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This Week in Atheism 2018–10–15


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/15

“What if I told you my truck runs on wishes? When I hopped in the cab this morning, I closed my eyes really tight and muttered, “I wish this truck could get my kids to school” and when I turned the key, sure enough, it started. I successfully drove my kids to their respective schools and made it back home on one wish. Later, I have to take my little boy to the orthodontist in town, which is 20 minutes away, and again, I’ll sit behind the steering wheel, hope out loud, and we’ll get there and back no problem all on a single, solitary wish.

What if I told you that so far, this year, I’ve saved close to five grand running my truck on wishes instead of gas?

With any luck, I have religious people reading this. People who put their faith in the existence of a god or even a self-sacrificing prophet. I would like to know, specifically of believers like this, what would it take for you to believe my truck runs on wishes? Is it enough for you that I have insisted this is my personal experience? What if I told you I could feel it, deep within me, that my truck does not require petrol? What if I said you’ve just got to have faith, would you believe me?”


“Secularity, the concept of keeping ideas and thoughts separate from religious beliefs, presents itself in many forms, and is accepted in varying degrees throughout the world. This year’s Snider Lecture titled “The Muslim Enlightenment: The Rise of Secular Thought among Young Muslims,” held on Tuesday October 2, explored the potentially severe consequences of atheism and secular thought in countries dominated by Islam.

Dr. Ali. A Rizvi, an oncologic pathologist and award-winning author who made the decision to turn away from religion and become an “ex-Muslim,” lead the conversation.

Although Rizvi has chosen to turn away from religion, this does not imply that he condemns the practice of religion. “I believe strongly in freedom of religion. But a really important part of that freedom of religion is a freedom from religion. In a free society, that means respecting both someone’s right to practice their religion, and my right to challenge and criticize it,” Rizvi says.”


“Patricia and Tony Pargeter claim (Oct. 3 Herald) that because they are atheists, they do not harbour “any beliefs, preferring the mental activity of ‘thinking’ to that of ‘believing,’” and that secularism arose as a response to the competing “belief systems” of religion. Really? Atheism is not a belief system? Atheistic communism with its suppression of individual rights in support of an all-controlling secular state was/is not a belief system?

Normally Wikipedia would not be my first choice, but its definition is a good start when it states that belief systems “can be classified as religious, philosophical, political, ideological, or a combination of these.”

The Pargeters believe that their “perspective on reality, unlike that of ‘believers,’ is wholly defensible, grounded as it is in objective facts and reasoning.” In other words, they believe their belief system is the correct one. The truth is that we all view objective facts and evidence through the lens of our belief system or worldview.”


“A few years ago the pastor of an evangelical-fundamentalist church with whom I’m acquainted announced on the Sunday after Easter that he had become an atheist. He told his stunned congregation that he had been an atheist for a year and a half and that all attempts to revive his faith had failed. So on the Sunday after Easter he publicly left Christianity and moved on with his life — a life with no more Easters.

A few days after his bombshell resignation I met with this now erstwhile pastor. As I listened to his story, it quickly became apparent that he had not so much lost his faith in Christianity as he had lost his credulity for fundamentalism. But sadly he had been formed in a tradition where Christianity and fundamentalism were so tightly bound together that he could not make a distinction between them. For this fundamentalist pastor, if the Bible wasn’t literally, historically, and scientifically factual in a biblicist-empiricist sense, then Christianity was a falsity he had to reject. When his fundamentalist house of cards collapsed, it took his Christian faith down with it. In one remarkable leap of faith, a fundamentalist became a newly minted atheist. I did my best to explain to him that he had made the modern mistake of confusing historic Christian faith with early-20th-century fundamentalism, but by now the damage was done and it appears his faith has suffered a fatal blow.”


“We now live in a world where, more than ever before, our ideas and values come under scrutiny and assault. What makes our times more interesting is that we have ready access not only to ideas that challenge us, but also to ideas that support us. The question is how we can work out which ideas contain value, and which are rubbish or simply false.

As Jews, we face attacks from all sides. Our defenses, though, have never been stronger. The trouble is that so many of them are either pathetically simplistic or sophisticatedly misleading. From the arrogant banality of a Yossi Mizrahi to the sophisticated apologetics of Chabad or Aish Hatorah, they rarely survive rational scrutiny. The range is broad and baffling.

I remember, in my yeshivah days, all the American bochurim I came across were enthusiastic about Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s book Rejoice O Youth. I found it very disappointing — trashing the whole of the non-Jewish world as if there was not one good person there. And conversely praising Jews to the heavens as if there were no gangsters or sinners among them.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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