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This Week in Atheism 2018–10–28


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/28

“Daniel Seeger was twenty-one when he wrote to his local draft board to say, “I have concluded that war, from the practical standpoint, is futile and self-defeating, and from the more important moral standpoint, it is unethical.” Some time later, he received the United States Selective Service System’s Form 150, asking him to detail his objections to military service. It took him a few days to reply, because he had no answer for the form’s first question: “Do you believe in a Supreme Being?”

Unsatisfied with the two available options — “Yes” and “No” — Seeger finally decided to draw and check a third box: “See attached pages.” There were eight of those pages, and in them he described reading Plato, Aristotle, and Spinoza, all of whom “evolved comprehensive ethical systems of intellectual and moral integrity without belief in God,” and concluded that “the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven, and the essence of His nature cannot be determined.” For good measure, Seeger also used scare quotes and strike-throughs to doctor the printed statement he was required to sign, so that it read, “I am, by reason of my ‘religious’ training and belief, conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form.””


“Comedian, writer, actor and activist Stephen Fry was honored last weekend at CSICON 2018 skeptics conference with the Richard Dawkins award for honorable and outstanding atheism. Dawkins himself presented the award to Fry on behalf of the Atheist Alliance of America; Incubator For Secular Activities. This is the first time I’ve attended an event where a public figure was lionized for what they don’t believe in. “We’re honoring him today because of his role in the world of skepticism, atheism, rationalism,” said Dawkins. “He’s just about the only real celebrity we’ve got.” Inscribed on the award is the Aristotelian quote, “Wit is educated insolence.”

The ceremony began with a famous clip where Fry addresses the classic theological problem of evil.”


“Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, remains one of the most conservative and rigid countries, particularly for women, and for anyone who goes against Islam. Rana Ahmad knows all too well those constraints as she fled her home country after declaring herself an atheist and after having endured the hardships of a woman under the strict control of her family and government.

Although the country appears to be going through reforms at the behest of the Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, such as allowing women to drive, these reforms have seen female activists imprisoned, often threatened with the death penalty, and none have tackled the root problem of the country: the Guardianship system. This is the system that forces every woman to seek permission from a husband, brother, father or other close male family member to do simple tasks such as travel, go to school or go to work.”


“Your Stories of Atheism are heartbreaking, triumphant, angering and inspiring. They are written by you, for you in this ongoing series about how you came to identify as an atheist. If you want to send me your story, you can email me here. Please note that by doing so, you give me permission to publish it here as part of the series. If you wish to remain anonymous, please say so in your email otherwise, I will use just your first name. To read other stories, click here.

Our first and very brief story this week comes from Edward,

The combination of education and working in law enforcement seeing the horrible things humans beings do to each other, especially children. Many of those children prayed for the abuse to stop, but their imaginary friend did not protect them.”


“It is still harder for young women to enter an ancient shrine on Sabarimala than to enter any liquor shop in Kerala. Mobs of devotees and political thugs have been driving away women who tried to enter the temple. Atheists are, once again, disgusted by believers. But this disgust is, once again, a useless way of perceiving believers, who form most of the world. What if there is a better way for atheists to view believers?

Actually, believers in god understand atheism more deeply than they imagine. As the biologist Richard Dawkins paraphrased an old piece of wisdom, “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Atheists, too, understand belief more deeply than they imagine. We are all believers in unprovable ideas; just that in some of us the idea is god.

Even so isn’t it true that in a civilized world, belief in the fable of god should be subordinate to belief in the fable of law? There can only be one alpha on the street. Otherwise our protection money, also known as taxes, is a total waste. But then atheists should accept that the colonization of religion by democracy can never be a smooth transition.”



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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