Thursday, October 11, 2007

Only 299 to Go

OK, it’s intimidating enough that PZ chugs out about 300 posts a day, while we mere mortals write just one or two every decade. But when he allows his students to add to his output, he's really rubbing our noses in it.

Not to be outdone here at the woefully inadequate No More Hornets, I decided to ask my students to help me out, too. Then I remembered: I have no students because I’m not a teacher. But I was still able to augment my pathetic productivity by soliciting the aid of my friend, Ms. Atkins, who teaches fourth grade. Or, at least she used to before she was fired on some trumped-up charge. Anyway, she was kind enough to ask her class to write short compositions on the theme: “What Atheism Means to Me.” She had each student invent an appropriate Internet name for him- or herself to use on this blog, so they wouldn’t be identifiable. This is their post.

What Athism Mean to Me by louisjones.
My teacher ask me to write about athism and I told my mother and she said my teacher was a bad word and she would report her to the princibal but the princibal would not talk to my mother because my mother complain all the time about the bull bad word they are feeding us in our classes but they do not feed us in our classes they feed us in the lunchroom and I like what they give us except when its meat loaf.

What Athiesm Means by stinks
I go to church every Sunday and when I do I believe in God. He is great. But sometimes when the other kids make fun of me because I stink in sports I don’t think God is so great. Why did He make me stink in sports? I wouldn’t make anybody stink in sports if I was God because people who stink in sports have feelings too. So in church I’m a Christian but when the other kids make fun of me because I stink in sports I’m an athiest.

I Am a Atheist by ihatejesus
I am a athiest but my parents are Christains. When I told them I was a athiest they nearly had a heart attack but they did’nt. I’m glad they did’nt but I’m sorry they did’nt get a little bit of a pain some place on their body because they washed my mouth out with soap and that made me throw up. They did it when I told them I was a athiest. They said I did’nt even know what it means, but I do. It means I hate Jesus, that’s what Billy told me. And I do hate Jesus because I got bad presents last Chrismas. My parents said thats not Jesus’s fault its Santa’s fault but I do’nt believe in Santa because it makes no sense.

Athests are Mean by athestsaremean.
I think athests are mean people. They hate God and they hate Jesus and they hate Mary and they hate Matthew and they hate Mark and they hate Luke and they hate John and they hate Adam and they hate Eve and they hate Noah and they hate everybody else in the Bible too except Satan. I think it’s bad to hate people in the Bible. And they don’t believe in hell!!! That’s why I hate athests!!!! I’m glad I believe in hell because that’s where their going!!!!!

What Atheism Is to Me by ilovesam
I wish I was an atheist because I like the way Sam Harris looks. I saw his picture in a book my dad was reading. He is not handsome but he looks like a nice guy. Sam Harris I mean. My dad is not handsome either but he also looks like a nice guy. My mom says he has big ears and a big nose. Sam Harris that is. My dad has small ears and a big nose. I don’t know why my dad is reading a book by Sam Harris but he curses a lot. My dad I’m talking about. I don’t know if Sam Harris curses. My mom says if I was going to fall for an atheist why didn’t I pick someone nice looking at least like Richard Dawkins? I saw him on TV. He’s old. But it doesn’t matter because I’m not an atheist because I love Jesus. He is not handsome either but he also looks like a nice guy. My mom says he’s a very nice guy, nicer even than my dad who is also a nice guy. I wish he’d cut his hair, though. Jesus I mean.

It’s in the Bible Atheists by sixdays
Atheists don’t beleive that God made the world. I would like to ask them who did? I bet they can’t answer that one! Even a forth grader like me knows the answer to that but atheists are too stupid to know how to look it up in the Bible. I know how to look it up in the Bible because it’s write at the begining. It says God made the world in six days. And then he rested on the seventh day. I don’t know why God needed a rest because he can do everything and it’s not hard for Him. Maybe he just wanted to watch TV. I know there was no TV in those days but I bet God was able to see into the future. I wonder if he saw atheists. Why didn’t he kill them if he saw them? Mom says you can’t question God but I would like to. I would like to know why he made atheists who don’t believe that He made them. And I would also like to know why he made brussel sprouts because I think that was a big mistake.

What Atheist and Agnostic Mean by readthisgrandma
My mother is an atheist but I’m not supposed to tell my grandparents. She doesn’t believe in a god. I’m an atheist like my mother and I’m not supposed to tell my grandparents either. But my grandmother knows because I told her and she cried. She is not an atheist. She believes in a god. She cried because now she thinks her god hates us. I told her it didn’t matter because I don’t believe in a god so let him hate me all he wants. My father is an agnostic. He says he’s not sure. He says that about almost everything.

Aythism by fuc
Theres this aythist girl at school Carmen. And she wont say the plej a legience because God is in it. I told her if God wants to be in the plej a legience that’s his busness not hers. And she called me a name that I can’t write because its bad it starts with F U C. And she called God the same name it starts with F U C. I wish I could tell you what the name is but I cant so youl have to guess at it. And maybe Im a bad person because I minded more that she called me it the name that starts with F U C than she called God it the name that starts with F U C. But God can kill her with lighting from the sky and I cant because your not suppose to hit girls. It ends with K.


nullifidian said...

That last one (as illiterate as it is) is absolutely hilarious!

"It ends with K." Priceless!

What age(s) are these students?

Anonymous said...

"Stinks" had a good one: "I go to church every Sunday, and when I do I believe in god..."

That's when they REALLY believe in their god, or perhaps, believe in the belief in god.

PhillyChief said...

What's sad is I see these comments almost verbatim on forums and as response comments on blogs, letters to the editor in newspapers and on magazine websites, only the people writing them are supposedly adults, not 4th graders.

tina FCD said...

I think I will post your sites address on my Yahoo 360, I'm curious to what reactions I will get there, about this post...:) Some of these comments are really sad that some parents teach their kids to think atheists are hateful. I raised my four children to believe what they wanted to, without forcing them to go to a church. I let them make up their own mind if they wanted to go or not. Even when they were very young. Two are atheist, the youngest and the oldest, the other two are agnostic.

Unknown said...

I think that's the best argument I've seen for why kids shouldn't be labeled as or indoctrinated into any religion (or non-religion).

...even if it's made up. :) It's good though. I could see every one of those being written by a 4th grader.

John Evo said...

"Mom says you can’t question God but I would like to. I would like to know why he made atheists who don’t believe that He made them. And I would also like to know why he made brussel sprouts because I think that was a big mistake."

Why do brussle sprouts always get punked? I love them.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

That's another thing we have to include under the umbrella of Atheism. Brusselsproutism!

...Wait a minute. I HATE Brussel sprouts. Someone needs to find out where Brussel was buried and desecrate his grave.

The Exterminator said...

Evo, SI:
We can't have this kind of Brussels sprouts divisiveness among atheists and expect to get anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Another great post.

And I can even comment on it.

Unlike when I tried to comment on Pharyngula student post and got knocked back repeatedly as spam until I lost the will to argue back to "knock back spam£ filter.

The Exterminator said...

Uh-oh. Spam from heather.

(If she's trying to get me to invest all my money in Brussels sprouts futures again, I'm gonna scream.)

Anonymous said...

Don't let Kirk Cameron get hold of the Brussel Sprouts one.

They have a certain utility which the godly might find compelling.

When I was a lad I found they had a certain utility; they fit the hand just so and one could huck a sprout quit a distance with a fair degree of accuracy. They hurt when they hit, too.

After I was wounded my first tour in Viet Nam, I was convalescing in Japan and went down town with another fellow. We went to a restaurant and ordered the local quisine which was served with chopsticks. I knew how to use them but this guy didn't, luckily for him there were brussel sprouts (or something remarkably like them) which was all he was able to eat until the staff took pity and gave him a kitchen fork. He'd spear a sprout with a chop stick.

Lynet said...

Someone needs to find out where Brussel was buried and desecrate his grave.

Well, he was probably buried in Brussels...

Spanish Inquisitor said...

That narrows it down considerably.

Anonymous said...

As if it wasn't sad enough to see kids self-labelling as Christian, Jew, and Muslim, now fourth-graders are calling themselves Atheists! Is it not enough for a kid to be a kid without prematurely labelling themselves? These kids don't know there is a god and they don't know there isn't. They simply can't comprehend the (lack of) evidence! This saddened me greatly. The kid who said "I hate Jesus" was disturbing. I'm an Atheist, a fairly staunch one at that, and I'm appalled that this survey was even done. Let the kids think about elementary science, arithmetic, and grammar before they're bombarded with these questions too deep for most adults!

The Exterminator said...

You know, J., I never thought anyone would see this post in quite that way. I guess you might also say that I'm responsible for what those kids wrote.

Anonymous said...

I thought this post was hilarious! Well done. I suspect some people are a touch too serious at times :-)

Nicely done.

Unknown said...

I disagree with J. Reed. I don't think the Exterminator asked the kids to label themselves. He asked them what atheism means to them. In fact, he was trying to see just HOW MUCH these kids might actually know about god and/or religion. Instead of just saying the kids are too young to know anything, this is an honest attempt to find out exactly what they do know.

I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know, but at what age can kids start to form rational decisions about complex matters? From these responses, we can see the kids say, "My mom said..." or see responses that are definitely formed from indoctrination (even if starting with, "I think..."). But the one by "readthisgrandma" was clearly (to me, anyway) something well thought-out from a rational mind. Most seem to be on the verge of being able to comprehend the question.

Forcing someone to label themselves in some manner is wrong. But asking a young child to try and think about, and then articulate a thought on a complex and difficult subject, whatever their stance, should be the very purpose of school!

Just my opinion, anyway.

miller said...

I'm surprised that your teacher friend was able to pull this off. In my experience, public elementary schools are careful to refer to religion at all. At one school, I found that the teachers were even slightly worried about having the kids to draw Christmas trees. Is the pendulum starting to swing the other way? Or perhaps it's regional?

If you had asked me in 4th grade, I wouldn't have even known the word.

Anonymous said...

Those kids are both funny and disturbing. It's quite amazing and alarming that the kids are so badly indoctrinated already.

VforVirginia said...

Hey, Exterminator --

I noticed this comment at Friendly Atheist:


Paul said,

October 13, 2007 at 8:27 pm

I call shenanigans. That last example you quoted, at least, was not written by any fourth grader. That’s someone have a bit of fun at The Exterminator’s expense.

Thought you should know.

The Exterminator said...

Thanks for passing along Paul's comment. Just for the record, though, I don't think he's right.

John Evo said...

Exterminator -

I love your sense of humor. :)

Anonymous said...

In my own case I didn't believe in any gods at age five. At the same time, I knew there was no Santa, easter bunny, tooth fairy, and a few other things. At the same time I knew that 'we' (my family) were baptists, and I identified myself as such.

By age eight I knew all the above, plus that teachers and policemen weren't my friends, my elders didn't necessarily know best or wish it for me, school was NOT fun, if I just tried harder didn't necessarily mean a better result, and that I was pretty much alone and had better watch out for myself. That was the year I 'outed myself and suffered the consequenses, also vitiating the slogan "the truth will never hurt you". Physically and socially it did. But it openned a whole new world to me.

I was certainly no smarter than the other kids who "believed", I just saw (as most did) that the emperor was naked, his wedding tackle was less than impressive, and I said so. I guess it served me right.

John Evo said...

Sarge -

Your story is an interesting one. And one that, at least in my mind, lends credence to the notion of a genetic connection to belief/non-belief. I don't want to confuse what I'm saying with genetic determinism - call it genetic factoring instead.

For a 5 year old to have an intuitive sense that there are no gods (especially in light of your self proclaimed "I was certainly no smarter than the other kids") would lead one to look for factors other than simply a rational approach to life.

At least I don't remember any friends in pre-school who were take the rational approach! Personally, I don't recall trying to be a skeptical thinker (and I wouldn't have phrased it that way) until my mid-teens. I know that's kind of late, but I was CERTAINLY no smarter than others.

I think there have been some studies confirming a genetic link to belief. Maybe you should submit your genome for study.

The Exterminator said...

Sarge, John-Evo:
I, too, knew I was an atheist at a very early age. There was nothing remotely philosophical or scientific about my nonbelief; a guy in the sky just didn't seem to add up. In my fortunate case, my skepticism was encouraged by my father, although not until I voiced serious doubt on my own. I think there may be something to the missing god-gene theory.

John, you said: I love your sense of humor. Coming from you, I consider that extremely high praise. And I love the fact that you get it.

Anonymous said...

John Evo, I have to confess myself to have lumped 'god' in with the easter bunny et al. It was from a little boy perspective, but it really was an 'I don't believe it" thing. About that age I told a joke in sunday school that my mother still cringes to think about: what's the heaviest thing in the world...? A turd! Even Sampson had to drop them! I was roundly chastised by everybody, including the two somewhat older boys who told me the joke the day before. This, plus observing others, told me that this was a very odd thing. My parents often told me, my mother as recently as three months ago, that they found me to be a very unsatisfactory, odd, and alarming child.

Actually, I was smaller and less physically developed than most kids, I was (and still have) certain learning disabilities. I was thought at one point to actually be retarded, then just lazy and uncooperative. I confess myself to on shaky ground on the last two.

But as a military brat, we moved around a lot and what with the miseries of school I had to be very observant, develop a memory that was really good, and be able to properly assess situations. Gods simply stacked up with the rest of the myths. Just because a lot of people got excited about something didn't make it anything worth getting excited about. A girlfriend once discribed such things as "a pound of smoke". Then, she was a damn smart girl.

It's sort of like guard duty. We used to have to pull it in my early days, and most of it was really not necessary. There was guard mount with it's inspections, memorised general orders, challenges, etc. Pain in the ass, in combat if you post a lookout you make sure the guys have water and ammo. Then there is the Full Formal guard mount. This what you see at the tomb of the unknown soldier, most people never go through that (nless they're in thst section of the 3rd) but I, unfortunately went through three.
This includes spit shined footgear tongues, uniforns just so, exaggerated body movements and strides, shoutings, stampings of feet, and other absurdities. And usually the sentimental rather than tangible value of what is guarded is what's high. And so I saw it with religion.

John Evo said...

Exterminator said: "John, you said: I love your sense of humor. Coming from you, I consider that extremely high praise. And I love the fact that you get it."

It's a great compliment that you consider it high praise, and I love the fact that you get what I get.

Sarge - dude... start blogging! You would be the greatest story-teller among our band of heathens and apostates.

Actually, if you are interested, you are welcome to guest-post at my blog from time to time. Let me know.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, John E M. Might give it a try. And I appreciate the compliment.

If you want to see where I get a lot of the info that I pass around, check out the Logan Guard Band. It's one of the bands I'm involved in. I'm the sergeant major.

This coming weekend we'll be at the Cedar Creek reenactment.

You hear alot, learn a lot, and meet a lot of people doing things like this.

Steve B said...

I'd have to agree with earlier comment that some of these comments don't ring true to a fourth grade cognitive level. Especially given that most fourth graders wouldn't know what an atheist was unless it had already been explained to them.

I'd be interested to see what the responses would be if the question was instead, "What Does Christianity Mean To Me?"

Those kids' responses (if genuine) reflect as much or more about the parents' than about the kids. Pretty sad.

tina FCD said...

My grandson is in 4th grade. He knows I'm atheist, I wonder what his response would be? :)

John Evo said...

Sarge - "This coming weekend we'll be at the Cedar Creek reenactment."

Is that in Iowa? If so, I think I have a friend who lives in the area.

Anonymous said...

No, it's in Virginia, right outside Winchester. Some of it takes place right on the old battlefield.

First year we went I forgot my cot (did my share of sleeping on the ground when I was a real grunt)and I found out that there were voles and shrews in abundance in that area. They came in my tent, rustled and made noise and ran all over me, and then the shrews started in on the voles. I didn't look rested next morning and one of the ladies asked if I was alright. Told her, "The camp is full of shrews!" Then made it worse trying to explain it. I skipped breakfast and was mighty careful of the next few meals.

Anonymous said...

I usually attend there with an ad hoc group, we're from different units, have met over the years, and try to catch between three and six events together. We are freethinkers, style ourselves as Ingersoll's Own.We usually have anywhere from twelve, sometines as many as twenty five people. We include three atheists, a UU, a woman from India who is a Hindu, the rest are deists.