Skepticism

The Parking Lot Challenge

Hi All,

This is a topic for anyone interested in discussing the parking-lot challenge from Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge over at Seed Magazine’s Science Blogs.

It goes beyond the blasphemy challenge and asks for people to post You Tube videos of themselves putting pro-rational “tracts” on people’s windshields at churches.

I really like this idea, because it’s related to a knitting project I’m working on. Starting this fall, I will be self-publishing a ‘zine called Subversive Knitting. The first issue will be “Safe Sex and Dangerous Knitting,” and it will include sex education information for people of all ages, along with several knitting patterns for condom cozies. There’ll be condom amulets to wear around your neck, a safe-socks pattern for a pair of socks with a condom pocket on the ankle, a bra with a hidden condom pocket, and more. The second issue is schedule to be called “Question Authority” and eventually I’d love to do an issue called “SkepKnit” or something like that.

At any rate, I think this is closely related to the idea of the parking lot challenge, in that it’s using an unexpected method for distributing pro-rational information to an unsuspecting audience.

Kevin Beck came up with the idea, and here’s what he thinks the tracts should be about (and I agree):


I’m not talking about in-your-face “God doesn’t exist, get used to it, ya fuckin’ hayseed!” stuff, but something genuinely useful and even seductive. Material that simply asks readers not to trust Pastor Blowmuff out of the gate; to consider that science is not in fact a natural adversary of a moral or spiritual or introspective life; to understand that evolution is not a tool created for the express purpose for battering Jesus into submission, but is simply one more aspect of how nature works, with or without my, your, or the Holy Ghost’s approval.


If anyone is interested in this, I’m willing to collaborate with other writers and artists to create some appropriate pamphlets.

I’ve started a topic in the forums to discuss this further and to try to keep the conversation in one place. Of course, if you don’t have an account on the forums, feel free to post your ideas here.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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84 Comments

  1. I think something very short, more a flyer than a tract, would be quite appropriate. Think of something that would fit on a Starbucks "The Way I See It" cup. (To counter-program Jonathan Wells' crap, mwahaha.)

    I would make it more about science than about atheism per se. One idea I'd like to see stressed is the fact that science is inherently non-ideological and inherently secular. That old "There is no Christian science or Buddhist science or Atheist science, just science." concept.

    One thing I'd like to see come out of the "culture war" is the acceptance that scientific results may be provisional, but they're not actually biased. It's possible to disagree on what to do with the information, but the information itself shouldn't be contested (except, that is, through the usual scientific channels of peer review, but that's going to happen anyway). The point being that the science itself is not a political issue, even in cases where the response to it is.

  2. That's a good idea, Donna. I think we should all brainstorm a bit on our own, then slap our ideas together here or on your forum until something cohesive results. We'll ask for feedback from our various readers, and finally someone with skillz can create a PDF that anyone can download and make copies of for use in the "parking-lot challenge." (I think it needs a better name, but that's a minor point.)

    I think starting with an inclusive intro along the lines of "You've heard that God speaks through people, such as your minister, family members and fellow churchgoers. In much the same way, nature speaks through the wonderful clues she leaves behind for people to sort through and piece together. We're here to share the good word about some of these vital, intriguing things."

    From there it's an easy segue into some basic science stuff. We should strive to avoid leaving any impression of being truly accommodating of theism. It would be fair to point out that what was written about the world in the Bible 2,000 years ago was the best its writers could do, but that a lot of it has simply been shown to be wrong or short of important facts — and Church leaders have openly admitted it. (There's no need to harp on the fact that, for example, the RCC only goes as far as it needs to and is typically three or four hundred years behind.)

    It might be useful to point out how scientists have made critical use of evolutionary principles — in antibiotics and other facets of medicine, in the food industry, what have you.

    It might also be helpful to avoid the following words and terms to the fullest reasonable extent while not straying or backing down from their core concepts and implications: atheist, evolution, science, scientist, God, Jesus Christ, Christopath, fundie, benighted moron, "that lying sack of shit Falwell," etc.

    That'll do it for a start. We could try to force that Saint Gasoline fella to draw the artwork.

  3. I"ve been putting a printed bit of paper in the plastic inside cover of the Sylvia Browne books at the local library with the web site of Stopsylviabrowne on it.

    I thought, hey maybe someone will log on to it after reading this book!!!

    Just a thought.

  4. Well, I gotta say I don't like the idea. The blasphemy challenge was fine because it was simply announcing each person's belief. I've found religious tracts on my windshield and it annoyed the crap out of me! So it just seems to me that by putting tracts on windshields, we're lowering ourselves to their level, and going against what most atheists profess, which is freedom of religion. We don't want their ridiculous beliefs pushed on us, how can we justify pushing ours? Even if we do know it's for their own good! ;)

  5. Briarking, because it works! Or at least, it works for religions (and nightclubs, we often find flyers on our car on a Friday night after the cinema).

    But it does raise some much larger questions, such as should atheism be actively promoted? I would say I'm uncomfortable with the idea of atheists trying to convert people but am very comfortable with the message that if you have atheistic thoughts already but are afraid to speak up or don't know where to go for support or likeminded people, then there are other atheists out there.

    In the UK this isn't an issue because agnosticism is the norm, but in the USA there are bound to be millions afraid to explore their thoughts about religion. If you can inspire those people first, you end up forcing atheism into the mainstream, where it becomes less demonised.

    If you consider religious prosyletising to be a threat to the atheist way of life, then a sensible tactic is to fight fire with fire.

  6. Are the people afraid to explore their thoughts about religion likely to be going to church, or particularly to the church that leaflets might target?

    However nice the idea may be as an idea, in practice it does seem to be something that could easily be heavily counterproductive.

    Inserting slips in psychic books in libraries does seem to be rather more fun. I'd wonder if it would be more effective to have a small slip tucked away some pages into the book where it wouldn't be found until someone started reading.

  7. "The first issue will be “Safe Sex and Dangerous Knitting,”

    and it will include sex education information for people

    of all ages"

    Correct me if I'm wrong writerdd,but doesn't our laws

    prohibit certain "education" in regards to children of all ages?

    This must obviously be a mistake,did you mean to say this?

    No offense,but if I catch you harassing children with your

    smut,I will get involved…Pervert..

    V..

  8. OK, one, why target churches in particular with flyers? Im not aware of people generally being targetted by churches because they belong to scepticism groups or the like, this seems a wee bit 'overtargetted' in my view. And it would seem to probably be a case of wasting resources on the people least likely to be swayed anyhow.

    Why not just spread the word instead ourselves? Id say theres a lot of people out there who might be interested in things like sceptical groups or the like if they just knew they existed in their area and were given a bit more info about them. It doesnt need to be about directly challenging religious groups in my view, thats just asking for trouble and more likely to cause trouble than result in anything useful in my view.

    Van Helsing, I think theres room for debate about how sex education should be done, but emotive language like that is uncalled for and simply means you're likely to get ignored. I hope you'll consider retracting it as something said in too much haste.

  9. Our laws are specific regarding Sex "education"toward children..

    Some people(like myself)will not tolerate agendas,being

    forced down our children throats..

    When I'm told"People of all ages",I do logical conclude

    this to also involve children,and I recognize no debate.

    V

  10. Van Helsing,

    Obviously since you've posted 3 comments on this, you're pissed off. I mean the information will be there for people of all ages, yes. I will be actively promoting the magazine to readers in their teens up to senior citizens.

    Although I personally believe that children as young as 8 or 9 should be educated about safe sex, because girls that young girls can get their periods and therefore need to know how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy, I have no intention of going to grade schools and handing out literature or anything like that.

    I wish parents would have the good sense to educate their children, but I am sad to say that many are too embarassed and repressed to talk frankly with their children about this much needed information.

    As a person who used to be a child, I have to tell you that by the time your children are in third grade — sometime even younger — they are already discussing sex with their friends at school. Would you rather that they get information from you — their parent — or from their buddies at the playground?

    By the time my mother had the "birds and the bees" talk with me, when I was in sixth grade, she had nothing new to tell me, and I pretty much ignored what she did have to say. Is that the kind of relationship you want to have with your kids?

    Knowing about sex will not hurt your children. But not knowing about it very well might. I hope you reconsider your opinion about educating your own children.

  11. Briarking, what do you suggest as a good way to provide free pro-rational information to the general public, making it very easily accessible?

    I'm sure there are many other ways small flyers could be used besides putting them on windsheilds at church services (which I probably wouldn't do either, to be honest…. but I still am interested in helping to create the literature.)

  12. P.S. I don't think "pro-reason" necessarily equates to "pro-atheist".

    That seems to be the assumption that's been made by many commenters — that the tracts or flyers will be directly promoting atheism. As Kevin says, we don't need to make a point to be accomodating to theism, but we can really just skirt the issue of the existence of god.

    IF the audience will be Christians (whether we reach them at church or elsewhere), then it would be more productive to just promote reason and science in general. Let's get these people thinking outside of their box a little bit. That's a worthy goal that is not too ambitious or unrealistic.

    For me, and I have read that this is the case for many others as well, learning about science eventually led to my loss of faith as a natural course of critical thinking. Not all people will end up at that same place, and that's OK. But anything we can do to help give people critical thinking skills is — in my opinion — a step in the right direction.

    Has anyone read E.O. Wilson's book, "The Creation"? I haven't but I'm wondering if it would be worth seeing how he presented his information, which was addressed in large part to Christians.

    Oh, and I'd like to say that my "Safe Sex and Dangerous Knitting" magazine is a personal project that has nothing to do with Skepchicks.

  13. "Some people(like myself)will not tolerate agendas,being

    forced down our children throats.."

    V, Of course, it's much better to teach children to love deities that appear to delight in mass murder, including that of children. How could any sane person object to that?

  14. Hello writerdd

    "By the time my mother had the “birds and the bees” talk with me,

    when I was in sixth grade, she had nothing new to tell me,"

    So your position is,ignore parents timing,but insert your

    superior sense of tack,regarding when my child,

    should be informed about sex..

    I would argue,if Seniors and Children already know so much,

    what exactly do you intend to do,That I can't..

    You're also wrong about what annoys me,

    People who believe there' entitled to think for me,

    upsets me more here..

  15. "P.S. I don’t think “pro-reason” necessarily equates to “pro-atheist”. "

    I just got the impression that that was the aim when church parking lots were specified. I agree that it would be much more productive to target the lesser pseudo-sciences first. (But I do believe that true reason, true objectivity, does indeed necessarily equate to the absence of a belief in a god.)

    Reading Van Helsing's posts should vividly illustrate to everyone here the futility of introducing reason and rationality to those who've already made up their minds.

  16. Van Helsing,

    Your child is going to learn about sex whether you like it or not. If you wait too long, then they will learn about it from someone else and you miss your chance to give them your viewpoint. That's all I'm saying. I'm saying it's BETTER for children to learn these things from their parents, but too many parents are not teaching their children about these things before the children learn it on the street. Sadly, it sounds like you are in this group of non-teachers.

    Seniors and teens know how to have sex because once their hormones kick in, they can pretty much figure it out on their own even if they've never been told anything by anyone–but they are not being educated about SAFE sex.

    Too many teens are being taught abstinence only education–which according to government studies, does not work. The average age of teens to first have sex is 14.9 years. It is the same whether or not they have abstinence only education. The problem is that those who get the abstinence only teaching do not know how to prevent unwanted pregnancy, so they are more likely to be teenage parents or to have abortions. They also are not taught how to be safer and prevent sexually transmitted diseases, so they are also more likely to get these diseases than other kids who are receiving comprehensive sex education.

    Senior citizens, many of whom are new widows and widowers, are entering into new relationships now after long monogomous marriages, and they do not know about AIDS or condom use. There is a huge HIV epidemic amongst senior citizens because they do not know about safe sex, since this was not as big of an issue when they were youngsters. At least, HIV and AIDS did not exist at that time. So educating seniors about these issues is very important.

    But let me add (and since you called me a pervert, I have no qualms about saying this), if you think you can stop your child from learning about sex until they are a teenager or even older, you are delusional. I just hope that if you refuse to teach your children, that they do learn what they need from someone else so they don't get a disease, or become pregnant, or impregnate someone else.

    That's all I have to say on this topic.

  17. "We don’t want their ridiculous beliefs pushed on us, how can we justify pushing ours?"

    This hasn't been mentioned explicitly, but this is a two-pronged aim. One goal would be to spread information. But the other would be to expose the hypocrisy of evangelicals should any of them complain about the mode chosen for disseminating this info.

    Yes, I can already see churchgoers and church leaders screaming holy hell, making charges of tresspassing and rabble-rousing and activism and hate speech and all sorts of other unfounded nonsense. But if they do, the first thing I am going to demand is that they tell me why it's OK for Christians to leave "love thy mythical skydog" pamphlets on my car, why it's OK for them to come to my door and ask me to join their cult (then "accidentally" litter my property with pamphlets when I politely tell them I'm not interested), and so on. I want to see how these people justify

    Of course, we all know what the deal is. Every religion needs proselytizers, because, regardless of how much confidence their adherents nominally claim to possess in their convictions about [insert skygod], religions make competing (and empty-headed) claims, and none of them have evidence for these competing (and stupid-ass) claims. If people could "really know in their heart" that the J-C murderous airfreak were the one true murderous airfreak, that airfreak wouldn't need a mammoth PR campaign to stay afloat inthe modern age.

    Fans of reason have long hoped that the simple truth underlying evolution, modern geology and the like, and their inclusion in science classes, would ultimately be enough to pierce the brains of even the most resistant, undereducated specimens like our Van here. But with America's populace being increasingly exposed as frightfully benighted, this bland optmism is clearly unfounded.

    To review:

    1. Education is good. No one's going to tell people they're going to suffer forever if they don't swallow evolutionary biology and dedicate their moral lives to it, but it's only fair to explain to them that they're been lied to and brainwashed for a long time.

    2. Exposing frauds, liars and cheaters is good. The specific targeting of parking lots will reveal any extant hypocrisy on the part of flock members. Anyone who can simultaneously justify religious evangelism on my front porch but piss and moan about someone leaving pro-science material for benighted folks to read can only make a fool of himself or herself. Yes, there will be those hapless bumpkins who will simply state that it's okay to shell out bullshit Christian crap on sidewalks because that's what God wants and that handing out contrary material is the devil's work, but people this far gone should simply be talked over or ignored (and on voting day their car keys should be confiscated….just kidding).

  18. Briarking said, "Reading Van Helsing’s posts should vividly illustrate to everyone here the futility of introducing reason and rationality to those who’ve already made up their minds."

    I don't think so. Sometimes what you say sticks in a dark corner of the mind for years before it starts to grow. I was a born again Christian for many years, and if it wasn't for writing about science, I would have never found my way out of my own closed-minded world.

    That's why I want to create free material on rational topics to put in places where people have easy access to them. You never know when something will catch someone's attention, and once it's read, it can't be unread.

    The church parking lot thing is fine with me if that's what some people want to do. But I like your other suggestions as well. I'd like to come up with a list of ideas of what to do with these pamphlets, so people can do whatever feels comfortable to them. We all come from different places and have different ideas about whether or not (or how much) we should be "evangelical" about spreading atheism. But I think we all agree that it is a good thing to spread rational thinking.

  19. Hello writerdd,

    "But I think we all agree that it is a good thing to

    spread rational thinking."

    Outside of contrary belief,I absolutely agree with you..

    no complaint there..

    "That’s why I want to create free material on rational topics

    to put in places where people have easy access to them."

    This sounds reasonable,and responsible which coincidently,

    doesn't involve my property..I respect and appreciate your

    consideration,since you're addressing some of my Legitimate

    concerns,(regarding my children)I in return,I'll retract my

    comment,you don't seem to sound much like a pervert..(now)

    V..

  20. Your child is going to learn about sex whether you like it or not. If you wait too long, then they will learn about it from someone else and you miss your chance to give them your viewpoint. That’s all I’m saying.

    That's not what you're saying writerdd,you're not asking

    If my kids are aware or not,you're determining that they

    should be aware of sex,when you decide to tell them.

    If your smut,happen to land inside a kindergarten

    playground,park,etc..It's not MY fault,for not preparing them,

    that's your bad..

    How i decide to raise my family,is no one else's business

    but my family..Which(for the record)is my only beef..

    V..

  21. "Too many teens are being taught abstinence

    only education–which according to government studies,

    does not work."

    I love how you guys twist facts around here,yet Rebbecca

    gets upset over journalist,not fact checking.How about a little

    honesty in your post?

    The argument isn't that it doesn't work.

    The argument suggest theres not enough decline in

    teen pregancies,abortions,S.T.D,in federal funded state

    programs involving abstinent

    However Mr.Twisty,there's a continuing INCLINE involving

    teen preagancies,abortions,S.T.D. in sexual awareness programs

    Get the picture now?

    Because I don''t appreciate the spin you placed on these component,

    whether intentionally,or by mistake..The argument is,if we should continue funding these programs,when only a few benefit,compared to those

    who will do whatever they wont anyway..

    Bostons been talking about this all day..

    but that approach is also like saying,if bank robbers are going to steal

    anyway,Lets give all criminals bank codes,to save to lives..

  22. Hello kemibe,

    I will pick you apart now..

    “We don’t want their ridiculous beliefs pushed on us, how can we justify pushing ours?”

    This hasn’t been mentioned explicitly, but this is a two-pronged aim. One goal would be to spread information. But the other would be to expose the hypocrisy of evangelicals should any of them complain about the mode chosen for disseminating this info.

    Actually you're very considerate calling this smut information,

    and I disagree with your analysis considering I call it spam

    in·for·ma·tion = the act or fact of informing.

    Since writerdd admits,most people know this "information"

    anyway,isn't this more like a Nat buzzing in the ear,vs something

    actually interesting and sociable to discuss at the dinner table..

    and who is the target audience,considering we're all in the know??

    Yes, I can already see churchgoers and church leaders screaming holy hell, making charges of tresspassing and rabble-rousing and activism and hate speech and all sorts of other unfounded nonsense. But if they do, the first thing I am going to demand is that they tell me why it’s OK for Christians to leave “love thy mythical skydog” pamphlets on my car, why it’s OK for them to come to my door and ask me to join their cult (then “accidentally” litter my property with pamphlets when I politely tell them I’m not interested), and so on. I want to see how these people justify

    Okay Kimbie,you obviously have some personal issues,

    however,how does any of this rambling,apply to this conversation?

    On behalf of FATHERS I raise my concerns,

    are you a Father,or a parent Kimbie?

    Tell you what,why don't you have a couple of kids,then tell

    me how it's my business,which way you raise YOUR kids,

    1)at least you will then,you can appreciate my position

    2)You'll also have an intelligent VESTED opinion

    regarding the "information"giving to your kids..

    Dear Briarking

    "Reading Van Helsing’s posts should vividly illustrate to everyone here the futility of introducing reason and rationality to those who’ve already made up their minds. "

    I don't recall the Government,giving you or anyone,the

    permission to make up my mind,did you think you can,for me?

    Do you have that right?

    I also have reasons and rational,for not subjecting myself

    to your groups great ideas..Do I have that right?

    When it comes to my life and parenting,your opinion mean

    absolutely nothing,you may quote me..Why do you have

    problems/issues with accepting that?

    Do I tell you what to eat,sleep and read?

    If I did,would it matter?

    I rest my case..

    V..

  23. the beauty about opinions writerdd,is that I don't need you,

    to have one..So I apologies if I failed to entertain you

    however that was never my intention

    V..

  24. If anyone is seriously interested in the main topic of this post, and in helping Kevin and me to create pro-rational tracts and flyers, please feel free to continue in this discussion.

    I'm defintely going to help write and produce these flyers for the "parking lot challenge," so unless you have constructive ideas, please don't bother to pop in just to say you think this is a bad idea or to spam the comments. If you want to help and join in to disucss real ideas for taking action, then I look forward to talking to you further.

    Van Helsing, that means "go away" because you are actiing like a troll.

    Everyone else, I tried to answer VHs troll spam because I feel that comprehensive sex education is a very serious topic that deserves discussion, even if it was really off topic for this post. But since VH just wants to call me names and distort what I say, I'm finished trying to play nice and explain rationally why it is important for children to have a proper education to prevent disease and teenage pregnancy.

    I left one other forum I used to particiapte in because everyone loved to argue, debate, and whine about things, but no-one ever wante to help out to participate in taking any kind of concrete action. I'm just not interested in that.

    ***

    Kevin, please log into the forum and send me a private message so we can exchange emails to work on this more easily. Thanks. Even if there are no-other volunteers, you and I can certainly come up with some useful flyers that we can post online for people to use in your challenge when you get it ramped up.

  25. Hello writerdd

    I did call you one name,but I also apologized,

    and never repeated my mistake..Why do you insist,

    I wish to only flame you?How many instances can you

    provide to support you accusation?

    I'm also being constructive,I will not tolerate you

    putting anything on my property,or in the minds

    of my young children,are you certified or even qualified to

    teach anything?

    especially sex education?

    These are legitimate concerns,I would have for any teacher,

    wishing to experiment on my kids,your bright ideas..

    Why can't you respect my decision.

    I didn't ask you to agree with me,I said respect..

    If you wonted to say something,but I told you not to,I would see your

    complaint,however you are inserting what you wont to do,and impose

    your ideas,regardless of my parenting wishes..

    how is that fair?

    You have some nerve,but so do I,so please feel free

    to impose,I will as well..V..

  26. writerdd,

    I was wondering, especially with your perspective, what would you reckon might be the fears a believer could have when starting to consider if their belief is justifiable – that is, what honest reassurances might help someone to open their minds to alternatives?

    From within a believing mindset, would someone worry they were doing something evil just by considering alternative explanations – is the religious compartmentalised far enough away from rationality that rationality doesn't really reach it?

    When contemplating moving away from religion even once someone had basically lost confidence in the supernatural side of it, might people still be likely to worry that they might become a worse person if they stopped going through the motions ("It's a Good Thing even if I don't really believe in it")?

    If there are practical family/social downsides to a believer making a public movement away from religion, might some leaflet that touched on those issues actually have particular credibility for at least some fraction of people?

    Despite church attendance as a child, I'm not sure I ever believed, and not having to cross any barriers to disbelief, I don't know what those barriers might look like, or how high they might be.

    If someone wasn't a far-gone fundie, would encouraging them to read the Bible end-to-end without assistance be likely to dampen or inflame potential skepticism?

  27. Hello Ph,I was wondering what does any of those question

    have to do with leaflets and flyers?

    "I was wondering, especially with your perspective, what would you reckon might be the fears a believer could have when starting to consider if their belief is justifiable"

    Is this a new thread?Did I miss something?

    do you really think the answer to "believer's' fear"

    lyes solely in the hands of an Atheist?

    are you serious?

    Should I ask a Christian what's the problem with Atheist?

    You really know how to pick an unbiased souses of information

    I really love your way of thinking

    V..

  28. PH: This is all very personal and probably different for each person. But I was afraid, at various times of:

    That I would disappoint God or Jesus

    Going to hell

    Becoming demon posessed (or insane)

    Backsliding and my life falling apart becuse God was no longer protecting me

    Becoming immoral ("a sinner"), and falling into a life of sin (like becoming a hooker or something)

    Having no hope or recourse if I couldn't pray if something bad happened to me or my loved ones (this one came up after I was agnostic)

    But "belief in belief" never entered into it for me. I found that to be intellectually and spiritually dishonest. I could not pretend to believe because I thought it was better to be a believer or because it made me feel good. I felt that I had to face my fears and be honest with myself.

    Of course, it's difficult to aruge on some of these points, because some Christians would say that my life got better after I left Christianity because Satan wasn't trying to harm me any more, since I was on his side. How can you argue wtih that kind of superstitious logic?

    I had to move 3000 miles away from almost everyone I knew to stop going to church. I was not able to do it with my religious friends around. I don't really know what to suggest to people who don't move, but you will probably have to find new friends. Depending on how conservative or liberal your Christian friends and family members are, they may or may not accept you in your new frame of mine. This is probably the biggest obstacle to leaving, even when you have doubts. Some people will be rejected by their own families. Fortunately, that did not happen to me. We just have established boundaries about what topics we will and won't discuss.

    I never was interested in apologetics when I was a Christian or in anti-apologetics afterwards. And I had read the bible from cover to cover in several translations when I was a Christian. So for me that would not make a difference. But I have heard other people say that reading the bible from cover to cover did start them on their journey away from blind faith.

    I was most moved by reading about cognitive science and the human brain. When I realized that there was no need to resort to a non-corporeal soul to explain human consciousness, that was a huge milestone for me. (The one before that was when I realized the only time I cried in church was when I had my period!) Also, the vast size of the universe totally blew my mind. When I read about cosmology and astronomy, I could no longer see how the small God of the Bible could have created such a huge expanse.

    I never was a young-earth creationist and always took the "6 days" of creation metaphorically, so the age of the universe wasn't an issue for me. I had a personal idea that god guided evolution or set the ball rolling, so to speak, and used evolution as a means to create the species. Of course, this idea grew on me slowly, as I became older. When I was a child, I took it all quite literally.

    Van Helsing: I apologize, if I misread your posts. But I do strongly believe that the right of the child to have information that can protect them from disease and unwanted pregnancy trumps the right of the parent to control what information their children are exposed to. Parents do not and should not have the right to put their children in harm's way by forced ignorance. I don't want to argue about this any more. But I would like to suggest that you examine the possible results of your decisions, and examine your motives for keeping your children ignorant.

  29. Hello writerdd

    "I don’t want to argue But I would like to suggest that

    you examine your motives for keeping your children ignorant."

    Excuse you,arrogant prick!my child is only four

    it's my every intention to keep her ignorant!

    It's your obstinates,which will lead you and I to war!

  30. "I will not tolerate you putting anything on my property,or in the minds

    of my young children,are you certified or even qualified to teach anything?"

    Is your local preacher or even the Pope qualified to talk about evolutionary biology? Is it worse for people to tell the truth about sex than it is for goverment-funded "abstinence-only" programs to spread lies about it? Is anyone really "qualified" to put false, frightening, divisive, ideas (i.e., religious faith) in anyone else's head?

    God is a fake, Van, from its promises of eternal life to its concern for your suffering. If Gos were real he'd be pissed at you for being lunkheaded enough to believe in him, because He's know how well hidden he is, and how incoherent all the stories about Him are. You may be dumb as a bucket of poop, but even you can see that God is batting about 0 for a trillion when it comes to miracles, benevolence, or signs of existing even in some scaled-down shambling form. Because this troubling fact is never quite as far from slyly jumping from your subconscious to your conscious mind, you're living a fear-based, and dismayingly semiliterate existence. (I know he won't listen, dd, but I'm getting in character here and highlighting as many examples of goddists' hypocrisy that I can.)

  31. Dear Kemibe,

    this is how far I got in your thread,

    "Is your local preacher or even the Pope qualified to

    talk about evolutionary biology?"

    Are you serious??

    I can go to a priest,or decide not to.

    How is that the same,as my kid bring home a pamphlet,

    because someone thought,my kid should know these things?

    I can't take the rest seriously,with-out addressing

    your opening statements..

    V..

  32. writerdd,

    Is there some chicken/egg operating there – if there were more acknowledged non-religious people around just getting on with being regular decent citizens, would it have been easier to avoid fears of religion preserving you from earthly downfall, or did the religion tend to mean you were largely in contact with other believers?

    With your religious friends, were they of the same particular subset of religion, or various kinds – was there much internal competitiveness and/or social groupings just tending along church lines, or did people not mind much as long as someone was some kind of Christian (or at least some kind or Protestant Christian, or whatever)?

    I don't want to seem like I'm just asking question after question, but I am interested.

  33. "But the other would be to expose the hypocrisy of evangelicals should any of them complain about the mode chosen for disseminating this info."

    Ah ok if the point is to specifically target churches involved in similar practises, thats fair enough I guess. Still feels a bit aggressive to me, but I make a fairly useless activist in general.

    The obvious boomerang possibility is if it becomes a more accepted practise as a result, I just loath those car flyers as a general concept.

  34. " I just loath those car flyers as a general concept."

    So do I. A better strategy down the line would be to set up little kiosks beside the churches — freethinker hot-dog stands of a sort. That way the only people who'd get an earful would be the ones willingly approaching ithse oases of reason. Van's kids are probably no more literate than he is and wouldn't be able to read the singage describing the kiosks' purpose, so he has nothing to worry about in tyerms of his kids being unfairly forced out of the Bronze Age.

  35. Excellent point Otara!

    Why does anyone conclude,"hypocrisy of evangelicals "are the

    once who'll be offended here?

    Any responsible parent,(quote me)has an obligation,to filter

    information,that is distributed to their children..This has been

    a shipwreck-topic,since the beginning.

    Foolish camouflage to hide an obvious agenda

    I appreciate you people,keeping harm of children,

    out of your own personal wars..Passing smut,to

    tick off Christians,is not cool at all..

    Why do I only make sense to myself?

    V..

  36. Van Helsing:

    I learned what sex was when I was 4, and I'm a moral, upstanding person and successful graduate student… didn't harm me any. (Of course, I was also fascinated with watching babies being born on NOVA, and thus completely dying of curiousity about the whole issue. I still remember thinkining, "Wow, that makes so much SENSE!" when I found out how said babies were made… the forming of a young skepchick…)

    Also, from reading this, you seem to think that the goal here is to paper church parking lots with sex education pamphlets…. The sex education/knitting 'zine is a COMPLETELY different topic from the church-pamphlet distribution. Those are going to contain interesting science information that has nothing to do with sex. So I think part of this discussion is people talking at cross purposes. For instance "Passing smut,to

    tick off Christians,is not cool at all.." Unless you consider science "smut", I don't think you have to worry. Unless your 4-year-old is actively seeking out magazines about sex and knitting.

    In any case, I don't think I really agree with the whole church-papering idea anyway… I've ALWAYS hated proselytizing – both doing it and dealing with other people doing it. That was actually always one of my problems back when I was a fundamentalist young-earth creationist.

    But I find the topic of what prompted questioning of religion very interesting. For me, it was more the study of religion than the study of science that did it. Sure, science got me from being a YEC to being a theistic evolutionist, but it was the study of the history of religion that really got me started. It actually began with the concept of Hell…. Jews don't believe in Hell… Christianity is an offshoot of ancient Judaism… how/why did Christians start believing in Hell? Even that just got me to stop believing in Hell. (I basically became an increasingly liberal Christian before I gave up on it all together). Then it was Biblical characters, such as the development of the concept of Satan, and the motives behind Judas' betrayal (WAY different interpretations of the texts than the standard fare can easily be made and defended).

    What really got to me, though, was a class I took as an undergrad called "Christian Controversies and Creeds". It was all about how Christian doctrine formed. Basically, most modern doctrine – important, must-have, vital to the very foundation of the faith doctrine – was formed CENTURIES after Jesus by political coercion, stifling of any and all open discussion, and outright murder. I'm talking the Trinity, the virgin birth, even the whole Jesus-is-simultaneously-God-and-man. ALL of these. It's really quite frightening the extent that angry mobs of murderous monks with pitchforks drove the development of Christian doctrine. (and NO, I'm not kidding). Finding out that these core doctrines were basically the result of political intruige and killing people who disagreed with it was the final nail in the coffin for me. (Especially the Trinity… I've never understood the concept. And whenever I've pressed someone to explain it to me thoroughly, they always give up and say "you have to have faith that that's how it works")

    Also, most Christians these days think there's some core, original Christianity Jesus preached that closely resembles that of today's. Not at all true. All sorts of beliefs that called themselves Christianity existed in the early centuries CE. The one that still exists just happens to be the one the Roman Emporer took a shining to 1700 years ago (who then subsequently and systematically eradicated all the others). Coincidence? Or more, Divine Truth? I think not.

    ~Kelly~

  37. "Why do I only make sense to myself?"

    Because I think you've misread the original topic and are basically arguing with yourself. Im pretty sure noones talking about putting sex education flyers on cars outside churches, you seem to have misinterpreted the topic from the getgo.

    WriterDD (I think) was only using the example of her internet based knitting/sex ed magazine as an example of another unusual way to get information to people, not as a possible topic for car flyers. And websites offering sex education are rife so if you have a beef with that, the horse has well and truly bolted.

    If on the other hand your fear is of your children receiving information about something like evolutionary biology and thats what you're calling 'smut', Im not sure what to say really.

    Otara

  38. I see allot of spinning…Let me correct that.

    "first issue will be “Safe Sex and Dangerous Knitting,”

    and it will include sex education information for people

    of all ages"

    So just to be clear here,we're not talking about marvels of science,

    or a lab quiz,the words do say safe sex,and just because you feel

    it's appropriate,doesn't grant you permission,to what you feel toward

    children,which don't belong to you..

    Have your own kids,teach them all they need to know at 3

    I keep my kids from your kids,life will be fine.

    So no offense,I believe I understand the ramifications of your actions,

    better than you have considered them yourself..

  39. Dear Kellbell

    I learned what sex was when I was 4

    I was learning to tie my shoe,spelling my name,

    remember my phone number,and not peeing in the bed..

    What useless information,and a sad upbringing it's,

    to incorporate sex into this learning process,of a child of 4

    although you may feel privileged to sensitive information,

    I respect the fact,you'll respect the fact,I consider this

    child abuse..

    ps doesn't mean you have to agree,I said respect..

  40. Otara,

    Misunderstanding things, whether from a basic lack of comprehension, a desire to jump to erroneous straw-man conclusions, or just a trollish intent to misunderstand in order to annoy seems to be about all that the Van Helsing persona is capable of.

    After claiming to feel unwelcome, and despite supposedly having much better things to do elsewhere playing at being pixies or something, VH still seems to hang around. Still, claiming to be better off elsewhere yet not actually leaving does seem to be one characteristic of a troll.

  41. actually ph you're very much mistaken..

    I do have Guild Wars,and it's much more entertaining

    than hearing what you think..I play a monk,not a pixie!

    i did also say I felt unwelcomed here,however

    that was sympathy I was sharing with another member,

    who openly aired their grievance.

    does everyone who disagrees with you,

    erroneous jumps or should be considered a trolls?

    That's what I'm hearing..

    V..

  42. Yeah,

    Personally, I see no problem with a flyer promoting sex education being handed out at a churches (I don't think education–even about safe sex–is smut, it wouldn't, after, all tell you how to have sex, just that using a condom is a good idea.)….

    But I hope it was obvious that that was not the goal of this project. The topics that will probably be covered are evolution, cosmology, cognitive science (there is no soul, just a brain), non-supernatural origins of morality, life without god is not pointless or nihlistic, etc. Not all need to be about science, some can be about alternative philosophical viewpoints, showing how not all non-Christians are murderers, rapists, or hookers.

    Actually, I'm not sure what topics to cover. I was looking for suggestions in this post, but the comments mostly got hijacked by someone who seems to have intentionally misinterpreted my mention of a completely different project as a side note in my original post. I really don't like it when people who are not skeptics come here just out to argue. It's a waste of my time. (I don't mind honest discussions but this doesn't seem to be one to me. I gave it the benefit of the doubt at first, which I now regret.)

    I'll be starting a new thread on this soon, and hopefully we can stick to the topic. I think if it is hijacked, I will delete the off topic comments. I would like to have a productive discussion that sticks to the topic.

  43. writerdd,

    I am sorry if my earlier doubts about the flyer thing came across as too much of a wet blanket.

    Regarding possible content of literature encouraging wider thinking, it's so hard to know what might work for one person or another, especially if it's not just a case of providing information, but of dealing with possible implanted fears of the dangers of questioning

    .

    Is there basically a window of time where people move away from home for work or study where they may be more amenable to really thinking about how their beliefs are justified or considering alternatives?

    I can see how it's difficult to move away from a parent's religion, but if/when someone settles down, moving away from a partner's religion presumably has its own set of difficulties, unless you can move together?

  44. PH, I find the skepchick crowd in general much more activism oriented that some of the other groups. I think a lot of the comments on this topic have bene very productive.

    I can share more about my own "deconversion" story (and I'm working on answers to your questions), but here's a website with tons of stories, that may be more useful for identifying any trends that might exist:

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml8453.htm

    The infidel guy also has interviewed some people about their deconversion stories on his podcast (you'll have to poke around to find them):

    http://www.infidelguy.com/

  45. I came up with a rational tract just before Easter, and managed to slip some into the pile of extra bulletins which were destined to be handed out specifically to visitors. The tract went like this:

    Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer murdered at least 17 men and boys. (Mug-shot of Dahmer http://www.mugshots.net/jeffrey_dahmer/jeffrey_da… He drugged them, sodomized them, beat them to death with a blunt object, sodomized their dead bodies, cut them into pieces, and ate them. But that's okay now!

    Dahmer was raised by born-again Christian parents just like the folk in this church. While in prison he was “born again” himself. According to this religion, every bad thing that anyone ever did throughout all time was 'paid for' when Roman soldiers whipped a Jewish cult leader and nailed him up by his hands and feet on a post to die.

    Biblical Christianity says that God punished Jesus, his innocent son, to compensate for each and every bad thing you ever do. They say that even if you never did anything bad in your whole life, you would still deserve punishment because of one piece of fruit that someone wasn't supposed to eat six thousand years ago.

    Common sense will say that “two wrongs don't make a right”. No one would deny that punishing the innocent is wrong. Everyone would say that killing your own child would be horrible. But according to this church, these are the ways God uses to make everything right. They and Jeffrey Dahmer will be best buddies with Jesus in heaven. It's you who will suffer in a literally flaming hell for all eternity – unless you believe all of this.

    Does this still sound like "the friendliest church in Franklin"?

  46. Dear writerdd,

    "Personally, I see no problem with a flyer promoting sex

    education being handed out at a churches"

    You did fail to convince me(or anyone)you are qualified for

    teaching anything?are you certified,if so in what state?

    I would like to check..

    you're also missing the whole point,it's not that you're going to find a problem with what you do,scrupulous people,will always find ways,

    to excuse themselves..

    I'm sure bank robbers,find nothing wrong,with what their doing

    but scrupulous people,will always find ways,to excuse themselves..

    Does parents think your idea is great?

    I believe this is the correct(honest)question to ask..

    V..

  47. Hello rdmiller3

    Did you actual read the bible,or are you just spouting

    what someone else told you..Had you been introduced to

    the"good-book"you would know that God didn't punish Jesus

    Jesus decided to die for our sins,and that's how it's quoted

    Jesus also had th power to walk away,yet "HE"chose not too..

    had you read the book yourself,you would know what I say is true,

    however the truth doesn't seem to be what you're interested in

    As for Dahmer,The bible does warn against murder,and it's also said

    God will judge your heart,If I'm in heaven and God said Dahmers good,

    I 'll have no issue with that..

    The bible also suggest we obey the laws of the land

    meaning even if god forgives,this doesn't mean we should forget,

    o excuse the sin..

    You made no argument,because you went on a rant

    that's grossly misconstrued to fit you're agenda,however

    those who are aware of the actual comments,will disagree with

    your accretion..

    in contrast,I hope I never hear you say again,

    someone told you a book said.It might be a long book,

    however please read it for yourself..V..

  48. RD miller:

    That is a good tract you wrote, but it might be unecessarily inflammatory. Besides, fundies have pre-packaged responses to all the issues you bring up (i.e. original sin, why Jesus had to die, why bad people can go to heaven and vice versa, etc.). They're trained to have an automatic response to these kind of things, and this would just trigger that (see van helsing's response for the perfect example…). I know that back when I was a fundamentalist, I would have just angrily thrown away your pamphlet (thinking, "but he just doesn't understand my religion!") and prayed for your soul. I think that aiming at their flawed views of science and the scientific method would be far more effective. If you get people thinking about geology, biology, etc, you then go through the process of "well, they're wrong about Genesis… what else are they wrong about?" I think a wide approach, using science, history, and a general opening of eyes to new experiences and ideas is the best way to go. It might be kind of hard, but aiming at things Christian apologetics hasn't covered in depth would probably be the best way to go. Oh, and I suggest healthy doses of quoting from talk.origins "index to creationist claims" – yeah, the claims are used by Christian apologists, but it's harder to find responses to the answers put forth on that site.

    And, I hate to feed the troll, but really Van Helsing? Your argument all along has been that parents should have the right to choose when to teach their kids about sex. And even though mine chose a time they saw fit, that was appropriate to my level of understanding and maturity, they're child abusers just because you disagree with it? That's not respect. Respect would be "I disagree with when they taught you" (that's fine, I'm not telling you to tell your daughter now or anything). And, as stated above, I've suffered no harm (emotional, cognitive, physical, or otherwise) from that experience, so it's obviously not child abuse. And no, I will absolutely NOT respect your accusing my parents of something so horrific.

    ~Kelly~

  49. Kelly, since you were also an ex fundie, I hope you're interested in helping to write some of these tracts! I know whenver I read anti-Christian material, my brain also starts answering with the regurgitated dogma of my church time. It's still closer to the surface of my brain than I'd like to admit! Ack. But in this case, I think it will be helfpul, as will having a familiarity with the born-again jargon.

    There's now way that anyone will read an anti-tract and quit church the next day. It took me years to become deprogrammed after reading just about nothing but the Bible for over a decade. But first I started thinking the 6-days of creation in Genesis were metaphorical. Then I started thinking that maybe God guided evolution (a sort of personally-defined ID philogosophy)…. changes in my thinking went on for years, in fits and starts, but the process was not accellerated until I moved away from my Christian friends and stopped going to church. Without the constant self-brainwashing, I was finally able to begin thinking for myself again.

    I actually had 2 separate falling aways (so to speak). First, I left the church in large part because I was disgusted with the conservative politics of Christian churches. Second, I outgrew faith as I learned more about science and the magnificence of the universe. These were two separate journeys that overlapped partly in time.

  50. Kelly,If you think I called your parent child abuser,your wrong,

    but I anyway apologies for perhaps giving you that impression

    For the record hun,I said "I think that's child abuse",

    I didn't say I'm right your wrong,but what I think is right,

    and I can't apologies for that..

    I do love your revelation,"And even though mine chose

    a time they saw fit,that was appropriate to my level of

    understanding and maturity"

    Now(my shoes) how would your parent feel,if bloggers

    made that decision for them?

    Since your parent had the right to chose,why do I have to

    wake-up in the morning,not having the same consideration

    It sounds like I'm better off,just talking to parent,

    is their any chance they can join?

    It sounds like they would agree with me..

    As for your constructive support(outside your original parenting)

    Doesn't include(like mine)to actually read the thing you criticize

    Did I not make a valid argument?

    I work on the fly,I don't record perfect answers

    I didn't plain for a set-up question,I could knock out the park

    So I disagree I've invented," pre-packaged responses to all the issues"

    what are all the issue?How would I prepare for the question?

    am I psychic?

    you give me no credit,when my response is only how I fell

    I'm not league with anyone

    So I also object,to you suggesting,that people should

    enlist "automatic response"what are we robots?

    I speak for myself!

  51. "though mine chose a time they saw fit,that was

    appropriate to my level of understanding and maturity”

    That sounds like great parenting by the way.

  52. Ok, "My parents taught me about sex when I was 4" "I think that's child abuse". I think that speaks for itself. And, since this is waaaay off topic of the rest of the discussion, I'm no longer going to take part. The last thing I will say is that I'm not your "hun" so please don't call me that.

    writerdd:

    I also had a gradual slide away from fundamentalism (I think that's probably the best/only way it works). I used to spend countless hours reading the bible and various resources like carm.org. It was a huge eye-opener for me to find viewpoints on the universe and the bible outside this narrow range. Throughout it all, I was of the opinion that my faith was worthless unless it met the challenges I had started putting it through. This caused some problems, as the people in the bible study I led strongly resisted this viewpoint; I also noticed that none of them seemed to take the religious studies classes at our school – WHY didn't they want to learn everything they possibly could about our religion? Well, I guess now I have the answer to that!

    As for helping to write the tracts, I'm afraid it would mainly consist of me plagarising from much smarter people. Although, I have been sitting here thinking how interesting it would be to have a series on the history of Christianity (for instance, on the development of the Trinity… I wouldn't come right out and say it's wrong, but a series of historically accurate readings from the church fathers would point out many things people would never know about this concept – things their church would, not coincidentally, never tell them). However, that would require me to locate all the materials from my old classes, and alas, finals are sneaking up. So I won't say no immediately, but a definite "maybe" is my answer. However, I would definitely be willing to help edit/read over things to help prevent the potential problem of immediately turning off a potential fundamentalist reader.

    ~Kelly~

  53. "fundies have pre-packaged responses to all the issues you bring up (i.e. original sin, why Jesus had to die, why bad people can go to heaven and vice versa, etc.). They’re trained to have an automatic response to these kind of things"

    Skit one:

    Fundies training facility;location unknown

    BOB:Did you bring the hot dogs?

    Ben:No,I brought the ketchup,I thought you were bring the hot dogs?

    Al:So where's the response booklet,we're supposed to study?

    BOB:I used it to start the fire for the hot dogs

    Ben:where are those Hot dogs?Man!

    Skit two:

    Psychiatrist:what seems to be the problem Mame?

    kellbelle:fundies trained to have an automatic response

    Psychiatrist:Have seen these facilities were there training?

    Kellebelle:No man,but there training,I know it!their quick like ninjas

    Psychiatrist:Have you seen any of these people?

    Kellebelle:No,but that doesn't mean they don't exists

    Skit three:

    Fundies training promo

    We are Borg,and we'll assimilate,resistance is futile

  54. Kelly,

    Before you started reading more widely, what was your attitude to 'other' information, or to people with different or no beliefs?

    Did you think the information was just mistaken (people not yet seeing the Truth), or that it was inspired by evil, or was it something that you didn't really think much about?

    Did you think you were better (chosen/brighter/whatever) than other people and therefore saw the Truth, or just luckier because you had been shown it, or just different?

  55. *cough*

    Yeah, for the sake of bringing this slightly back on track, I hope, here's a link to PZ's post about a very slick-looking and informative 16-page pamphlet on evolution aimed at high school-aged kids. It should give some good ideas for style and content that could be used in a shorter pamphlet for distribution.

    Maybe in school parking lots rather than church parking lots? ;)

  56. Yeah,

    imposing your view on children isn't bullying?

    Mocking peoples' beliefs,isn't bullying?

    My question is on topic,and you can take a stab if you like

    people of all ages and high school student,are two different

    age groups,right?

    Baning people for their posting words,isn't bullying right?

    Typical

  57. PH:

    I had quite an atypical experience for a fundamentalist, I think. I could write a whole essay about it, but I won't. A lot of it influenced the answers to your questions, though.

    Anyway, I've always been pretty mellow and laid back sort of person. So I got along with people of different beliefs great (probably helped a good deal by my absolute hatred of prosyletizing). Most of my friends were Christian, but a few were other religions or not religious at all. One of my friends and I debated every day in high school biology about creation vs. evolution, but we kept it very friendly and stayed on very good terms. While she knew a LOT more about evolution than me, we WERE still in high school, so we couldn't debate at a very detailed level. Besides, since I knew nothing about it, I had no real context to put her arguments in. We're not in touch anymore, but oh, I would love to see her again and apologize/thank her!

    I definitely thought the other viewpoints were mistaken rather than a product of evil. I think I've always been a truth seeker (I've always loved science, too), and when I was deeply religious, I thought I had already found truth, and sought to know everything I possibly could about it. Found out I was mistaken. But I thought the others just hadn't found the truth yet. And I just didn't get atheists at all. I had read something about CS Lewis, who once said "I didn't believe God existed, and I hated him for not existing" – I thought this was the only possible characterization of atheists.

    But at the time, I certainly didn't feel better than anyone, or chosen. Maybe lucky is the right word to use about how I felt, even though I didn't think of it that way at the time. But looking back, I think I did feel lucky about having found truth at such a young age.

    ~Kelly~

  58. Thanks for that, Kelly.

    "Besides, since I knew nothing about it, I had no real context to put her arguments in."

    I can see how that could make a huge difference – with a lot of science basically being about putting information in the right relationship, without the framework, even a whole *load* of facts could seem essentially disconnected, and mean far less than they might do to the person trying to build an argument around them.

    One argument that might seem a killer one to someone who sees the 'obvious' implications behind it may look like nothing much to the very person who it's hoped it will convince.

  59. PH – that's exactly it! The situation I was thinking of when I wrote that was a particular discussion about "missing links". I challenged her to find a skeleton of a transitional species to show me. I thought, no, KNEW she couldn't. She came in the next day with printout of a skeleton of what must have been some sort of early tetrapod, though I can't remember exactly. What I do remember is thinking that the skeleton looked complete on it's own, and didn't show any obvious transitional characteristics between fish and land-dwelling creatures. So, with absoultely no knowledge of anything outside of extremely basic anatomy, and with no knowledge of what previous and later relatives of this creature looked like, I dismissed it based solely on how it "looked" as a stand-alone skeleton ("great. it's a really old fish-thing"). Which pretty much translates to: I ignored it in favor of my dogma, which made sense without having to study all sorts of dull fossils.

    Which gets to the crux of the problem, I think. Religious people in general think they can get to the truth of the universe without ever knowing (or caring to know) how it really works.

    ~Kelly~

  60. I think *people in general* often aren't interested in details if they think they can get by without knowing them.

    The urge to simplify affects everyone – no-one has the time to understand everything, so in one sense the distinction between people is a quantitative one – on any topic, most people will be lacking some information.

    However, if it got to the point where someone's chain of reasoning ended up at "Because the holy book/man says so", it doesn't seem any different from "Because Mao says so". If a person has a resistance to analysing further, or a willingness to remain certain despite not looking when someone questions their conclusions, I guess it changes to a qualitative difference, and possibly a dangerous one at that.

  61. I have an idea – instead of focusing just on science, we could focus on unscientific ideas that would likely be opposed by both scientists and religious people. Astrology would be a good example, since practically every newspaper has a horoscope, and it would allow us to give some interesting factoids that would encourage critical thought, like how the obstetrician has a greater gravitational influence on a baby than the planet Jupiter. The pamphlet could then segue into information on astronomy. It could talk about how sunspots and solar flares affect technology on Earth, or about how the moon affects the tides, or about the various discoveries that have been made by Mars missions and the Cassini spacecraft. I think that religious people would be more likely to read something like this rather than an explanation of something they don't believe in, like evolution.

  62. Gary, I agree. I am busy for a few days, so I'll have to write more later.

    But, here's something to consider from

    http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=518550

    "It’s time for the atheist in America to come out of hiding. Atheists should be able to openly declare their beliefs without fear of alienation in the workplace, school, and home. The idea that belief in God is a prerequisite to morality must be dispelled so that atheists may receive the tolerance they deserve.

    If the stigma of atheism is to disappear, however, atheists must have the courage to defend what they believe. And, as Richard Dawkins puts it, they must work to raise the public consciousness to the enormous prejudice that many atheists face everyday… It is up to each individual to explain, and if need be, defend his or her own secular philosophy. Only when more atheists stand and speak up for their beliefs will people begin to shed their erroneous assumptions about atheism and decry bigotry against atheists."

    I think this is a good statement of my goal, at least, for participating in this project. It's worth reading that whole article.

  63. Looking at a bit of the Chick stuff, it brings back a question I'm curious about.

    Do fundie leaflet-makers actually have some doctrinal *objection* to talent in art, are they unable to tell the difference between skill and its absence, do they just not care about ability, are they too polite to tell an eager amateur that they're just not very good, or is there a lack of available competent artists, whether through talent being somehow mentally incompatible with their kind of belief or from art school or effort spent in self-improvement being considered somehow Undamentalist?

  64. "However, if it got to the point where someone’s chain of

    reasoning ended up at “Because the holy book/man says so”,

    it doesn’t seem any different from “Because Mao says so”.

    Ph,please provide any of your Dependant chain of

    thoughts,you feel are equivalent to any Tennant found in the

    Hebrew Bible,(I'll even help:Thou shall not kill)which can be utilized effectively aid and govern a society,family, environment,and humanity..

    Seriously!

    Because I have this realization,that the more I learn,

    the more I learn I know nothing..

    How did you get so be so wise?

  65. writerdd,

    The art thing is a semi-serious question.

    In reality, I suppose there are probably numerous reasons for the general standard of illustration, and mutual circulation of literature could, in the same way it can in actual serious art, explain the development of typical styles of work (or even the favourite scenes such as 'Pastel Lobotomy Heaven with Token Ethnic') even without explicit planning, but I was wondering if there may be some deeper reason that led to a systematic conscious avoidance of artistic talent.

  66. I was being serious. A lot of Christians prefer to deal with Christian businesses.

    However, I think art is a very liberal field for the most part. Most artists are social critics and creativity seems to be related to an openess to change, which often leads to a liberal political outlook. And so Christians, at least not the fundy/evangelical type, are not going to be attending quality art schools, because they don't want to be in that kind of environment. It's not like hundreds of years ago when almost all art was religous. You don't see a lot of conservative artists anywhere, do you? I haven't met many during my career. Even when I worked in an art department for the U.S. Navy, almost everyone there was a raging liberal. Of course many commercial artists will do whatever job brings in the dough, and so might be willing to work for tract publishers. That's just a guess, really.

  67. writerdd wrote:

    "There’s no way that anyone will read an anti-tract and quit church the next day. It took me years to become deprogrammed after reading just about nothing but the Bible for over a decade. But first I started thinking the 6-days of creation in Genesis were metaphorical. Then I started thinking that maybe God guided evolution (a sort of personally-defined ID philogosophy)…. changes in my thinking went on for years, in fits and starts, but the process was not accellerated until I moved away from my Christian friends and stopped going to church. Without the constant self-brainwashing, I was finally able to begin thinking for myself again."

    This really resonates with the way that I deconverted from Christianity to non-belief. I think the point of any sort of flyer isn't to start an immediate conversion, but instead to plant a seed.

    I don't know about the rules of leaving them on cars, but I frequently find all kinds of stuff on the shelves of our local post office. Also, City Hall seems to be a place (here) where people try to pass things out.

    Our local Wal-Mart agrees to let Scientology set up "Stress Test" tables in front of their door – I wonder if we could do something similar?

    I think the idea of a general promotion of rational thought, and basic explanations of how science really works as opposed to the strawman of scientific "method" created by religion and Hollywood might be a good tactic.

    Sure, it'd be fun to point out the inherent hypocrisy of the Christian religion and the errant passages of the Bible – but it wouldn't be very effective if done aggressively, it would just make people more defensive.

    Still, asking religious people difficult questions about their religion IS another way of planting a seed. Some of those difficult questions helped in my own deconversion.

    As one of my preachers once told me, "The best way to bring people to Christianity is to live such a good, Christian, life that they will WANT to emulate you." In my experience, that works even better for nonbelievers – especially because a nonbeliever's answers to moral problems make a lot more sense.

  68. >>"Our local Wal-Mart agrees to let Scientology set up “Stress Test” tables in front of their door – I wonder if we could do something similar?"

    Maybe Wal-Mart spy on the people who linger at the table, and target the more gullible-looking ones for in-store promotions?

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