26th February 2010

“It never really occurred to me to believe in God.”

David Attenborough

48 Responses to “26th February 2010”

  1. NoReflection Says:

    When I look into the sky at night ,That is all I need to know, and it is everyone`s .That`s what occurred to me. A Universal playground.

  2. Holysmokes Says:

    Hopefully everyone will be able to say that quote someday.

  3. steve Says:

    I think we can assume that Sir David was not indoctrinated by parents. Lucky man. He has certainly made the world, and particularly my TV viewing, a more pleasurable place.

  4. Bornagain A. Theist Says:

    Oh, how I wish I could say that believing in all things imaginary had never occurred to me. Many of us, being induced to believe in God, have also fallen victim, at least for some period in our lives, to giving the possibility of things such as ghosts, fortune tellers and other mind readers, faith healers, homeopathy and other quack medicines pushers and the like. Like Carl Sagan implies – there is so much in the real world that is beautiful and fascinating beyond our imagination – why would we waste our time with the imaginary. If there a single compelling reason that I would like to “live forever” it would be to watch the progress of mankind from this humble and crude beginning into what it surely can one day become. Go, science, go!


  5. John Says:

    Bravo!! Bravo!! Bravo!!

  6. Holysmokes Says:


    Yes, I noticed the seemingly narrow split regarding IQs in that article too, but I don’t know enough about that sort of thing to determine it’s true significance. I posted that fairly late in the day, so for those of you who didn’t get to see it, here is another link; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132655.htm

    I’m glad you accepted my “twisted” challenge from yesterday. So far, it is just the two of us. I’m already sharpening my Islamic pencil …just in case. I was rather hoping for a few more takers. Perhaps the usual AQOTD cliental didn’t see my late day challenge from yesterday …or don’t like the idea. Ah well, …its a learning curve.

  7. Mikel Says:

    I was just watching a couple of his documentaries on Netflix tonight. No surprise to me that he’s an atheist 🙂

  8. CaptainZero1969 Says:

    I’m not sure if this was posted previously but I think you’ll all enjoy “The Poetry of Reality”.


    It’s a little sad that Darwin came before recording technology because I think the final line from his great work would have been a wonderful addition to the above:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”- Charles Darwin

  9. CaptainZero1969 Says:

    To your point, Steve, we must accept the fact that most children (depending on where one is born) will be indoctrinated. I think I actually prefer to say brainwashed, since it avoids lipstiking the pig. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that the secular community be the strongest advocates for public education in general and science education in particularly. Best way to make kids “ghost proof”.

  10. CaptainZero1969 Says:

    Oh, and by the way. I accept the challenge as well. 10 days on pain of giving up wine for a week if I fail.

  11. Atheist MC Says:

    I posted my acceptance just now on yesterday’s yep I’m in.

    On the IQ link PZ Myers was pretty dismissive of it on Pharyngula as he says where are the error bars on that?

    On the Quote: I cottoned on to the contradictions in mainstream religion pretty early, but didn’t translate that into atheism until my late 20’s (and I’m a lot older now). Between the two points I explored lots of deistic ideas and a fair bit of pagan woo. I’m not sure I would be so confirmed in my atheism if I hadn’t had some measure of belief first.

  12. Atheist MC Says:

    on pain of giving up wine for a week if I fail.

    I’m not giving up wine for anyone. But 3 days of playing God’s advocate on behalf of the trolls I’ll do

  13. PEB Says:

    I think as atheists we have a tendency to argue against the existence of god using words like “science”, “logic” & “evidence”. This is right of course but it’s completely wasted on most people who pray to a man they think is sat in the clouds.
    Never mind evolution and logic. Religion is just silly. It doesn’t make any sense and belongs firmly as a curiosity in history.
    People who believe in god should have their opinions ridiculed (I don’t say that lightly).
    This is why I like today’s simple quote – “It never really occurred to me to believe in God”. Me neither – it’s silly.

    I’m in – 10 days.

  14. Tech Says:

    What scientist do you pray to Peb? Maybe I should ask every atheist that.Science is not always right.You know what I mean.

  15. Tech Says:

    Atheists prove to me everyday there is a God. Something I knew before butits nice to be reassured.

  16. Atheist MC Says:


    Never mind evolution and logic. Religion is just silly. It doesn’t make any sense and belongs firmly as a curiosity in history.

    I don’t think religion is inherently silly. Although the more you rationalise it the sillier it gets.
    I guess if you accept that the cosmological and ontological arguments for the existence of a god make some kind of intuitive sense, it is not irrational to believe in one, after all there are plenty of rational theists about.
    What is not obvious is that anyone is in a position to know the intentions and foibles of that god. Scripture is so obviously man made,rooted in it’s time and ambiguous that to build a personal faith around it is delusional and to build a whole institution around its interpretation is monumentally stupid.
    But if the whole edifice were prima facia silly, we wouldn’t be here having this converstion.

  17. PEB Says:

    Atheist MC – I nearly agree with you. You are right and we shouldn’t be having this conversation. Religion should have disappeared around the time of the industrial revolution and we should all be atheists.

    You say “there are plenty of rational theists about.” This I don’t agree with. “rational theist” is an oxymoron (Hi Oxy). A rational person could not believe in a god (no matter how eloquently they debate)

  18. Atheist MC Says:

    Perhaps I should have said rational deists rather than theist…over to you oxy 🙂

  19. solomon Says:

    Thats all the ATHEIEST could babble,citing idiots,stupid,silly,ignorant,fools.Does’nt it occur to them that they are the ones who posses such qualities.

  20. Holysmokes Says:

    I wonder if science has ever attempted to approximate the minimum level of intelligence necessary for thoughts like creating and believing in gods? Perhaps it comes with “self awareness.” It seems that such research could help identify which human predecessor first originated the deity concept ….or were homo sapiens the first?

  21. Holysmokes Says:

    It appears that science is getting closer to that ever elusive “primordial beginning” of life. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222162009.htm. I wonder how creationists will react when science does figure it out?

  22. The Heretic Says:

    I am in. I will stick to quotes only and their commentary for 10 days.

  23. The Heretic Says:

    As a matter of my mind wrapping itself around the definition of deist – it is a person who believes in a God, but not a personal God, yes? Kind of like believing in “the force” from Star Wars? I could almost dig that if there were any proof.

  24. Holysmokes Says:

    I’d be interested in learning more about Attenborough’s parents, assuming they were the ones who raised him. They deserve a medal …for not “meddling” with his mind.

  25. PEB Says:

    From what I understand deists believe god created the universe but doesn’t intervene in it’s natural order. Deists don’t believe in supernatural miracles (except for the small matter of the creation of the universe)
    There are plenty of contemporary deism ideas but I’ve never encountered a rational one. ‘Nicer’ than theism I suppose.

  26. Tech Says:

    It would be nice wouldn’t it if everybody agreed with you guys.Sorry guys you are a minority.Our God reigns. Not science although I thank God everyday for the doctors and nurses God bless everyone of them.

  27. John Says:

    I am a second generation Atheist and very proud to say that I am also a card caring member of American Atheist! My grandparents where presbyterian and catholic; my parents “said” that they where presbyterian and it was a family joke that we where always “members” of one of the harder religions in the area to find when asked by the local witch hunters.
    Growing up in the Midwestern US, I never understood what the big deal was about religion as I understood at a very early age that it was old thoughts; that it was not relevant or needed to live by and now looking back, I possible understood it to even be smoking mirrors and magic. So, I to can state unequivocally that: “It never really occurred to me to believe in God.” I know now why I enjoyed David Attenborough so much on PBS. I am also in on sticking with the quotes…

  28. CaptainZero1969 Says:

    I get uncomfortable with the blanket disparagement of theists as irrational. I (and probably all here) have plenty of friends in the theist camp that I’d not insult by labeling them irrational. I’ve made that error here and Oxy rightly took me to task. That said, some are and deeply so just as some atheists could be labeled as dogmatic, which to an atheist is pretty insulting.

    I think i’d make a different point. There are theists that SAY they are all about faith and yet are always trying to twist the latest scientific discoveries into support for their brand of belief. “See, See! The universe seems to have had a beginning therefore:God” Far from faith, they actually desire proof, even if they have to gerrymander reality to fit. I would describe this impulse as insecurity and it’s implementation as dishonesty. Of course I don’t fault people for wanting proof. That is rational. I do fault them for lying to make something that is not proof look like proof to satisfy their motives.

    The honest theist avoids this and is clear that their faith doesn’t require the support of evidence. These are not the folks pushing “Creation Science”, “Intelligent Design” and now “teaching the controversy”.

    Bottom line for me – believe whatever you like but don’t bother me with it and don’t attempt to teach it to my kid.

    P.S. – PEB. I think deism is less rare than that. I’d describe many of the people that attend Unitarian churches as deists. Your definition seems right on to me.

  29. PEB Says:

    I’d settle for “there are some rational theists that have irrational beliefs” although I don’t exactly share your uncomfortable-ness (thats clearly not a real word?!)

  30. steve Says:


    I like your sentiment, as it is both romantic and sincere. The vast galaxy is truly awesome, and the fact that we can be aware of that fact – to any extent – is really what makes life worth living.

    In the same way, when reflecting on life and those big questions, like ‘Why are we here’, I also see great inspiration looking at the small end of the spectrum, whether a pond of water or through a microscope.

    It is my opinion that because there is so much to know, and so little time to learn it, we have evolved the ability to mentally create an ‘other’ to bounce ideas past. It is probably a mixture of our parents/caregivers and people we meet during our formative years that we merge and morph into something that is sometimes subconscious and sometimes not.

    This strength is also a weakness, as it gives those with aspirations of power the foothold to prey upon our nature. Developing this ‘other’, if done without the influence of religious dogma, is essential to personal growth as a mature human. If this development is completed within the structure and discipline of most religious thought, it is much harder to shake away the reflexive instinct. So although it is rather late in my life, I now recognize the mental machinations and use them as a tool for dealing with life’s complexities.

    I was raised with a very strong, but obviously flawed, religious background. But, being a late bloomer, I was able to break away from the tenets of dogma and question, ‘why’? Many others do not seem to be able to do so, for reasons that are beyond what I can post in a single comment.

    Sir David is probably much smarter than I will ever be, and he probably got a head start on critical thinking. That is what I think about when I read his quote. He got a head start, he is a lot smarter than I am, and he did not seem to bear the albatross of religious nonsense about him.

    I would love to hear more people echo his quote.

  31. steve Says:

    Captain: …”we must accept the fact that most children (depending on where one is born) will be indoctrinated. I think I actually prefer to say brainwashed, since it avoids lipstiking the pig. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that the secular community be the strongest advocates for public education in general and science education in particularly.”

    Well said. Wish I had said that!

  32. steve Says:

    Final thought for the day; I realize I am going on a bit.

    I agree that I do not want to be disparaging of theists or deists.

    But I am disparaging of their beliefs.

    At the same time, we all seem to have some irrational thoughts floating about, waiting to level our ego when pointed out to us…

    Thanks to all for making this the first of ten wonderful days!

  33. Tech Says:

    Gentlemen, you can say what you like about me or anyone like me. I wouldn’t trade one minute in Gods house for a million anywhere else in the world.As far as unbelievers they have been around since back in Jesus’s time.They will always be around, don’t change nothing for me.I am at peace with the world.God is good you know he is, he’s good all the time.Its wonderful to be saved and on my way to heaven.I may not be perfect but i’m going on to perfection.” PRAISE THE LORD”

  34. Holysmokes Says:


    I think religion has a tendency to stick to people for a few reasons, but one primary cause is loss. When we loose a loved one, especially a spouse or child, it is simply too painful to think they are simply gone. The thought of them going to a better place helps those of us left behind make peace with the fact that they are gone. In a funny way, it helps people keep their sanity. This doesn’t make it right, but it is understandable. Mental anguish should not be underestimated.

  35. John Says:

    As a person who was never forced to have religion “thrust’ into any of their orifices – looks into the dark box that is religion, I cannot see why a sane person could fall for that bilge and most likely I will never be able understand why anyone would want to cow-down to the likes of a preacher. I have lived over 50 years now and I know that the end is only lights out and the dirt nap.

  36. GoodWithoutGod Says:

    Steve, I think you’re close to the mark when you say you won’t disparage theists or deists as people, but will disparage their beliefs.

    As they say, “don’t hate the player, hate the game” – although ‘hate’ is not the appropriate word, obviously. But you get the idea.

  37. GoodWithoutGod Says:

    PEB, much of my extended family is Christian, and growing up we were ‘forced’ to go to church on Sunday mornings and on special occasions (easter, christmas, etc). I’m sure a lot of current atheists were.

    However, when I was five I realized that there was no Santa – the facts just didn’t add up – and have been skeptical of everything since then. Especially when it didn’t make logical sense. Naturally I began to question the fantastic story of Jesus, and the rest was history for me. Fortunately my parents weren’t hard-core, so dropping out of church wasn’t really a major deal (at least for me!).

    As I mentioned previously, I have a lot of relatives who are still Christian and many question the core teachings of their church, and I’m sure ‘the church’ would look upon them as heretics. And someone pointed out that it was irrational for them to continue adhering to an organization that would label them as such, but I disagree. One of the main attractions of organized religion (I believe) has little to do with dogma itself. A sense of community, belonging and comfort can come from these institutions. I don’t have a need for that, personally, but some do, and I think it’s wrong for me to judge them on that.

    But it doesn’t mean I can’t make fun of their institutions as long as I don’t personalize the attack on them as people. Anyway, sorry for the rambling….

  38. Atheist MC Says:

    My usual line to theists is, “I don’t respect your faith but I respect your right to have it. ” What I think but admittedly rarely say is “but I would respect you more if you didn’t have it”.
    Of course I have theist friends, not just christians but a couple of muslims. I also know wiccans (and was married to one for a bit) and they are all honorable people and intelligent too. It has to be said though that none of them has ever told me I deseve eternal damnation for my atheism, I am not sure I could respect anyone as a person if they held that opinion.

  39. Atheist MC Says:

    note to self: remember to close html tags

  40. Atheist MC Says:

    However, when I was five I realized that there was no Santa

    Oi! mess with yahweh all you want but don’t mess with Santa 🙂

  41. PEB Says:

    I don’t understand rational believers. At some point they have decided that santa, the tooth fairy, ghosts, the loch ness monster, a sun god, thor and all the other characters are ficticious – but god! – oh he exists. How the hell do they manage to jump to that conclusion?

    My patience with theists and religion has truely run out. I’m sick of reading about the pope and his ridiculous opinions. I’m sick of vile Islam and it’s intolerance towards anything. I’m sick of reading about catholics either buggering choir boys or killing protestants (and vice versa). I’m sick of these loonies trying to preach to my children in school. I’m sick of funding all of the above.

    Most of all I’m sick of being polite about it. Whew – rant over!

  42. GoodWithoutGod Says:

    I sympathize with your rant PEB and share the same frustrations with believers.

    However, not all Christians, Jews or Muslims should be lumped into the “vile” category. Some definitely are, but most (I would wager) are not. I’d bet that most are just “content” with remaining blissfully ignorant because they know it would be a struggle to question their beliefs and it would challenge their status quo – people do not want to foster disharmony with family, work, friends, community, etc.

    I know that’s not a good excuse for NOT questioning, but I believe that’s at the core of it. I firmly believe the time will come (soon) when walking away from religion or declaring yourself openly as an atheist will not risk ostracism or personal anguish. I look forward to voting some day for an openly atheist politician.

    And Atheist MC….yeah, finding out about Santa sucked because I had totally bought into it! But I still enjoyed the xmas because it brought family together.

  43. steve Says:

    Let me ask in this way: Would you condemn a tribe of natives for their superstitions? Probably not. Similarly, I am pretty tolerant of christians and people of other faiths.

    Too much hostility can make your beliefs unbelievable, and that is as close to a three day damnation as I will go. 😉

  44. steve Says:

    Oh, yeah – ease up on santa claus. I was santa claus!!! Santa claus drinks free in any small town bar in Wisconsin!

  45. Holysmokes Says:

    Day 1 comes to a close. What great thought provoking conversations. Almost one casualty, right steve? :o)

  46. PEB Says:

    Pretty tolerant? You just compared the christian faith to the superstitions of a native tribe.
    At least this tribe have the decency to keep quiet about it.

  47. steve Says:

    HS: Aw, crap. You mean yesterday did not count? Fine.

    PEB: I was just trying to make a point. I do compare the two. But I take your satirical point just the same. Have a great night.

  48. Holysmokes Says:


    I think it depends on which time zone you are in. I picked the 26th quote because that was the day everyone got on board.