University of Wisconsin–Madison

God Graveyard

What’s more spooky than a graveyard?
AHA decided to bring the Halloween spirit to Bascom Hill by constructing our own:

Here lie the graves of thousands of dead gods.  
Once worshiped by entire civilizations, now only myths. 
How much longer will the gods of today last?

You almost start to feel bad for all these poor, neglected, tragically under-worshiped gods.
One anonymous fan was moved enough to pay their respects:


192 thoughts on “God Graveyard”

  1. Just pointing out that a couple of the gods you placed in your graveyard are currently worshipped. We even have trees sacred in their honour in our grove – Lancaster University Pagan Society

  2. So you're saying they should be skeptical about there not being gods and that they should question things that one can see and smell and hear and taste and feel in nature? These aren't religions that have set beliefs. These philosophies allow the individual to decide what he believes based on his senses and his brain. What is there to question?

  3. This strikes me as a non-sequitur. The existence of multiple, "dead" gods does not in itself invalidate the claims of any modern God(s). What I mean to say is, pointing out that Poseidon was not a "real" God does not rule out the possibility that Jesus might in fact be the true God.

  4. No, but neither does it rule out the possibility that one of my dish towels might in fact be the true God. The point is that the very suggestion is unprovable, un-disprovable, and ridiculous.

  5. That's a poor comparison. No one besides yourself is claiming that your dish towels are the true God. In contrast, millions and millions of people have been claiming that Jesus is the true God for nearly 2000 years.

  6. Atheism doesn't actually make any claims, so there's not much to question. Atheists generally support science, because it is the only known method for proper questioning. Outside of supporting a method, science, I can't even think of a single claim that atheism might ask of you. We don't even say that god doesn't exist, we simply say that there is no evidence for, therefore, one ought not believe.

  7. "In contrast, millions and millions of people have been claiming that Jesus is the true God for nearly 2000 years."

    In contrast hundred of millions of people explicitely claim that Jesus is not the true god for nearly 1700 years. Just ask any Muslim.

    Why should Jesus be more real than Zeus or Odin? Why should the bible be mor real than the Prose Edda or the Quran.

    All atheist do is, they worship one god less than you do. They reject to do so because they see no decent argument supporting religious claims.

  8. As an agnostic I'd have to argue that atheism does make a claim, your definition for atheism that you end your statement with is in fact the definition of agnosticism.

  9. "there is no evidence that god doesnt exist" "one ought not believe" "science is the only known method for actual questioning" "atheists generally support science" atheists dont make claims"

    These are all claims.

  10. I am a Time Lord, and I saw a display just like this in 532 BCE.There was a goat-farming Greek man who said exactly the same thing you're saying, only he was convinced Poseidon was real. He relied on blind hopes and rationalizations so that he could justify his decision to go every year and throw his best goat off a cliff into the ocean. I felt bad for him, and now for you.

  11. Anonymous, I don't think you understand the difference between atheism and agnosticism. I consider myself an agnostic atheist.

    Atheism is directly defined as somebody who does not believe in god. An agnostic reasons that it is unknowable whether or not there is a god.

    I agree with both sentiments. I do think it's unknowable, but I also don't believe in a god, therefor, I am an agnostic atheist.

    As for Joey, you're really grasping at straws here.

  12. Most of the time, I identify as "Atheist" because I'm trying to make a point. If you tell me you believe in a god, and you tell me properties or attributes of this god. I know you're full of it. So I say I'm an "Atheist" because in respects to Thor, Zeus, Yahweh/God/Allah I do not believe they exist. Whether there was/is a creator, or some higher power, it's impossible for us to know, and pointless for us to conjure up ideas about what it might be. So yes, the appropriate title would be "Agnostic" but this weakens our position in the eyes of the Theists, they think that "not knowing" means we can't have something to say on the subject. So please, consider this when people as you about your beliefs, it's not wrong to outright deny someones god, and don't let those theists try and tell you otherwise.

  13. The problem with this assertion, of course, is that many of the gods listed here *are* still worshiped. It's a clever piece of work, admittedly, but the creators clearly have not done their homework. A quick search for "neopagan," "celtic reconstruction," "hellenismos," "Asatru," or any number of other relevant terms will introduce you to plenty of people who still love and honor the Old Ones. You may not believe in Them, but denying that others do displays an unfortunate level of ignorance and undercuts your credibility and your message.

  14. I'm a christian… but in this day and age I hate telling people that because there is such a negative connotation projected with that label. I'm not an evangelist. I believe what I believe, and you are free to do the same. I can understand the scientific process, and how logically there is no proof of my god is this world. (at least from your perspective, I can see this) I have a different perspective on things though. We all do. It's a scientific fact that we are all individuals, and therefore it is impossible to be completely like someone else in thought. I am not making an argument here, just stating some observations. I see the world around me a bit differently because of what I have chosen to believe. You all also (christians, and people of other faith alike) see the world differently based on what you believe to be true.

    What I am unsure of at this point is why we can not just accept that we don't agree, and chose to live in harmony.

    I know I will never convince you to believe something different than what you believe. (from my perspective that is God's job…. not mine) And you will never convince me to believe something different than what I believe. So can't we all just get along already? 🙂

  15. Someone's feelings are hurt. But it's a good thing the most powerful, all-knowing, timeless, infinite being has you to look out for him and keep these mean atheists from bullying him on the playground.

  16. Latin is still taught in schools, but it is still a dead language. The same rule applies here. Pagan clubs and occultist groups can say they worship Freya or Vili, but those religions are still out of standard practice.

  17. "You are correct. However, if you're paying attention, you'll notice a pattern emerge." It's a decent argument to use when confronting uneducated theists, but you should know that this is an example of induction fallacy. Just because something has been true in the past doesn't mean that it will be true in the future. For example: I've seen a pattern during my life where I have never died, therefore I will never die.

    I prefer using other arguments specifically for this reason.

  18. Yes, these ridiculous atheists will go to hell where the stripper factory will only make strippers with STD's and all of their beer is stale. Whereas, us Pastafarians will have a normal stripper factory and fresh beer. You preach it brother. Ramen.

  19. "What I am unsure of at this point is why we can not just accept that we don't agree, and chose to live in harmony. "

    – Because the people who are running for office to ultimately run this country are making asinine comments such as "This is a christian nation" or "The Bible says that's a sin."

    We're forced to take a stand, make our voice heard and strive to not be devoured in the ignorance that these individuals show on a daily basis.

  20. Atheism is the natural statement, which is proper until a contrary statement is proven (the negative is assumed in formal logic). Naturalism is also the same form of this. Looking for things within any other spectrum *is* questioning these concepts.

    You might want to actually study epistemology; You've no real idea what you're talking about.

  21. Great idea and awesomely done. Nothing conveys the message better than a silent visual – you know what they say a picture is worth. Would it be possible to obtain a list of the 1000 gods you've so rightly interred? If only this could be a permanent site, like Arlingtron Cemetary. Thank You!!!

  22. It's interesting how, though (not all of you, but most) you agree in the same atheistic concept, but are nitpicking each other.. Moreover, having nothing to do with the article.. Atheism is not about proving their isn't a god, much like one wouldn't need to prove their isn't a tooth fairy, or their isn't a Santa. It's a simple belief that, until proven otherwise, there just isn't a god.

    And the article supports the idea that, despite their passion for their faith or deity, these culture's "Gods" are no longer worshiped, in fact, some have sunken so far into myth that their names cannot all be recounted.

    " 1,500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago…" People believe what makes them feel secure. As a child "Mommy and Daddy will keep me safe" Older, "My teachers will guide me" Older "My boss will know what to do" Older "My..God.. What do I do?" As our parents reach that point it rubs onto us young. My dad was an alcoholic, and even though I can choose not to be, I will follow that path. Seems ridiculous, but it happens everyday not just with that, but with ANY trait or belief they may have.
    Solidarity and cooperation is necessary in order to maintain credibility within atheism. Educate yourselves before you try to spout nonsense. You are just as bad as the blind zealots that preach hate by spewing ignorance to the ignorant. Educate yourselves with fact and educate with fact, not assumptions. Free the sheep from their ignorance. Remember that your uneducated assumption can cause as much or more backlash the the uneducated blind follower. (Not to say they are all uneducated, just that the uneducated blowhards are the loudest)

  23. Actually, I'm pretty sure most of those Gods are still worshipped by people. Seriously. This is incredibly insulting for all those people who do still worship these Gods, and certainly to these Gods. The Gods are immortal beings who exist independent of human worship or even knowledge of them. And if you think it's no big deal because the worshippers of these Gods are a tiny minority, remember that is exactly what Christians and Muslims do with minorities.

  24. “But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” G. K. Chesterton

  25. I guess contemporary polytheists aren't real people because apparently "nobody" worships these gods "anymore".

    Srsly, I don't see how this is helping to accomplish anything good for atheism, secularism, or humanism. It bleeds misinformation.

    Also, not that you'd care about being respectful, but aren't you in a way spitting on all the victims of ravenous monotheistic cults in the past? A virus that's STILL at large today? These people didn't simply abandon their gods because they found them "ridiculous". Many of them were COERCED to abandon their ancestral religions. Many of these people were tortured and died. You need only look at the violent outlawing of non-Christian practices in the Roman Empire, the massacre of pagan Saxons by Charlemagne, the murder of indigenous priests and priestesses by King Olaf Tryggvason, and the destruction of pre-Islamic holy sites in the Arab world, etc.

    Srsly. I thought this needed a little more thought and questioning.

  26. Mike @ 1:28pm said, "Whether there was/is a creator, or some higher power, it's impossible for us to know, and pointless for us to conjure up ideas about what it might be."

    Why is it impossible for us to know? If this god was able to create EVERYTHING, then surely he/she could somehow send a clear and unmistakeable message that he/she exists? I think that it's definitely possible to know if something does exist, it's just impossible to prove that something does not exist. Religious folk have decided that this coy silence means that god doesn't feel like talking. As an atheist, it seems illogical that a creator would play hide-and-seek (especially when the penalty for disbelief is apparently "burning in hell for all eternity").

    If one day I wake up and see some kind of unmistakeable message from God written in the sky, then I will instantly become a believer. However, this complete lack of evidence leads me to believe that there just isn't any supernatural creator out there. Not to mention that if there was, then that begs the question, who created the creator?

    Was it lack of communication that caused people to finally turn their backs on these thousand former gods? If so, then the current god(s) should take a lesson from that and SPEAK UP, or risk following the same path to irrelevance. Beth in Anchorage

    PS I do know a guy who came up here for a visit, woke up in the middle of the night, and saw a really great display of the Northern Lights. He thinks that it was God talking to him. That is just not good enough for me. I want the message to be in an actual known written language. Or a booming, godly voice. Pretty sky colors just do not count as absolute proof, not in my book! Love the graveyard idea………..this campus is a real asset for your community.

  27. "people don't worship these Gods anymore" …. I think the author of the article missed out on getting the memo… Because people do still worship these Gods.

  28. Your "anonymous fan" was actually clearly leaving an offering appropriate to Freya to try to make up for your insult of placing such a well-loved Goddess in a "graveyard" while She's still actively worshiped. I don't have any problem with people freely believing or not believing whatever they want, or having any religious/non-religious practice that doesn't harm anyone else. With a display like this, you're actually alienating the people who would speak up for your right to believe as you wish, instead of the people who would demand you conform to their faiths, such as the Christians and Muslims. It seems to me, from your practices, that atheism is actually becoming a religion that imposes its views on others, just as the monotheistic faiths do.

  29. Zeki is correct in what my point was.

    Latin, that dead language, is still taught in schools and used primarily by historians.

    Paganism worships a variety of gods but is a state religion nowhere (except Bolivia depending on your definition of Paganism) – therefore to you as an atheist is not a religion you feel the need to worry about?

    I'd also like to point out that 'Pagan clubs and occultist groups can say they worship Freya or Vili' – we don't 'say' we worship them, we worship them. I'm happy for you to engage with me and say that my belief is wrong, I'd expect that. But I'm not pretending to have that belief. I'm not sure what the rationale behind 'saying' I worshipped something would be – possibly to troll atheists, and I'd like to reassure you I'm not.

    Lancaster University Pagan Society Webmistress

  30. I've no complaint about atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists in all their variety of flavors who decline to entertain any convictions about the "existence" of supernatural entities. The problem is, as I see it, the same criteria of argument and evidence which nullify the claims of the "theologians" as they try to bring transcendental notions into this immanent realm also apply to ideologues who constantly take their favorite collection of texts from what they claim to be reality and try to elevate them into accounts of things for which their supposed reason won't really work. How do ideologists manage to go from accounts of real things to accounts of our imaginative life? We do imagine what "courage" and "beauty" and "justice" and others ideas are like, but there's no rational and material argument that allows these ideologues to move from, say, employment data or the latest results of genetics and mathematics to notions to which the kind of thinking involved in "science" really seems to apply. Arguing for a "classless" society or "the public good" or a "free market" involves values which can't be translated into variables that something like a science can treat of. Ideology introduces superstition just as fast as theologians see their superstitious notions dismissed.

    The real problem is how we go about reconciling imagination with reality and turning imaginative entities into real conduct or taking what we know into the realm of what we ought. Theologians do it dogmatically, but at some point ideologues are just as dogmatic.

    By all means, spend your time dismantling ridiculous claims by the latest batch of theocrats, but that's only a job half-done if our very skeptical skeptics don't tackle the other side of the coin–the persistent and enduring effort by ideologues to claim existence for notions that may have no more substance than anything else created by abstractions beyond argument and evidence. Ideology and theology are the obverse and converse of the same philosophical coin and what's skepticism directed to one ought to be as well skepticism directed at the other. Neither current "atheists" or current theists seem to have a good handle on that issue.

  31. Agnostic anonymous: The only people who say that the lack of theistic beliefs is agnosticism are people who self-identify as agnostics. If you want to know what atheism is, ask an atheist, not someone who wants to straw-man us. An atheist is a person who rejects theistic beliefs, not necessarily someone who believes there are no gods.

  32. Do your research. Since the universe is expanding in all directions all the time, technically everywhere is the center of the universe reguardless of where you are. So they weren't wrong 1500 years ago. Oh you don't agree? Take it up with Stephen Hawkings. Maybe if you weren't blinded by your smuggery you would have said Solar System instead of universe.

  33. plenty of people still worship these gods. "questioning everything" was a key element to pre-christian religions. being completely closed minded towards (and/or mocking) all faiths isn't questioning, it's just dismissing – no different to christian fundamentalists if you actually take a moment to think about it – and the fact that a bunch of anti-theists are going to take immediate offence to this only further proves the point. Why not just let people believe or not believe as they choose? Yes, some religious types force their beliefs on others, so do some atheists. Don't just the majority by the actions of the minority.

  34. Very well said. I'm sick of atheist placing all religions in the same box as the monotheistic religions they were raised in and naturally became disappointed in. Their entire opinons and concepts or argument are based on religious concepts of what Gods are and the dogma created by religions like christianity and islam. Just for an example one atheist here said "If God created everything and is all powerful, surly he could have given us a better example of his existance than dusty old bibles." My religion, MY FAITH has NO BIBLE, NO SCRIPTURES. My Gods prove their existance with the creation of all existance.

  35. Of course not, if he was dead that would mean he actually made a read sacrifice on the cross. He was just mildly inconvenienced for three days or so.

  36. Expend your energies opposing the political & social practices of the religious zealots that you oppose rather than attacking God, gods, and religion.

  37. 4:39PM Anonymous — The induction fallacy is what this display is point out. Many Christians have seen a pattern during their life where their god has always been worshipped as the true god, therefore it must be the true god. This display is an attempt to put their belief in perspective.

  38. Loki is not dead! You people need to stay longer in the cinema when watching Marvel movies, there are always extra scenes after he credits. LOKI LIVES!

  39. It is one thing to question these things yourself. It is another to suggest, as this "Graveyard" does, that others should do the same or otherwise simply because you believe their religion is a lie. Should I see something like this, it will only cause me to question those who force their opinions on me no matter their faith or lack thereof.

  40. But to an Atheist, all gods are in the same box: the box of nonexistence. "My Gods prove their existance with the creation of all existance." is exactly the same claim the Abrahamic faiths make. Just because your religion does less harm to society than the Abrahamic religions doesn't make it any less made-up.

  41. Without religion, without the comfortable certainty that comes with the certainty that god is on one's side, and that nothing truly matters but serving god, and that this life is only temporary anyway, it would be a lot more difficult for despots to gain a foothold.

  42. As a Hellenist and former Eclectic Pagan–an active worshipper of many of the Gods in this graveyard–I've been trying to decide what I think about this. In general, I feel it is the right of this group of non-believers to put their opinion out there. That said, these are–at least in part–my Gods. I worship or used to worship these Gods on a regular basis. The religiously proud part of me is screaming it's head off inside my chest; I feel protective of the deities displayed here, even though They are very capable of taking care of something like this Themselves, should They feel so inclined.

    I've been trying to retrace the thought process behind this campaign for the better part of 48 hours. There is a fair point in the message if you skip over modern reconstructive, revivalist, and Neo-Pagan movements entirely: while a good portion of the Gods remembered in that graveyard can't actually die, their civilizations did. While we still worship the Gods and They are most certainly not dead, Their worship has changed to the point of a fringe religion. A religion none the less, but nowhere near the religion it was.

    In a way, the display tries to raise questions about the validity of faith if Traditions within it are allowed to die out and question if–if religion is tied to civilizations–we will reach a point where faith is no longer an inherent part of our civilization. Sad to say, I am guessing if this was the true thought train that led to this display, because unlike blog posts about other events like a 'heathen' (non-Christian, not Asatru specifically) stoning-by-waterballoons for a good cause, this one was not accompanied by text explaining why the group undertook this type of action. I'm wondering if this is because the group thought no one would be offended?

    I still have my little pride-monster skulking about in my chest, but overall, I am not offended; I understand not believing. Is it entirely respectful? Again, no, but I simply can't be bothered by these types of evangelistic displays. Freedom of (non-)religion is a beautiful thing and should be enforced; it's the very thing that allowes us to practice our faith while many, many, many, others would rather we do not. We can't say 'we want our freedom of religion, but those people can't have it because it offends me'; that's not how it works–because we are 'those people' for many groups.

    I want to end my thoughts on this affair with a shout-out to whomever left the offering below at the marker of Freya; trust me, if I lived anywhere near the campus, I would have done the same thing. Faith in humanity: restored. Thank you.

  43. What a crock. I question everything and I am an agnostic polytheist. Implying that questioning everything inevitably leads to atheism is simply arrogant. This is why people often assume atheists are closemimded assholes.

    Putting a question mark for the death dates would be really questioning everything…

    Khairete Theoi!

  44. Do athiests/agnostics truly live their lives and establish their philosphies and thinking only upon that which has been quantified and proven scientifically? When one questions everything is he implying that nothing has been quantified and proven absolutely. Does this undermine any base of knowledge the further inquiry would rely upon? It seems that new discovery is contingent upon challenging conventional wisdom.(even things that are scientifically proven) It would b interesting to know what ideas or philosophies that athiests/agnostics hold to that depend upon conjecture, speculation or even faith. #muse

  45. Regarding all the people pointing out how many of the deities included in this graveyard display are still being worshipped today, I expect this display was created to directly comment to the viewpoints of the mainstream religions of today. To the mindset of the average Abrahamic believer (particularly Christians), all those other gods are false, old news, and therefore "dead" (at least as compared to their "One True Living God"), and even many pagans & non-mainstream believers will often dismiss gods other than their own for much the same reason, missing the irony entirely. Atheism finds itself butting heads most often with hardline Christianity though, as it's that religion that has the most overinflated sense of its own self-worth, forcing itself into secular arenas like politics, business, & education in defiance of any laws, common sense, or evidence to the contrary.

  46. "…and even many pagans & non-mainstream believers will often dismiss gods other than their own for much the same reason…"

    Perhaps I haven't met the pagans you've mentioned, but in my long years as a polytheistic pagan, I've never heard of a polytheist dismiss other gods. It's the whole point of having many gods. You have one, two, three thousand, or none, it's up to you. Unlike monotheism, polytheism doesn't go around saying YHWH is dead.

  47. The commenters who are white-knighting for gods – characters which only live in hearts and minds, not in shared space – are weird in their taking of offense. The atheists are described as "smug", "angry", "dickish", "closed-minded", "fundamentalist", "antagonistic" and, perhaps worst, "evangelistic".

    I laugh because:
    1) These characters called "gods" are not hurt, and if they're as powerful as they're described to be in legend, should be able to defend themselves, not rely entirely on lowly humans to carry their water.
    2) No atheist has told any of these white-knighting commenters at any point that they're going to Atheist Hell for not being atheists, or that they absolutely MUST become atheists themselves.
    3) The context of explaining how gods and their supporting civilizations wane in influence like how water flows under the bridge is lost on most of the commenters, save Elani at 11/2/13 12:31 AM. At least Elani caught it.
    4) These commenters, again, don't care a wit for how these characters exist and speak only in their own brains, and want some "respect" for an imaginative idea which has been chosen and which can be changed out at any time. That which is thought but does not exist is an idea, not an immutable trait. No matter how popular it is, no matter how long it has had a fandom, no matter what sort of impact that fandom may have on the contemporary public's collective psyche, there is always some other object of some other person's adoration which is able and "willing" to replace it.

    Check your god-fandom outrage.

  48. I said "more difficult," not "impossible." Pay attention!

    Stalin also had the advantage of that the peasants worshipped the Tsar as the representative of God. Since they were already trained by Christianity to accept one state religion, they were easily convinced to accept another.

    Christianity requires the uncritical acceptance of divine authority. In doing so, it trains the human mind to follow orders, not based on reason or personal moral judgement, but on the authority of the person giving the orders.

  49. Thanks! The background for my remarks came from an attempt to analyze Greek mythology in much the same way a grammarian would look at language or a chemist at the periodicity of the elements.

    I find three issues which don't discriminate between ideology and theology because they are issues around which myth seems to revolve. First, there's a notion in those myths of what a person is. That seems to revolve around the question of just how individual and internal a self is and how much of the self is understood by externalities of a collective character. The person is the real object of interest of the myth creators, not the analytical abstractions that we tend to take as real things, namely the inner ego and the outer alter. There's a conflict between what might be seen as "egoistic" and what has to be seen as "altruistic." That issue is not stated in myth as something factual and arguable in the usual sense but rhetorically as personification. Those personifications are characters and those characters are grasped in terms of the conflicts, contradictions, paradoxes and dilemmas that they exhibit. Some of them are so general that they might well be stated as philosophical paradoxes and others so special, so particular, that they might pass as credible human beings in a state of tension that is yet to be resolved.

    There's nothing that tests what people mean by the notion of "power" more than exhibiting that power when it confronts a dilemma or a contradiction or some undecided state of confusion. When power can be taken for granted, it's not a problem, but when a problem exists, then any exercise of our powers of action is itself the problem. Power gets set in a scene, exhibits itself in characterization, gets understood as a conflict, gets enacted as some sort of narrative and finally is resolved in some fashion. Power personified. All the personifications in myth are effectively studies in the nature of our powers of action, be they gods or simple Horatio Alger stories that model behavior, allow us to act in the image and the manner of that divinity albeit only by some sort of analogy or metaphor or figurative fashion. It makes no difference to myth whether it's Ayn Rand's rebellious heroes, or free enterprise icons of entrepreneurship or Christ as a figure in terms of which Christians practice "imitation." The mythic structure is independent of theism or atheism, of theology or ideology. The myths of, say, an American conservative or the myths that Alexander thought he might be enacting in his world can be stated in secular or sacred terms, but they are still myths. And they are myths about the nature of our powers of action.

    The vehicles are rhetoric, theater, drama but those are the same whether it's the drama of Steve Jobs or the rhetoric of Ted Cruz or the satiric theatricality of Stewart and Colbert. It doesn't matter when commentators have to deal with religious figures or players on the government stage. They are forced to resort to "image" and "narrative" and "definition of the situation" as they discuss the power of those actors to effect change. Whether it's the image of Christ and Pope Francis or the image of Ted Cruz dictating his narratives about Obamacare to an audience prepared to believe him, the analysis is the same.

    Now, it doesn't matter if the thinker is an atheist, agnostic, skeptic or a theist, mystic or outright fanatic. They are all practicing mythic thinking. The usual arguments tend to revolve around epistemology or metaphysical claims This doesn't. It's about the nature of speech and how we depict our powers of action.

  50. How real or unreal is speech? If I can not suspend belief in what I can imagine and express and enact, then that speech is real. My behavior can be understood and anticipated on the basis of my speech. Nothing in these theist versus atheist discussions is really a source of change in my conduct. The atheist with imagery and narratives about intellectual heroes and moral exemplars more than likely is going to behave as acceptably as a liberal Christian who cites Bonhoffer and thinks of missionaries on boats fixing hare-lips off the coast of Africa. Mythically, those images and narratives perform the same thing, but neither theism nor atheism explain how they do it, how they order our conduct, or why an ideology that's secular and a theology that entertains notions of charity may behave in very much the same way.

    There are heroes and saints, villains and monsters in myth, personifications of how power is exhibited and enacted altruistically or egoistically. It's myth that tells me something, not the dialectics that engage doubters and the faithful. Those personfications are the beginnings of analyses of what power is and how it acts. And the principles, for all that they involve reason, involve notions which cannot be derived from the logical order of things or anything of a "physical" character. They are imaginative. We have active imaginations and we enact what we imagine and react to what we imagine exists in the minds of others. That's speech in the broadest sense. It's how we answer the philosopher's question of how to do we know what's on the mind of another? Mind exists in that speech and what doesn't exist in speech in the broadest sense is the sort of psychology that people study when they assess neural networks, something that has little to do with the immediate reality of the person who is a potent entity or actually a power of action.

  51. I agree. And why do atheists care so much what other people believe? Either you're concerned about the social impacts of religious belief/organized religion, or you're trying to play up your own sense of self-superiority like Puritans sniffing around a brothel.

    If it's the former, you had better consider that your celebration of the decline of traditional religions plays into the narrative of colonization. If it's the latter, I hope you choke on some of the Fukushima-radiated fish that modern science has bequeathed to all future generations of humans on this earth.

  52. The Soviet Union was officially an atheist state,but a third of the people were adherents of a religion.

    In order to create a link between atheism and mass murder, you need to show more than the crime was committed by someone who was an atheist. You need to show that he committed the crimes because of a tenet of atheism.

    The link is easy to make for many atrocities committed in the name of religion. In the Crusades, Christians and Muslims killed not only their armed opponents, but sometimes also non-combatants, in the name of the same god who they worshiped differently.

    The two thousand year campaign of extermination against the Jewish people, which culminated in the Holocaust, was a direct result of libel spread by Christians, in the name of their faith. (Whether Hitler was personally Catholic, Pagan, or an atheist is of no matter: the Nazi regime was explicitly Christian, with the phrase "Got Mit Unst" (God is with us) on the buckles of the soldiers uniforms, and the hatred of the Jews had been inculcated deeply in German culture by both the Catholic church, and by Germany's own Martin Luther.)

    The number of dead I've seen most often counted for Stalin's regime is 50 million. Religion, particularly the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam, have seen far more brutalized, enslaved, raped, tortured, and killed in their name.

  53. The flower's at Freya's IMAGE were not placed by the AHA. And the date of the 4th Century BCE should be an embarrassment to anyone studying at a college. Even if you think that contemporary worshipers "don't count," Sweden wasn't even officially converted to Christianity until 1164 CE.

  54. If my later comments didn't discourage you from engaging in this sort of discussion, one that treats "theisms" and "atheisms" as essentially rhetorics which exploit myth as the most comprehensive of tropes without necessarily recognizing them as subject to rhetoric, then, you might continue this exchange with me at:

    You seem to have a good philosophical foundation and that's always a useful check on flows of rhetoric! If a rhetorical analysis is brought into play, then much of the usual discussions between theistic and non-theistic views becomes, from the perspective of rhetoric, adiasphoric or the making of distinctions without differences. You will note how enormously repetitious these atheist and theist dialogues become? There are issues there that philosophical treatments cannot resolve and the more unresolvable they are, the greater the repetitiousness of the discussions.

  55. For people who supposedly have great respect for science and rationality, they are miserable at getting their facts straight.

    If they want to take a poke at Christianity and Islam, they'd get a lot more mileage looking at what the main deity was like previously when he was part of a polytheist pantheon. But that would take some actual book-learnin'

  56. Exactly. I was going to say "Uh, haven't they heard of Wicca, Paganism, and the indigenous faiths that still worship these deities?" A little ignorant if you ask me. And they arent' just "made up" , they are practiced and experienced. More ignorance.

  57. Huh? I have two children. Neither of them will be brought up believing in fairy tales, and will most likely end up as atheists as well. That's a net gain, not an end. What kind of idiotic idea makes you think atheists don't have sex?

  58. "Just because your religion does less harm to society than the Abrahamic religions doesn't make it any less made-up." (Anonymous, November 1, 2013 at 9:13 PM)

    So? What's your point? I *know* that my religion is man-made. I *know* that the image and likeness of my gods are painted by human experience and imagination. But, so are our laws and morality. It's not necessarily a bad thing when we "make things up".

  59. I'm not at all hurt for my "gods" (emphasis yours). They (probably) don't care; I honestly don't care, either. What people believe or don't believe in is not really a great concern.

    You also seem to assume that we don't "care" for philosophy i.e. "[we] don't care a wit for how these [god] characters exist and speak only in [our] own brains". A lot of us actually do, but just because we don't bring it up here, doesn't mean we can't be bothered to examine our own beliefs. We're not trying to argue theology here.

    Really, what this is is a response to misrepresentation and misinformation, and how things could have been better executed to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding.

    Everyone is certainly free to think whatever about gods or not think about them at all. It's the insensitivity of this display that sort of hurts to the people who *do* exist.

  60. Any point on the edge of an expanding universe is nowhere near being the center. It's actually getting further from the center every second that goes by. Stop being a douche who doesn't know what he's talking about and trying to chastise people over a small error

  61. Pretty sure the gods don't care what these people think. They've been around with minimal worshipers for millennia, and the graveyard (and this post) is free publicity. It did irritate me when I first saw it – especially the grave for Poseidon – but hey, it's nice to see all the pagans defending their faith, right?

  62. The idiocy and pathology of this "installation" is an act of violence toward cultural property, akin to genocide and ethnic cleansing. We need to be preserving and renewing the invaluable diversity of the ethnosphere, which is "the sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs, ideas and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness". This kind of assault on the Gods and Goddesses, even if wrapped up in the slick irony of the cool modern agnostic gaze, is still an act of genocide, and the perpetrators should be addressed accordingly. Disgraceful.

  63. The group who did this had a great opportunity to make a point that encourages critical thinking, instead it posted up Gods who are STILL worshipped with information that is half-baked at best. Considering this was a University group–where was the academic effort??

    On a side note, I couldn't tell if any Hawaiian Gods were in the 'graveyard' but as a Hawaiian woman I can tell you first had we haven't abandoned our Gods. If anything this could have been a great project between Polytheists and Atheists that really made people think about worship & it's many forms (not to mention it's many impacts).

    Just lazy & poorly done.

  64. This display makes no sense. All of these gods have modern-day followers and many of them have very large followings in different areas of the world. I get the idea and point, but it could have been made in a more sensible way.

    And that is not even taking into consideration how horrifically disrespectful this is to the students on your own campus who worship these gods.

  65. I don't think it's all that disrespectful. Atheists not believing in gods? *gasp* It's almost as if the word "atheist" MEANT SOMETHING! I mean, do I think it's in good taste? Not at all. But it's a silly, tacky college stunt.

  66. Along with many others, allow me to express my disappointment in an offensive, ignorant, and insensitive display. As others have noted, many of these Gods still have worshipers, in the case of the Chinese Gods in the display, millions of them, in the case of the Afro-Caribbean Gods in the display, some thousands at least. To those people, being belittled hurts just as much as it does to atheists, agnostics, and humanists.

    Moreover, the display reopens the wounds of colonialism and religious oppression. Not too many years ago, white Christians were telling people in Asia and Africa that their Gods were dead, that only the Christian God existed, and enforcing their opinion with maxim guns. In the late Roman and early medieval periods, urban, educated, Latin-speaking Christians did the same with rural, "barbarian" Pagans, enforcing their opinions with the knout.

    I should think that a certain amount of sensitivity to the feelings, histories, and cultures of others would serve you better than arrogant contempt. Most of the atheists I know display such sensitivity, and know better than to take such an action. I would suggest that you follow their example.

  67. Jesus-lovin' Anonymous…. People toe the Christian party line out of fear. I've counseled enough frightened people who are dying inside from the cloying nastiness of the church to know. When your heart (or mind) provide an alternate view but you are too afraid of some devil to pursue it, that's just messed up. Jesus and his worshippers have little in common, and Christians remain one of the best reasons ever to flee from religion.

  68. I don't get why so many believers are personally offended by the joke, who feel their rights to believe are being challenged. Dudes, this wasn't even left on your doorstep, you've sought it out and given weakness power. Who gives a sh*t what they think? Do they mess up your life? Freedom of speech… Get over yourself, because it looks a bit pathetic. These folks are zero threat to you…or vice versa.

  69. Let me just start by saying that I would like to commend you on your display. You have, without a doubt, been as offensive to minorities and their cultures, not to mention racist beyond all believe to millions of people and their heritage, to a degree that the KKK must surely bow their heads in respect to your intolerance and hate. Also, you have managed to find a way to make a standing display that is surely equal to all those street preachers who post up signs about how God hates Fags. You have turned a place of learning into a place of hate and discrimination and racism.

    Thank you. Thank you so much, for teaching your fellow students that what they believe doesn't matter. That where they come from, the beliefs of those places, and their religious cultures, are to be mocked, derided, and shamed. That as long as they are different from you, and your superior beliefs, they can be mocked and discriminated against. All out of your jealousy, intolerance, and ignorance. Thank you.

    BTW, you got the dates wrong. All of them. Especually Freya, who was worshiped openly well into the 12th century, and who has been worshiped quietly in Scandinavia and elsewhere all the way to the modern era, along with all the Norse Gods. So…she's not dead. And I am reminded of the words of Lovecraft…

    "those things that eternal lie…so that someday, even death may die?"

    Dead Gods don't always stay dead. Sometimes…they come back.

  70. The Gods do not need us to defend Them. But that does not then mean we should not. Why? Because we Believe. Because our belief is just as vital and important part of our identity as Jesus is to a Christian, as Allah is to a Muslin, as non-belief is to an Atheist. Because it is an act of devotion to say "You do not get to try and X out the Gods and our faith." Actively shitting on other peoples' faith and spirituality is never appropriate.

  71. I'm not here to chastise you about your display. I support your freedom of expression. It is a clear message and has helped me correct my view of Atheists/Humanists. As a Pagan from a very conservative state, I have supported Atheists/Humanists as allies against the Christian majority who work to marginalize us both. This display has helped me see that Atheists/Humanists aren't really our allies. You do not support diversity of belief/non-belief or reciprocate my support of your freedom from harassment. Instead, you join the Right-wing Christians in mocking my religion to convince me your way is best. That's not the actions of someone worthy of my support.

  72. I wonder what AK's religion's position on evangelism is?
    Whatever it is AL, you can tell atheists not to evangelize, but just as you have the right to practice / espouse your beliefs if you so choose, they have a right to ignore you and continue to promote rationality. And I hope they do – the world can only benefit from more logical, compassionate and reasonable people. Also, if a belief cannot withstand gentle fun being poked at it, its a belief not worth having.

  73. Why not join and ask them? I can't think of any other 'religious group' or philosophy that actually attempts to hold its beliefs accountable to evidence (by definition?)

    I think you've missed the point. But join unless you're a hypocrite. Join and ask.

  74. Absolutely. Not insisting on the existence of something that can't be proven is totally unreasonable… Oh wait…

    Atheism is a state of "not being convinced", and hence *perhaps* (agnosticism) gone one further, and believing the concept is wrong (not unreasonable position given 100% failure of proof on the part of every religion in history to prove the existence of even a single supernatural agent!)

    So: golden opportunity. Join up, prove your God exists, and you can rationally convert them all! Agnostics will immediately go for it. Atheists will be forced to reconsider their position. So what are you waiting for?

  75. Of course it's non-sequitur – *anything* can be non-sequitur with the right lens on. Just as anything truly empirically derived, and… thankyou mr decartes – that's everything! At a fundamental level, that's the foundation of every thought in your head and mine too: something happened before in the past… a similar event occurred afterward… a third suggests a pattern. Our predictions, calculations, are based on reason, and our expectations require some level of foundation of prior events – at some level.

    All this gentle joke does is show that cultures in the past (all of them?) attached their beliefs to Gods as an explanation for the existence for that which could not be explained or needed a social explanation.
    It's a fair suggestion to extrapolate that if worshiped gods become unworshiped it may not be unreasonable to expect the same of those to day.
    I don't believe they called it "graveyard of proof that there is no God/god", now did that.

    So they've provoked some thought, and clearly you are capable. Now, by all means, keep thinking about it some more and you may realise that thought provocation here is the aim… and it has already worked on you! Congrats! Thinking about things you would otherwise never question, particularly when they have no proven foundation in the reality, can only be a good thing.

  76. That was rough. I still think the 'StarTrek' test should have applied.
    "Look, it's round and has some minimal atmosphere, and looks… planety"
    "Hey… don't call it a planet yet, Mr Spock… does it clear it's own orbit?… wait…. wait…. WAIT!"

  77. True, but only if you see someone claiming to aspire to rationality and belief in rational, agnostic or dare I say atheistic ideas. And so the erosion of credibility only holds if you believe this people should be 'as right as possible all the time'. That would mean changing it if they learn better, of course. But it can't possibly include being right in the first place – unless you insist on their need to be infallible. But perspective: we're talking about a practical display that makes a point that transcends its perfection or imperfection of implementation.

    And hence, your level of ignorance shows in that you seem to grasp the idea but also demonstrate the expectation of retrospective corrections (via a time machine?) or perfection in first implementation (requiring wisc being 'gods' or all of the highest level of religious education?). I think the only credibility undercut here is your own.

    (And before it is lodged in argument that deities failing to register significant worship should only be determined by zero worshipers… how do you know that someone isn't worshiping any or all of them right now as a matter of spite? The point is clear. What you are looking for is a religion for pedants, I think, not a reasonable discussion)

  78. "What I am unsure of at this point is why we can not just accept that we don't agree, and chose to live in harmony."

    I'm sure many of us dearly wish for this, regardless of religion or non-religion!

    "I know I will never convince you to believe something different than what you believe. (from my perspective that is God's job…. not mine)"

    If only that were the case, but sadly, your bible disagrees with this. You only need to read mark 16:15 to see otherwise. And so, I believe it is only fair to expect that while many religions (or religious people) promote themselves (or their ideas) and do not hesitate to deride conflicting beliefs, the day had to come when we might expect the same can be expected of organised atheism.

    Promoting tolerance is something this soc seems to do anyway – but why wouldn't one expect the core principles to be promoted as well?

  79. Burn the heathen!

    But seriously, if mocking unworshiped gods bothers you consider this:
    1) the conceit is they're unworshiped… so who is there to get offended?
    If you find one among their number, you might have a case but…
    2) the demonstration is a 'think peace' to show a correlation, not a bold statement of proof.
    3) If a religion is required to make offensive cultural mores, consider their group a religion which includes the belief that gods are not real and that people need to learn this

    So by now you should realise your offense (if not on behalf of yourself, but on others) is for non-existent others, or intended to be non-existent others.
    You should also consider how pretentious this makes you sound. But pretense is fine. Hypocrisy is a little more ugly though – you're telling a people of a certain set of beliefs they can't share them, yet implicitly defend the right of the religious to do the shame. You can't hide behind PC here either – it doesn't take a far look (try the blog) to find foundation for stoning unbelievers in xtainity. So at worst it's "not nice"… next to "defends people's right to belief in texts that call for stoning people".

    Your reasoning is spurious, your ideas are flawed, and you urgently need to re-evaluate your idea of respect, because if you can't think more rationally than this, you will find you won't know how to apply 'the respect' you long to give your fellow human beings anyway. Peace be with you.

  80. I dont know, ask the religious people of ALL "faiths" in this world. They are ones spreading hate, fear and violence. And turning ignorance into a virtue. And the so called "holy books" are filled with all the ways to hate and what to call "holy" and as long as OUR government continues to force religion on us, then we are forced to stand against it.

    -In God we do not trust, for there is nothing but lies and fear that is spewed from the mouth of the witch hunters preaching their hate from the pulpits of shame.

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