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Thu May 16, 2013, 02:21 PM

The scarlet crayon of atheism

May 16, 2013
by PZ Myers

Ive been trying to understand how people — not just people, but self-declared “leaders of the atheist movement” — can claim that atheism is only the lack of belief in any gods, and further, that absence of god-belief entails no other significant consequences. It’s been difficult, because that way of thinking is alien to me; atheism for me is all tangled up in naturalism and scientific thinking, and it’s not just a single, simple cause but has a whole cascade of meaning. But I’m trying, and I think I’m beginning to get it. There is a reasonable way to regard atheism as important while at the same time limiting its import.

Think of atheism as something like having a favorite color in a world with a set of cultural mores that dictate the value of colors. You’re five years old, and in kindergarten, and the teacher asks you to draw a picture of your mommy in your favorite color. You proudly go for the big red crayon in your box, and you start to draw, and everyone in the class turns to look at you strangely…and every single one of them is holding a blue crayon. “Everyone knows your favorite color is supposed to be blue,” they say, “You’re weird.” The teacher helpfully takes your red crayon away and gives you a blue one instead.

You might be a little resentful. You might think this is an infringement of your rights and an attempt to police your thoughts, and you’d be right. That would be a terrible thing to do to children. And then, what if you grew up and discovered that enshrined in your country’s constitution was a clause that specifically said the government did not have the right to dictate the citizenry’s favorite color? Why, you might become a crayon activist, fighting for the right of everyone to choose their own color, and you’d go to meetings where everyone would wave red crayons in the air and draw slogans on signs in red.

You might even be angry with other militant red crayon activists who tried to explain why red was the best color — that smacks too much of the blue crayonists who spent your childhood nagging at you why blue was the best. No, your cause is simply to let everyone have the right to choose their own color — it’s all about individual liberty and freedom of conscience. The crayon has no meaning beyond personal expression, and you don’t believe these stories that it has further implications, and you certainly don’t want to discuss why you liked red the best. It just is.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/05/16/the-scarlet-crayon-of-atheism/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+freethoughtblogs%2Fpharyngula+%28FTB%3A+Pharyngula%29

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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply The scarlet crayon of atheism (Original post)
rug May 2013 OP
flamin lib May 2013 #1
dimbear May 2013 #2
Addison May 2013 #3
dimbear May 2013 #4
rug May 2013 #5
Addison May 2013 #7
PassingFair May 2013 #12
Addison May 2013 #6
rug May 2013 #8
dimbear May 2013 #9
LostOne4Ever May 2013 #11
LostOne4Ever May 2013 #10

Response to rug (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:40 PM

1. When I was in first grade

one kid colored everything black. Black trees, black clouds, everything.

Teacher watched and became concerned. She called the Principal who watched him color. Sharing the teacher's concern the Principal called in the school psychologist.

After watching the child color more pictures the Dr. asked to have a conference with the parents.

After hearing the concern of the educators and psychologist the child's mother turned to him and asked, "Why do you color everything black?"

"Because it's the only color lil' sister didn't eat."

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Response to rug (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 05:40 PM

2. Crayola discontinued flesh color in 1962. (It's now called peach.) However,

you can now buy a special rather expensive set with a full range of flesh colored crayons. For the elite few with that kind of money, there's little reason to be angry with Crayola. They move with the times.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #2)

Fri May 17, 2013, 04:24 PM

3. Are you joking?

I hope so, because Amazon sells a set of Crayola's "multicultural" flesh-tone crayons for about six bucks.

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Response to Addison (Reply #3)

Fri May 17, 2013, 05:30 PM

4. I have no grief with Crayola. Threads about atheism just tend to attract comments

about elitism, even comments that need a little wobble room with reality.

The religion forum has leitmotifs which are expected and accepted.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #4)

Fri May 17, 2013, 05:53 PM

5. If you want to see a leitmotif, mention the Catholic Church.

Veritable flypaper.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Fri May 17, 2013, 06:37 PM

7. How dare you

Last edited Fri May 17, 2013, 07:25 PM - Edit history (1)

imply that the Catholic Church is a sticky trap meant to attract and kill mindless pests.

You must be one of those elite few I keep hearing about.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Sun May 19, 2013, 05:45 PM

12. Only because it's so sticky. nt

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Response to dimbear (Reply #4)

Fri May 17, 2013, 06:34 PM

6. Oh, I see how it is

I'm a little new around here and obviously not one of the elite few privileged enough to be in on the joke.

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Response to Addison (Reply #6)

Fri May 17, 2013, 06:44 PM

8. Welcome to DU!

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Response to Addison (Reply #6)

Fri May 17, 2013, 06:49 PM

9. All it takes is a little patience. Well, that and a thick skin.

You'll fit in fine if you think it's worth it.

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Response to Addison (Reply #3)

Fri May 17, 2013, 07:57 PM

11. Welcome!


Welcome to the Religion forum!

Where and face off in epic debates about crayons!

But always have fun together!

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri May 17, 2013, 07:54 PM

10. What if I want to play with the magic markers instead? (n/t)

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