You know, Chris, I was thinking about this on my drive home from work, and it occurs to me: as long as people have the right to not vote for a person based on any stupid reason they can dream up, or even no reason at all, then atheism is actually a fairly good reason as such things go. It does at least give some indication of what the person actually stands for. (Why atheism scores so much worse than Jewism or Mormonism escapes me, though.)

    The answer to my earlier question, in case you’re interested, is that the unmarked minefield poses the greater threat to a rational thinking person, regardless of how busy the road is or how many mines are in the field, simply because the lying-in-the-road option is so obviously batshit insane that no rational person would ever actually do it, whereas it is entirely possible that one might wander into an unmarked minefield.

    Similarly, Satanism is clear folly, since it requires one to acknowledge the existence of an alpowerful deity, and then to set out to deliberately offend Him. By contrast, atheism is more dangerous to the Christian precisely because it is rational. Indeed, it is faith that is irrational, since one is placing trust in something one can neither see, smell, touch or taste, based on evidence that boils down to nothing more than ‘warm fuzzy feelings’. So, yes, dangerous.

    The other reflection worth making, of course, is that the American Religious Right has no more to do with Christianity than the Spice Girls have to do with Feminism.

  8. (Perhaps, miss emmak, but oh, will we live to see the day?! Or will they have us ‘Godlesses’ all butchered by then? *dramatic fists to the sky*)

    I saw one of those ‘liberal’ shows the other day when we had free cable (was it as sign from God?) where the premise was to put a person in a context that bears complete opposite views from theirs for 30 days. In this particular episode, a little lady, atheist, had to live in a very religious community… in Texas, for an entire month, and without wanting to recur to obvious cliche, they looked at her as if she was an alien, asking her such pertinent questions as “If she doesn’t believe in God, then where does her belief in love, and compassion, and moral comes from?” (aaahhh, a man after me own heart!….)

    Anyway, i got too scared and/or scary to watch ’til the end. Couldn’t be sure if they lapidated her or not.

    p.s. also in this episode, i learned that apparently, the United Statians’ motto of ‘In God we trust’ was only adopted on coins, etc, during the 1950s, from the McCathy years and to counter their arch nemesis (and atheist!) Soviets during the Cold War. Yo! The Founding Fathers had nothing to do with it – they only wanted to marry their cousins, dude!

    Thank you, Television, for your unbound knowledge!

  9. Sometimes when I screw up, I really screw up. I meant Judaism, of course. My apologies to anyone offended by my utter failure to use the wrong word.

  10. There is a recent debate between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and a couple of athiests from rational response. It is really interesting and you can find it on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=thewayofthemaster) Anyways, you may enjoy it, or you may not. I had no idea you were an atheist. I knew you weren’t a Christian, but didn’t know you had absolutely no belief system at all (belief system meaning religion)…interesting

    BTW – just for the record, I wouldn’t vote for an atheist either, but that is because I am a Christian. I do NOT agree, however, with Bush Sr – it doesn’t take God to be a citizen…

  11. I thought threatening a nun with a scapel was nasty enough…

    wimple thief 🙂

  12. Stephen said…
    Sometimes when I screw up, I really screw up. I meant Judaism, of course. My apologies to anyone offended by my utter failure to use the wrong word.

    Twice 🙂

    err…oh, what am I doing here…

    Hi Chris, thanks for the comment, and cool post you have going here 🙂

    i’m not a jewist or mormite or christist, but then i’m not sure i’m atheistical either…must mean i’m agnostic…

    yup, a goddam fence sitter…

    actually, i do have beliefs, but people don’t tend to like them, apperently there are worse things than satanists…

    First Amendment: addresses the rights of freedom of religion (prohibiting the Congress establishment of religion over another religion through Law and protecting the right to free exercise of religion), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition.

    So Bush doesn’t know his own laws?

  13. Wow.

    That Bush comment is disgusting.

    I fervently hope it’s misquoted/untrue.

    For the record, I think it’s actually pretty reasonable to not want to vote for someone if their belief system differs from your own.

    Presuming there would be another candidate available whose political policy AND belief system matched yours.

    If you vote for a guy you politically disagree with over someone you politically agree woth but religiously agree with, then that’s just dumb. In my opinion of course.

    : )

  14. Inconsequential: Quite

    Rebecca: The thing is, I am a Christian, but I am forced to concede that there is a total lack of solid and verifiable evidence for the existence of God. There is not one shred that will pass scientific tests for rigour. Now, I happen to believe that’s because He is the author and sustainer of the natural laws that bind everything together, and that incontrovertible proof would require demonstrating the existence of something that cannot otherwise exist in nature… not likely since God has no actual need to demonstrate his existence, and anyway unbelievers would just decry it as a fake anyway…

    When we fully decode and understand the Human Genome, we won’t find a hidden message, “Copyright God 4500 BC”. When the molecular structure of chocolate is drawn out, it doesn’t read “Made by God”. And if not there, then where? 🙂

    Of course, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. So, an absolute and unshakeable certainty that God does not exist is every bit as irrational as faith in His existence. However, science quite rightly puts the burden of proof on those who would claim existence, since it’s not meaningfully possible to prove non-existence (whereas existence is relatively easy – just say “and here it is!”). Hence my assertion that atheism is a rational stance, provided you don’t become over-certain in it.

    What it is possible to do, and what I like to think I have done, is construct an entirely rational and consistent belief system from that basis. Working from the axiom that “God exists” one can then see where that logically leads. But the axiom itself remains problematic.

    I’m currently watching that “Rational Response” debate. Unfortunately, the pro-God speakers are not making a good case. The first speaker attempted to debunk evolution, and thus prove God, but made the single most classic mistake often made by those who seek to do this.

    The thing is, the existence of a can of Coke does not actually prove the existence of a creator. There is actually a non-zero chance that such a thing could spontaneously come to be. The odds are rdiculously small, but they’re not zero. To prove the existence of God, the odds of humanity coming to be can’t be 0.01%, or 0.0000000001%, or 10^-1,000,000%. They have to be zero exactly. What proves the existence of the designer of the can of Coke is that we can go and meet him. Similarly, if you can enable people to go and meet God, then that proves the existence of a designer for the human race… but since we need to prove that to prove the existence of God, that’s a rather unnecessary step.

    … and I’ve just found I’m on part 4, and they’ve concluded presenting their evidence. And I’m sorry, but it’s rather a case of “or lack thereof”. Sad to say, they haven’t proven anything.

  15. There are many parts,way more than 4, I didn’t even watch them all because there were so many – the thing is all in snippets. I have yet to find a full version of it…gotta love You Tube *roll eyes*

    Wow – and I just thought it would be something Chris may be interested to watch – who knew I would get this long response from you.

    I feel no need to prove God’s existance, I just thought the debate fit here. I’m pretty happy knowing He exists – it has already been proven to me, by Him (that’s something and atheist would never understand). But alas, that is another story for another day…

    🙂 I appreciate your response.

  16. Stephen, now I am home I can respond without merely ridiculing your slightly unfortunate word choice! I am sure no-one was offended.

    I didn’t actually say I minded someone using a candidate’s religious beliefs, or lack thereof, as a reason to vote for them or not. I was merely expressing [jovial anger and] surprise at how low atheists come in the rankings. I wonder if people actually do believe we are morally bankrupt, with no cohesive moral structure… For me (a highly unbiased person!) a candidate who could show a sensitivity for moral matters coupled with a staunch atheism would be ideal, as you know that they would have thought about each issue from their own personal perspective, and formed an opinion, instead of being told which opinion to have (an exaggeration, and one to be taken in the spirit which it was intended). I already like the sound of this person… When can I vote for them?!

    Back in a bit to reply to some other points raised – I am watching the debate on YouTube. You are to be congratulated, Rebecca, it is spectacular. I am on part 11, wish me luck. I think one of the men in the audience thinks I am a communist!

  17. PS Rebecca, if you like long responses, then you will love Stephen!

    (Ahem, sorry Stephen. I do place a very high value on your opinions… when will I stop mocking people? It is really a most disconcerting habit of mine!)

  18. Curses, have just deleted my enormous million word response comment… arg!

    I have to say, never mind long comments, I have never had to sit through two hours of video to comment on a comment before!

    But I did enjoy it very much. Especially the crocoduck, but we will come onto that later!

    Vapvib, I very much enjoyed the sound of your programme… why did you not watch the end?! I wan’t to know if they got the pitchforks out!

    I am sure you are right about the coins, I bet the Masons had something to do with it! Here is a quote you may find illuminating:

    “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    This was drafted in the George Washington (or the other George W. as I think of him) era (1796 to be exact) and signed by John Adams in 1797.

    It makes me sad to read it.

    Rebecca, genuine thank yous go to you for this excellent bit of Muppetry. Really I couldn’t quite get past the extreme irritatingness of the woman’s voice, but I struggled through all 18 parts!

    Sadly, it contained some of the feeblest arguments I have ever heard. Ah, the Crocoduck! Amazing! I laughed so much I nearly knocked my laptop from my lap. Kirk has obviously not been to school. (The Crocoduck! [tears roll down face!])

    In general, though, I was impressed with Kirk’s evolution stuff. It turns out that evolution is not a proven fact at all… except I already knew that, and so do all evolutionists. It is just a “best fit” model, like quantum theory, or relativity (special and general), or even our ideas about what an atom “looks like” (it’s so hard to see inside an electron with an electron microscope…!). No, though, to be fair, the gaps he mentioned were enough for me: I am forced to conclude that he is right and 2+2 does not equal 5.

    So, of course, it must equal 6.

    Kelly (irritating voice notwithstanding) seemed to misjudge her audience slightly at points, thinking she was addressing a partisan crowd. Ray too, perhaps even more so… I couldn’t decide if someone had invited him to do a light-hearted sermon. The style was right, but he looked a bit upset when people were laughing – I felt quite sorry for him.

    And they didn’t prove that God exists. Of course this is not the same as saying she definitely doesn’t, I should acknowledge that. Maybe she is sitting on her metaphorical cloud slapping her head and saying “For Pete’s sake, Ray, shave that moustache off and learn how to frame an argument!”

    Rebecca, I do have a belief system (and I know you know that, as evidence by your bracket, but wanted to explain) and one that is not cast from too dissimilar mould to a religious system. For all I may like to claim that atheists are such clever chaps and chappesses that we invent spontaneous coherent ethical systems independently in our extremely clever heads, of course in reality my moral code is built from study of texts (philosophical, fictional/novelistic and even religious) and observation of others, including taking advice from my elders and betters (thanks Mum!).

    Can I ask why you wouldn’t vote for an atheist? Is is that important that your candidate share your religious beliefs? Is it not more important that they can do sums and are good with people/accepting of other cultures, etc? I’m sure there’s more to it than that, I think the Crocoduck has taken over my brain!

    I love your typo “athiest” by the way – it sounds like a superlative! Like “best”!

    Inc, I love “Mormite”. The thing with Mormite is that you either love it or hate it though! (Sorry non-Brits… and Brits too come to think of it!)

    I want to hear about the beliefs that are worse than Satanism… you aren’t into Emo are you?!

    SouthernBelle – Robert I. Sherman Free Inquiry 8 : 4, Fall 1988, 16. Sorry!

    Stephen… I am inclined to largely let your comment stand without my unnecessary commentary, if that doesn’t sound too (a) sycophantic and (b) offensive to the rest of you. I wouldn’t worry about your axiomatic problems if I were you. I am sure I don’t need to direct you to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems. And if Hilbert’s Second Problem (regarding the consistency of arithmetic systems for those who don’t know but are interested… anyone?!) looks like it is impossible to prove, why would you expect a complete proof of God’s existence to fall more easily?

    The coke can, I might touch on that, being as how it was one of the most spurious arguments I have ever heard (until I heard about the Crocoduck).

    Imagine you have a dog. I imagine it to be a labrador, but it really doesn’t matter that much. One day, it takes a shit on the pavement (sidewalk). Now, in a very real sense the dog has created the shit. But it is a massive jump to say that there was a will behind it, and it is an almost inconceivable jump to assume that the dog continues to take an interest in the lives and loves of the little beings who go on to live on this shit.

    If things have to be created, why is it not enough to say that the universe (I’m going to stop saying shit) was created in this way, with no supernatural will guiding its creation. It could have appeared from a ripple in the pre-universe nothingness, it could have appeared as a bubble in a previous universe (ah, but whence the previous universe… yes I know!), it could be any number of things. And like I infer, the jump from Creator-God to God-who-cares-about-me is an immense one.

    Another point is that let us imagine that the chance of a universe developing from nothing and going on to support human life is 1 x 10^-100000000000. Don’t forget that in a timeless pre-universe state it actually has forever to happen. In that light it starts to look staggeringly likely, to my mind.

    Anyway, I seem to have strayed a bit far into a defence of atheism and its attendant, an attack on Christianity, which is a bit off topic I suppose. I should point out that everyone must believe what they want to, and as long as they try not to hurt others then I am happy.

    Here’s my last thing: I can’t understand the kind of personal experience you mention, no. God has never revealed himself to me. To me this seems kind of unfair. You don’t have to worry about the kinds of proof we are talking about here… you have your personal proof. Why should you get into heaven without having to take it on faith when I should have to? All too easy to see the person I am now, and say I haven’t opened myself up to it, but there have been periods in my life when I would have welcomed such contact. I don’t know, I’m being a bit facetious, but there is a serious point lurking there I feel.

    Right, over and out…! If you are still conscious after reading that, then by all means get stuck into me or each other… always good to have a healthy debate.

    No debating like Part 13 of the YouTube thing though, we can’t just go about ignoring people’s questions now!

  19. So glad you enjoyed it! I knew you would! My goodness, I never expected such a long winded reply…geez!

    Ok, so, FOR ME (caplitalized so no one thinks I am trying to change how they think/feel/believe) I can’t vote for someone who doesn’t share my Christian faith because my faith plays a strong part in how I feel politically. A person who does not share my faith would more than likely have political views that go against the morals I stand for – and I have a very strong stance. Therefore, I cannot waver – I just can’t. That is me. If the candidates running were both athiests (love it, don’t ya? – I did that just for you!) I would write in someone who I felt would be a good leader. I would not abstain from voting as I feel voting is a crucial part of my citizenship, but I would make my vote for someone I could live with – I could not live with an atheist – well, I could live, but I think you know what I mean.

    Now, as for God revealing Himself. When a person becomes a Christian (and I mean REALLY becomes one because so many people say they are and actually aren’t – that is an entirely different topic) God does in fact reveal Himself to you. There is a moment of regeneration that takes effect – your faith that led you to Him becomes so real and you actually do feel the presense of God. Now, this has happened to me. I go even further than that though as I am a strong believer in the spiritual realm and there was an incident and if you want to know more about that incident you can email me. I don’t go about posting it in blogs because it is very personal. I do not mind sharing if you really want to know. Anyways, to sum it up – He was there, I heard Him, I am not insane – I have no doubt – and my life is completely changed because of Him…

    Ok…so, I do not want to be preachy on your blog. As I said, I knew you would enjoy that debate 😉

  20. I skim-read all those comments, and will read them all again once I’ve had something for lunch.

    But I will say this – I am a Christian. But often I cannot vote for the ‘Christian’ party, mainly because
    a) they have no actual power
    But mainly because
    b) I don’t actually agree with their policies.

    And herein lies the rub – we can all be equal in Christ, but we’re all different, with different priorities. For me, I find that the policies of the Christian Democrats are less compassionate and inclusive than those of the ‘secular’ political parties. And I vote for the good of the country. For everyone. One cannot legislate for a moral standard.

    But that wasn’t the initial question… if I had 2 identical candiates, with identical policies with which I agreed whole-heartedly, I would always vote for the Christian. If however I only had 1 candidate with whom I agreed policy-wise, I would vote for them regardless of their faith.

    And yes, George Bush is an eejit. Both of them. I don’t doubt their faith – but it merely proves my point – Christians can still love the same God, but hold widely differing opinions on things.

  21. Chris, you really are a big old windbag at times aren’t you?!! I have to say that while I am a Christian and believe in the existence of God, if I were allowed to vote (cue violins) I think I could vote for someone who didn’t share the same faith as I do if I agreed with their direction and what they intended to do with the country. But then again, I am a big old liberal now! Liberal Christians – I think you atheists are liked even better!!!

    Even though you don’t share my faith I know you are a good person, with genuine care and concern for others, so you are half way there. When you think us Christians are Bible bashing, all we are doing is trying to give you an insight into how we feel…..like if you discovered a great product like laundry detergent, and you knew it was better than anything else on the supermarket shelves and you just wanted to tell all of your friends to use it because it would make them happy….that’s all “we” are doing. It’s like we have uncovered this secret and it’s just too good to keep to ourselves. But I do think that this should be kept separate from politics, and as much as many people hate it when Hollywood actors go on about politics and they think they should just stick to what they know best, that is how I feel about politicians.

    Now I have to go and look at the picture of the crocaduck or whatever it is, because it is insanely funny!

  22. ActonB, thanks for your input, sorry about the hours of work needed to also read the comments, that is my fault mainly! There’s some good stuff in there from other people though, worth a read!

    The initial question… I’m not sure there was a specific question implied. The point I was making was although it is reasonable for people to use religion as a criterion for voting, I was surprised at how much lower atheism came on the list than the others. Judaism and Mormonism, for example, scored 92% and 79% respectively, and you get very few people who are Jewish and Mormon…

    Hope you enjoyed your lunch.

    Molly, I have just noticed:

    “Even though you don’t share my faith I know you are a good person, with genuine care and concern for others, so you are half way there.”

    Erm, thanks. I’m not though, I’m haring off in the opposite direction.

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