Monday, May 17, 2010

O, I Think I Smell a Rat

I am forced to form the acronym AIPO (Atheist In Persona Only) by the cellophane spectacle seen last Friday on Real Time with Bill Maher.
Though liars and loonies are common features of political talk shows, rarely have I felt so sure as then, that the squeak-toy before me was an impostor.  Perhaps even a saboteur!  S.E. Cupp stands accused.

Cupp, out with her shiny new book “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity,” claims to be an atheist.  What a curious title, then, is ‘Losing OUR Religion,’ considering her professed lack of one.  Smell something fishy?  I do.
My suspicion is that by playing at atheism she aims to appear credible and impartial regarding “Christian persecution in the media.”
Of course, one could be an atheist and still write such a book, even if the premise is ridiculous; so the book’s subject is only the warning flare – not the dead giveaway.  What betray her are her words - slip-ups that are almost inexplicable as coming from an atheistic perspective.  Many of these will be familiar chestnuts for any unbeliever who has debated the faithful.  
The remark “I don’t believe in God, but I’m not, like, mad at him… ya’know” is one that would never occur to me.  I don’t believe in a god, so I could never be mad at him (nor am I mad at naughty unicorns... to be clear).  Oddly, this nonsense is put to me by the religious, in the form of a question, with terrific frequency.  The very tired “why are you so mad at God?”  Indeed, after the show, Cupp put it exactly this way: “yes, I think it’s nice [religion].  Why are you so mad at God?”
When Maher then asks her to justify the discord in affirming atheism whilst denying that those who believe in God are deluded, Cupp spills over with more specious reasoning.
Maher: “you’re an atheist, so you think people who believe in God are deluded, and yet…”
Cupp:  “no, I don’t, I – I totally get the appeal.” 
The response betrays her ignorance of the relevant argument first, and of the English language second.  The question did not concern itself with whether, as an atheist, she understood the compulsion toward religious belief. It had nothing to do with religion’s appeal.  It should have been clear to her, indeed to anyone familiar with this dialectic, that the question concerns the validity of belief itself.  
Yet she responds that believers are not deluded, as she has met many smart ones, and because 90 percent of the world believes in God/gods.
Does she not understand that the veracity of a belief is independent of its holder’s intelligence, and likewise concerning the number of believers it claims?  If gods do not exist, as Cupp claims to believe, then those who believe otherwise are deluded – they hold to a false or misguided position.
It gets stranger still.  Cupp’s Wikipedia bio states that “among her favorite books by other authors are What's So Great About Christianity and Life After Death: the Evidence, both by Dinesh D'Souza, as well as A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit by former pastor and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.”  To say this is strange is to say the very least. 
When, in another interview, she was asked to recall what she cherished about religion she predictably cants: 
“I loved a lot. I loved the belonging. I’m a consummate fan; whether it’s with the Mets or with a religion, I really like to be a cheerleader, a supporter. I get really into it. I was really turned on by that sense of group identity. You’re one of us.
Italics mine.  In answering a following question, however, she immediately contradicts the affinity for group inherence just described.  Warning – reading this quote may cause whiplash:
“In part, I became an atheist [because] I’m not really a big joiner. I didn’t want to leave one club for another.”
Therein lies yet more flagrant evidence of insincerity.  The only intellectually honest path to atheism is through lack of belief in God/gods.  Whether one is a “joiner” or an independent, lacking a desire for “club” membership is not, we hope, one’s justification for disbelief in a deity (with this quote, perhaps, she reveals a secret vice: one of being contrarian for contrarianism’s sake.  A too-powerful vice, it seems, since she is so easily prompted to contradict herself).
You’ll also notice, at the end of the clip, that she has no idea what an allegory is.  Those who teach creationism in opposition to evolution do so because they believe it to be the truth.  An allegory is a fable, a story told through metaphor to have a symbolic message.  As Wikipedia has it, “allegory is a figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning other than literal.”  Creationists do exactly the opposite in being strict literalists.
I will not be surprised to see the release of her new book, “Seeing the Light: My Journey From Godlessness to God.”


  1. I applaud you sir. I've reblogged you via

  2. @anonymous, Thanks.

    Just to preempt... I'm not falling into the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, because I do not argue that she can't possibly be sincere. She could conceivably be an atheist, albeit an incredibly unthinking one, but I strongly suspect otherwise and therefore I'm saying it now. In the Lee Strobel vein.

  3. Mr. Ross, I had similar thoughts as I watched Real Time Friday night. I said to my wife, "She is not an athiest." I found her to be very confusing on this point.

  4. I'm right in line with your thinking here. I am reticent to question her sincerity, but I am convinced she will be the Alan Colmes of atheism for FOX News. Also, I reposted on my blog.

  5. @Jinx protocol

    I am as well. Always a difficult thing to do. Nevertheless.

  6. She seems too manufactured. As if she were specifically chosen to try and lend credence to the typical Christian "Waa.. we're being persecuted." thing.

  7. listen to me, you little F*cker...

    you are not going to tell me what I believe...

    we're going to play a NEW GAME...





    you are going to learn even to TALK about GOD the way you do is going to cost you your lives...

    the writing on the wall...

    f*ck you very much!

    see, you degenerates have last names like first names...

    how about I believe in WHATEVER I want - even in the FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER! - and you have nothing to say!

    let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
    of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
    any human objectives...

    this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*
    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!

    see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
    OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...


  8. So, let's see... one can BE and atheist... as long as they adhere to YOUR atheistic "platform." That is SO ridiculous! I, like Ms. Cupp, am fascinated by religion and believe that "believers" should be allowed to practice their religion without government interference or social persecution. Respect and belief are TWO different streets! Stop being such a fascist!

    1. I agree. Atheism is by definition a lack of belief in a deity. It is not an adherence to your agenda. It does not require a belief that those who do believe in a deity are "deluded." I am an atheist (i.e., I don't believe there is a God), but that doesn't mean that I don't find religion fascinating or, like Cupp, would like to believe "some day." I doubt that it will ever happen barring the extremely unlikely event of "divine inspiration" from a deity that I don't believe in.

  9. I see you can't read very well.

    Atheism is only the lack of belief in God/gods. No "platform" could ever come of it.

    I also believe the faithful should be allowed to practice their religion freely. I believe in freedom. Don't call me, or anyone else, a fascist if you don't know what the word means.

  10. You know, when I saw this video clip this morning I started wondering if I was the only one that had the same thoughts about this lady, then again I do not watch pox news.
    we can agree on one thing, when we see a rat and it smells like a rat, odds are: it is a rat.

  11. I don't even really see her argument. Christian's attack atheists far more than the other way around which would make for a better book in regards to oppression. If atheists do anything it's to keep the playing field equal or to throw a red flag on christians taking their beliefs too far into government and education. Sorry if we have to ruin their fun in the name of the constitution. And if a political pundit like keith olbermann, or maher make a comment about how christianity is silly, how is that any different than what Bill O'reilly or Glenn Beck say about how horrible atheists are on a daily basis? She also insinuates that religion has positive effects on people. How does the effect of a belief have any bearing on whether it's true. Would she like to live in a world where people are in deference to a big cult you don't believe in?... or how about we use reason, logic, science and occam's razor to determine what we know and teach that to kids, instead of fairy tales. And if you're not convinced of religion's truth, you must believe those that believe it are being DELUDED! otherwise you'd believe it yourself!

  12. Her name is SEE CUPP.

    Just another average boob.

  13. It is possible to be an atheist and still be total dick in all other areas, a point that is often forgotten.

    Not all atheist believe in equal rights and that is not even required for atheism. People like that exist. Even a homophobic atheist is not an oxymoron.

    Various other causes just get tacked upon it and uninformed people assume that all those are requirements for atheism.

    So, the lady can be an atheist even if only a token one.

  14. @anonymous

    I don't see your point behind what's already obvious. Of course one can be all these at once. In her case, however, I just don't buy it. And that suspicion has nothing whatsoever to do with her political views.

  15. She also outs herself as Xtian in this clip talking to the Young Turks. She accuses atheists of being moral relativistic at the 11:20 part. Total Xtian talking point that has been beaten down to a pulp. i.e. its a good thing our laws/morals are researched, debated and reasoned and not from a set in stone bronze age book. If our country was based on the bible people would be stoned to death by working on sunday etc etc. She also hangs up at the end like such a classy lady.

  16. She is the new Ann Coulter. Notice how the front of her book is just a big picture of herself? She's selling a personality as much as she is selling the actual product.

    Her personality is this atheist who can view things independently because she is on the outside looking in. She is sympathetic to religious people and understands why they do what they do. Oh, and she's good looking.

    People who have strongly held opinions only like to hear their own beliefs back to them. Having someone on the other side (an atheist) telling them exactly what they want to hear is doubly good.

    I expect to see much of this woman in the future. She understands that attracting a base through lies, circumstantial evidence, and careful personality manufacturing can be very profitable.

  17. The point is that being an atheist, really encompasses only one statement, I do not believe in gods. Everything else is not about atheism.

    Atheism does not equate rationality nor demand acknowledging even the smallest of human rights. It is possible the she actually is an atheist, one who does not believe in gods, admittedly she appears quite muddled in her views but still it is possible.

    You can be longing for the trappings of a religion while being an atheist. You can defend religions even while being atheist.

    As being an atheist has no strings attached to anything else than not believing in gods.

    The largest hurdle, I believe, between the believer and atheist is all things attached to atheism.

  18. I can be in agreement with what you have just said, which if you'll read the comments above, you will find to be the case, and still disbelieve her if it seems she is dishonest.

  19. Interesting point about her comments on not being a joiner, and how she somehow thinks this somehow qualifies her beliefs (not to mention her direct contradiction with herself). I find it particularly poignant, given the fact that I find my own atheism isolating at times, and that this belief is often held in direct opposition to the typical human need to belong.

  20. Landon, excellent analysis. I see that many of the commentators have missed the point completely. Of course it is possible for one to be an atheist and hold on to ridiculous beliefs. But the preponderance of evidence points to the likelihood that Cupp is a liar. I had the same reaction that you did to the statements made by Cupp, but you have carefully laid them out and demonstrated how similar they are to religious arguments. For example, her accusation that Maher is angry at god, and the previous statement that she is not angry at god. You are spot on in pointing out how similar that is to religious arguments. Only someone incapable of understanding what atheism really means could say something that stupid. In fact, I will go one further and say that nobody who is a true atheist could think in those terms. One would have to (briefly) consider the religious argument that atheists are angry at gods (since it is thrown at us so often by unthinking believers) and dismiss it as irrelevant and absurd before deciding that one is an atheist. Same with the 'deluded'/'get the appeal' comment. I do not think it is possible for someone to be an atheist and still not see that the potential benefits of religion (which she goes on at length about in response to the deluded comment) have nothing whatsoever to do with the veracity of the biblical accounts. I think Maher missed the boat on those points, BTW. Sometimes I wish we had better debaters represent atheism on mainstream TV. Anyway, great job with this post.

  21. Most suspect of all (to me, anyway), is the fact that despite my having been pretty active on most of the atheist sites for nearly a decade: I have absolutely NO idea who this woman is! I've never even heard her NAME before she came out with this book and started flapping her gums (she's surprisingly eloquent for having a mouthful of Murdoch dick, isn't she?).

    She's a Fox shill and I, too, am just waiting for her televised conversion and the subsequent book she'll write. Fox's audience will eat it up...

  22. @Ajita,
    A friend mentioned that she also declared herself never to vote for an atheist. Rationalize that. She must think herself quite the heathen.

  23. It's possible she's an atheist. In that case though she definitely has a huge problem with rationality or logic.
    Having seen Bill Maher's Overtime and another show, I'd really like her to answer to "What is it that prevents you from believing god(s) exist?"
    I think she's an agnostic theist. I doubt she really understand what atheism means. Or she's very confused about it. Or quite simply idiotic. Or indeed a cunning liar that milks it through books.
    In any case I rarely have been given the occasion to see someone who was so illogical in her statements.