Still don’t think “lacking” matters?

I just found this amusing today. You’ve got two reports on a story concerning how a couple of Christian teachers allegedly attacked an atheist teacher by sprinkling holy water on her. The first refers to the atheist teacher as expressing disbelief in “God and the Bible”. Now ok, not completely objective there but notice how Christians report it. There, the atheist was “expressing her lack of belief in God.”

I’ve harped on this before and have had arguments with other atheists over this issue. It amazes me how some can’t or won’t admit that the use of lack or lacking belief implies deficiency, and it must have been cooked up long ago by Christians to disparage atheists. It’s become so ingrained in speech that unwitting atheists say it when describing themselves and other atheists. Look at the reports and notice how the Christian one essentially repeats the same things but yet changes the disbelief to lack of belief. Why? You know why. It’s a deliberate change to negatively paint the atheist as inferior and deficient, and I’m starting to see it carries with it other implications for Christians.

Now Christians see proselytizing as important and necessary since they see their bible as the “good news” and believe that unless you get on the bandwagon, you’ll be tortured for eternity. Besides, Jesus is awesome! So already there’s a sense that the atheist needs to get on the bandwagon, and the use of lack or lacking reinforces that, but consider how it appears then when they refuse this wonderfulness. Why, it’s like a starving man refusing food from you, a homeless man refusing your money, or any downtrodden individual spitefully refusing your help. The nerve! And when you have a story about an atheist speaking out against Christianity, its bible, or the actions of Christians, you get this added element of spite and insult, and I think it also feeds the Christian belief that atheists are rebelling against their God out of spite. It’s another in a long line of attempts to dismiss the atheists and their arguments by painting them as irrational. “Angry atheists”, atheism is just another religion, suggesting atheists just have daddy issues or just want to sin are all such attempts, along with the ol’ “an atheist knows in his heart…” yadda yadda.

So rather than merely being a snipe or cheap shot, I think the use of lack or lacking has multiple ramifications, and they’re all bad. I really can’t understand why any atheist can’t see this, let alone argue to defend the usage of lack of belief. Enough already!

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15 Responses to “Still don’t think “lacking” matters?”

  1. There you go with another rant about some small, picky linguistic point. Big fucking deal. We atheists care only about science; all that English stuff is for the dumb, woo-ish people in the humanities: artists, writers, historians, musicians — that whole Western Civ crowd.

    Everybody knows that the only way we'll ever score any points against the wacko fundies is to keep telling them about evolution and the big bang (smaller bangs are unimportant), and showing them the scientific flaws in their worldview. (The atheist worldview, by the way, is based on the scientific method, so it's solid.)

    Anyway, that's why I'm now reading my 53rd book on evolution. I think I'm beginning to understand that concept. Next on my shelf: my 74th book on philosophical arguments against theism. All that reading sure reinforces my decision to lack belief. I thank the ghosts of my ancestors that I chose atheism as my religion.

  2. What you REALLY need to do is go to atheist services, er, I mean meetings. Sitting around with others who think the same and who've read the same books reinforces your lacking of belief. Oh, and of course wearing as much of the Dawkins clothing line as possible makes you a better atheist, especially the underpants with the big red A.

  3. I'll have to check with our atheist leaders to see what they say about those underpants. If P.Z. Myers wears them, I suppose I'll have to buy a pair.

    Just out of curiosity: Do you happen to know if anyone makes Atheist Depends? (I'm assuming they'd be called "Don't Depends.")

  4. Depends is put out by Agnostics. Atheists have Trusts. You know the slogan, don't just have faith you won't soil your clothes, trust that you won't with Trusts. Remember, nothing fails like faith, except perhaps your bladder.

  5. Since I'm merely one of those musician-philosopher-social scientist types, I probably don't have anything substantive to contribute to this erudite discussion. To top it off, I've never worn Scarlet A underwear (and I don't think they sell bras yet), so I can't add anything useful to that discussion either. Maybe I should just take my keyboard and go home.

    Ah, what the hell – I'll dive into the holy water anyway. The Christian account framed the situation like this:

    two teachers who have been removed from their classrooms and are under investigation for allegations they offended an atheist colleague.

    Was sprinkling with water someone with whom they disagree a mere "offense" or an assault (albeit probably minor in this case)? If they had sprinkled her with paint or acid, would it have been an "offense" or an "assault?"

    Of course, the Christian account also says that the Christians didn't actually sprinkle anyone, they merely threatened to do so, in a joking manner during the course of a "friendly" discussion. According to the Christians, the religious rights of the (would-be?) sprinklers were infringed. Apparently, American Christians have the right to sprinkle, or threaten to sprinkle, anyone they like with what they allege is holy water – as long as the threat and/or sprinkling is done in a friendly manner. Presumably, the atheist in this case didn't have a right to be free from bodily harm or the threat thereof. I assume that lack of rights extends to the rest of us too. Or, perhaps the atheist just doesn't have a sense of humor and can't take a joke – just like Jews can't take side-splittingly funny anti-semitic jokes from Catholics, and African-Americans can't take hilarious nigger jokes from KKKers.

    The only conclusion I can draw at this point is, since summer has officially started here in the USA, atheists should beware of Christians bearing holy water balloons.

  6. My immune system is strong. Apparently I lack HIV.

  7. I lack the burden of superstitious belief.

  8. 'Course, here in the South, "lack" has a whole nother meaning:
    Ah lack yawl. D'yawl lack me? Less go fuck.

  9. Ah, family get-togethers in the South.

  10. or you lack the euphoric high of self delusion.

  11. Too bad. Look at all the famous people who've had it. It's quite chic.

  12. Larry – I heard the voice of Forrest Gump when I read that suave pickup line.

    Philly – you are wicked! And, you owe me a new keyboard.

  13. It's like how you can say anything you want to in a comment online a long as you add an emoticon. :)

    This is why I always follow comments to my students with smiles, laughs, and winks, like the following…

    Could you possibly suck more, or do you think you've hit the suck ceiling? Ha ha!
    Should I assume by your response that you're stupid or merely lazy? (wink)

  14. Damn it. I was about to lament my "lack of cancer."

  15. You are lacking in your faith in the existance of Santa Claus too, such a shame…

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