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Atheists and Anger
Old 04-03-2010, 05:13 AM   #1
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Atheists and Anger

From the blog of Greta Christina:

*****

I want to talk about atheists and anger. This has been a hard piece to write, and it may be a hard one to read. I'm not going to be as polite and good-tempered as I usually am in this blog; this piece is about anger, and for once I'm going to fucking well let myself be angry.


But I think it's important. One of the most common criticisms lobbed at the newly-vocal atheist community is, "Why do you have to be so angry?" So I want to talk about:

1. Why atheists are angry;

2. Why our anger is valid, valuable, and necessary;

And 3. Why it's completely fucked-up to try to take our anger away from us.

So let's start with why we're angry. Or rather -- because this is my blog and I don't presume to speak for all atheists -- why I'm angry.

*****

I'm angry that according to a recent Gallup poll, only 45 percent of Americans would vote for an atheist for President.

I'm angry that atheist conventions have to have extra security, including hand-held metal detectors and bag searches, because of fatwas and death threats.

I'm angry that atheist soldiers -- in the U.S. armed forces -- have had prayer ceremonies pressured on them and atheist meetings broken up by Christian superior officers, in direct violation of the First Amendment. I'm angry that evangelical Christian groups are being given exclusive access to proselytize on military bases -- again in the U.S. armed forces, again in direct violation of the First Amendment. I'm angry that atheist soldiers who are complaining about this are being harassed and are even getting death threats from Christian soldiers and superior officers -- yet again, in the U.S. armed forces. And I'm angry that Christians still say smug, sanctimonious things like, "there are no atheists in foxholes." You know why you're not seeing atheists in foxholes? Because believers are threatening to shoot them if they come out.

I'm angry that the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, said of atheists, in my lifetime, "No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God." My President. No, I didn't vote for him, but he was still my President, and he still said that my lack of religious belief meant that I shouldn't be regarded as a citizen.

I'm angry that it took until 1961 for atheists to be guaranteed the right to serve on juries, testify in court, or hold public office in every state in the country.

I'm angry that almost half of Americans believe in creationism. And not a broad, "God had a hand in evolution" creationism, but a strict, young-earth, "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years" creationism.

And on that topic: I'm angry that school boards all across this country are still -- 82 years after the Scopes trial -- having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools. School boards are not exactly loaded with time and money and resources, and any of the time/ money/ resources that they're spending fighting this stupid fight is time/ money/ resources that they're not spending, you know, teaching.

I'm angry that women are dying of AIDS in Africa and South America because the Catholic Church has convinced them that using condoms makes baby Jesus cry.

I'm angry that women are having septic abortions -- or are being forced to have unwanted children who they resent and mistreat -- because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

I'm angry about what happened to Galileo. Still. And I'm angry that it took the Catholic Church until 1992 to apologize for it.

I get angry when advice columnists tell their troubled letter-writers to talk to their priest or minister or rabbi... when there is absolutely no legal requirement that a religious leader have any sort of training in counseling or therapy.

And I get angry when religious leaders offer counseling and advice to troubled people -- sex advice, relationship advice, advice on depression and stress, etc. -- not based on any evidence about what actually does and does not work in people's brains and lives, but on the basis of what their religious doctrine tells them God wants for us.

I'm angry at preachers who tell women in their flock to submit to their husbands because it's the will of God, even when their husbands are beating them within an inch of their lives.

*****

Read much more here: http://gretachristina.typepad.com/gr...ts-and-an.html

GOD BLESS ATHEISM
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:29 AM   #2
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I read this and couldn't stop nodding. It's all true.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:35 AM   #3
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This was the money shot for me:

Quote:
But perhaps most of all, I get angry -- sputteringly, inarticulately, pulse-racingly angry -- when believers chide atheists for being so angry. "Why do you have to be so angry all the time?" "All that anger is so off-putting." "If atheism is so great, then why are so many of you so angry?"

Which brings me to the other part of this little rant: Why atheist anger is not only valid, but valuable and necessary.

*****
There's actually a simple, straightforward answer to this question:
Because anger is always necessary.

Because anger has driven every major movement for social change in this country, and probably in the world. The labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, the modern feminist movement, the gay rights movement, the anti-war movement in the Sixties, the anti-war movement today, you name it... all of them have had, as a major driving force, a tremendous amount of anger. Anger over injustice, anger over mistreatment and brutality, anger over helplessness.

I mean, why the hell else would people bother to mobilize social movements? Social movements are hard. They take time, they take energy, they sometimes take serious risk of life and limb, community and career. Nobody would fucking bother if they weren't furious about something.

So when you tell an atheist (or for that matter, a woman or a queer or a person of color or whatever) not to be so angry, you are, in essence, telling us to disempower ourselves. You're telling us to lay down one of the single most powerful tools we have at our disposal. You're telling us to lay down a tool that no social change movement has ever been able to do without. You're telling us to be polite and diplomatic, when history shows that polite diplomacy in a social change movement works far, far better when it's coupled with passionate anger. In a battle between David and Goliath, you're telling David to put down his slingshot and just... I don't know. Gnaw Goliath on the ankles or something.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:40 AM   #4
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"Why are you so angry" is a classic silencing technique, a tone argument that tries to paint the angry party as irrational.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:48 AM   #5
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I read this and couldn't stop nodding. It's all true.
You hit every single point and yes, every one of them makes me angry.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:51 AM   #6
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Yeah, the whole "why are atheists so angry?" mindset also conveniently ignores the biggest Atheist voices, who are actually calm, measured and very well informed about what they talk about. They offer their argument up as rational debate, which is an alien concept to the biggest religious voices.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:58 AM   #7
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Tone arguments and silencing tactics on the part of a majority indicate one thing to me:

Fear.

They're worried that if the shoe is on the other foot, we'll treat them as badly as they've treated us.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:08 AM   #8
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Thank you for posting this blog and I'd like to reiterate this point which I think, may make me the most furious:

Quote:
I get angry when religious leaders opportunistically use religion, and people's trust and faith in religion, to steal, cheat, lie, manipulate the political process, take sexual advantage of their followers, and generally behave like the scum of the earth. I get angry when it happens over and over and over again. And I get angry when people see this happening and still say that atheism is bad because, without religion, people would have no basis for morality or ethics, and no reason not to just do whatever they wanted.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:13 AM   #9
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I once had a "friend" turn on me because I admitted I was an atheist. She went from having her kid over at my place all the time to hanging up on me and avoiding me on the street.

When I asked her why - basically after cornering her in a market aisle - she told me I was going to "burn in hell" for being "wicked".

...

Mind you, she was making undeclared income by babysitting and sleeping with a married man, but *I* was wicked.

Yup.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:14 AM   #10
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I think this thread is very valid for Atheists in the USA, where they are a mistrusted minority.

In the UK, nah.

Far more secular society, and we've had plenty of prominent openly atheist politicians here.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:22 AM   #11
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Brilliant!
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:26 AM   #12
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[deleted RL info]

Last edited by Ishina; 07-21-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishina View Post
It's a global issue though. It's a small world and its getting smaller.

It's an issue close to my heart too. My mother was disowned (and worse) for not fully embracing the friendly family religion. She chose my father instead of the life of Faith™ mapped out for her. She was lucky. Women have been killed for the same heinous crime of falling in love. They call it an 'Honour Killing'
On the first point, I dont see us going backwards to an american position.

On the second, yeah honour killings are vile
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:37 AM   #14
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On the first point, I dont see us going backwards to an american position.
I'll pray for you.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:44 AM   #15
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We just have these guys to deal with...

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Old 04-03-2010, 11:46 AM   #16
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We just have these guys to deal with...

Muslims make up less than 3% of the community in Britain, so they can just STFU and suck up the secularism.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by PrettierHateMachine View Post
I once had a "friend" turn on me because I admitted I was an atheist. She went from having her kid over at my place all the time to hanging up on me and avoiding me on the street.

When I asked her why - basically after cornering her in a market aisle - she told me I was going to "burn in hell" for being "wicked".

...

Mind you, she was making undeclared income by babysitting and sleeping with a married man, but *I* was wicked.

Yup.
I had the same experience more than once. I have been told that being an atheist must mean that I am immoral and untrustworthy. Along with this, I can't count the number of times it has been told to me, directly or indirectly, that I am deaf because of a lack of faith in God or Jesus. Add all the political poison that comes from the religious right in the US, and I don't have much time for people who wonder about "angry atheists".
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:47 AM   #18
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Demographic pie chart thingy
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:49 AM   #19
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Demographic pie chart thingy
Is that global Luc or just UK?
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:50 AM   #20
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They forgot Jedi
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:50 AM   #21
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Is that global Luc or just UK?
Just UK
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:51 AM   #22
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They forgot Jedi
from wiki...

Although the Census 2001 also recorded 390,000 Jedi Knights, making Jedi the fourth-largest "religion" in the UK, this does not confer them any official recognition. In fact, all returns with "Jedi Knight" were classified as "No religion", along with Atheist, Agnostic, Heathen and those who ticked "Other" but did not write in any religion.
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Old 04-03-2010, 12:20 PM   #23
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I don't believe in religions because they're just political hierarchies with rituals thrown in. Might as well be the Moose Lodge.

I do believe in Something More, but I recognize it's my own stuff and not somebody else's. I don't believe in proselytizing. Spirituality [or not] is a personal thing and nobody else's biz.

SO- I totally respect and concur with all of the statements made re. atheism by the author, as well as the responses here.

Even though I'm a crazy psi chick.
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Old 04-03-2010, 12:40 PM   #24
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. Along with this, I can't count the number of times it has been told to me, directly or indirectly, that I am deaf because of a lack of faith in God or Jesus.
Now I understand why you have such self-control in political arguments. The second time someone had the balls to say that to me, I would have been in prison for assault.

On a more serious note. I think the 4 most hateful words that are used to people in pain is <insert horrible event> is part of God's Plan.

My ex-husband, a sweet guy who is mostly Buddhist, but with a generous serving of athiest lost his son two years ago to suicide. He lives in Texas and when I went down for the funeral, he said to me "I hope that I can count on you to bail me out of jail, because I'm going to punch out the next person who tells me that my son's death was "part of God's plan."
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:05 PM   #25
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Now I understand why you have such self-control in political arguments. The second time someone had the balls to say that to me, I would have been in prison for assault.

On a more serious note. I think the 4 most hateful words that are used to people in pain is <insert horrible event> is part of God's Plan.

My ex-husband, a sweet guy who is mostly Buddhist, but with a generous serving of athiest lost his son two years ago to suicide. He lives in Texas and when I went down for the funeral, he said to me "I hope that I can count on you to bail me out of jail, because I'm going to punch out the next person who tells me that my son's death was "part of God's plan."
Thanks. I couldn't blame your ex for punching someone who said that. It is the flip side to the idea that you are/have X because you haven't asked for Jesus' forgiveness/allowed God to cure you. It nearly breaks something in my brain when I read it or the corollary that I have received: "God must have a special plan for you to have made you deaf". I know folks who think that mean it in some wonderful, you-are-sparkly-special sort of way. But zomg. It also is right up there with people who thank God from saving them from some disaster because God loved them and had plans for them. Of course, God hated the people who died and found them unworthy of a plan. It is unthinkingly arrogant and unintionally nasty.

Having ranted a bit, to be clear, I don't walk around pissed off at religious folk. (Except my sister, but she is sparkly special ) And I generally manage to mine the decent intentions out of the rest of the junk. But when the topic of "Why are you atheists so angry" comes up, I don't spend a lot of time trying to explain or feeling bad about it.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:14 PM   #26
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I find it amazing that some people believe that an Infinite All Knowing Omnipotent Sky Being who inhabits the entire beautiful universe [except for here] gives one tiny crap about whether we masturbate or pick our noses, or smites people because they were naughty. Fear-based religions make no sense to me.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:16 PM   #27
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I find it amazing that some people believe that an Infinite All Knowing Omnipotent Sky Being who inhabits the entire beautiful universe [except for here] gives one tiny crap about whether we masturbate or pick our noses, or smites people because they were naughty. Fear-based religions make no sense to me.
Actually the Infinite All Knowing Omnipotent Sky Being gets pissed off if I don't masturbate because she likes to watch.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:19 PM   #28
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I don't believe in anger.
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Old 04-03-2010, 01:21 PM   #29
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Actually the Infinite All Knowing Omnipotent Sky Being gets pissed off if I don't masturbate because she likes to watch.
Is there any way to erase something from one's brain after it has been read? The mental images associated with your post, Luc, will haunt the rest of my days.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:20 PM   #30
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Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!

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Old 04-03-2010, 02:22 PM   #31
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Yeah, the whole "why are atheists so angry?" mindset also conveniently ignores the biggest Atheist voices, who are actually calm, measured and very well informed about what they talk about. They offer their argument up as rational debate, which is an alien concept to the biggest religious voices.
No; sadly. Those people may be the voices that you want to be the biggest atheist voices, but they're not the ones that average people hear most often. The voices the average non-atheist hears most often is somebody on the internet; and chances are, it's a dick.

I mean yeah, religion is a dick in general - and has more than its fair share of individual tools, so there's an argument to be made there. But I've known more atheists than a lot of other non-atheists have, because I hang out in a lot of the same places. And it's true, some of them are total dicks. Particularly the ones who, after I tell them I'm not an atheist, assume that I'm Christian and say something contemptuous or denigrating about Judeo-Christianity in an attempt to - I don't know, get a rise out of me or make me feel inferior, or something. It doesn't work because I'm not Christian; but it does make me not want to talk to them anymore. How can you take someone seriously when they say they stand for logic, reason, and science, but make their arguments with snide remarks, peurile put-downs, and angry frothing? It's like somebody starting out with "I'm not a racist, but these black people are a big problem..." It doesn't mesh and after those first few words you're just not going to listen to them anymore.

That being said, to be fair nothing an atheist has ever said to me is as offensive to me as that whole patronizing "I'll pray for you" dismissal I have to put up with on occasion from theists.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:23 PM   #32
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Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!

Why are you posting a picture of the Pope?
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:25 PM   #33
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Dammit Aimee, you Pope'd my thread
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:35 PM   #34
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No; sadly. Those people may be the voices that you want to be the biggest atheist voices, but they're not the ones that average people hear most often. The voices the average non-atheist hears most often is somebody on the internet; and chances are, it's a dick.
I didn't mean the average voice either way. I meant the spokespeople who front the global debate. The televised, radio or live streamed ones. Actual organized debate, not basement forum dwellers or your mate down the pub.

"Chances are, it's a dick" LOL. GTFO.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:39 PM   #35
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I didn't mean the average voice either way. I meant the spokespeople who front the global debate. The televised, radio or live streamed ones. Actual organized debate, not basement forum dwellers or your mate down the pub.
I'd hate to be the one to tell you this, but I'm pretty sure the only people who listen to or watch those pieces are atheists. For better or worse, that's just the way such things go.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:39 PM   #36
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I would add that I've been angry for years at the knowledge that was forever lost to us in 415 CE with the murder of Hypatia and the burning down of the Great Library of Alexandria. Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was an extremely learned man and the Library's last overseer. Having been taught by him, she became an extremely popular lecturer there. She was also a scholar in her own right, known as a brilliant mathematician, philosopher and astronomer. She's credited with inventing the astrolabe and the hydroscope, among other things.

But her fantastic mind counted for nothing to the recently appointed Bishop of Alexandria, whose name was Cyril. He was angry at Hypatia for several reasons. One, she was a friend to Orestes, the pagan governor of Alexandria and fierce critic of Cyril's on account of the latter's expulsion of Jews from the city (So, Cyryl had him murderd). Two, she was a lot smarter than Cyril and could chew him up in religious debates. And three (I suspect), having easy access to the such a vast collection of written works, she had the goods on the true origins of Christianity (perhaps for discussion in another thread later) and had made Cyril aware of what she knew. "You guys crack me up," she might have said to the red-faced bishop, waving a scroll at him, a mischievous wide grin on her face. "What did you say his name was again? And he was killed where, you say? Get out of here!"

So it was that as she rode her chariot home from the Library one day, she was confronted by a mob of Christian monks, whipped to a screaming frenzy by Bishop Cyril. They pulled her down and dragged her into a church, where they stripped her then hacked her literally to pieces, which they burned for good measure. Then it was the turn of her beloved Library, which was soon a mass of flames, as were the priceless scrolls within it. I'm convinced that this murder and destruction wasn't the spur-of-the-moment madness that most writers portray it as. Bishop Cyril must have smiled contentedly as he watched the building burn, knowing that with it went writings that were very dangerous indeed to the comparatively new faith. And the one person who could have spilled the beans was gone too. Such a perfect day...

Many of Hypatia's students fled to Greece, carrying learning that was to fuel the tremendous growth in mathematics there. And Bishop Cryil, the man behind the death of so much knowledge that was to plunge the world into the Dark Ages? They made him a saint, of course.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:42 PM   #37
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It was even worse Questor...

They hacked her apart with seashells.

That wasn't a quick hacking to pieces.. it was a particularly slow one
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:50 PM   #38
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I'd hate to be the one to tell you this, but I'm pretty sure the only people who listen to or watch those pieces are atheists. For better or worse, that's just the way such things go.
I think you'd be surprised. There is healthy debate to be had on both sides. And if the live crowd turn out is anything to go by, the faith folk outnumber the faithless by a wide margin. The undecided normally outnumber them both.

It's obviously just different where you live, or in the circles you move in.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:56 PM   #39
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My daughter's middle name?

Hypatia.
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:57 PM   #40
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When I asked her why - basically after cornering her in a market aisle - she told me I was going to "burn in hell" for being "wicked".

...

Mind you, she was making undeclared income by babysitting and sleeping with a married man, but *I* was wicked.

Yup.

Now I am angry. Rank amateur, wouldn't know wicked if bit her in the ass
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