Tuesday, April 7, 2009

So exactly how do Kiwi Atheists think and act?

This morning on the way to work, I came across a young-lady cyclist with a puncture.

Being a cyclist myself there is nothing worst than being left stranded, or having to walk any distance in cycle-shoes.

So I threw her racing-bike in the boot, rear wheel in the back seat, and off we went.

As it turned-out she worked only 500 metres from where I was heading, so it was no big deal.

The young lady was extremely thankful of the ride and me getting her to work on time, and as the conversation progressed she asked me why I picked her-up? To which I replied “One day that could be me on the side of the road and I’d like to think someone would assist me”.

Then from left-field she piped-up with “Oh I thought you were a Christian”.

Well as you can imagine, this statement bought forth raucous laughter and great merriment from a godless, heathen like me.

“I’m a rabid atheist” I replied forthrightly, trying to keep the car straight, tears of laughter still welting in my eyes.

“What could have made you presume I’m a Christian?”

“Well there’s a Church service leaflet on your floor”.

The penny then dropped.

She was a Christian, and naturally believed I was one too.

The presumption was in her mind - only a Christian could be nice to a stranger.

“Nah I said, that’s from my son’s choir on Sunday and he’s another non-believer as well”.

So to any Christians reading this, I’d be interested in your feedback on this scenario.

Do you think a Christian is more likely to act in a charitable way than an Atheist?


Positive Atheist said...

Surely only atheism can offer true morality. If christians are only being good because they are christian (and will be punished or rewarded dependent on thier behavior) then there is a selfish motive. When Atheists do it is really is out of the goodness of thier heart.

tom sheepandgoats said...

Both are capable of being charitable. Both are capable of ignoring others in need.

Damian said...

Positive Atheist, that's a really good point. It's a sort of modern-day version of Jesus' parables of the poor woman's tithe and the good Samaritan all wrapped into one and fired back at Christianity itself.

Only, I think that what probably really happens is that many people, Christian or otherwise, just have an instinct for altruism and that it's only when they are asked for the reason that they attribute it to their belief system whereas we atheists have to go with the best scientific explanation we know of (which might be reciprocal altruism) or just a plain old "I dunno, anyone would have done it".

Nice one.

Lucyna Maria said...


were you baptised a Christian?

Tor Hershman said...

Just thought you may enjoy my most recent film

You need to add 'cemetery' to your poll question/answer.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Have to pass-on being baptised there Lucyna.

If I had to take a poke-in-the-dark (without the necessary protection the Pope deplores)I'd would say yes, simply for the tradition of the day.

I do know I'm circumsised.

Oh yeah, my lad is singing Evening-Song tonight in The Christchurch Cathedral.

See ya.


PS: Bugger the pubs are closed today, eh. And no races as well.

Lucyna Maria said...

Well, Paul, as you are baptised, you're basically a Christian. Just a non-practising one. That tradition of the day put a mark on your soul that cannot be removed.

Do you think a Christian is more likely to act in a charitable way than an Atheist?

Yes, I do.

The scenario that you've outlined hasn't cost you anything.

What if helping the woman required you to risk your life? Would you help her then? What if she was old and drunk as well?

It's easy to help people to make yourself feel good when there is no risk and no downside to yourself. But, when things are difficult, it's more likely that someone who believes they will be rewarded when they die for good deeds done, will help a person in distress if it's not easy.

Think of that recent high-profile case in Auckland when a man intervened (and lost his life) between a man and the woman he was trying to stab. Would you have put yourself in the dead man's place?

Canterbury Atheists said...

Not for you to know, but that's a shockingly bad example Lucyna.

I did step in assist a guy being beaten-up when aged 25 and received a hiding myself - including hospitalisation (a week off work etc).

The offenders did time in jail, and despite this experience, I would intervene again given the same circumstances; stopping a guy being kicked in the head by skinheads.

The guy I intervened on behalf of never thanked me, even though we ended up in neighbouring hospital beds.

So now I've told you my histrionics 'spilled my guts' and made a complete arse of your assertions - why not tell me your own story of heroism, where you put yourself in physical danger for a stranger?

You've heard mine and it's not a night I like to remember.

Gotta go.


Lucyna Maria said...


I'm impressed. Would you do it again?

I've never done anything heroic where I risked my life, but being female and not as physically strong, it would be silly of me to intervene in any sort of similar situation.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Would I do it again, in the same situation LM, given I'm now a lot closer to 50 than 40?

If I had come across the young-lady in question being assaulted...
yes, with no second thoughts for my personal safety.


One guy I would confront, 2 or more at night, probably not.

This reasoning behind this post was to garnish "brownie points" from readers, and make me out to be anything more than I am.

A middle-aged Kiwi.

A product of the way I was raised and my genetics.

I wanted to indicate, how stereotyped atheists are by some people, and to try and understand why Christians see us as being some-how morally inferior and unempathetic.

Why is there an arrogance to being a Christian, when surely this was not the gospel of Jesus?

How can you say I would not have intervened if threatened, when clearly I have done so in the past and ended-up in hospital for my troubles helping a stranger who as it turns-out never even thanked me.

For starters you don't even know me, and yet you 'paint me' as being inferior.

This is the same sort of automatic relegation of atheists as inferior members of society, that I'm fighting against and revigorates me for the battle ahead.

Interestingly this morning I went to my neighbourhood park and cleaned-up all the littered and broken bottles. We live close to the University so this is a regular event. As I wombled about the park doing my civic duty a well-dressed family went past on their way to Church Service. Morning mass I'm guessing seing this route is close to a Catholic Church.

So the LM, who is doing more for society, the more righteous of the two groups this morning?

The family of six praying to God for forgiveness a couple of hours?

Or Atheist Paul ridding the soccer fields and childrens play-ground across the road of broken bottles?

Who would you rather have in society?

Me or the fellow Catholics who are happy to walk through the unavoidable glass (that filled a complete green recycling bin)on the way to Church and ignore it?

I don't want to preempt that answer.

Besides I've got a snuff movie to watch now and a pipe of P to smoke before I rob the local service station.

See ya.


Positive Atheist said...

The morning-after broken bottle run is also one of my passtimes too Paul, and as we're both Atheists this is looking more and more scientific!

In a similar vein but different artery, I never give to christian charities working in Africa for example, as I cannot trust that my money will be spent helping the needy or buying bibles to brainwash the natives (proabably a 50-50 split).

I do trust secular organisations such as Unicef that do great work in these places with no other motive than helping out their fellow humans.

Anonymous said...

Why did it take me so long to find this blog, love it!

Just Atheist From Auckland

ImtheRabbit said...


I'm impressed. Would you do it again?

I've never done anything heroic where I risked my life, but being female and not as physically strong, it would be silly of me to intervene in any sort of similar situation.

Saying your being a female is a copout. I am female and when I was in my late teens I went to watch a band with a friend of mine. With her was a person I wasn't friends with, in fact we were at one time but because of differences we were no longer friends. (some of her friends had actually threatened me after we split ways)

As we walked to the car, a group of teens started to walk behind us and shout things directed at this person because she had a patch on her jacket that symbolized racism.

At one point they had her surrounded and on the ground kicking and punching her. While her 2 friends watched, not knowing or unwilling to do something, I had to step in. I went up to one of the group and started to tell them (rather sternly) their actions were as bad as any patch on her jacket and even though I was not friends with her and disagreed with her, their actions were no different.

Now I'm a very small person, and I could have easily ended up on the ground with her, but I didn't. Instead they stopped and let her up and we quickly made our way to a nearby arcade. This group of people followed and spit on her and the others with us but didn't touch me.

After we told the police what had happened and made our way to the car the former friend of mine couldn't seem to believe that little me, the quite, shy and awkward girl, would be the one to stand up for her. In fact she couldn’t stop saying it all the way home.

I often wondered after that, how her ‘friends’ could have just watched and done nothing, but I couldn’t keep myself from acting. I didn’t think about my safety or that I could end up in her position. I saw the wrong that was being committed and acted the only way I could, with words.

So if you believe that God will send you to heaven if you die, and I believe that I will simply cease to exist, why is it that I would act and you would not? So while you say it would be silly for you to intervene, I would do it again no matter what it might cost me.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Hey Rabbit...you really should check this song out.

It's my favourite late 70's Kiwi Punk tune.

'I am a Rabbit' by Proud Scum.

The U.S Band The Lemonheads did a cover, so you'll be able to get it where you are (but they changed the lyrics)the originals of which are......

You say you've seen my kind before
That I'm not sexy any more
Nor are you!
You say I am an animal
That I'm not like a man at all
Well it's true!

I am a rabbit
I've got to have it
It's force of habit
I'd like to share my carrot
With you

--Verse 2--
You say I've got a one track mind
That I just want to have a grind
With you
Well I don't to marry you
I just want to get through

--Chorus x 1--

You're just a bit of lettuce as far as I'm concerned
I don't want to go with you to the point of no return
That's because I am a rabbit

--Chorus x 1--
(last 2 lines change to "I'd like to stick my carrot/Into you!"

The band got together for a reunion last year, which I went to.

Listen to song here.....