Atheist Pride

During a few spare minutes I had today, the Great Toutatis guided me to technorati where I found a link to a blog called “Bible Study for Atheists.” This blog (from Vast Left) is pretty good reading. It is witty enough to entertain and certainly worth a visit. On reading it, I found the shards of a bit of a debate between Vast Left and a blogger called El Borak.

From what I read (and please correct me if I get this wrong), Vast Left made a post “poking fun” at Genesis and El Borak responded with:

Of course, it’s not even a study per se. Rather it’s simply a chance to poke fun and play number games. (read original)

I might be misreading the tone, but this strikes me there has been a sense of humour bypass here. Of course it isn’t a study per se — although I am not sure if El Borak means study in the “Bible Study” sense where a load of Christians sit round and re-affirm each others ideas, or a study in the scientific sense. (Hint: I am poking fun).

Now, broadly speaking, El Borak is actually fairly reasonable and presents his arguments well. I am not sure I want to get involved in the overall debate, so I will not pass comment on that “per se.” One sentence which did leap out at me, though, was: (emphasis mine)

I know I should not expect more from self-proclaimed Atheists, and that’s the problem. I truly don’t.

This is interesting. I am not interested in the attempt at a snide dig, to be honest I don’t expect anything else from any theists (self proclaimed or otherwise), they just don’t know any better. What did interest me was the use of the term “self proclaimed.” I am some what confused as to what it was meant to imply.

Normally, when you see the term “self proclaimed” it tends to imply the following word is a dubious boast. Is this meant to mean that El Borak doubts Vast Left is really an atheist until there is some corroborating evidence? From it’s use it could also be read to mean El Borak is amazed anyone could have the front to actually admit they are an an Atheist, or he could simply doubt anyone is really an Atheist.

I am confused. (extra entertainment can be found from the comments on El Borak’s page, Huckelberry is worth a chuckle)

10 thoughts on “Atheist Pride

  1. Clearly, you can’t be considered to believe something without some authority confirming that yes, you do believe it. I mean, duh.

    It occured to me recently that atheism is the one position on religion I know of that people come into wholly on their own. I’ve never heard of a person being “converted” to atheism by someone else, and there is, of course, no “atheist church” going around proselytizing, passing off pamphlets of atheist FUD to the homeless along with a bowl of soup, etc.

  2. Hello, TW.

    I hope that I can answer your questions to your satisfaction.

    On “per se,” the original site I linked to was “Bible Study for Atheists,” as you note. My point was that it is not what most would think of when they say “bible study.” I understand the humor; the entire point of my original post is that such humor is probably what one can expect from introducing the bible into public schools.

    On “self-proclaimed,” I have no doubt that VL is an atheist. Perhaps I should have said “self-identifying” or some such…the reference is simply meant to put the quote that follows in the context of one comes out and says “I’m an atheist and here’s my bible study.” He’s proclaiming a study for a certain audience, and I just wanted to note that. If my blog was called “El Borak’s Christian Blog” or some such, I certainly would not take offense were one to refer to my writings as those of a “self-proclaimed” Christian.

    Hopefully that helps with the confusion.


    El B

  3. El B – thanks for the comments and the clarification.

    Personally, I still don’t see the need to add any term (self-identifying) or otherwise, it just strikes me as superfluous words, but I can see your point.

    While I accept there was no underlying subtext in your usage of the term, there remain numerous examples (on and offline) of people using the term in a derogatory manner. Generally speaking I have seen many, many more examples of people being described as a “self proclaimed atheist” (and this being part of a derogatory line of commentary) than I have seen “self proclaimed Christian.”

  4. El Borak,

    I would like to believe that you’re right, and that humor — or at least healthy skepticism — would be the order of the day if the Bible is read in pubic schools.

    However, when I see something like the last part of this “60 Minutes” segment, I sense that truth will become a casualty if we fly ever-nearer to religifying our public schools. With the lives and health of their students hanging in the balance, teachers are feeling obligated to lie about the effectiveness of condoms. How can we expect that they’ll apply a grain (or pillar) of salt when the Bible’s creation story becomes part of the curriculum? Be afraid, Mr. Darwin, be very afraid.

  5. I must say that I would think even “self-proclaimed” Christians would want to steer very clear of reading the Bible in public schools.

    It’s not only a very dull read – with whole novella-length passages of ‘begats’ – it also has such fantastically bizarre rules, like the prohibitions in Leviticus, that you’d imagine that exposure to it would put most kids off Judaeo-Christian religion for life.

    In America, it seems particularly odd, given levels of open religious adherence that dwarf what we are used to in Europe. Surely these poor kids are getting more than enough of this stuff outside their schools.

    I did think ‘self-proclaimed’ was a poor choice of words. It sounded to me as if Vast left Blogger’s atheism was being made to sound subtly insincere. But a handsome apology from El B and let him without an unfailingly good command of le mot juste cast the first stone….

  6. “It sounded to me as if Vast left Blogger’s atheism was being made to sound subtly insincere.”

    Well, even if it was, I’m sure VL’s a big enough boy that he won’t be crying himself to sleep tonight. Sticks and stones and all that. We’re pals and all, but one who runs a site like BS4A has very little room to complain about other people’s rhetoric. It is a credit to him that he never once raised such a complaint.

    “It’s not only a very dull read – with whole novella-length passages of ‘begats’…”

    Believe me, Heather, I know what’s in it, but it can be taught without boring students to tears (I have taught it myself, though not in public schools). That said, I would hate to think students would leave class hating the Bible as much as I hate Hawthorne and and I’m fairly certain that such is what would happen. And for the same reason.

  7. El B.,

    I’d assumed “self-proclaimed atheist” and your low expectations for same were intended as a dig, but past that I’ve found you to be a cordial and thoughtful sort. After a few sleepless and tear-stained nights, I’ve pulled myself together as best as I can.

    I must take issue, however, with “one who runs a site like BS4A has very little room to complain about other people’s rhetoric.” With the Bible being rammed up my country’s butt (see the “60 Minutes” video link in my previous comment for but one of zillions of examples), I don’t see how a little irreverence at the expense of the literalists and fundies should come at the cost of my rhetoric-complaint privileges.

    If you merely mean I shouldn’t be thin-skinned, sure, and if that be the case, my apologies for violating that proviso herein.

  8. El B.,

    Well, even if it was, I’m sure VL’s a big enough boy that he won’t be crying himself to sleep tonight.

    I don’t think any one suggested he would be. My post was not because I (or anyone else) was upset or hurt by your comments. I was simply curious as to why so many theists use the same terminology. Vast Left never complained about your rhetoric… I was highlighting the oddity of it, not him.

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