Even Atheism Has Its Heretics

Meet Larry Darby. The founder of the Atheist Law Center, he’s an outspoken atheist who’s running for Attorney General of Alabama as a Democrat. Oh, and he’s also a Holocaust denier and a white supremacist.

According to an article in Newsday,

Democratic candidate for Alabama attorney general denies the Holocaust occurred and said Friday he will speak this weekend in New Jersey to a “pro-white” organization that is widely viewed as being racist.

Larry Darby concedes his views are radical, but he said they should help him win wide support among Alabama voters as he tries to “reawaken white racial awareness” with his campaign against Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson.

Of course, the fact that Darby is an atheist almost guarantees the fact that he will not be elected into office, seeing how atheists are the most hated group in the country. I suppose that in this case America’s anti-atheist bigotry will incur a positive outcome. Still, the case of Larry Darby raises some interesting questions. Can one fairly and accurately make generalizations about atheists? Is it right to assume that all or even most atheists hold similar political beliefs? Darby may be running on the Democratic ticket, but he sure as hell isn’t what I would call a liberal. Hence the intentionally ironic title of this post, which treats atheism as a religion—the truth is that the only thing that unites atheists is a lack of belief in god(s).

I am not an atheist, but I am a liberal. Many atheists are liberals, but the link is not as strong as some might assume. I personally believe that political orientation is influenced by many different factors, including one’s upbringing and life experiences, and not merely one’s religious beliefs. Look at The Raving Atheist, for example. This is an individual who is very outspoken about his lack of belief in god(s), yet he holds some very socially conservative views (particularly on the topic of abortion).

In conclusion, Larry Darby is a good example of how generalizations regarding a lack of religious convictions (or generalizations people who are religious) do not always mirror reality. As stated above, the one thing that all atheists have in common is a lack of religious belief.

68 thoughts on “Even Atheism Has Its Heretics

  1. Am being picky if I suggest they DON’T – it’s so far from the pinnacle of their belief system?

    No, you’re not being picky, just noting different examples.  Apparently prominent Buddhists often find themselves answering questions from disaffected Xians and this comes up fairly often. 

    Certainly those who are cemented into the hole dug for them by Xianity won’t give reincarnation a second thought.  They’re looking forward to that judgment, when all the other people will go to hell but not them.

  2. Certainly those who are cemented into the hole dug for them by Xianity won’t give reincarnation a second thought.  They’re looking forward to that judgment, when all the other people will go to hell but not them.

    Am I the only one who feels sorry for them or, should (?) I just feel sorry for them and think – you short-sighted, narrow-minded mind-molesters?
    Aaah – it’s what I do anyway. Afterall I’m smarter. MentalWank.LOL MentalWank.LOL

  3. I have always found Hinduism to be a fascinating religion. It’s a whole helluva lot cooler than Christianity, and the gods/goddesses are so intriguing.

    Yup, the Hindu pantheon is one of my absolute favorites (as evidenced by my avatar), and the religious art is just beautiful… so colorful!  I probably own more statues and pictures of various Hindu deities than those of any other pantheon.  Perhaps it’s a bit odd in light of my atheism, but I have a rather large collection of religious statues, art and books.  The way I see it, it’s not necessary to believe in gods or religion in order to appreciate the art associated with them.

    OT: Sadie – I’m in Spring cleaning mode, and looking for a good home for a bunch of my altar tools and other Wiccan related stuff.  If you’re interested, shoot me an email.

  4. zilch:
    Do you mean that I’ve sufficiently defined my position, or that you’ve simply had enough?  I hope I haven’t offended you, because I think you are probably a nice guy.  I just happen to disagree with you about this God stuff, but also (and more interestingly for me) about the utility of dialectics to get at useful truths.

    I believe your analysis of the situation is correct.

    zilch:
    We’re all buried in the streambed, theo- theists, atheists, Humeans, and Humans- just humus, temporarily awakened to the dance.  Who can step twenty feet from the streambed?  And what’s obsolete about Humean objectivity?

    I know we’re al buried in the streambed, this is partly my point.  Humean objectivity is obsolete precisely because it would think that we can.  Hume would suggest to be truly objective is to step outside of of reality to look down upon it and observe what is happening.  He would have us cut all ties to reality to understand it properly.

    This is where the existentialist come in and say it is impossible for us to cut ourselves away from any reality because we are already constantly existing in relationship to it.  True objectivity is active subjectivity.  That is to say we must take into account and accept that all judgments made about reality are being made in relation to it from each of our subjective viewpoints.  It is precisely our relationship to reality that gives us any perspective to what is happening.

    The mantra is common: Existence over essence.  We exist first and foremost and define our essence through our existence.  If our essence were first (like nearly every philosopher before the existentialists would assert) then the Humean view of objectivity would be possible because what makes us who we are would be indpendent of the way we interact(exist) with ourselves and our reality.

  5. Maharishi: Personally, I think it’d be wonderful if reincarnation were a reality. I’ve been told that my past lives included, among others, those of a twelfth-century Mongolian warrior, an eighteenth-century French peasant woman, and a sixties hippie (obviously my most recent incarnation). Awesome if it were true!

    At least you’re not saying you were Marie-Antoi-fucking-nette.
    But, it’s a beautiful concept, isn’t it?
    One day I’ll tell you about the re-incarnations of me that I’ve ‘discovered’.
    We all know why xians aren’t comfortable with the concept, don’t we?
    Their beliefs, based on owners/puppet-masters/controllers, would lose POWER.
    Simple stuff – it will or it won’t. Heads I win; tails you lose. LOL

  6. OB: … where have you been?

    (as evidenced by my avatar)

    Like …  who disappeared it? I loved it.
    Ditto everything else you said … I’m a coward … + therefore I’m a half-way intelligent man AND … I’ve read enough of your posts to know you don’t take shit.
    I have one TINY silver Ganesh on my TV (if you saw how/where I lived you’d agree it’s the right place – I know – there’s no WRONG place – AND I just moved it so’s it’s beside my printer, sorta, in front or me ).
    X
    I usually [in text anyway] often (this is the first time here) sign off with an x for 3 reasons (and I’m not dong Monty Python Inquisition sequence – here).
    1.I’m lazy
    2.It could be a kiss
    3.When I lived at the Vic Hotel here in Bathurst nearly 30 years ago I used to play pool and being lazy [and usually drunk] (LAZY: as admitted in point 1) instead of putting my initials ‘JG’ I made two strokes (Zorro was way too out there – he made 3) on the chalkboard that recorded whose game was up next.
    There are still some people in town who call me ‘x’.
    x LOL

  7. Hume would suggest to be truly objective is to step outside of of reality to look down upon it and observe what is happening.  He would have us cut all ties to reality to understand it properly.

    The same could be said of just about any premodern philosopher, if you ask me.  Or of any prophet.  And much as I admire Hume for giving us Philo, Hume made the same mistake philosophers have been making, at least since Plato, of thinking that they can arrive at truths about the real world through dialectics alone.

    This is where the existentialist come in and say it is impossible for us to cut ourselves away from any reality because we are already constantly existing in relationship to it.  True objectivity is active subjectivity.  That is to say we must take into account and accept that all judgments made about reality are being made in relation to it from each of our subjective viewpoints.  It is precisely our relationship to reality that gives us any perspective to what is happening.

    I guess I’m an existentialist too then, although I would say that there’s no such thing as “true” objectivity- all we can do is aspire to be as aware as possible of our filters and limitations, and play them off one another to try to get at as big and accurate a picture as we can.  Like the blind men describing the elephant, but doing the best we can to combine all their experience.

    Perhaps our only real disagreement here is in the trifling issue of God’s existence.  It does puzzle me a bit, though, theo, why you would consider the truth of God’s existence to be the same kind of truth as two plus two being four.  Isn’t God a fixture of the real world for you, and thus part of your map of the world, like Iceland?  Or is His existence something physically imperceptible but logically necessary, like the truths of mathematics?

  8. I’ve been told that my past lives included, among others, those of a twelth-century Mongolian warrior, an eighteenth-century French peasant woman, and a sixties hippie (obviously my most recent incarnation). Awesome if it were true!

    If by “past lives” you mean “direct forbears”, I would guess some twelfth-century Mongolian warrior has a surprisingly good chance (supposedly quite a few “white” Europeans have Mongol blood, mostly because of Genghis Khan), some eighteenth-century French peasant woman perhaps, and the sixties hippie null chance, unless it’s one of your parents.  Or grandparents, but that would be pretty old hippies. LOL

  9. zilch:
    Isn’t God a fixture of the real world for you, and thus part of your map of the world, like Iceland?  Or is His existence something physically imperceptible but logically necessary, like the truths of mathematics?

    Both (supposing I understand the map analogy).  I find him to be both logically necessary and a being that can be experienced (not in a physical sense, more of an intuitive sense).

  10. OB: … where have you been?

    Oh, lurking here and there of course wink But I’ve been one busy bitch at my new job (NSFW), which I just LOVE! If you’re over 18 check out the free diary there, and give me suggestions for the site(s). Tell me what’d make you buy, and STAY. It’s my job to procure and deliver all things internet… woo hoo!

    I consider myself quite fortunate in that what I spend my time doing in order to pay the bills is a way for me to be actively involved in causes that mean a lot to me… like Free Speech, civil rights and comprehensive, REALISTIC sex education.

    I have one TINY silver Ganesh on my TV (if you saw how/where I lived you’d agree it’s the right place – I know – there’s no WRONG place – AND I just moved it so’s it’s beside my printer, sorta, in front or me ).

    Ganesh appears in one form or another all over my house and office.  Gotta give props to the Remover of Obstacles, eh? But hey, I’ve always loved elephants anyway… My (as yet) sole tattoo is an Om on my ankle, in rainbow colors.

    For me, there are just certain religious icons and symbols I’ve taken a liking to, so I do them the “honor” of placing them somewhere appropriate in my world. For example, I just inherited a statue of St. Francis of Assisi in a work buddy’s purge, and he’s going right out into my yard where he belongs! Someone’s got to watch out for all the critters while the Crazy Cat Lady is busy slinging porn!

  11. Well, OB, that’s an unusual job… are you Rox?  I can’t offer any advice, because just as Bobby McFerrin is his own Walkman, I’m my own, well, you know…  Good luck to you!

    One of my prized possessions is a jade elephant dated to the eleventh century.  It’s a very simple carving, made to fit the shape of the natural pebble with mimimal removal of material, and has pride of place in my workshop.  If you’re ever in Vienna come see it.

  12. What an entertaining thread! On one (long) page we have the marvellous tale of Bumblesnoz, zilch’s television quip and the phrases ‘We solipsists have more fun than anyone else!’ and ‘Rock works in mysterious ways’. During my reading, I was led to look up godel, and hence on a marvelous journey through wiki, past hilbert (i actually understood one of his problems!!!) and first order logic, through zermelo-frankel set thoery (buh?) and then ontology. then i had a headache and went to bed reading a dictionary. This was all great as i’d spent the morning involved in a stupid online course which does for knowledge what ice-cream scoops do to brains, and was glad to see that people with the ability to impart knowledge do exist.
    i have to say (this being my first real post) that i am very impressed with the dialectic (thx wiki) i’ve seen so far in this site and the respect (generally) shown to all parties. particularly given the nature of discussion ie poohpoohing stupid people. also thx for mentioning Fundies say the darnedest things (fstdt.com), what a hoot. after reading that i was ready to hit someone, or at least look like i was. i’m not a violent person.

    The Church of Atheism debate reminds me of a conversation i had with an Islamic friend. He told me (rather sheepishly – he’s fairly moderate) that by not believing in any ‘divine’ (i prefer supernatural, but divine seems more specific) being, i was actually worshipping the devil. i tried to point out that ‘any’ was quite inclusive, to which he replied that, regardless of my opinion on the matter, in terms of his religion, his faith, by rejecting his god i was doomed to hell. for him to think or say that there would be no consequence for my ‘apathy’ (another term i don’t like – i quite actively think organised religion [and finance] is the bane of mankind) would be a rejection of his indoctrinated beliefs. i think this reflects the atheism as a religion debate, in that religious types see a religious outcome for atheists, or else they cannot justify their own beliefs. thus THEY see atheism as a religious choice, regardless of the atheists feelings on the matter.

    i suppose this would be a good time to hint at my own conclusions on the subject of spiritualism/religion. i cannot forsee a time when man will be able to say, sorry, to SHOW, beyond reasonable doubt, that the universe is or contains some kind of superconsciousness, or not; it’s a case of ignoramus et ignorabimus (i know it’s been rolled back for maths, but that was back when maths was only just becoming more useful than astrology). What i can say with a degree of certainty, is that if we can’t, then a bunch of primitive skull collectors certainly couldn’t. What i can say with a degree of certainty is that if i or anyone else stood up and said some of the things that so-called prophets have said in the past, i’d at best be ignored by people who know better (at worst i’d be stoned to death by people who don’t). What i can say with a degree of certainty is that one can see all kinds of self interest in the bible or any other religious manual i haven’t read (but i know theres a lot of we’re right/better/good, they’re wrong/worse/evil, it’s our land tithe tithe tithe) and if there’s one thing that destroys all credibility, it’s blatant self-interest (ala Fox [sorry about that btw on behalf of us aussies])What i can say with a degree of certainty is that mankind is a sorry lot if we can’t act with common decency toward our fellow man without fear of punishment or hope of reward, then we’re a pretty sorry lot. What i can say with a degree of certainty, is that once I was part of a star, and will be again. And what i can say with as much surety as i can muster is that i’m a highschool dropout whose opinions are his own.
    What i’ll add without certainty (i realise this is getting a bit long in the tooth) is that if there is such a superbeing with the power of creation who exists throughout the universe, then that being would probably care about what women do with their bodies and whether mens’ frenums are exposed about as much as i care about a particular electron in a particular carbon atom in my heel. if It did/could, then it would’ve made that fairly clear by now, in more ways than a few anecdotes of highly situational and complex displays of coercive power-chanelling by a select few in a small area. if It couldn’t make it clear a. who cares then and b. QED

    ps Engineers and scientists have something to show for their labours
    pps lemme know if i’m a complete idiot

  13. The threads around here do tend to veer off in wild and unpredictable directions at times, but it’s hard to read them and not learn something new in the process. It might be pretty trivial in the great scheme of things, but it’s still something new.

    The pages tend to get long mainly because of how I have the links set up so that you can jump straight to a comment. I can have EE break the chain up into a paginated display, but then there’s no easy way to construct links to the comment in question. I’m still puzzling over possible solutions to that problem.

  14. pps lemme know if i’m a complete idiot

    Not.  Welcome to the circus, DeathToHumans.  We need all the antipodeans we can get, to counterbalance our northism…

  15. Wish I could play the guitar…

    Just noticed this.  Sadie, don’t wish, do.  It’s easy- hell, if John won’t give you lessons, I will, next time I’m in the Bay Area.

  16. We need all the antipodeans we can get, to counterbalance our northism…

    I’ll have to gain some weight… LOL 

    thx for the welcome!

  17. I just noticed

    i’m not a violent person.

    …says DeathToHumans

    Well, i saw someone use the phrase ‘sure as hell’ on this site, so i guess inadvertant contradictions aren’t a capital offence.

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