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Louis C.K. at the 2012 Time 100 gala.

Louis C.K. at the 2012 Time 100 gala. Photo by David Shankbone, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

It’s imperfect and sometimes problematic, but FX’s Louie is often surprisingly insightful, offering one of television’s most visceral portrayals of how hilariously messy and complicated life can be.

But like his television show, Louie creator Louis C.K. holds some messy and complicated views—as evidenced by some of his statements about atheism.

Appearing on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, the comedian was asked about his Saturday Night Live monologue from late March, where he offered some choice words for people who say that there isn’t a God:

I’m not religious. I don’t know if there’s a God… Some people think that they know that there isn’t. That’s a weird thing to think you can know. “Yeah, there’s no God.” Are you sure? “Yeah, no, there’s no God.” How do you know? “Cause I didn’t see Him.”

Reflecting on these remarks, C.K. told Fresh Air host Terry Gross:

Something I’ve learned over the years is that when you talk about religion, you want to talk to religious people. Even if you’re talking about something that’s contrary religiously or provocative, a religious audience is a better audience for that. If you talk to a bunch of cool atheists in leather and suede, you know, sucking on their vape sticks or whatever they’re doing, they’re not going to get it because they don’t even think about God. It’s not even on their radar, you know? But if you tell religious people, “I don’t know if there’s a God, I don’t think there’s a heaven, where’s God’s ex-wife,” these things, they have a connection to it that means something.

Gross then asked C.K. if his position is that “you don’t believe in God but how can you really know?” C.K. said yes, adding, “The main thing I feel is that it’s a great mystery. I feel like I need to be humbled before the mysteries of life… You have to consider every possibility.”

This isn’t the first time C.K. has offered confusing statements about atheism; in a 2011 Reddit Q&A he said both “I’m not an atheist” and “I don’t ‘Believe in god,’” and suggested that he does not consider himself an atheist because he doesn’t know for sure that there is no God.

It seems that a lot of this confusion boils down to differing definitions of atheism. If atheism means knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are no gods, then C.K. is right. But that definition of atheism doesn’t fit most of the atheists I know. In fact, it runs up against something many atheists value: Doubt.

As an atheist, I never want to be too certain about what I believe. I strive to continually test and retest my assumptions, comparing them against new information and data as I encounter it. My atheism is curious, reflecting both a willingness to be wrong and a constant desire to learn.

So let’s clear the air: Being an atheist does not require absolute certainty. It doesn’t mean you rule out the possibility of divine or supernatural entities existing. Instead, it is the position that such a possibility is unlikely, and that the case for God hasn’t been adequately made yet.

On the one hand, I appreciate C.K.’s call for intellectual humility—it is a message that many atheists and theists alike would do well to heed. On the other hand, I wonder if he isn’t being a bit more forgiving of closed-minded theism than he is of closed-minded atheism. Does C.K. hold the same view of theists who believe with absolute certainty that there is a God as he does of atheists who operate similarly?

Either way, C.K.’s comments are an opportunity for atheists to take a look in the mirror. C.K. claims he is not religious, is not sure whether or not there is a God—and yet he says that he is not an atheist because he considers atheism too certain, too rigid, too sure of itself.

Perhaps his remarks are an invitation for us to look at how we communicate atheism to others. If atheism is seen as narrow-minded, what can we do to demonstrate our commitment to critical thinking and inquiry? And if C.K. thinks that “when you talk about religion, you want to talk to religious people,” what does that say about how a number of atheists talk about religion?

Louie is that rare show that reminds us that, to quote C.K.’s character Louie, “life is bigger than you… [It] isn’t something that you possess; it’s something that you take part in, and you witness.” Perhaps C.K.’s comments can serve as a reminder to atheists that we need to actively take part in the broader conversation about religion and belief—or we will continue to be misunderstood by people who share many of our views.

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40 Comments

  1. I love Louis C.K., but these comments did disappoint me, especially this: “If you talk to a bunch of cool atheists in leather and suede, you know, sucking on their vape sticks or whatever they’re doing, they’re not going to get it because they don’t even think about God.”

    Um, what? All the atheists I know – and I do mean ALL – have thought about God and theology wayyyyy more than most religious people.

    As for the absolute knowledge aspect of it, you’re completely right, Chris.

    • No, atheists have thought on religion, not on God which explains why atheists are ignorant enough to down-right reject the existence of a god. Atheists claim absolute knowledge of the universe by doing that. Louis C.K hit the nail on the head with atheists:

      “I’m not religious. I don’t know if there’s a God. That’s all I can say, honestly, is “I don’t know.” Some people think that they know that there isn’t. That’s a weird thing to think you can know. “Yeah, there’s no God.” Are you sure? “Yeah, no, there’s no God.” How do you know? “Cause I didn’t see Him.” There’s a vast universe! You can see for about 100 yards — when there’s not a building in the way. How could you possibly… Did you look everywhere? Did you look in the downstairs bathroom? Where did you look so far? “No, I didn’t see Him yet.” I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave yet; it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m just waiting until it comes on cable.”

  2. Just chiming in to say that what I heard him saying to Terri Gross is that if a comedian is looking for the best audience for jokes about religion, an audience made up of religious people is going to laugh more, is going to “get it” on a deeper level, than an audience of non-religious people will because they are rooted in that background.That people find humor in comedy that forces them to recognize the absurd in themselves.

  3. Most atheists in America used to be Christian. Most of them have become atheist after a long period of introspection, exploration, and asking questions.

    This is why, in general, atheists are more knowledgeable about the bible and Christianity than most Christians.

    If Louis CK wants to perform before an informed audience so that they will “get” his jokes, perhaps he should be targeting atheists?

    • Depends what he is going for According to the polls there are a lot more “them” than “us”. Comedians earn their living getting the money out of the pockets of people. Pandering is perhaps necessary.

    • “Most atheists in America used to be Christian. Most of them have become atheist after a long period of introspection, exploration, and asking questions.

      This is why, in general, atheists are more knowledgeable about the bible and Christianity than most Christians.”

      That’s a contradictory statement considering most Christians remain Christian after reading The Bible and researching the terms, translations and apologetics behind it. Most ex-Christians just read The Bible and take their translations as if it was the original translation. Come back when atheists have read The Bible in Latin, Greek and Hebrew (as in the languages it was originally written in).

  4. The problem with the usage of “atheist” and “agnostic” in regular discourse is that people get confused about the differing references/nuances.

    “Atheist” is in reference to whether or not you believe in some god. If you don’t have a belief in a god, you’re an atheist. Period. It has nothing to do with your level of certainty (or whether you think it is unknowable). “Do you believe in a god?” “No.” “Then you’re an atheist.”

    Then, when you refer to “agnosticism,” this is in reference to not being certain about it (or thinking it is unknowable in principle). If you don’t know whether or not there is perhaps some godlike being(s), then you’re “agnostic.” “Do you know that there are no gods?” “No.” “Then you’re agnostic.” (This is in regard to a broad, general concept of any godlike being.)

    Thus, conceptually, a person can be both an atheist (without a belief in any god) and agnostic (does not know whether or not there is any god) at the same time. I suspect that the vast majority of atheists are agnostic, as described here.

    Finally, note that there is a related, though distinct, nuance about this topic, in regard to specific concepts of gods. For example, a person (even a Christian) can be an atheist in regard to, say, Odin, or Aphrodite, or Ra – and not agnostic about it either, but absolutely certain that Odin, Aphrodite, and Ra do not exist. The sun, while quite magnificent when you think about what it is in terms of scale, energy, power, and so on, is simply not a god. So in regard to specific concepts of god, a person who is an agnostic atheist in regard to the general idea of some godlike being or godlike essence may be an absolute atheist in regard to, say, Quetzalcoatl or Yahweh (the Bible god). Christians are absolute atheists about Quetzalcoatl, but believe in Yahweh, while those people we typically refer to as “atheists” do not believe in either one and are not agnostic about either one.

    The reason I mention this last point is because, as you can see, depending one the specific context of discussion (broad, general concept of some kind of god(s), versus specific belief in the Christian concept of the Bible god), a person can be both an agnostic atheist and an absolute (non-agnostic) atheist at the same time. Confusing these two nuances happens frequently, where Christian apologists are trying to equivocate between reference to some broad, general concept of a god on the one hand and their particular Christian concept of the Bible god on the other.

    • “Christians are absolute atheists about Quetzalcoatl, but believe in Yahweh, while those people we typically refer to as “atheists” do not believe in either one and are not agnostic about either one.”

      Yes, exactly. It’s just funny because to many religious people it seems so obvious that “other gods” defiantly don’t exist, but they seem to think that their gods are “different”.

      It get’s really interesting with Christians if you force them to argue for their god based purely on quotes from the Bible and not to use concepts from outside the Bible. One problem is that what we call “Christianity” is a set of concepts that has evolved over the past 2,000 years, especially the past 200 years in ways that present a modern concept of a “god” that doesn’t really exist in the Bible.

      I mean, in the Old Testament, God was pretty finite, he wasn’t some nebulous concept. He was not really different from Zeus. The New Testament doesn’t even really say much about God at all.

      What’s also interesting is that pretty much every Christian believes that when you die you go to Heaven or Hell, but actually this whole concept isn’t even in the Bible. In fact, according to Christian theology it doesn’t even make sense that you would go to Heaven or Hell when you die. This is because according to the Bible the whole point of the Second Coming is to bring all of the worthy people into Heaven.

      If all those people are already in Heaven, then there is no point in the Second Coming. The Bible clearly says that people will simply sleep in the earth until the Second Coming, not go to Heaven.

      This is the problem, the concepts are so nebulous that people can believe anything and define their gods and religions however they want, providing no concrete definition which to refute. If you can pin anyone down on what their definition of God is, then rest assured, you can refute it.

      That’s what makes it so easy to refute the old gods, their definitions have become set in stone. For “current gods”, their definitions are constantly morphing.

    • Scott Dunsdon

      Yes, I feel like this distinction has been completely eroded by the popular usage of ‘agnostic’ to mean ‘I believe in some form of deity but I’m just not sure what it is’. It is now almost impossible to use the word agnostic without people thinking this is what you mean.

      Similarly, the word atheism has come to be used in popular culture to mean ‘I don’t believe in gods and I also know they don’t exist’ because of the position of many prominent atheists in the public sphere.

      I personally am an agnostic atheist in regards to all deities. But saying this constantly requires explanation as people think it is an oxymoron.

    • Knowledge is a subset of belief, but I find that trying to get that point across to most people is a waste of time. In my experience, many nonbelievers want to distance themselves from the word atheist. They much prefer being called agnostic, because I assume it sounds less threatening to the lager Christian world and it’s certainly less stigmatized. There is also hope for the friend or family members of the “agnostic” that they can still turn that person around. But if you call yourself an atheist, as I certainly do, then you’ve drawn a line in the sand and in the minds of many you’ve become the enemy.

  5. I think perhaps instead of being completely honest he is trying to not alienate a large portion of his audience. Working guys watch him and many dig him. a lot of them are theists.

    If on the other hand he is being honest this is a real WTF. The reason that i am an atheist is that i read and studied the Bible until I understood it. I read many other religious texts and studied them. I know for a fact that I have spent more time reading the whole bible than all of my religious family members and my two devout neighbors. One of these guys confessed to me that he couldn’t read the Bible and showed me a kid’s picture book of Bible stories and told me this is where he draws his faith from. I don’t think most Christian can be bothered to read and understand the text because they are too busy telling others how to live.

    The cool leather and sueded with vape sticks thing is just baffling. Must be friend of his. I have never seen this type of atheist.

    I am not a big fan of his show, but I do like some of his stand up. I just chalk it up to anther case of why do I care what a celebrity thinks? Why do I care what Jenny McCarthy thinks or Oprah? Same thing.

  6. I’m always annoying by the type of straw-man that CK puts forward here. I’m an atheist, who says definitively that I know there are no gods. It’s not a position at all reached simply by saying, “Well I’ve never seen any, duh.”

    Also, I think that most atheists who say that “they know there are no gods” are the atheists who have thought most deeply about religion, and thus, yeah, we can connect to those religious jokes. But, I do think that religious people laugh at religious jokes more our of nervousness, while, yeah, to a degree, us atheists just don’t care, but heck we do also find religious jokes funny if they are genuinely funny, and not just lame banal crap.

    But as for his: “Yeah, there’s no God.” Are you sure? “Yeah, no, there’s no God.” How do you know? “Cause I didn’t see Him.”

    How do I know? Well, because I’ve studied history and dozens of ancient cultures, a dozens of religions, and biology and human psychology, and philosophy and logic and physics and astronomy and all tings point to the same conclusion re: “gods”.

    How do I know “God” doesn’t exist? The same way I know “Zeus” doesn’t exist. “God” is just the commonly used term for the specific Christian god, which has as much evidence against “his” existence as Zeus.

    First, what is a “god”? Anyone who has really studied religion and anthropology and human belief knows that even this isn’t a simple question. The concept of what a “god” is is radically different among different cultures.

    The popular Western concept of “god” really comes more from Greek philosophy than Judaism or the Christian scriptures. All the early church theologians were educated in Greek philosophy and concepts such as an all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, all loving creator god come from Greek philosophy, not Jewish/Christian scriptures.

    Across different cultures sometimes gods were creators of the world, sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes gods dictated moral codes, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they passed judgement, sometimes they didn’t. Etc.

    So first, define “god”. I can guarantee you, than any definition you come up with for a god, if it has anything to do with any traditional concepts of gods, can easily be disproved, once you’ve defined it. All claims of revelation I’ve ever investigated, from Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist religion can be shown to be bunk and to have much better non-supernatural explanations.

    If you definition of “god” is just some nebulous concept, then it can be argued against philosophically, as just an artificial construct.

    Any meaningful definition of god then ends up coming off as simply the possible existent of some alien being or beings. But here is what we know. We know that life has evolved ans shows no signs of being designed. This alone disproved the majority of definitions of gods. Whatever god one tried to argue for then would have to be a god that didn’t design life. I will argue with evidence that the universe is a-moral. There is nothing about the workings of world that indicates the universe works according to any moral code, plan or design. Then we have the problem of evil. Thus, any definition of “god” would have to be a god who is either unable or unwilling to prevent clear and present suffering and evil. Any being either unable or incapable of preventing this, fails to meet a reasonable definition of “god”. The creation and origin of the universe appears as it would if uncreated, i.e. if not designed. We have natural explanations for how the planets and starts formed, etc.

    Thus, we are left with a definition of “god” that has to be some being who didn’t create the world, didn’t create life, didn’t design life, doesn’t control life now, has never been revealed to humans, and either allows or is incapable of stopping suffering.

    If you want to invent an imaginary being that has these qualities and call them a “god”, that’s fine, but at that point you’re just making up words. You could just as easily call such an imaginary being a Bluagkty-blick.

  7. The Great God Pan

    People have a tendency to mistake comedians for public intellectuals or enlightened sages. In some cases, such as Louis C.K.’s, this creates a feedback loop in which the comedian begins to take himself a little too seriously.

    Louis C.K. tells jokes for a living. He is funny, but let’s not mistake him for someone whose thoughts are deeply considered. He is just another individual with knee-jerk opinions; he just happens to be able to express them in a funnier and more compelling manner than most of us. Despite his recent turn toward “enlightened sage-ism,” his attitude toward atheists reflects the degree to which he is still simply absorbing and rebroadcasting conventional “wisdom.”

    “Either way, C.K.’s comments are an opportunity for atheists to take a look in the mirror.”

    I should have seen that twist coming. You got me, Stedman! I was thinking, “Wow, this is the first time I have seen this writer be fully supportive of his own community. He usually talks about atheists in roughly the way that (speaking of comedians who take themselves too seriously) Bill Cosby talks about black people. What is going on here?” And then it came!

    Seriously, though, RNS recently ran a piece reporting that 25% of the world’s population is anti-Semitic. I don’t see that as an opportunity for Jews to look in the mirror and ponder what they might have done to make people hate them, and I can’t imagine a Jewish activist writing something like that. Why is it that atheists are the only minority group that gets blamed for the majority’s prejudices against them?

  8. God is real and we can trust the Bible because of prophecy accuracy!
    Romans 1:18-25 is great to read. Look at the universe and the wonder
    of all of it /the design. That alone should be enough to believe in God.
    For the world to come about by random accident is nonsense and it takes
    more faith to believe that this is all just by chance than to believe in God.

    • I’m going to assume that you are serious, and I’m going to give you a genuine reply.

      I’ve got a big article on my website about the history of evolutionary theory, going back over 2,000 years here: http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/understanding_evolution.htm

      The reality is that people had a good understanding of the world over 2,000 years ago. A lot of ancient people wrote a lot of stuff about the world and universe that really quite astounding, and in fact, when the Christians came to power in the 4th century in Rome, they destroyed a lot of these works and railed against them.

      But anywhere, here are some examples (you can find more in my linked article):

      “There is an infinite number of worlds of different sizes: some are larger than ours, some have no sun or moon, others have suns or moons that are bigger than ours. Some have many suns and moons. Worlds are spaced at differing distances from each other; in some parts of the universe there are more worlds, in other parts fewer. In some areas they are growing, in other parts, decreasing. They are destroyed by collision with one another. There are some worlds with no living creatures, plants, or moisture.”
      - Democritus 4th century BCE

      “The material cause of all things that exist is the coming together of atoms and void. Atoms are too small to be perceived by the senses. They are eternal and have many different shapes, and they can cluster together to create things that are perceivable. Differences in shape, arrangement, and position of atoms produce different things. By aggregation they provide bulky objects that we can perceive with our sight and other senses.”
      - Democritus 4th century BCE

      [T]he world was produced by the working of nature, without there having been any need for a process of manufacture, and that what your school declares to be capable of accomplishment only by means of divine intelligence is a thing so easy that nature will produce, and is producing, and has produced worlds without end. It is because you do not see how nature can accomplish this without the help of some kind of mind that, like the tragic poets, in your inability to bring the plot to a smooth conclusion, you have recourse to a god. Yet you would certainly feel no need for his agency if you had before your eyes the expanse of region, unmeasured and on every side unbounded, upon which the mind may fasten and concentrate itself, and where it may wander far and wide without seeing any farthermost limit upon which to be able to rest. Now in this immensity of length and breadth and height there floats an infinite quantity of innumerable atoms which, in spite of the intervening void, nevertheless join together, and through one seizing upon one, and another upon another, form themselves into connected wholes, by which means are produced those forms and outlines of the material world which your school is of opinion cannot be produced without bellows and anvils. You have therefore placed our necks beneath the yoke of a perpetual tyrant, of whom we are to go in fear by day and night, for who would not fear a god who foresaw everything, considered everything, noted everything, and looked upon himself as concerned in everything,—a busy and prying god? From this has come, in the first place, your idea of preordained necessity, which you call ε μαρμένη, meaning by the term that every event that occurs had its origin in eternal truth and the chain of causation—(though what is to be thought of a philosophy that holds the ignorant old crone’s belief that everything happens by destiny?)—and secondly your art of μαντικ , or divinatio, as it is called in Latin, which, if we were willing to listen to you, would imbue us with such superstition that we should have to pay regard to soothsayers, augurs, diviners, prophets, and interpreters of dreams. From these terrors we have been released by Epicurus, and claimed for freedom; we do not fear beings of whom we understand that they neither create trouble for themselves, nor seek it for others, and we worship, in piety and holiness, a sublime and exalted nature.
      - The Nature of the Gods; Cicero, 45 BCE

      • rational revolution- How did that material get here and if this is all just
        by chance why is the sun set so we don’t burn up or freeze and why
        is it many scientists are now becoming Christians? It’s because they
        can’t explain how we got here and science actually proves that God
        is real/points to a Creation and most people that still don’t believe that
        God is real don’t want to believe because they don’t want to be told how
        to live. We all have sinned and fallen short and that’s why we need a
        Savior. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is a great book to read.

        • @Karla,

          “The Case for Christ” is a sham.
          There is no reason to believe a god exists or that a god created anything.
          Everytime science looks into the foundation of why something exists they find an explanation and God is not part of it.

          God is our ignorance.
          Science is what we know.

        • Karla, you’re simply arguing”the God of the gaps” and unfortunately if your God lives in the places where our knowledge is incomplete, then every time we know more your God gets smaller. That we don’t yet know everything about the universe doesn’t mean that we should automatically jump to the conclusion that a magic man in the sky did it. That is exactly what our ancestors did when they created religion.

    • The Great God Pan

      Karla, you should get in contact with Louis C.K. Apparently he finds arguments like yours compelling and edifying. He sounds open to conversion, as well. Maybe you can be the one to claim C.K.’s soul for Christ!

    • ‘The universe is incredibly awesome, a fantastic wonder to behold, and filled with mystery concerning the zillions of things we don’t know about the universe and may/will never know – therefore, God exists.’

      It’s that “therefore” that kills your argument. Your argument is simply illogical. But thank you for showing how religious believers really think, and why atheists are absolutely right to critique the irrational nature of the belief. No one, and certainly no atheist, questions the facts that the universe is incredibly awesome, that the universe is a fantastic wonder to behold, and that the universe is filled with zillions of mysteries. None of this implies that “therefore, God exists”. But I do suspect that the god-of-the-gaps fallacy is probably the most popular theistic argument on the planet.

    • Try and imagine a world where religion never got started. Then one day someone stops you on the street and informs you that there is an invisible man in the sky watching everything you do and if you believe in him, he’ll send you to a beautiful place after you die and if you don’t, he’ll torture you forever. Naturally you’d want proof of this extraordinary claim and so he hands you a book, written by unknown authors, that still don’t provide any evidence for his beliefs. That’s what it’s like to be an atheist.

  9. Louis C.K. is a warm, funny, witty, and urbane COMEDIAN. That “Fatheists” would roll him out somehow as a comforting palliative for their moribund belief structures just shows how desperate they are for somebody, anybody, with even a shred of credibility will somehow save them from obsolescence. Sadly, there is no panacea, no magic balm, deity, scripture, fairy tale world they can hide from the onset of modernity and the lava flow of information pouring in at light speed.

  10. For the record…

    THEIST = “I KNOW God exists, I KNOW WHICH GOD is the true GOD and I KNOW what He wants me to do.”
    Most likely to go to a temple, church or mosque regularly.
    This is the shrinking demographic. But they are all hard-line and doubling their efforts to co-opt political power.

    ATHEIST = “I DO NOT believe in gods.”
    Atheism is a response to god claims – not a claim of its own.
    Doesn’t go to church except when necessary; for the funerals of others, etc.
    Fastest growing opinion on religion in the world today.

    AGNOSTIC = “I do not KNOW if God exists”
    May or may not go to church. Majority of parishioners are agnostics. Mostly are indistinguishable from Atheists since ‘not knowing’ is rather like ‘not believing’.
    Many are Priests.

    THE RELIGIOUS CIRCLE OF BELIEF:
    We are born Atheists,
    Most are raised to be Theists,
    and later edge toward Agnosticism
    Which leads to questions
    Which leads to researching the Holy Books
    Which leads back at ATHEISM in the end.

    ANTI-THEIST = “Religion is dangerous, wasteful nonsense”

    HARD ATHEIST = “I KNOW there is no God of any kind”
    (This is a small subset of Atheists and is a claim)

    • “and later edge toward Agnosticism
      Which leads to questions
      Which leads to researching the Holy Books
      Which leads back at ATHEISM in the end.”

      I cannot agree with you there. You can research holy books to find out what you think about known gods but there will always be the possibility of an unknown or unknowable god/creator. That’s not a question that ever goes away.

  11. This was thoughtful and well written. I’m sorry. These days when you follow an artist like Louis you find yourself falling into clickbait. The author’s perspective was well presented and there is integrity behind the conversation it is inviting. I know that you guys might take it for granted, but at this particular moment, it just feels refreshing enough for me to say something.

    Thanks

  12. I was always a die hard atheist. Then I didn’t care. The I cared that while atheist didn’t believe in religion, they believed without question the system they *do* inhabit. Political economy.

    It is just as doctrinal, mythological, and outdated. But no one notices.

    Kind of like religious people in the past.

    Now I have lived in India, I have come to my own truth. My only doubt now consists of knowing I know nothing about *individuals*. That is what the religious know better then we ever gave them credit for.

    I now realise I was missing something huge. Life-changing. And I have retained every ounce of my skepticism. It is belief, with defined limits. All the good, none of the bad.

    But most of the bad is in western minds now. Tell me…

    When was the large major war in the name of organised religion? To my mind, there is only one left, and even that is framed as politics.

    They’ve stopped fighting. And nobody has noticed. But they have. I know that now.

    We are all in for a mighty big shock. I certainly was. But my life will never be the same again.

    • The Great God Pan

      You live in India, of all places, and think that religions have stopped fighting? You should visit Bangladesh and Burma to see even more religious harmony.

  13. I will believe in magical beings as soon as I see one.
    That would be marvelous.
    Until that time, my wishful thinking has no effect on reality.
    I’m looking… and I’m looking hard.
    But I see only believers and what appears to be a pathological desire to make sense of an indifferent universe.
    It’s a shame… magic would be so cool.

  14. Dennis Kelley

    actually, Louis C.K. is expressing a valid non-theist position. imagine two intersecting continua: theist/non-theist, and gnostic/agnostic. people can claim to “know” (gnosis) that there is or isn’t a god, or to not-know (agnostic). so there are gnostic theists, gnostic atheists, agnostic atheists (Louis C. K.’s position), and agnostic theists. data show that most people tend to populate the latter two categories, though the agnostic atheists are gaining.

    • Frank, I don’t know any cool atheists who wear leather or suede jackets while smoking e-cigs, but maybe you and Louis are more experienced in that area. What I do know is that if you actually talk to people who self identify as atheists, you’ll find them to be quite knowledgeable about religion and very capable of explaining why they lack faith in a particular God. Most will tell you, myself included, that they don’t know with any certainty that some where out there, couldn’t be a “god.” And that, btw, is the very premise of agnostic-atheism, rejecting a specific claim of belief, not the possibility itself.

      I think what you and Louis C.K. both fall victim to here is the distinction between the popular usage of atheist vs agnostic and the generalizations that follow. Atheists are seen as being more opinionated and vocal about those opinions whereas agnostics are thought of as being much more open and less confrontational. Obviously an easy brush to paint with, but not a very precise one.

  15. If we are arguing over words the intellectual game is lost. Just describe your attitude toward life. Why do you need a simple label especially when it clearly is causing confusion? It’s like these absurd debates over what constitutes “marriage” or whether such and such a sect is “Christian”. Everybody wants a word for themselves. There is no such thing as “atheism” there is a group of views we conveniently label with that word for ease in conversation. In fact what does the word “believe” refer to?

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