I believe in Dog

Let's hear it for the atheists


I believe in Dog
by Saul Friedman

Most of us have been taught to stay away from discussing politics and religion, so as not to disturb the dinner guests. Well, as most of you know, I've been covering politics for so long I can barely discuss anything else. And the freedom Time Goes By gives me in writing these little essays compels me to confess that I do not recall when it was that I came out of the closet. That's when I acknowledged that I'm an atheist, that I do not believe there is a God.

In fact I don't know why I capitalized the "G." Although it may be blasphemous, I have had a bumper sticker that says, "I believe in Dog." That's because I have a love affair with my two Corgis, and I generally have a higher regard for animals than many of the humans I've covered in high positions. I have wondered if the Bibles got it wrong and meant to spell it "Dog."

Seriously, coming out of the closet happened slowly. At first I suppose I was an agnostic, telling myself and others that there may be a higher power, that I could not define, for all things alive have in common a compulsion to live, survive, and grow. Where does that come from? I didn't know. I studied philosophy in university and read Aquinas' proofs for the existence of god, and understood Aristotle's idea of the "prime" or "unmoved mover." I did not know whether or not I believed in the god that hung around guiding our lives. But I could not bring myself to believe in a personal being who played magic tricks like George Burns. If man was made in his image, what must he look like? Or she.

I am told by friends that something or someone must have caused the "Big Bang," and that somebody or something or power had to be there to start things off in evolution. But I can't even imagine that possibility. Some giant hand cranking the universe into motion? I remember arguing in a philosophy class that if the universe were infinite, why did it have to have a beginning? I did not know, but neither does anyone else. But that was an agnostic cop out. Now I know; As Stephen Hawking now asserts, if there was a beginning, there is an explanation that did not need a god.

But isn't the spirituality that we all feel evidence of god? Experiencing the sublime is spiritual, but it's no proof of a god. All of us have experienced spiritual moments when we wonder what moves us to think, probe, and overcome. Music moves me. Van Gogh's "Starry Night" is spiritual and beautiful. Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" can make me cry. All men are brothers came from the Judaic concept that there is but one god. I am a Jew who takes pride in that heritage. But I cannot believe that god, looking like Charlton Heston's Moses, exists.

It is true that there is some sort of order in our universe; we can predict the movements in the solar system. But there is also chaos (see Haiti). Our bodies, the results of millions of years of evolution, are indeed wondrous, but they tend to get sick and even die from little bugs and terrible afflictions. The believers' god works in strange and mysterious ways, but what sort of omnipotent, omniscient god tolerates a child with terminal leukemia, or the holocaust of six million "chosen people" or the genocides in Bosnia and the Congo and the Sudan? Believers praise god for sparing them from the tornado's wrath (as if the tornado was anthropomorphic), but do they blame god for the deaths of those who were not spared.?

But I have digressed. I have been comforted in coming out as an atheist by the Sept. 28 Pew Research Center's survey of religious knowledge in the U.S. It turns out that atheists or agnostics scored highest on a test consisting of questions about various religions. I should note here that 95 percent of Americans believe in god; just five percent of us are nonbelievers. Jews and Mormons came in a close second or third. Indeed, the most observant or fundamentalist among us tended to know the least. Half the respondents did not know that Martin Luther inspired the Protestant reformation, or that the Golden Rule ("Do unto others...") is not one of the Ten Commandments. Atheists/agnostics knew most about religion, the survey concluded, because they tend to have more education.

I would add that atheists are unencumbered by dogma. Atheists generally are more free to think of things that no one had thought of. Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin and Einstein broke free from god and religion, and some suffered for it. Only recently has the Catholic Church recognized that the earth revolves around the sun; and Judaism forgave the philosopher Spinoza, who was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam because he believed that god was everywhere in nature; indeed god was nature and vice versa. Oddly, the Pew people had separate categories for Jews and theists as if one can't be both; I'm with Spinoza.

I should point out here that I draw a distinction -- a sharp one at that -- between those who worship and hope there is a god, and organized religion. That's because the average believer in god stands in awe of the possibility there is a supreme being that he or she cannot know or fathom. But most organized religions have the temerity to define, limit and tell us what god thinks, and which country he/she will bless in war. Organized religions, on a personal level uses books written eons ago by uneducated (by our standards), mostly superstitious and primitive minds to tell us how to behave. And as we know, some people believe these are literal truths. I can't quarrel with the Ten Commandments, but they are honored in the breach, that is, they are broken so often by god-fearing men and women, they are not to be taken seriously.

If they were truly observed as the Bible and Quran admonish, the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof told us in his own test of religious knowledge that the Old Testament stipulates that a girl who does not bleed on her wedding night should be stoned to death. Kristof notes that Jesus made no comment on homosexuality, but the Old Testament says "if a man also lies with mankind as he lieth with a woman" both shall be put to death. All this is silly and outdated for most of us, even those who believe in god.

But for about 20-25 percent, who are fundamentalist Christians or if they are ultra-orthodox Jews and Muslims, they believe their scriptures are literally true and the word of god. But, alas, they also believe literally that nonbelievers are infidels and therefore a threat. And if there is no wall of separation between the religion and the state, then a threat against the religion becomes a threat against the state.

When I visited Israel as a journalist with U.S. secretaries of state who were there for the first time, Israeli officials took us on a tour of Yad Vashem, the somber and heartwrenching memorial to the Holocaust that cost the lives of six million Jews, not to mention gypsies, Russians, Poles and anti-Nazi Germans. In Damascus we were taken to the mosque where Saladin is buried, and there we learned that the crusaders who came from England were not the heroes of Christendom who we studied in school or saw in romantic movies, but bloodthirsty rapists and conquerors wielding the cross as a reason to slaughter Muslims and Jews. Saladin, a moderate and even chivalrous ruler who treated his captives well, at last defeated the Third Crusade in the 12th century. But the memory of the crusades among Muslims lingers and has been seen in the reaction to American aggression in the Middle East.

Indeed, as I think on it, much of my reporting has been about religious-based conflicts, between -- Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan, the semi-secular state of Afghanistan and the Taliban, which would resurrect the 10th century, the Shiites of Iran and the Sunnis of Iraq, Israel and its Muslim neighbors, some of them secular like the Palestinians, some deeply religious like Hamas, the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland; the Serbian war against Bosnia pitted Catholics against Muslims; Hitler was Catholic, raised in an anti-Semitic environment; Stalin was raised in the Russian Orthodox tradition and he attended seminary, from which he was expelled, in backward Georgia.

It seems the more devout the religion, the more violent its actions against its perceived enemies. Kristof points out that using suicide vests and women for terror bombings began, not with the jihadists, but with the Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka. I think it can be said that more people have been killed or subjugated in the name of an organized religion than in the name of atheism. When the state religion or church has been attacked, the motives of the opposition were generally political, as when Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth replaced the Catholic Church, with the Church of England; and when the Bolsheviks who overthrew the Czar and all but outlawed the Russian Orthodox Church that supported the monarchy. Similarly, the reactionary and corrupt Catholic Church in Latin America became a target of revolutionaries. Wasn't the attack on the World Trade Center and the deaths of thousands a religion-based initiative? I do not believe, however, that any nation has gone to war or committed atrocities in the name of atheism.

Yet even now, in this country, the legal wall of separation between church and state is hacked at by religionists who hold atheism almost a crime. We are told by the rabid right that liberals and other nonbelievers are trying to kill Christmas, as if the merchandisers have no responsibility. These Christian fundamentalists, the American Taliban, would figuratively stone the homosexual or the kill the doctor who performs abortions. One Pew poll in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of Americans don't believe in evolution and that included prominent Republicans running for president two years ago. These fundamentalists, according to the poll, deny the science that tells us the earth is millions of years old. In lockstep with the Republican Party they deny climate change and man's role in global warming. I suppose god has decided to kill the polar bears.

So it was a comfort to see that I had admirable company when I came out as an atheist: Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Dawkins, Katharine Hepburn, Warren Buffett, Salman Rushdie, Diane Keaton, Bill Gates, Gene Roddenberry, among dozens of celebrities who you can find at www.celebatheists.com/wiki/Main_Page.

Finally, there are many quotes from prominent writers, artists and statesmen, proclaiming their atheism, but my favorite came recently from the great novelist Philip Roth during an interview on CBS' Sunday Morning. Roth, who grew up in New Jersey, said, "I don't have a religious bone in my body." "So do you feel like there's a god out there?" he was asked.

"I'm afraid there isn't, no... When the whole world doesn't believe in god, it'll be a great place."

First published in HuffingtonPost.com.

Friedman also writes for www.timegoesby.net. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/saulfriedman


Anonymous Everyday

Absolutely hilarious

by Anonymous Everyday on

Look who's talking about stone age. You are talking to a scientist, you imbecil. What do you do for a living? What's your contribution to taking us out of the stone age??

These possibilities you keep mentioning are called imagination. Everything is imaginable ranging from things that are likely to things which are very unlikely to come true. Imagination and obeservaion help form theories. Conducting scientific tests to refute those theories are what scientists do everyday. It doesn't mean everything we imagine exists until proven othewise. So in essence you are saying the notion of God is a fruit of our imagination. That's what we atheists have been saying all along. We would also add that the concept of a religious God falls in the very unlikely category of things imaginable. 

Do me a favor. Stay out of things you don't understand. I have waisted more than enough time with you.


If you were able to think

by Escape on

I wouldn't tell you to STFU but conversation with you is a 'waist'.

With you,possibilites are false until proven correct.Somehow that is scientific to you.We would still be in the stone age if scientist's thought as you do.

You've got nothing but insult and even your insults are stupid.Im not even insulted lol.

You're a hopeless case as well indeed,in every meaning of the word because hope is not proven,it's not possible is it?And Hope is a religious aspiration.Therefore,you have none.

Anonymous Everyday


by Anonymous Everyday on

Again you are showcasing another religious behavior:

1. vaghti kam miyarin migin STFU.

2. you alway try to shut the people up who tell the truth you guys can't handle. Remember what happend to Galileo? 

You are a hopeless case dude. Much worse than I had thought.

AND I rest my case!!!!


Science never disclaim's possibilities

by Escape on

  before proven wrong you freaking itiot,now STFU

Anonymous Everyday

As I said before

by Anonymous Everyday on

Hang around people need to see what religion does to your brain.

Here is a friendly advice: Don't use big words until you learn how to use them. There are a lot of things that don't exist in the world. The burden of proof always lies with the person who claims something exists; never with the one who says it does not. Otherwise we would all be spending all our time to prove that pigs don't fly, unicorns don't exist, rabbits don't talk and so on a so forth. Marie Curie did not dream up the radioactive waves and ask the rest of the world to disprove it. She worked very hard to prove her theory. That is the difference between religious and scientific thinking. Scientific thinking relies on a sense of curioisity and is never satisfied until things are scientifially proven. Religios thinking dampens our sense of curiosity and relies on a lack of proof.

Does that finally get into you peawee brain?



It's Over Your Head Everyday Hater Boy

by Escape on

I hope you feel better and got some good Revenge lol.I missed the word probably...- Probably had nothing to do with it Mr. Logical (whom 10% agree)

The point is not whether or not there are more Atheist's in Iran.I don't really care and I do abhorr Islamist's.

The point is whether the burden of proof of making a claim means squat or not..

Your reply is an admittance it doesn't.

Even though it's one from a depressed,hateful,bitter turnip.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Not Islamic

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


does not mean atheist. Islam has to trashed Iran to drive people away. However to belief in God is not the same as beleif in Islam or any other religion. 

I don't have a problem with people beveling. I am agnostic myself. However to accept word by word all the writing in Quoran or Bible for that matter is silly. These books were written long ago by people: mostly men. They have little enlightenment in them. I have found more good in Avesta than any of the Abrahamic religions. Do I believe in Ahura Mazda: probably. However I do not force my belief on others.  Let reason rule and dogma be left aside. I am glad Iranians are coming around to this.That is why Iran will raise once again.

Anonymous Everyday


by Anonymous Everyday on

The more you talk the more you are proving everybody else's point.

Your moronic thinking renders your brain (if you have got any) ineffective:

1. You missed the word probably in my comment.

2. The only reason I can't prove it to you is because: a) your f***-ing religion forces itself on everybody who happens to have Muslim parents and as such does not allow people to express their true opinions, unless they are willing to get killed. b) this despotic regime wouldn't allow me to conduct an open and independent suvey of what people in that country truly think.

3. I don't know why anybody including myself waist their time to make you understand basic logic. By your comments you are demonstarting the way religious logic works. Carry on, your presence here you might open some more eyes.


I enjoyed the Pascal Wager link

by Escape on

Thank you very much.


What if I asked you to prove there are more Atheist's

by Escape on

in Iran (Which of course,you cant) And then said 'Until you prove your claim,you cannot be right.There cannot be more Atheist's in Iran until you prove it.......  ??? 

Want me to try? No,Because you can't.
'God' just doesn't apply to the theory of relativity.In a way,that's the whole concept of God.






VPK, you'll win that bet, I promise

by Cost-of-Progress on

in spite of what the Islamic caucas would want you to believe, iran is not a religious country in the sense that would support a theocracy indefenitely.





Niloufar Parsi

ok escape

by Niloufar Parsi on

was just trying to understand you. i was not denying the possibility that god may actually exist. was just saying that it is not logical or fair to ask someone to disprove a claim that has not been proven in the first place.

i can give it a try though! you want me to? an honest friendly exchange it has to be though. you are game?


What burden is it? There

by Escape on

What burden is it?

There is no burden when you cannot prove it wrong.What a stupid argument.No lack of burden of proof changes the reality of the possibility.

In simplier terms for you -What it is POSSIBLE,it is POSSIBLE.Do you understand? I doubt it.

When you prove their isn't a god,then you prove it is not possible.Until then,it is possible.

Maybe you can go back to Iran for some Real Atheism.You can join all those lovely Atheist's in Iran,When they are hanging in the street.This is begining to remind me of teaching special education.


Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I bet you all that Iran is less religious than USA. 

Anonymous Everyday

What a great read

by Anonymous Everyday on

You know Iran probably has the highest number of atheists compared to anyother Muslim country.

Now that's somthing to be proud of.

Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

two people are sitting in a room quietly staring at the tv, and one of them claims there is an angel in the room too. which one of the two people has the burden of proof in this case?

Immortal Guard

My Response!

by Immortal Guard on

Pascal's Wager:


As for Mr. Friedman I hope that now that he is openly an atheist he is not a closet theist!

As for the Jews, if they are indeed God's Chosen People, then this would mean that they are expected to live up to higher standards than the non-Jews. This also means that if they do wrong they will also get more punishment! Being labled God's Chosen People is not only a privilege it also carries more responsibilities!




Yes we can join the cult!!

by Escape on

The cult of 'I'm right,you're wrong,don't ask me why'.

Yes right now our gang of 20 regulars (if its even 20) are running the bandwidth at Iranian.com as well as Beverly Hills.

We're right we don't need to be proven why,it's reality.

You Atheist's sound like you came from being member's of a Iranian court.


LOL @ Escape

by fidelio5 on

what a wonderful world you have where ANY unsubstantiated claim can be made WITHOUT a shred of evidence and BAM its TRUE!

Oh and its up to everyone else but the maker of the claim to disprove it.

I'll end this with words from our own OMAR KHAYYAM to the Mullahs of his day:

"And do you think that unto one such as you
a maggot minded, starved, fanatic crew
God gave a secret and denied it me?
Well Well, what matters it Beleieve that too!"


found me another soul-sibling, Thanks Saul!

by Monda on

No one had spoken my mind on this topic in a long while, as clearly as you have. (Alan Watts, Howard Zinn, Bertrand Russell and Carl Jung ,to name a few, did come close however.) 


Reality based on what?

by Escape on

  This is why I ask you for burden of proof.As you ask of believer's.If it such a reality,why don't you prove it?

I ask you,Why are you so right and believer's are so wrong?

Until you have a answer,you are not proven right.Any more than a believer.

Quote's from other's.Quite dogmatic indeed.I ask you to think for yourself,then you can actually explain yourself.

I see why these people choose Dog as a superior intelligence.


Sahar Naaz

God Is the Soul of a World without a Soul

by Sahar Naaz on

"The struggle against religion is…indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.   

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.  

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. 

 … Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics."

From Karl Marx’s “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right” (original italics)


Refreshing article

by Truthseeker9 on

Man thinks there must be a special "reason" he is on this planet, but why should there be a reason? The trouble is our inquisitive brains and egos. How funny that some get really angry and hostile when confronted with the fact that some simply chose REALITY and express an opinion that is contrary to the masses. It says more about the insecure nature of humans.


Prove your mind exists first

by Escape on

I'm convinced it does not exist. It is my opinion it does not and there is no evidence it does.

Therefore - IT DOES NOT.


Don't ask people to prove something that cannot be proven either way.

Then believe one way is correct,the other is wrong.

If you can't prove them wrong,you are not right.

You also believe something unproven.

To ask believer's to prove their belief without asking you to disprove it,is treating them as unequal's.

Which you are not and Neither is your opinion.

I don't care what your belief is or is not.

You are falsely acting correct.
This is not in question.It is an action.

One of a Mindless person.

p.s. Fidelio it seems you are not an Atheist.A Atheist does not say 'I do not know',An Agnostic does.A Atheist firmly deny's believing in the existance of God.As I said -Without proof.

Yes MimShim comparing God to Dog is offensive.By the way,what is the meaning of your life?




Burden of proof is with theist and NOT atheist

by reader1 on

Escape is being too harsh on  the author of this article. Surely the burden of proof is with those who begin a claim and not the other way round.  Those who never heard of  the concept of a god before,  are atheists by default!  Atheists never made a claim to begin with ... because it was unnecessary to do so!

Azarin Sadegh

I don't even believe in Dog!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Wonderful article!

Personally I think that the main problem with god is its followers. A god with no fanatic follower is harmless, just like any other abstract idea... only good to be the subject of endless absurd discussions by dreamy philosophers..:-)

Thank you for sharing! It was a joy reading you!




by fidelio5 on

I say there is NO EVIDENCE for the existence of god

Its not a question of prejudice to place the burden of proof on you, its a question of rudimentary logic.

Using my Unicorn example:
If I say "I believe in Unicorns, because I saw them. I cant Prove I saw them but you have to have faith in my Witness!"

Is it logical for me to say: "Escape Prove to me that Unicorns Don't Exist! If you cant everyone must believe my claim!"

No sir, the burden is on me to prove their existence. not for you to disprove them.

As an Atheist I ask for Evidence... Without evidence the only logical statement is "WE DONT KNOW!"


اعلامیه به جمیع کفار iranian.com


بسم تعالی

 به عنوان رهبر iranian.com من باید بفرمایم که بنده آمادهٔ هدایت، ارشاد و رهبری جمیع کفار و مرتدان این سایت در بازگشت به دین مبین اسلام شیعه هستم.  انشا الله و به اذن الله، و با کمک آقای جاوید ما سفری را به چاه جمکران برای کفار iranian.com برنامه ریزی خواهیم کرد، و در آنجا شما پس از انداختن مبلغ نفری ۵۰۰ دلار به آن چاه دوباره با عنایت شخص مبارک بنده-که در آنجا حضور شخصی‌ خواهم داشت-مسلمان خواهید شد.

السّلام علیکم و رحمت الله و برکاته. 

Anonymous Observer

Damn, just as as I was trying to do away with my atheist

by Anonymous Observer on

ways and go back to my Shia Asna Ashari roots, this article is posted...and it "pulls me back in" (Al Pacino - The Godfather).  Oh, well, now I have to stop going to the neighborhood Hussaynieh... 

maziar 58


by maziar 58 on

that's the question.

one thing on atheist : they don't have to prove any thing and just say I'm an atheist.

the belivers have to prove and then push you to join them too.        Maziar