Features, Interview, recent, Religion

‘Luciferina’: An Interview with Amanda Knox

Though the Republic of Italy has been secular since 1985, on the wall above the judge in the Perugia courtroom hung a giant black crucifix. The main prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, thundered at the then 22-year-old American defendant, Amanda Knox, on trial in 2009 for the murder, two years earlier, of her British roommate in Perugia, Meredith Kercher, calling her, Knox remembers, a slut and an adulteress. A  lawyer involved with a related civil suit dubbed Knox “Luciferina” — a satanic slur that soon found its way into press coverage of the matter. And it stuck.

UK headlines during the murder trial dubbed Knox ‘Foxy Knoxy’

Another Italian lawyer denounced Knox publicly as a “dirty-minded she-devil, a diabolical person focused on sex, drugs, and alcohol, living life to the extreme,” and “a witch of deception,” “Lucifer-like and Satanic,” yet who possesses the face of a saint. An Italian commentator declared that Knox had “the face of an angel but the eyes of a killer.” In reference to her looks and supposedly scheming character, British tabloids (soon followed by the Italian press) dubbed her “Foxy Knoxy”—though the moniker dated from her childhood and originally referred to her skill as a soccer player. Even the usually staid BBC saw fit to wonder “what was really going on behind [the] smile” of “the beautiful young murderess.”

A distinctly religious, sexist spirit pervaded almost all the portrayals of Knox so freely proffered in the media. Not so with Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s Italian boyfriend at the time and her alleged accomplice. He garnered only a fraction of the press she got, though he was convicted with her. (A young man of Ivorian descent with a criminal record, Rudy Guede, was also convicted of the killing in 2008 and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. He received the least press of all.) The Italian media and prosecutors ceaselessly focused on what, for them, was the case’s key element: the supposed moral depravity of a beguiling young American beauty, understood to be non-Catholic and thus implicitly embodying corrupt, godless values—just the sort of evil temptress who could orchestrate and oversee the rape and murder (by Sollecito and Guede) of an innocent young woman.

Amanda Knox in 2007

Scandalously, although DNA and other evidence had implicated Guede and indicated that he had acted alone, the Italian authorities focused relentlessly on Knox and Sollecito—with the media especially fixated on Knox. The resulting judicial tribulations the two suffered know few modern equivalents. Concerning Knox: She was arrested for murder in 2007, convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 26 years behind bars (one year more than Sollecito); acquitted on retrial and released in 2011; retried (in absentia) in 2013 and convicted again; and, finally, absolved unequivocally in 2015 by Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation.

Last week, the disarmingly fresh and friendly face of Amanda Knox appeared on my computer screen as we began our talk via Skype for this article. She spoke to me from her home in Seattle.

“I didn’t condemn religion before my trial,” Knox said. “But religion is a manifestation of tribalism, and I was not part of that tribe. I was vilified for not being a good Catholic chaste girl.”

During our 132-minute, wide-ranging talk, Knox showed herself to be articulate, progressive, outgoing, funny, and surprisingly without bitterness over the four years (including eight months of solitary confinement) she lost to an Italian prison for a crime she had nothing to do with. Now 31, Knox told me that this was the first time she was publicly speaking out about her atheism and opposition to religion, which she views as an ideology that leads to “othering,” fosters tribalism, and is, of course, “based on believing something just because you want to believe it. . . . Religion is an ideology that allows you to demonize others. . . . Atheists constantly interrogate their views.”  She said that being criminally tried beneath a “giant crucifix was extremely intimidating.”

Knox describes the religious iconography present in the Italian court-room as ‘intimidating’

“Religious scenery was on the walls. I knew I was in a medieval building that was culturally and historically religious. They were burning people at the stake just outside the doors!” Nevertheless, Knox volunteered that the “only real nonjudgmental support” afforded her behind bars came from Don Saulo, an elderly priest in residence whom she described as “deeply compassionate and caring.” He never tried to convert her to Catholicism, but Don Saulo let her spend time in his office, ostensibly to practice guitar-playing for Sunday mass, but also to listen to the Beatles with him and give her a break from cell time. Moreover, according to Knox, Don Saulo frequently approached Mignini in the courthouse cafeteria and told him “you’ve got Amanda all wrong.” The nuns visiting her, however, treated her harshly, warning her that “people without faith were “no better than animals, that faith was what differentiated us from animals.” For Knox, though, the “idea of good and evil that comes so easily to a religious mindset” was “not compatible with what [she] understood about human beings.”

I asked what she thought of Mignini and his courtroom diatribes against her, which he delivered in florid, often religious terms.

“His worldview was largely rooted in Catholicism . . . in law and order and divine law. He said I had the face of Santa Maria Goretti but a double soul. He called me ‘Luciferina’ and a femme fatale. . . . I was a manifestation of how Lucifer could infiltrate the innocent, that I was evil for the sake of evil. How could you argue rationally against that? He characterized me as a whore who would do anything for sex, even murder, a rampant whore, a diabolic scheming manipulative jealous whore, obviously Satanic. . . . I was the one who used my feminine powers to bewitch men and make men rape Meredith for me, I was the mastermind who instigated it all, and that these young men would never have done it, if it weren’t for me.” She added, that, “It’s not like the Catholic Church went in and condemned me. But it was an environment where Catholic ideas about female sexuality and about sexuality in general and about what roles women are supposed to play . . . were part of this perfect storm for creating a story to put an innocent person in jail.” Mignini presented his case against her in religious language because it “resonated with people. Otherwise, [his accusations] wouldn’t have had an impact.”

Mignini accused Knox of organizing “a Satanic orgy” during the course of which Kercher, unwilling to take part, was raped and murdered. His depiction of Knox, she said, consisted of “intimate misogynistic bullshit” that “confirmed people’s prejudices,” and showed an “absolute willingness to vilify my sexuality.” For him, women were “either whores or Madonnas, and whores are always asking for it.” She contended Mignini was “projecting his fears and fantasies onto [her].”

Clearly Mignini knew his audience. On a continent that has long been losing its faith, Italy remains one of Europe’s most devout countries. Hoping to take advantage of this, Knox’s lawyers urged her to wear a cross to court. She refused. At no point in her life had she ever believed in God. She attended a Jesuit high school, but when her teacher asked her class to write about why they were “good Christians,” she responded with a rebellious essay in which she, tongue-in-cheek, declared herself “a practicing pagan” who “worshiped the moon nakedly in [her] back yard.”

Knox sounded defiant to me, but dark moments followed her arrest. They included sexual harassment from a male guard, lewd questions from the vice-commandant of the prison during lengthy, one-on-one encounters for which he called her to his office, and an unwanted kiss from a female cell mate. She contemplated suicide in the weeks after her conviction, when, she wrote me in an email subsequent to our talk: “My world collapsed. I realized that my innocence hadn’t saved me, that everything I thought my life would involve (love, family, travel, career) had been taken from me.” She and her fellow prisoners knew they could take their lives with a “garbage bag and a gas canister” or use a broken pen to slit their wrists in the shower. “I don’t think I ever got close to hurting myself, but it was important to me that the option was there.”

After her release from prison, Knox wrote numerous essays for many publications, including the L.A. Times and USA Today, and published a bestselling memoir about her ordeal in Italy, Waiting to be Heard. The $3.7 million advance she received for the book mostly went to paying off her legal fees and her parents’ trips to Italy to support her emotionally, but also allowed her to finish university. (Her parents always ensured a family member was in Perugia while she was in prison, though the authorities only allowed six hours of visitations per month.) Knox has also sparred publicly with Donald Trump. Trump had weighed in on her case in 2011, proclaiming her innocent and calling the Italian prosecutor a “maniac” and a “whacko.”  Once Knox was free and Trump had won the presidency, he was reportedly “very upset” that she had declined to vote for him. In an editorial published in the L.A. Times, Knox thanked Trump for his support but explained that her “politics hinge on the merits of policy, not personal loyalty,” and that what counted for her was “loyalty to our ideals of due process, equal protection under the law, the freedom to speak one’s mind and to vote according to one’s principles.” Earlier this year, Knox began hosting “The Scarlet Letter Reports”, a video series that runs on Facebook Watch (in partnership with VICE Media) and delves into the stories of women who have been publicly shamed and demonized.

Knox found the fortitude to survive her crucible and the talent to start over. Hers is a voice I will definitely be waiting to hear more of.

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyTayler1.

Editor’s note: November 30, 2018
The opening paragraph has been edited for clarity. 


  1. AndrewS says

    Come on, this is tabloid stuff. Whether guilty or not, this woman is a self-publicist, and should be ignored. The bigger story is the blundering inefficiency of the Italian justice system.

      • Giselle P. (Signing Off) ? says

        OH C’MMON!

        I don’t know whether Knox helped rape and murder someone; but after this:

        “…she was publicly speaking out about her atheism and opposition to religion, which she views as an ideology that leads to “othering,” fosters tribalism, and is, of course, “based on believing something just because you want to believe it. . . . Religion is an ideology that allows you to demonize others. . . . Atheists constantly interrogate their views…”

        I feel confident concluding she has a head full of disconnected garbage and a big mouth. She calls herself a “pagan.” I wholeheartedly concur (“paganus” is “peasant” in Latin).

        Her generalization about atheists as a group is as silly as generalizations about any other life philosophy or religion. “Atheists constantly interrogate their views”? That’s roughly equivalent to “All Christians forgive regularly”, and exactly as true. Perhaps she interrogates HER views (though it doesn’t sound like it). I can introduce her to a dozen self-professed atheists who accept anything they are told on NPR without question and possess some of the tightest shut minds I’ve ever seen.

        She would do well to read John Gray’s book “Seven Kinds of Atheism”. Perhaps she might stop embarrassing herself and some of us other self-described atheists who have some grasp of what that word might mean and how it differs from other philosophies and religions. We have to live with the blowback when a Guitar Hero theologian like her starts blindly throwing stones.

        Amanda Knox is for atheists what an Islamist suicide bomber is for Muslims: a needless burden, just a bigot with a bullhorn we have to explain and differentiate ourselves from when intelligent believers point out quite correctly that she’s a narcissistic brick.

        Almost four million dollars to act like an idiot. Some people just manage to fail upwards again and again. Sounds like Hollywood. It’s enough to convince one the apocalyptics are correct, and we are near The Age.


        you have published a few interesting things, and I have checked back for those; but the moiety of your articles are shallow and poorly considered. This is the apotheosis. When I hear you’ve gotten some adults in the editing department, perhaps I’ll check back. Till then, do please sodomize yourself with a pineapple.

        • 南沢山 says

          It’s a bad article. Even I can tell that tweet that heads the piece is in Spanish and from a Spanish source.

        • Angela says

          I think the paper she wrote about being a pagan and worshipping the moon naked was a joke to poke fun at the assumption by her teacher that she was religious to begin with. I do take issue with her claiming atheists constantly interrogate their own views. I’m a former devout atheist who was active in atheist internet forums and I can assure you that their are tons of atheists who reflexively believe all sorts of things without thinking them through.I’m still not religious though just agnostic instead of being a combative atheist.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Giselle P

          Isn’t eh point of an article on website like thise to get us talking. This article certainly succeeded in getting you to enlighten us with some very cogent points about the fact that Amanda Knox is hardly an intellectual powerhouse.
          But I must demur at your attack on Quillette. It sounds as if you want to read articles with which you can agree. But it also seems that you are confusing the depth of the article with a the lack of depth of the article’s subject. I think it would be a shame if we didn’t get your comments anymore. They are always worth reading.
          And was it autotext that led to the inappropriate use of ”moiety” and ”apotheosis” in your post?

          • Burlats de Montaigne says

            “Isn’t eh point of an article on website like thise to get us talking” (sic and sic)

            Possibly. But usually about the points raised in the article not the quality of the actual piece. There have been a few of these ramblings recently – sort of half-hearted, poorly argued ‘blog posts’ with little in the way of structure or cogent reasoning. They just come across as a half-formed jumble of ideas lazily thrown together. It is immature nonsense for the most part and unworthy of appearing on this platform.

        • Philoctetes says

          Wow. That didn’t take much. Cheap date, one good sized pineapple is all. Anyone who could not get past this vacuous piece of stupidity without blaming the editors arrived with an agenda that no one could fill. You can have your stupid used pineapple back.

          • σοφιστής says


            In journo-speak, “signing off” means she’s leaving … not there … gone …

            so you’re belittling an empty chair.

            And that’s not weird at all.

          • Philoctetes says

            Yep, takes a Sophist to parce that into something it’s not (though the Grade 3 effort at a dirty pun is at odds with even the pretence of thinking deeply).

        • Robinson says

          You don’t know but you seem so assured. Let me tell you how you know: The Supreme Court completely cleared her. That is how you know.

          • Suddenly Suzanne says


            That’s a joke, right? A court cleared OJ Simpson.

        • Suddenly Suzanne says

          “…when intelligent believers point out quite correctly that she’s a narcissistic brick.”

          I have to concur in my own way. In just a few lines, Knox makes the most astonishing hairpin turn of reasoning:

          Religion promotes tribalism and “othering” (which is bad)
          Atheists, on the other hand, interrogate their views
          (So you see my tribe is better than that other tribe that promotes tribalism …)

          Yelling “hypocrisy!” seems neither constructive nor quite appropriate, since hypocrisy usually has some nuance to it, a rhetorical attempt at subterfuge.

          This seems closer to utter lack of self-awareness, a self in contradiction. I have observed just this kind of thinking in patients with clinically diagnosed narcissism, so I lean toward Giselle P.’s “evaluation” of Knox’s mental state.

          And while it’s fine that Knox is how she is and can say what she wants, I question Quillette’s judgement in publishing it with a “you go girl!” from the author, rather than a pointing out and critique of this elliptical thought.

      • Mary S says

        Anything to make money and stay out of jail. There is only one person I feel sorry about: Meredith Kirchener.

        • Grant Babcock says

          the laws of nature seem to be shifting. To wit:

          It seems nature no longer abhors a vacuum.

          In fact, nature now gives the vacuum seven-figure book deals and promotes it online.

          I guess she has the Proper Amount of Suction™️

          • Sue (@sosueme) says

            “nature now gives the vacuum seven-figure book deals”


            I wish this thread had function so I could share this to everybody I know. Good grief….

            solid gold.

        • Oh that’s rich. You feel so “sorry” about her that you can’t type her name correctly. Not even remotely correctly. It’s Kercher, you twit.

      • Angela says

        This article didn’t go anywhere though. I thought we were going to learn some new information about the case, but it was pretty pointless.

        • Elektra Winters says

          This author is not a serious person.

          Quillette, you are running the very real risk of being seen in the same way, I think, publishing this nonsense.

          Get it together.

      • Looks like Quillette is really getting the hang of clickbait porno-journalism. Bravo!

        “Here’s something fatuous with sex and violence that will make readers look nd then get angry at the author and the subject, and we’ll get views….”

    • Scroto Baggins says

      Anti-Christian elitist? ✅
      History of poor life choices? ✅
      Serial blamer of others? ✅
      Lush tell-all book deal about her victimhood? ✅
      Fights with Donald Trump over things he supposedly might have said? ✅
      Dumb as a bag of hammers? ✅

      Now why on earth isn’t Knox a Democrat member of congress yet?

      ? KNOX + OCASIO-CORTEZ 2020! ?
      Slogan: “Why not? ‘Dumb and Dumber’ was great!”

      • Angela says

        Well if she really was imprisoned for years for something she had nothing to do with then she’s got a bettee claim to victimhood than most anyone else. Especially when you add in the way she was initially portrayed especially in the media. I don’t know enough about the case to have an opinion though. I was hoping this article would really dig in to the evidence, but instead the arctic didn’t really go anywhere and felt kind of pointless. If there was any reasonable doubt about her guilt I’m glad she’s free though.

        • Angela says

          Im skeptical of one sided media portyals of criminal cases though. The Netflix documentary Making of a Murder had me completely convinced that the subjects were innocent, but when I read a lot more about the case the documentary turns out to be at best very misleading. Also the Central Park Five don’t seem as innocent as portrayed in the documentary about them once you read into specific evidence of the case. There’s an extremely in depth article on The Daily Beast that digs into all sprts of evidence that suggests the defendants were in fact most likely guilty. Just Google The Myth of the Central Park Five if you want to learn more. It’s an incredibly engaging article.

      • Philoctetes says

        This works too:
        Donald Trump: Anti-Christian elitist? ✅
        Donald Trump: History of poor life choices? ✅
        Donald Trump: Serial blamer of others? ✅
        Donald Trump: Lush tell-all book deal about his victimizing others? ✅
        Donald Trump: Fights with Donald Trump over things he supposedly might have said? ✅
        Donald Trump: Dumb as a bag of hammers? ✅

        • Philoctetes says

          Actually, what am I saying? Mine’s not funny at all, just pathetic trolling, really. My wife hasn’t been performing her duties, and I’m tense.

          Carry on. ✅

          • Philoctetes says

            Actually, I’m not married. But it’s me not doing my duties. I was supposed to be going to the shops for me mum, she wanted some Rollos along with baking stuff for Christmas treats and pudding. Instead I was working on an interview with a girl who tried out for the Spice Girls but never made it. A Pete Best (female) sort of thingy. Now I have to hide all the mags from muvver when it gets published because she’ll be furious about my sideline. Also working on a new digital service called Hemail, which will be promoted toward guys like Scroto and David. Should be a big hit with them. Back to work in the shed …

        • david of Kirkland says


          No. You see, the first one was meant to be a joke, and it DID work. I laughed so hard my coffee came out my nose.

          Yours is neither funny nor insightful. So it DIDN’T work. I actually heard “Wah Wah WAAAAHHHHH” reading your derivative attempt.

          If you want to play in the premier league with Scroto, you have to reformulate the material while still relating it to the original. Like so:

          “Your whataboutism is as sad as an unemployed clown with diabetes.”


          • Philoctetes says

            Ah, I see you guys are a little touchy about the Trump crisis in the White House and Amrika generally. No worries, he’ll be gone soon enough and you won’t have to defend a morally bankrupt president who may or may not be indicted for various crimes to which he’s linked. Take a breath boys, your cherished right wing dream is crashing and burning. And please, don’t resort to violence just because democratic socialism is the only alternative to keep your country from falling apart. We know you are angry from your support for the troll in chief. But there is nothing left to defend when violence is the last resort. So have at it here with the insults and defense of the indefenisble. Pathetic.

  2. I am certainly no experton this case and I think commenting on any case without being at the trials concerned is dangerous but thsi article is grossly misleading. Amanda Knox may very well be completely innocent but the statement that the DNA evidence only implicated Guede is untrue and misleading in that it doe snot mention over evidence.

    She was originally convicted on foresnic evidence including DNA on the murder weapon and footprints in blood identified as belonging to her as well as a confession by her. The forensic evidence has subsequently been discreditted at least to the extent of being considered unreliable but there was also tesimony against her from Guede that she was the murder.

    The real story is a much more mundane but more general and perhaps more important story of how injustice can arise, poor quality forensics, harsh possibly abusive interrogation leading to an unreliable confession and a desire to secure convictions in a high profile shocking crime. The proecution naturally portrays the accused in the worst possible light and the nature of this is related to local sensibilities. The aspect of how Amanda Knox was protrayed by the prosecution is probably the least significant aspect.

      • A quick google shows that far from being convicted with no evidence because she was an aethiest foreigner there was forensic evidence and her own testimony that was used to convict her. That does not make me an expert and I am happy to accept the final verdict of her innocence but it is clear that the account in the article is deeply flawed and the author has not checked what he was told.

      • Professor Reginald Q. Punkwater, PhD, JD, OBE says

        “I have no knowledge about the case, but here’s my view on it?”

        Indeed! Quite shocking. Glad you had the moxie to confront this blackguard, Dean Kirkland. Far too much of this, in my opinion, as well as that of the committeh.

        Don’t you know AJ–if that is your real name, which I very much doubt isn’t true–that one doesn’t just post one’s opinions on an anonymous comments thread in an obscure online publication whenever one pleases? Have you no sense of decency? No academic integriteh?

        We don’t tolerate silliness or bollocks in these environs. Use proper citations¹ and do your due diligence or by heaven steps will be taken.


        ¹Citations must be in standard ANT² format
        ² ANT = Association of Niggling Trolls

      • Angela says

        He said he wasn’t an expert he didn’t say he had no knowledge of the case. Those two things are massively different.

  3. Oh…she’s gonna be on VICE media. Well let the garbage flow. The only thing good to come from VICE was Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia

  4. IsiahBerlinWall says

    Even the usually staid BBC saw fit to wonder “what was really going on behind [the] smile” of “the beautiful young murderous.”

    C’mon Jeffery, let’s have some proofreading before we go public, eh?

  5. martti_s says

    There are some important principles in the Western tradition of justice that, if not respected, bring catastrophic consequences to innocent people and there close ones but which also stymies the work of criminal inspection. The trial was a total mockery of justice, a combination of Catholic and Anti-American zeal, public character assassinations and hopeless incompetence of the Italian police.

    Amanda Knox describes her ‘otherness’ as an Atheist in the deeply Catholic Italy.
    Without any evidence, the media painted a female demon out of her, a force of darkness, an embodiment of Evil.

    I imagine you have to be a non-American to see the parallels of the Cavanaugh inspection, Catholicism replaced by ‘progressive liberalism’ but the lack of evidence, public character assassination, tribalism and raging mobs as the common denominators.

    Imagine, it was lawyers doing the mockery in both cases!

    End result counts. Amanda Fox lost four years of her life in jail. She gained a name.
    I wonder,in the light of these two cases. isn’t ‘fake news’ actually a euphemism?

  6. Stoic Realist says

    And here we have an opinion piece masquerading as journalism. It is unfortunate how very common they are these days. It is even scarier that the author doesn’t understand the difference. There probably is a story here and maybe even one worth reading just not by this author.

    Add to that the interview subject though placed on a pedestal by the author she seems the be as close minded as he is. Religion may facilitate tribalism, but so do many other things such as politics, race, and atheism. Nor do atheists interrogate their own positions. How many atheists are willing to own the horrors of communist Russia, Maoist China, or even the French Revolution. It turns out according to history that when in power they do the same thing as all of the other tribal groups. They scourge those that they consider their enemies.

    • Trimegistus says

      Realist: you do have to give atheists credit, though. When they get in power and try to destroy all who oppose them, they are vastly more effective than those stupid old faith and law based groups. The utterly atheist Communist regimes managed to murder more people in less than one century than all the religious wars in history combined. Shows what you can accomplish when you’re not blinkered by superstition!

    • martti_s says

      @Stoic Realist: You do understand the difference between a modern Atheist and a murderous dictator who wants to destroy all other structures of influence than his own.
      You also should recognize that Stalin was a religious leader who built shrines for V.I.Lenin where comrades could meditate on the scriptures. Before an attack, the Bolshevik soldiers prayed the spirit of V.I. Lenin to protect them.
      Is that Atheism in your vocabulary?
      To me, in Marxism-Leninism you have the good old Trinity where The People was God, V.I. Lenin was Jesus Christ and Stalin himself an apostle of your choice.

      The totalitarian thought is as alien to material reality as is religious thought.
      Talking about thought here, not a religious experience which is a feeling common to the humankind. (possibly some other mammals, too)

      In religious and ideological thinking you start with the conclusions and then reverse to the observations which are chosen or rejected according to how well they agree with the general idea.
      Of course, in the rational or scientific method the process goe the other way round.
      Now you can reflect whether gender studies are more closely related to theology or STEM.

      Finally, you might have a bit of an idea there. I have been wondering why people in the West only remember Hitler’s monstrosities but pay very little attention to the Armenian genocide, the Gulags, the killing fields of Pol Pot or the industrial level mass murders in Mao’s China. I do not think it has anything to do with religion, though. My guess is that these samples showed what the Workers’ Paradise would really look like in real life. No real Marxist wants to know.

      • @martti_s
        Interesting. Every hierarchical structure is a religion of sorts. My guess is that 20-30 years into the future the most advanced AI will spin most of it’s cycles trying to find God or create him.

        • MichaelJ says

          That would lend a whole new meaning to the phrase deus ex machina

      • @marti,

        First, i believe you mischaracterize religion and how people arrive at it. It is unique to everyone. And I am not certain if you are stating that atheism is any more scientifically defensible then religion is. If that is the case you are sadly mistaken. To be scientific it must testable, be measurable, and people must agree on how the measurements are taken, and repeatable. Finally, you can never prove (nor disprove) the null hypothesis.
        Point 1) How do you test the existence of God
        Point 2) How do you measure for the existence of God
        Point 3) is that measurement repeatable
        Point 4) Atheism is the null hypothesis when asking/testing to see if God exists.
        Atheism therefore is no more or no less scientific then theism. From a purely scientific point, true agnosticism would be the most scientifically valid conclusion, e.g. we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, therefore we can draw no conclusion as to his existence.
        I chose to believe in God, because that is the conclusion I have drawn. I do not defend it as scientific and I do question my belief every day, and examine it deeply. I also reject the false dichotomy between Faith and Science. They answer different questions for me. And one does not forbid me from practicing the other. I am a University science professor, belong to multiple internationally recognized professional science organizations and have published in peer reviewed journals. I also sit on my Church Council and have taught Sunday School.
        Also, I have seen many atheist who are as fundamental lately, or even more so, than those I go to church with. There are even Sunday Schools for Atheist and radio evangelist for atheist today. A growing number of atheist have all the trappings of religion, but deny they are religious.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Well said, Jeffrey.
          One of the great banes of modern life is the false dichotomy. Faith vs science is one of the more pernicious of these.

          • Some of the greatest minds in western science were also deeply religious people. Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Mendel, Franklin, Jefferson (though I know many have tried and revised history to make him out to be an atheist, but the preponderance of evidence is that he was a deist and most likely a Christian) etc. Darwin, in his writings on evolution even references God. The idea of science vs faith is a fairly new concept. In fact, the church was often the incubators of science during the medieval and Renaissance, even into the enlightenment. And church supported universities still tend to offer some of the best advancements in STEM.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Good point about Science and faith being intertwined.
            Roger Bacon was after all a friar as well as the first scientist in the West since classical times. William of Ockham too was a churchman and a scientist.

        • martti_s says


          Unfortunately, the logic of your presentation cannot stand closer scrutiny.

          I am glad if you live fully with your faith, I have nothing against you doing so.

          • @Martii,

            Please show how my logic is flawed rather than just launching simplistic ad hominems. If you want, look at DB Cooper, he asks some very valid questions and is willing to enter into a true intellectual conversation. You make an assertion without backing it up. Do you see the difference?

        • D.B. Cooper says


          Atheism therefore is no more or no less scientific then theism. From a purely scientific point, true agnosticism would be the most scientifically valid conclusion, e.g. we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, therefore we can draw no conclusion as to his existence.

          You seem to be operating in good faith as much as anyone here; which, I’m sad to report cannot be said of the author’s (Tayler) reductionist discourse or the inelastic exhortations of his muse. Just to give one example of the bounded rationality of this reciprocal interaction, Tayler asserts the unpardonable claim that “Knox showed herself to be articulate,” which she later confirms sola fide – and without a hint of irony – by way of erudite assurances that “Atheists constantly interrogate their own views.” Tayler’s molestation of journalistic integrity continues on with varying degrees of success, until any devotion to objectivity pretty much dies from want of utterance. But I guess someone’s got to serve as an example of journalism’s ideological disruption of truth, and who better than an editor at The Atlantic.

          Returning to the passage I quoted (of yours) at the top, there seems to be some confusion either on your part, or my understanding of it and I certainly don’t want to misrepresent you; so, I thought I’d get your response to what I understand is your position as both a scientist and a theist.

          First, I should say that I agree with you in that atheism is no more or no less scientific than theism. Both (atheism & theism) are belief systems that make claims concerning the ultimate nature of reality. Both operate under the same “truth” conditions. That is, the burden of proof lies with the claimant, regardless of its positive or negative content.

          Continually, as a scientist I’m sure you know, that all valid claims require premises, i.e., statements the claimant presupposes are true – a priori assumptions. Therefore, any claim one makes is, ultimately, grounded on a belief, or set of beliefs, one has already presupposed to be true. At bottom, both the atheist and the theist are seeking, each in their own way, to reconcile their world-view with the reality that is; which, again, is ultimately based on the faith in the truth values of these premises.

          Now, where we seem to differ is in our understanding of science as a mechanism or process acquisition of objective truth, knowledge and/or the justification for holding a true belief, e.g., empirical data. As you allude to in your comment, science is based on the idea that under the same conditions, everything (observations, data) should occur in the same manner, and if an event or observation can be reproduce; then we can claim to have knowledge about that event. This knowledge is formed by drawing inferences from observation; but it’s not obvious (or self-evident) to me why one should presuppose all future events (given the same conditions) will, necessarily, occur in the same manner as past events – this reasoning is circular, since it presumes what it needs to demonstrate. It’s a matter of faith, would you agree?

          You claimed that agnosticism would be the most scientifically valid conclusion; which begs the question, “How so?” You said we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, therefore we can draw no conclusion as to his existence. But this is a curious proposition, since science doesn’t prove or disprove anything, and to the extent that it does, it does so based on faith in the belief that future events will resemble past events. This is a metaphysical principle, is it not?

          Furthermore, you said you “chose” to believe in God, because that is the conclusion you have drawn. But what did you draw it from? On what basis did you draw this evidence that led you to the conclusion that God existed?

          For whatever it’s worth, I’m hoping you’re right.

          • @DB,

            Thank you for a rational answer and thought evoking questions. Science is about attempting to explain phenomena based upon observation and testing. It is empirical, requires evidence. It not a static thing but a constant process of re-evaluation and refinement. That is why we spend much of our time repeating someone else’s work. Science never rests on its laurels. There is always the possibility that the next Pasteur and Lister will come along and cause a re-evaluation of the accepted mal-air theory (this one always bugs me because people ridicule our ancestors for accepting the mal-air theory, but it fit their observations at the time, until new observations caused refinement). No I didn’t mean to imply that I believe that conditions will remain the same, and if it came across as that, I apologize. I meant that at the present there is no agreed upon method to measure the existence or non-existence of a deity. There are no tools or agreed upon testing to perform. How do you test for the existence of a deity? Without the ability to adequately measure how do we draw inferences. I can see no way around this dilemma. So, you are right that we must base our decision upon faith.

            “Continually, as a scientist I’m sure you know, that all valid claims require premises, i.e., statements the claimant presupposes are true – a priori assumptions. Therefore, any claim one makes is, ultimately, grounded on a belief, or set of beliefs, one has already presupposed to be true. At bottom, both the atheist and the theist are seeking, each in their own way, to reconcile their world-view with the reality that is; which, again, is ultimately based on the faith in the truth values of these premises.” I think this is a great summation.

            What I meant by agnosticism as the default state was that the most scientifically valid conclusion (at this time) would be “I don’t know if there is or isn’t a deity”; this I felt was more closely related to the ideas of agnosticism which I understand means that you neither accept nor reject the idea of a deity, but are open to changing your mind when and if new data becomes available. My point was without being able to measure and or test, we can not infer any scientifically valid conclusions, therefore, we must make the decision on our own personal beliefs. I refer to the paragraph I quoted from you above. I admit the use of prove and disprove is sloppy language. The word belief also makes me somewhat uneasy when applied to scientific reasoning, but I am not certain if there is necessarily a better term. As for prove/disprove, I was referring back to the inability to test against a null hypothesis. The idea being that you never accept the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is what we are always testing against, that the preponderance of evidence either supports our hypothesis (in this case the existence of a deity) or it doesn’t. This doesn’t mean, as I am sure you are aware, that the hypothesis is necessarily wrong, or that the null hypothesis is correct. I fully admit that this is not the same as proving or disproving, and I apologize for the inaccuracy of the language I utilized, however, I am not certain that this explanation is any better. I completely agree that the existence or non-existence of a deity is fully metaphysical, in that it is extremely abstract. I do not believe it is a question, at least at this time, that empirical science can answer or should attempt to answer.

            How did I choose? I am not certain that is a question one can answer satisfactorily. I look at the complexity of the universe and the grand number of coincidences that allow life to occur and thrive on Earth, the structure, the grandness, the serendipity of it all, the grand wonder and conclude something great is behind it all. A deity, an architect, and I have found my belief in that deity most closely mirrored in the Judaeo-Christian traditions. This is purely a personal belief. It is metaphysical as you have stated. And it is in part based upon hope. I hope God exists, therefore I believe God exists. They are two sides of the same coin. I fully admit this is not a scientific conclusion, which is why I draw the distinction in my life between what is scientific and what is spiritual. However, I remain skeptical (as I do with any and all things), constantly reexamining my belief, and open to new data. However, no data has come forth that I feel is strong enough to make me abandon my faith. Yes this is an attempt to rationalize my belief, which I fully admit. Belief doesn’t require rationality, neither does disbelief. In the end I don’t see that theism or atheism is any more or less rational then the other. I accept my belief in God is not based upon any measurable outcomes, but upon my own personal beliefs and hopes. It is a personal conclusion. I quibble with Atheist who do not understand that Atheism is as much a personal conclusion. I admit that I was not as articulate (and accurate) as I could have been in stating this.

      • Stoic Realist says

        Just to be able to move beyond it I have to point out that the first part of the argument shades towards ‘No True Scotsman’. I referenced groups who professed to be atheists and the answer is to explain how they weren’t really atheists.

        I also note that while you did answer to Stalin and the Communist portion you skipped over the French Revolution which was another violent and deadly group who announced themselves to be throwing away god and replacing religion with reason. The Reign of Terror lacked lacked the professed communism, though did use the language of the people, but was still violent, bloody, and murderous. Which shows that while history shows that Religion can lead to people doing terrible things it likewise shows that Reason can have many of the same results. I contend that if atheists want to maintain their attacks on the evils of religion they need to own their own history of evils and massacres as well.

        The thing is, and your examples from Stalinist Russia go towards this, there is every indication that the human race has an inherent tendency (need?) to religious thinking. Even when you take ‘God’ and ‘Organized Religions’ out of the equation you still see the constructions of taboos and morays as well as the creation of the groups of sanctified and unclean/unholy. Partisan politics, and its facilitators, has been drifting that way for some many years. While a good part of that is likely the desire for power you have to admit that it also shows that power, and organizing groups of humans, often comes from making declarations of religious or emotional thinking.

        As far as reason starting from the ground and building up into knowledge versus religion starting from a base principal or value and then using circular reasoning to get back around to it I have to say that the description is equally applicable to most purely atheistic, reason-based attempts to create a moral code that does not involve religion. I have yet to see any of the great public intellectuals of modern atheism manage to build a case for human good behavior that doesn’t involve first stating some virtue and then circularly reasoning their way around to arguing why it’s good.

      • @martti_S
        “I have been wondering why people in the West only remember Hitler’s monstrosities but pay very little attention to the Armenian genocide, the Gulags, the killing fields of Pol Pot or the industrial level mass murders in Mao’s China”


        American’s are ignorant of history and world events outside of of the USA. While 42% of Americans now have a passport, only 4% did in 1990 and 15% in 1997. We have trouble identifying North Korea on a map, even though we A) fought a war there, B) have tens of thousands of our troops stationed in South Korea in a standing cold war/armistice that has gone on for the past 65 years, C) involves two nuclear powers and D) has been all over the news of late. Generally speaking, we don’t know our own recent history, how would we even know of, let alone understand, world history that doesn’t involve us like the Armenian genocide? Ever see John Stewarts gag on this, where he starts talking about a country but has the wrong one highlighted and then calls his viewers on it? I seriously doubt half of Americans even know Armenia is a real country.

        Hilter and the fight against Nazi’s has a catchy story, ends happy, was widely experienced by average Americans, and involves American/Allied victory. We have tons of movies, from John Wayne to Brad Pitt, kicking Nazi and Hitlers ass to remind us.There is a compelling victim story (the holocaust) and a redemption story (modern Germany).

        Sure, there was a movie or two about the killing fields or other atrocities and soviets were usually bad guys in James Bond movies so we all know the soviets were not good. I don’t think anyone thinks of the soviets or Mao or Pol Pot in a good light, if and when they think of them at all. But these parts of history don’t play to the American psyche or historical knowledge. American’s never stormed the beaches of Cambodia, never fought in the streets and hedgerows of China, never liberated the gulag camps, nor did we have soldiers coming home telling first hand stories of what they saw. So without a compelling victim story we can relate to, first hand knowledge/experience, or a personal sense of victory to drive us to consider the lessons of the non-Nazi atrocities of the 20th century; we don’t have the historical understanding or will to learn the lessons that have already been taught.

        Plus, you have a bunch of academics, who are trusted to be smart/honest people, telling us “that wasn’t REAL communism/socialism”. It was a mistake, a perversion, an accident caused by 1 or 2 bad actors and/or the vulgarities of the non-technical age. Remember Marx thought that the revolution would come from the wealthy industrializing countries, not the poor agrarian ones. It just hasn’t been “Done Right”, yet. This leaves the door open to the sweet poison that is communism/socialism. It is appealing on it’s surface, but deadly once you actually try it. Kinda like anti-freeze, you have to keep educating a new generation of parents not to let their kids drink the sweet stuff in the garage. We suck at this kinda generational knowledge transfer.

        No one is arguing that 1939-1945 Germany wasn’t “Real Nazism”.

        • Good summary, though I do have a few questions. Being pendantic, I do have to ppintbout we did fight in both the Russian Bolsheviks (White War can 1918-1919) and in Cambodia. Granted these were limited engagements but they did happen and we did have troops come home and talk about it. I think it is better to state that our involvement was oveeshadover by larger events, WWI and the conflict in Vietnam. I have also ran across people who either excuse the excesses of the Soviet Union or claim they were overblown. And, if you study things such as Stalin’s collectivization of Ukrainian farms, some media outright refused to report on it. The NYT actively covered it up at the time. But, as I said, you overall hit the nail on the head.

          • When I type on my phone,I tend to make too many mistakes and not catch them in time. I should not have stated I have a few questions, I meant a few quibbles. It should also read I do have to point out we did fight in Russia (against the Bolsheviks, The White War ca 1918-1919). I apologize for these errors.

          • @ Jeffrey,

            Your quibbels are correct. The USA did fight some limited skirmishes in Russia, but remember that was before the Gulags, so no solders were able to come home to recount communist death camps as they hadn’t happened yet. Besides WWI had so many lessons about the dark sides of human nature, it is understandable a few were missed.

            And US soldiers did fight in Cambodia during Vietnam, but that was as a part of the larger Vietnam war, and that war had so many issues, whatever was to be told was lost. Besides, Vietnam was such an unpopular war, soldiers returned to a cold shoulder and complete disregard for their stories (unless they were anti-war). We never learned those stories, because we didn’t want to listen to the few soldiers who could have said anything about it.

        • martti_s says

          @Alex Posch

          “No one is arguing that 1939-1945 Germany wasn’t “Real Nazism”.”

          That’s an excellent point!
          It is ‘deeply problematic’ to say the Reich was not real Nazism as Führer himself had written the book. Communism on the other hand was always applied by an apostle of Marx, not the man himself whose historical mistakes should alert every reader about the adequacy of his ideas. He did not see Social Democracy coming. Revolution did not spread to Germany.

          The remarkable fact that even the Germans (who put the American and the Soviet rockets to the Moon) could not make GDR work well enough to keep the people from trying to get out of there, risking their lives in doing so.

          • @ martti_S

            In the 20th century humans conducted the most controlled experiment about socialism that can ever be conducted. We split 4 countries/societies, spread around the world, into capitalist and socialist halves, and let them run. Germany, Vietnam, Korea, and China (mainland and Taiwan) were split into socialist and capitalist pieces, and in each case the socialists became violent, oppressive, and poor. The capitalists have a mixed record, with Germany and South Korea being relative success, South Vietnam devolving into a oppressive dictatorship (but still wealthier than the North) and China trying to destroy itself before abandoning Mao’s ‘great leap forward’ economic style for a crony capitalist one kept subservient to the state. It is notable that even Vietnam, who won the physical war against the west, has turned to a Chinese style crony capitalist and not the socialist workers paradise Marx foretold. If we should learn any lesson, it is that socialism doesn’t work on any sort of scale, but can be combined with a capitalist market structure that is at-least temporary sustainable. And your right, even the GRU, surrounded and subsidized by other socialist states, can’t make it work. BUt then again, no one can.

  7. cjcmay says

    Italian society is ruled by the Mafia and the Roman Catholic Church. One is an autocratic, secretive, scary, criminal organization. The other is the Mafia.

    • dellingdog says

      We should all be thankful that the power of the Christian church has been thoroughly diluted in most of the Western world. For most of its history, the Roman Catholic Church was a totalitarian institution. The same was true of most Protestant sects when they had the capacity to dominate society. Religious liberty and freedom of speech are Enlightenment ideals, not Christian ones.

      • @dellingdog
        true enough. Christianity was thoroughly Romanised and essentially carried on the murderous legacy of the Roman Empire. The original Christian mission was buried, brutalized and forced underground. The sect that became known as the Anabaptists rejected the actions of the Catholic Church and later the Protestants (who participated in hunting down and murdering anabaptists). Anabaptist traditions were kept alive by the Amish and the Mennonites and others. None of these sects can be accused of murderous totalitarian behavior.

        Today there is a world-wide resurgence of the anabaptist traditions minus the aversion to modernity. The hope…the original intent of Christianity can be saved.

        • Well, there was the unpleasantness of the Münster Commune.

          The antinominanism intrinsic to the self-governing congregations of the English Calvinist Independent faction of the mid-17th C. was the origin of our contemporary Quakers, Baptists and Unitarians.

        • dellingdog says

          @Craig, excellent point. I have deep respect for the Anabaptist traditions. For anyone who’s interested, I highly recommend Philip Gulley’s

      • Peter from Oz says


        You obviously don’t teach history 🙂
        If I were you I’d start with Lord Clark’s famous 1969 Televelision series, ”Civilisation” and go on from there.

        • dellingdog says

          @Peter, you’re right, I teach philosophy! However, based on my knowledge of medieval history I don’t think it’s inaccurate to describe the Catholic Church as “totalitarian” (“of or relating to a centralized government that does not tolerate parties of differing opinion and that exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of life”). The same applies to Calvinist Geneva and the Puritans in the New World, to cite two Protestant examples.


          • Peter from Oz says

            I would have thought that only the State can be totalitarian. The Church at best could only be a tool of a totalitarian state. Youer example of Geneva thus is a classic example of a left wing totalitarian state.
            There is an argument that in the Middle Ages the Church helped the State enforce a sort of collectivism. But it seems to me that in a time without a police force and a large civil service the Crown needed to be cat-like and cast a large shadow. Thus punishments were severe and obediance important. But in truth Royal power was quite limited. It used Churchmen as civil servants and as propagators of religion, which itself was very useful in keeping people in line when the law was not as powerful as it was to become after the Renaissance.
            The fact is that the Church was, after the Pope moved to Avignon, very weak. From then until the Reformation, Kings used the Church for their own purposes.

      • @dellingdog,

        The enlightenment would never had occurred without the reformation. In fact, if you read many of the early reformers works, you will find the seeds of the ideals of the enlightenment. Luther taught about the individual, rather than the collective. He rejected the secularism of the Catholic church.
        You also can find writings from his contemporaries (and some from him) espousing the ideals of separation of Church and State, and the rights to freedom of religion.
        Also, you paint a rather black and white, dare i say fundamentalist, picture of the relationship between the early church and the secular powers. If you study medieval history, you will find that the amount of power the church had over secular matters tended to vary between states and was much weaker and less pronounced in Germanic states such as the English Isles, Northern Germany and Scandinavia. Not surprising these were also the birth place of the reformation. Additionally, most early Christian states, well making Catholicism their state religion, allowed people to practice their own religion. Finally, the worse of what has been blamed on Christianity during the medieval and Renaissance periods were actually undertaken by secular authorities who used religion to further their own agendas. For example the Albigensian Crusade was launched by the French Crown partially to expand its control. The trials of against the Templar were launched at the behest of the King of France, who owed large amounts of money to the Templar. The inquisition was fairly limited to the Iberian Peninsula and parts of southwest France and was utilized by the crowns of those countries to enforce their power after the reconquest of Spain and Portugal from the Muslims. The inquisition was actually outlawed in the English Isles and Scandinavia. Whenever you generalize you tend to be as fundamentalist as those you seem to hold in low opinion.

    • Wow! That’s a mouthful of an accusation! Is it part of your on-going research on Italian society? Or just simply a protestant, anti-Catholic bias?

    • cjcmay,
      That’s a mouthful of an accusation! Is it part of your on-going research on Italian society? Or just simply a protestant, anti-Catholic bias?

      • X. Citoyen says


        It’s called the Black Legend and, sadly enough, it’s what passes for medieval history in large swaths of the Anglo-American world.

  8. Jeremy H says


    “Shows what you can accomplish when you’re not blinkered by superstition!”

    That’s ridiculous. In every one of these “atheist” regimes you just see traditional religious faith and fervor transferred to the “Dear Leader” or the revolutionary party:


    The difference is not a lack of superstition or the supernatural but the obliteration of moral ethics and community that these regimes entail. They are essentially a compete reset of civilization/culture and so operate more like ancient despotic states with god kings, but with modern arsenals at their disposal.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Jeremy H

      I think you missed the sarcasm tag in Trimegistus’s comment

  9. liz Thomson says

    It was Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer who asked if Amanda was an angel or “Luciferina” not Mignini. Lumumba was the man Amanda falsely accused who lost his business.

    • c young says

      Don’t spoil a good story about a nice all American girl with mere facts.

  10. northernobserver says

    It’s weird how she blames Christianity and Italian Catholicism in particular for her ordeal but fails to see how atheist anti racism blinkers refused to let the guilt for the murders pass from her to the dark immigrant until the forensic evidence overwhelmed their ideological hold on the narrative of the case. It’s almost as if having been victimized she is weakened an unable to see and evaluate the values and pitfalls of liberal atheist modernity. In short her ordeal has not transformed her it has reduced her, which is a pity.

    • northernobserver says

      In short she misidentifies the reason for her trials and in the process scapegoats the faith that could make such trials impossible. The fact that this is un-ironically satanic makes the article a pastiche masterpiece of modernist double-think. Wow.

    • martti_s says


      Imagine you are a twenty-something woman in a foreign land, scarcely speaking the language and you have to face the public witch hunt, name calling, character assassination and demonization –literally– even though there is no evidence against you. You get called a sex maniac, a sorceress and a murderous psycopath with killer’s eyes.

      I just bet you would think about all the bad things Atheists have done in USSR and China and the supremacist sneer of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

      She spent four years in jail for something she did not do.

      Once she got out of there I am sure she embraced the liberal Atheist modernity to the fullest.
      We are talking about quite a decent human being here.
      She acknowledges the support she got from the good people and she criticizes those who attacked and harassed her. Now do you still expect her to turn into a defense lawyer for the Inquisition who tried to lock her up for 26 years?

      Turn the other cheek, huh?
      I’m sure YOU would.

      • Angela says

        My understanding is that the polive seriously botchdd the investigation and for that reason she was rightly acquitted, but that’s not the same thing as her being factually innocent.

        • martti_s says


          She had no part in the murder. None. The forensic evidence finally cleared her. Her DNA was not found in Meredith’s room or her clothes. She did not participate. She was not there!
          She is ‘factually innocent’ of this particular crime.

          Are you lying on purpose?

  11. Quillette Comment Section: The place for right-leaning “rationalists” to rag on atheists for having the gall to reject divine revelation as a legitimate source of knowledge.

    “But Western Civilization is based…:”

    Bad ideas are bad ideas. Divine revelation as a source of truth is a bad idea.

    • northernobserver says

      A bad idea is not what you think it is.
      We are tired of living in the materialist horror of “modernity” and soon society wont.
      If atheist really understood what is at stake they would be the first to stand up in PTA meetings and insist on traditional christian theological instruction in the classroom. But they don’t understand so they don’t and the chaotic change to come inches closer.
      John Grey seems to be the only atheist who is close to getting it but then he wanders off into utopianism as a solution. There is no solution. Repent. Go back to Church or Synagogue. You have work to do.

      • martti_s says

        I am an atheist who has had a thorough teaching of Christian values and mythology in Finland where the Lutheran Church is the state church. We had more time dedicated to bible than to mathematics.
        So it is not that an Atheist rejects a religion because he does not KNOW what it contains.
        He just sees through its false premises and lack of logic and petty sinners looking for relief from lies..
        I have seen people get ‘revelations’ and I have give them medications so they’d become functional again. (Me = MD/Intensive care as a young man)
        I know beautiful religious people and Atheist jerks, and vice versa.
        The line of division does not go between believing and not believing.
        The Christianity has had 2000 years to create a better human being but only after the Church lost its hegemony, the humanity started to rise.

        The societies we have built as for today (in selected parts of the world) are something your prophets could not even dream of. Sapiens Sapiens has been tamed.
        Have you noticed that the God he worships has evolved also?
        Ahh, I forgot, you do not believe in evolution.

        • dellingdog says

          Well said! Christians who think that secularism represents a slippery slope to relativism and anarchism should visit Northern Europe.

          • @dellingdog
            hmmm, then why the willingness and even fervor for importing religious zealot’s into northern Europe? It is not explainable with ‘compassion’ alone. These religious zealots represent something, something that’s now missing in Scandinavia. It’s a poor substitute for what’s been rejected but that hole apparently needs to be filled. IMO

        • Peter from Oz says

          For every atheist like you who has a rejected religion after a thorough examination of the texts and dogma, there will be a thousand people who claim the tille ”atheist” without having the faintest idea of what the Bible actually says.
          I meet a lot of young people like that. They didn’t receive any religious instruction in their school years. But they have been told about the evils of religion by silly teachers and have decided that it’s cool to be very anti-Christian. They aren’t particularly against any other religion, because that would be ”intolerant”. In fact the female of the species will often visit Asian temples and come back and tell everyone how ”spiritual” the expeirience was. She will then get into all that new-age alternative crap about crytals and chakras. Of course she’d never evn consider stepping into a church.

          • dellingdog says

            Although I know the Bible pretty well (I’m a former Christian and currently teach a World Religions class), I don’t think it’s incumbent upon atheists to carefully study Scripture before concluding that the Judeo-Christian God probably doesn’t exist. Vanishingly few Christians know much about the Qur’an, Lotus Sutra or Bhagavad Gita, yet they confidently assert that theirs is the one, true God. The truth is, most believers (and many nonbelievers) inherit their beliefs from their parents and peers and never examine them critically. In the U.S., at least, atheists (on average) know more about religion than Christians — at least according to a 2010 Pew study (http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/) — probably because most of them were raised religious and abandoned the faith because they were exposed to critical questions. That’s less likely to be the case in more secular societies like Australia, where a greater percentage of “Nones” are non-religious by default.

          • @Dellingdog,
            First: Thank you for forgiving my multiple typing errors (wow, I really should edit better before hitting send).
            Second: I am not certain we are arguing past each other, as much as we are arguing semantics. I do not believe arguing semantics is necessarily an unworthy endeavor, because deciding upon an agreed upon language is necessary for productive conversations.
            Third: I didn’t mean to imply that Mormonism or Jehovah Witnesses are mainstream. I am fully aware of how many Protestants do not accept, especially the Latter Day Saints, as Christian. My mother’s family is actually Mormon and I have explored the Church but found its dogma lacking. I also found it contradictory to my interpretation of the scriptures. However, to each their own. I actually have found this conversation productive. I at first felt you were far more biased than you have proven to be. I think we are reaching at least some understanding that fundamentalism is the underlying problem.
            Fourth: I do not necessarily absolve the Catholic Church for its sins and should have been more precise in my description of the Crusades against the Cathars. You are right, at least in my opinion in the more Latin medieval countries, that the church and the state were often severely entangled, however, I am not certain if this necessarily applied to the Germanic states which had not been conquered by Rome. Yes, England had been part of the Roman empire, before its fall, but the leaders and dominant culture of England had been supplanted by Anglos, Saxons, Jutes, and Gotlanders from Northern Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The entanglement of church and state was in part because many of the church leaders were related to the secular leaders and both drew patronage from the other. I am Lutheran, the very existence of my denomination was a rejection of this abuse of power, however, I felt you fell to far on the side of blaming the Catholic Church. And I felt it was far more complex an issue. Also, given that the supremacy of the Pope is actually a fairly recent concept (at least it wasn’t as enforced because it took so long to travel), there was much more local control at the cardinal, archbishop and bishop levels.

        • Wow, “you do not believe in evolution”. Even in poorly worded polling, the amount of Christians who don’t “believe” (that word means nothing in science, BTW) in evolution is less than 33%. I mean poorly written because they were simple yes and no without a third choice. I am not certain how it is in Finland, but in the rest of Scandinavia, Lutheranism is also the state religion, but is not taught in school. You also seem to have a bit of hostility towards Christians, while holding yourself above them. As I stated above, neither theism or atheism is any more logical or scientifically defensible. BTW, read Darwin’s last paragraph in “On the Origins of Species”. It is rather enlightening, as he refers to God the creator.

          • @Dellingdog,

            If you are a teacher of World Religions you seem a bit biased. Also, aren’t Muslims also monotheistic and worship the God of Abraham the same as Judaism and Christianity? So your crack about “One true God” would obviously not apply to the Qur’an. You also making a huge assumption based upon personal experience and a single poll. At best you are offering a hypothesis, but it hardly even qualifies for that monomer.

          • dellingdog says

            @Jeffrey, if you’re referring to the 2013 Pew poll (http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/), 33% of
            ALL Americans deny that humans are the product of evolution, but the numbers are significantly higher for white Evangelicals (64% reject evolution).

            Darwin was an agnostic; he lost his faith gradually over the course of his scientific career, and was especially shaken by the death of his eight-year-old daughter Annie. Non-theistic scientists (like Einstein) often refer to “God” and “design” in metaphorical ways.

            There’s a significant difference between theism (generically) and Christianity. Although it can be plausibly argued that an abstract, philosophical version of theism is just as rational as atheism, the case for the rationality of specifically Christian claims is much harder to make. Most Christian theologians acknowledge this fact, stressing the need for “faith” (i.e., belief in the absence of sufficient evidence).

          • dellingdog says

            @Jeffrey, while it’s true that Muslims believe they worship the God of Israel, very few conservative Christians accept that claim. As far as they’re concerned Allah is a different God — and they’re not completely wrong, because Islam unambiguously rejects the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity. My point stands: very few Christians have read the Qur’an.

            If you’re actually interested, there’s been a great deal of research conducted on atheists and other “Nones” in the past couple of decades. I didn’t cite it because I was making an anonymous comment on the Internet, not publishing an academic paper.

            Finally, I don’t think “monomer” means what you think it does.

          • @dellingdog,

            And according to the poll you just selectively quoted, only 15% of mainstream white protestants believe humans and animals have always existed in our present form (far less than the 64% of white evangelical Christians that you selectively misquoted, also it stated 50% of black evangelicals, but didn’t define how they differentiated between evangelical and mainstream protestants). “But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time.” Direct quote from the poll.
            No, you condemnation of Christianity is nothing short of personal bias. You continue to regurgitate it. Nor did I ever state Christianity was rational or irrational (in fact I inferred that faith is the reason I believe not rationality in one of my longer posts). Your inference that Atheism is any more rational than Christianity (or any other form of theism) is no more true. I have explained, from a scientific and rational point of view, only agnosticism (true agnosticism) is rationally valid. To claim any thing else is purely fundamental on your part. You are far less bias then you believe yourself to be. It is obvious that you are hostile to Christians in particular.
            BTW, from the same poll, only 31% of Hispanic Catholics don’t believe in evolution (believe is definitely not the right word) and 26% of White Catholics. Interestingly enough, 20% of of those who are not religious also held this viewpoint, actually more than white protestants.

          • @dellingdog,

            You were right, monomer wasn’t the word I meant to use, a simple slip of the mind. I meant moniker, not sure why my mind came up with the former. That is why you always have someone else edit your work.
            However, you seem to confuse the difference between conservative Christian (define that loose and loaded word) evangelical (again define what is meant by that) and mainstream Protestantism. Are you condemning all Christianity for the acts of a few?
            As for your argument about knowing the Qur’an, how is that any difference then stating it is okay for Atheist not to know the Bible?
            I had a World Religion teacher, who had also grown away from his Catholic roots, however, he made it difficult for anyone to guess his true religion. Found out later he was Buddhist. However, he never showed bias like you have, when he spoke of Christianity. He taught all religions with the same deference. Can you truly state you do?

          • Also, Darwin stated agnostic might be the best way to describe him, however, he also never claimed to be a true agnostic, and was fairly active in the church well into his later years. He also stated that Science and Belief in Jesus were two separate issues. However, he rejected the idea that one cannot be both scientific and a believer.
            Also you mischaracterized Einstein, he wasn’t necessarily non-theistic, however he wasn’t a theist either. In his own words: “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal god is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
            Einstein didn’t believe in a personal God but also was open to the idea of some form of God, though he didn’t feel it personally impacted him. He would find your atheism as irrational as he would my Lutheran belief.

          • dellingdog says


            White Evangelicals are generally conservative Christians, mainline Protestants are moderate or liberal Christians. The former significantly outnumber the latter in modern America, and they have far more political influence. I don’t think I cited the study wrongly, but YMMV.

            It may surprise you to learn that I identify as an Agnostic, not an Atheist. I *am* an atheist when it comes to the Judeo-Christian(-Islamic) God — I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that no such god exists — but I’m open to the possibility of some kind of higher power. Since “atheism” is relative to specific concepts of the divine, I strongly suspect that you’re an atheist as well when it comes to the gods and goddesses of non-Christian religions. In my view, Agnostics are in an ideal position to teach classes on comparative religion; we don’t have a dog in the fight. Regarding my conduct in the classroom, I strive to respect all religions and present them as they’re experienced by believers. That includes Christianity. I make it clear on the first day of class that I’m skeptical of religious claims myself and evaluate different belief systems based on their fruit. If your religion (or nonreligious ideology) inspires you to be kinder, more compassionate and more humane, I celebrate it; if it makes you hateful and cruel, I think it should be condemned. I subscribe to Secular Humanism myself.

            Don’t worry, I make no attempt to indoctrinate my students. My comments on Quillette are not necessarily indicative of how I teach my classes. The same is true of my politics. Although I’m a traditional liberal who thinks that Trump is a garbage fire of a human being, in the classroom I bend over backwards to be fair to all sides of the debate and treat President Trump with the respect his office deserves.

            Regarding the rationality of theism, I can assure you that I’ve carefully considered the arguments for and against belief in God. (In fact, I’ve written an entire book which summarizes and evaluates the arguments of the New Atheists and their critics.) It’s my considered opinion that theism in general — and Christian theism in particular — is less reasonable than scientific naturalism. But we probably can’t resolve that debate in a comment section on Amanda Knox! 🙂

            Thanks for engaging with me. For what it’s worth, I agree with you that the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven by science; it’s a philosophical question. I also agree that fundamentalism of any kind (including fundamentalist Atheism) is the enemy of free thought and constructive conversation. Finally, I think you’re right that the Enlightenment owes a great deal to the Reformation (and to the Renaissance). I do, however, take issue with your attempt to absolve the Catholic Church of responsibility for the crusade against the Cathars. For most of European history the Church and “secular” authorities were deeply entangled with one another.

          • Thinking in depth is not the same as rational nor scientific thought. Also, the Christian vs. Science is a false dichotomy. One does not believe in Science, nor is is a sibssubsti for religion (see my response to Martii above and the quote I supplied from Einstein). There is nothing more or less rational in atheism. I will grant agnosticism is the most ratiinal view point. I also quibble with your response of Evangelical (by which I infer, granting the danged of that inherent in inference, you mean charismatics such as assembly of God, some Baptist sects etc, outnumber other Christians. They may be a plurality, but if the number of more established Protestantism (Episcopel, Methodist, Lutheran etc) and Catholicism combined outnumber them. And even amongst those of the more Charismatic stule of Evangelicals (Lutherans are also Evangelical, in fact the German word for Lutheran is Evangisch (sp?, It’s been a few years since I studied German) and the largest branch of Lutheranism in the States are the ECLA) some are more or less conservative then more established Protestantism. As I stated the polls doesn’t address how defined the word Evangelical Christian but did refer to more “mainstream Protestants” inferring that the poll considered Evangelicals as less mainstream.
            You also made the mistake of identifying the belief in the Trinity as a universal Christian belief. And it is the majority belief but Mormons and Jehovah Wotnesses (and some Charismatic denominations) don’t believe in the Trinity. Throughout the history of Christianity, less mainstream groups, i.e. the Gnostics and Cathars, have either questioned or outright denied the existence of the Trinity.

          • dellingdog says

            @Jeffrey, I feel like we’re following an unproductive rabbit trail regarding “Evangelicals” (as I recall, the original point was that many Christians don’t accept evolution), but for what it’s worth Pew estimates that 25% of Americans are Evangelicals, 15% are Mainline and 21% are Catholic. You’re right that Evangelicals are a minority among American Christians, but they nevertheless have a disproportionate impact on politics because they support the Republican Party in overwhelming numbers.


            However, you’re wrong about the Trinity. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are definitely not mainstream Christians — according to most Evangelicals (along with some Mainliners and Catholics, they’re not Christians at all). The Trinity has been a core Christian doctrine since at least the 4th century C.E. and is affirmed by all major denominations. It’s true that some early Christian sects (including Gnostic-influenced groups) denied what became the orthodox interpretation of the Incarnation, but they were condemned as heretics after Trinitarians decisively won the argument. Unitarianism had a brief moment (along with Deism) during the Enlightenment but never became a mainstream view.

            At this point I feel like we’re just arguing for the sake of arguing … which is OK by me, since I’m on sabbatical this semester and have time to kill. Also, this conversation is much more interesting (to me, at least) than an interview with Amanda Knox!

          • Posted out of order:
            First: Thank you for forgiving my multiple typing errors (wow, I really should edit better before hitting send).
            Second: I am not certain we are arguing past each other, as much as we are arguing semantics. I do not believe arguing semantics is necessarily an unworthy endeavor, because deciding upon an agreed upon language is necessary for productive conversations. I do not agree with the term many it was a minority, except in a limited group, of American Christians. That is my point.
            Third: I didn’t mean to imply that Mormonism or Jehovah Witnesses are mainstream. I am fully aware of how many Protestants do not accept, especially the Latter Day Saints, as Christian. My mother’s family is actually Mormon and I have explored the Church but found its dogma lacking. I also found it contradictory to my interpretation of the scriptures. However, to each their own. I actually have found this conversation productive. I at first felt you were far more biased than you have proven to be. I think we are reaching at least some understanding that fundamentalism is the underlying problem.
            Fourth: I do not necessarily absolve the Catholic Church for its sins and should have been more precise in my description of the Crusades against the Cathars. You are right, at least in my opinion in the more Latin medieval countries, that the church and the state were often severely entangled, however, I am not certain if this necessarily applied to the Germanic states which had not been conquered by Rome. Yes, England had been part of the Roman empire, before its fall, but the leaders and dominant culture of England had been supplanted by Anglos, Saxons, Jutes, and Gotlanders from Northern Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The entanglement of church and state was in part because many of the church leaders were related to the secular leaders and both drew patronage from the other. I am Lutheran, the very existence of my denomination was a rejection of this abuse of power, however, I felt you fell to far on the side of blaming the Catholic Church. And I felt it was far more complex an issue. Also, given that the supremacy of the Pope is actually a fairly recent concept (at least it wasn’t as enforced because it took so long to travel), there was much more local control at the cardinal, archbishop and bishop levels.

          • Dellingdog says

            @Jeffrey, thanks for the interesting conversation! My initial comments were snarky over generalizations — I’m not surprised you got the wrong impression about me. I completely agree that skepticism and faith are compatible, even though I’ve arrived at different conclusions. I’d much rather engage in a discussion with someone who takes your approach to belief than a fundamentalist Atheist.

  12. Nate D. says

    TLDR Summary:

    Remember that girl, Amanda Knox? Update: She’s doing just fine now. She thinks religion is bad. She used to be an atheist, and now she still is. She didn’t vote for Trump.

    Very enlightening article.

  13. RadixLecti says

    This is the most pointless thing Quillette has ever published. Perhaps it’s paranoia, but I’ve been expecting a fluff piece like this for a while. As Quillette’s popularity and output grow, can a drop in standards be far behind?

    Also, anyone who says that atheists interrogate their views has clearly never met the average atheist. As a practicing, cradle Catholic, the religion-centric conversations I dread the most are those with 1. Evangelical Protestants and 2. atheists who think their (perfectly reasonable) choice not to believe in God constitutes proof of intellectual superiority.

    • @RadixLecti
      the big mistake atheists make, at least a subset of them anyway is to declare that believers are insane and then treating them and the whole subject accordingly. For those who cite a so-called lack of evidence of a good God have a giant blindspot for the clear evidence of evil. I myself see clear evidence daily of the equal and opposite force known as agape love.

  14. Not an essay one would expect on Quillette — tabloid material. Anyway, whether religious or atheist, Catholic or pastafarian, this in not about religion, but about personal behavior and self restpect. Within a few weeks in Perugia, the young American woman had already engaged in sex (Italian boyfriend) and drugs (by her own admission). Not exactly best behavior of underage students traveling abroad.

    • martti_s says

      Where is 22 years old ‘underage’ in this world?
      You are right, this is not about religion but most certainly about how a religious community treats people it views as ‘the other’. Tribalism. Mob justice. Inquisition.

      Do you actually think that Amanda Knox would have remained sane and become a functional human being after this experience if she did not have tons of self respect?
      What exactly gives you the urge to judge her? Stop and think about it for a while.

      • Rick C. says

        Rose is absolutely right. Ms. Fox would have been better if she had stayed away from sex and drugs. Bring up your daughters with a bit of morality, and they will stay out of trouble. Also, we should point out how Ms. Fox tried to destroy an innocent black man’s life. Racism?

  15. Coolius Caesar says

    Ugh. Spare me the whining about religion. Atheists are just as bad with “othering,” tribalism, and demonizing others.

    • dellingdog says

      … but better at rejecting supernatural beliefs which are held on the basis of insufficient evidence.

      • Are they dellingdog? How many atheist practice holistic medicine? Oppose GMO because it is “unnatural”? Push organic because it is “more natural”? Oppose vaccinations. You sir are tribalist, who likes to pretend you are not.

        • dellingdog says

          @Jeffrey: I foresaw your objection and added “supernatural” to my post before publishing it. You’re completely right that Atheists are not necessarily more intelligent or rational than Christians in general. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you’re smarter than I am — you teach science at a college, level, I just teach philosophy! 🙂

          You’re right, I strongly identify with the tribe of science-minded skeptics.

          • martti_s says

            Hm. Statistics about intelligence and religiosity tell a different story but whatever.
            Why turn a knife in the wound of a dead horse.

            I thought I’d never find the Black Cloaks on this forum but possibly somebody called them here for a hatchet job. Takes a while for the stench to disappear.

          • I do not think that skepticism and belief are mutually exclusive. One should always be skeptical, if not one becomes pray to dogmatism. And I doubt any honest believer can truly state that they have never had doubts, or been skeptical of their beliefs. I actually believe skepticism has made my belief stronger.
            I do think many Atheist have made the mistake of reading studies that suggest a correlation between IQ and Atheism and believe it is causation. Even if these studies do not suffer many of the problems that social sciences are undergoing, i.e. poorly designed studies, self selection, P-mining, data manipulations bias, and outright fraud, they still don’t equate to intelligence results in atheism. It is true that the smarter you are, the more in depth you can think, the more nuanced you can think, the more you understand that it is not black and white, and thus the more skeptical you become. And this may result in Atheism, but it may be that Atheist look less for an outside answer and more for an answer from within. It is also that intelligent people tend to be less conformist, for the sake of conformity and thus it could simply be that their Atheism is the result of natural non-conformity.
            I am not certain how we stack up in intelligence. We have different disciplines. I definitely am not well versed in classical philosophy. Not every person of high IQ will have the same skills. I am not in physics because I am not as mathematically inclined as that discipline requires. However, living systems, the study of mammalian life, nutrition and especially the study of the symbiotic relationship of rumen microbes and medium sized herbivores, comes naturally to me. It just makes a lot of sense. Population Ecology also just makes sense to me. These are my strengths, my ability to see patterns and connections between different living systems. But ask me to lecture or discuss Plato or Aristotle or Nietzsche, and I would be hard pressed to offer anything more than the most cursory of understanding.

          • martti_s says


            Who would actually think that losing your religion would make you any smarter?
            We are looking at a statistic hereand as we both know statistics are like lamp posts.
            “They are good to lean on, but they do not shed a lot of light”.
            The greatest genius of the Western science ever, Isaac Newton, was a deeply religious man.
            So much for the impossibility of having a scientific and a scientific mind inside one skull.

            His later days do not take away any glory of the brilliance of Principia.

            Of my most appreciated colleagues, two are actually also Catholic priests.
            So, please do not blame me of prejudice. Even though I cannot figure out how the two manners of thinking mix in their brilliant heads remains a mystery to me, I have to face and accept the fact.

            If only we could put aside the fact that somebody has different deep beliefs from mine and concentrate on finding solutions to the problems at hand, we could really start getting progress.

            The last thing we need is more polarization. The planet is in deep trouble.

  16. hmmm.. says

    Generally, I just love Quillette. When the Knox story came out, I read everything I could find. It was more than just black or white. And yet, we’ll never really know, but….why oh why is this in Quillette?

    This ‘journalistic piece,’ IMHO, belongs at the supermarket in the one of the tabloids.

  17. While Knox’s ordeal is certainly an interesting and worthwhile story to tell, this article is nothing more than a promotional piece for her book and VICE video series. No new information, nothing remotely interesting added to the record. Nobody cares if she’s an atheist or what her facile views on religion are.

    • c young says

      Meredith Kercher’s ordeal is the central question here. Patrick Lumumba’s ordeal once Knox tried to shift the blame onto him, is also quite interesting.

      • Knox didn’t try to “shift the blame” onto professional victim PL. Educate yourself about police coercion. Because you don’t know jack about it or how common it is. Try googling Saul Kassin for starters.

  18. Farris says

    “Not so with Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s Italian boyfriend at the time and her alleged accomplice. He garnered only a fraction of the press she got, though he was convicted with her. (A young man of Ivorian descent with a criminal record, Rudy Guede, was also convicted of the killing in 2008 and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. He received the least press of all.)”

    Correction: The murder victim received the least press of all.

    • martti_s says

      I bought his book as well.
      This is a haunting story.
      It never ceases to amaze me how little sympathy the ‘good Christians’ (like the ones croaking around here) demonstrate in real life instances. No heart, all judgement.

    • Angela Smitherman says

      Nope. The murder victim, whose name by the way was Meredith Kercher, received plenty of press. She was one of the least “forgotten” murder victims of the past 30 years or so, if not more.

  19. I was in Italy at the time and recall no focus on religion at all. The focus was on her lies – she changed her story over and over, even accusing an innocent man. She behaved bizarrely, doing cartwheels in the hallway within hours of the body being discovered, wearing “love” t-shirts at trial like some kind of spaced out nut job. If she’d behaved better she might not have been convicted, despite the circumstantial evidence about the bleach and whatnot. Most Italians still believe she was involved.

    In any case she hasn’t matured much.

  20. Hamilton Sunshine says

    While everyone’s grandstanding, you and they all forget that there was an innocent murdered girl at the heart of all this. She’s all but been airbrushed out of the story.

  21. c young says

    What a load of utter rubbish from beginning to end.

    No mention here of her disgraceful attempt to implicate Patrick Lumumba or her statement placing herself at the crime scene.

    I suggest that anyone paying this tripe any credence at all reads this for a contrary view – http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com

      • c young says

        The DNA evidence wasn’t the primary reason for her conviction. This is simply untrue.

        There was a mountain of other evidence – the staged break in, the multiple false alibis, the false accusations against others, the attempts to mislead the police, the evidence that the crime scene was cleaned by someone other than the primary suspect.

  22. This lady keeps resurfacing like a stubborn turd flushed down the toilet. I honestly don’t know if she is guilty or not. Both things are wholly plausible based on what I know about the case. However, the Italian justice system could be corrupt and she could be guilty both. But one thing I know is I don’t like Amanda Knox based on everything I know about her.

  23. What an appalling article, far far beneath the standards I’ve come to expect at Quillette. It not only fails as a remotely analytical article, it fails as an interview. I would second @ c young’s link as a starting point if you are even slightly curious about fact based analysis. Obviously we cannot know the truth, but at least pretend to analyze the presented evidence. http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com

    In the entirety of the article we learn: Amanda Knox was called mean sexist names embedded in the culture of her Roman catholic host country (Italy) and her beauty was commented on in a lurid way by the media. The victim herself is irrelevant and forgotten (really morally bankrupt right there). Oh, and Ms Knox is an atheist and a “progressive” from Seattle who didn’t vote for Trump.

    Wow. We sure learned a lot. The ‘interview’ isn’t even done in an interview style – where the interviewee’s voice is allowed to stand unadulterated, and the interviewer’s questions are presented – but instead it’s filtered through the ‘interviewer’s’ perception of her (she’s so sweet and smart) and his words. In other words, this is a puff piece.

    A puff piece devoid of analysis or facts that ignores the victim and even Knox’s false accusation of an innocent man. This is galling.

  24. Philoctetes says

    Best thing about this whole story was the headline Foxy Knoxy. Lucky sub who can brag about writing that to go above the puerile red top articles driven by one fact: That Amanda Knox was seen as sexually attractive and provided the necessary visuals to drive the story. Take that one factor away and it’s just another tragic murder before the courts. But as Knox fed various fantasies, masturbatory and psychological, much as did the femme fatale in film noir (picture Knox in a short skirt, revealing she is wearing no knickers as she crosses and uncrosses her legs in front of sexually frustrated Italian detectives), the story continues to fascinate. There is no point in debating religion in this story. The real intellectual meat lies in the archetype. Go back to Ryder Haggard and the themes of dominance, submission, mysogyny and lust. Foxy Knoxy could be every man’s fantasy – a sweet all-American girl and a driven killer at the same time. Better even than those crappy films by that second-rate director, Quentin Tarantino. More like Lars von Trier on closer analysis not of the crime but our response to the pretty young American accused of such barbarity. Her guilt or innocence as fact remains unimportant. And her story reveals nothing about Knox, Italy, Catholicism, crime or atheism. It’s all about our individual relationship (or lack thereof) to power, the feminine and the forbidden. It’s a very old story made fresh again. Too bad Eric Stanton isn’t around anymore. Knox would have made an ideal subject for him.

  25. Constantin says

    I really did not pay much attention to the case, but it is clear to me that this article is simply promotion propaganda and leaves me with a deep concern that Amanda Knox is in fact a psychopath (as in bold, disinhibited and egotistical traits). Clearly her description of the trial process is a convenient fabrication that turns into a dark conspiracy a process in which her abysmal credibility was in fact the focus of attention. This type of manipulative behavior is a classic. An unsafe conviction is not the same thing with being innocent, other than in strict legalistic terms. I am not against sociopaths or psychopaths trying to make a living, but am suspicious of their victims helping them out to game the world as they please. Is the author aware that Ms. Knox is facing charges fir defaming Prosecutor Mignini in her book? Is Quillete aware of this fact?

    • Philoctetes says

      Sociopaths and psychopaths don’t “make” a living, they exploit others as a matter of routine. That’s all they know, like and want. As criminals they must be locked up forever. In society as they “make a living” they will inflict as much pain, suffering and humiliation as they can on those they exploit, whether as a clerk or CEO. As for Ms Knox, we would need to see how she scores on the Hare PCL-R before making definitive pronouncements on her level of psychopathy.

      • martti_s says

        Instead of diagnosing Amanda Fox the person, you are making a psychopath out of the straw woman that the media created and by the same name. In reality, she seems to have a remarkable ability to empathy. If you are in doubt, check out her Twitter account and you’ll find quite a reasonable person with a bit more depth than usual.

        And yes, I bought her book.

  26. Stephanie says

    Perhaps she’s innocent, but this line here tells me she’s a liar. She said she’s progressive because she supports “loyalty to our ideals of due process, equal protection under the law, the freedom to speak one’s mind and to vote according to one’s principles.” That is completely antithetical to today’s progressives. They throw out due process over unsubstantiated allegations, push racially discriminatory policy, censor dissenting opinions with intimidation and violence, and claim any black/Hispanic/woman/LGBT who votes R is a traitor.

    I understand her rejection of religion given her experience, but she’s been released into a world where her views are much more damaging than the people she advocates against. Italy’s problem is that their identity is being destroyed, not the nature of the identity itself.

    • martti_s says

      Thank you or giving such a beautiful example of the backward logic typical to religious or ideological thinking. Amanda Knox expresses her stand very elegantly. But you ‘feel’ that she is a liar because what she says in not in concordance of what you think she should have said ‘being-who-she-is’.
      To maintain your intellectual integrity, you discard the evidence!

      Starting from the conclusions, reversing to the data, cherrypicking the ones that agree with your statements and discarding those that do not. Your straw-woman does not stand.

    • dellingdog says

      @Stephanie, you’re painting with an extraordinarily broad brush. According to the Hidden Tribes survey, Traditional and Passive Liberals outnumber Progressive Activists (aka SJWs) by a factor of three. Please don’t assume you know where someone stands on due process and freedom of speech because they’re to the left of you politically. Try to practice the principle of charity instead of straw-manning your ideological opponents.


      • martti_s says

        Kudos for your patience and factual argumentation.
        A balanced opinion such as yours in considered extremist by the bigots of both sides.
        As long as the flak echoes in stereo, you know you are on the right path.

  27. martti_s says

    Just a little reminder: Amanda Fox did not lose her Twitter account for having been falsely accused of deadnaming somebody. This is the kind of stuff cyberpeople get exited about. She was accused of homicide and sentenced to 26 years of jail at the age of 22. Can you even imagine yourselves into that situation? Only circumstantial evidence as forensics were incompetent and sloppy.

    Mind you, much like in the case of Cavanaugh trial-by-twitter the lack of evidence did not have any significance once the Holy Mob Spirit had come out of the bottle. Both Knox and Cavanaugh (A Catholic!) were painted as thoroughly evil people, abusing beer and drugs and taking sexually advantage of anybody crossing their path.

    Of course, the book by Amanda Knox is out and I will probably read it to know how she got through it keeping her sanity. An atheist’s interest to the basic values of another Atheist.

  28. TofeldianSage says

    I’ve stopped caring about Atheists and Atheism. It was interesting for a while but is now as dull as ditch water.

    • dellingdog says

      Yet you cared enough about not caring to submit this post. Interesting.

  29. Creme Young says

    So she’s an SJW?

    By the way, where is the interview promised in the headline?

  30. Philoctetes says

    Hmmm. What’s an SJW?
    – Straight Jewish Woman? Nope
    – Single Jehova’s Witness? Maybe
    – Sad Japanese Wanker? Unlikely
    – Stunning Jovial Witch? Possible
    – Simple Jingle Writer? Nope
    – Smart Jesuit Wastrel? Nope
    – Stalled Jeep Weeper? Possible
    – Stale Java Watcher? Maybe
    – Stellars Jay Whisperer? Possible
    Oh well, these internet thingy acronyms could mean anything. Probably something to do with some vacuous right wing conspiracy theory.

    • It’s not the only one, Phil, there are more here. But if you stay longer with us, you’ll find out, either by coming closer and closer, either by checking Google and stripping unlikely things until you have it. Others are (I didn’t know either at a start): PC, TERF, PoMo, JP, BTW and the ever widening GLTQ…………. And SJW= Social Justice Warrior

    • martti_s says

      Thank you. A very professional analysis.
      “Faced with missing, insufficient or contradictory evidence, the judge should simply accept it and issue a verdict of acquittal…… even if he is really convinced of the guilt of the defendant.”

      How do you say ‘my foot’ in italian?

  31. lloydr56 says

    Probably the only actual journalism here begins with a question: would she have been tried much less imprisoned had it not been the case that the poor benighted Italians suffered from various Catholic delusions and excessive moralizing? I’m pretty sure the answer is: there was a good case to try her, she shouldn’t have been tried a second time, the authorities screwed up, no doubt partly because they believed they could win on a straight morality tale.

    • martti_s says

      There are other interesting questions here.

      One is the ‘CSI-syndrome’ which has to do with the white magic performed daily by forensic investigators on TV. In this particular case, the judge Massini made his decision totally ignorant about the DNA method itself and leaving aside all logic and common sense in interpreting the (tainted) analyses. Judges are not scientists. Still, they should be able to view the case clearheadedly, without letting their emotions take the lead.

      The way how the judge looked away from clear facts visible for everyone is remarkable.
      Amanda Knox LIVED in the apartment so it is quite natural that her DNA is to be found in the surroundings. Her DNA was found on the supposed murder weapon that had NO TRACES OF BLOOD, only plant starch. The ‘bloody footprints’ tested negative for blood!

      All these little facts should have screamed that there was no evidence pointing at Amanda Knox or her partner.

      Instead, the fact that none of her DNA was found anywhere in the room of the victim was explained away with her having cleaned it away selectively, leaving other persons’ (among them the murderer)) DNA untouched. Likewise, she was supposed to have cleaned the blood stains from the ‘murder weapon’ while leaving her DNA and the starch behind. She used the same ‘bleach’ on the bloody footprints that tested negative for blood.

      Is it possible that Massini believed that Amanda Fox used some dark magic to achieve these wondrous tasks? (If so, why didn’t she wish all her DNA away?)

      Yet another thing, the judge clearly did not understand what the ‘zero’ sample measures. He thought it gave an indication of the purity of the SAMPLE tested when in fact it only tests for the REAGENTS.

      DNA analysis is a powerful tool but only in the hands of perfectionists.
      Acquired data is only valuable if people who read it, understand its limitations.
      Judge Massini read the data like a fortune teller reads coffee grounds, as it suited his agenda.

      BTW: A recent example was exposed in relation to hair analysis conducted by FBI laboratories where: “Twenty-six of 28 FBI agent/analysts provided either testimony with erroneous statements or submitted laboratory reports with erroneous statements.” (FBI Testimony on Microscopic Hair Analysis Contained Errors in at Least 90 Percent of Cases in Ongoing Review, The FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation National Press Release)

      And yes, the murderer’s DNA was found all over in the poor Meredith’s body, on her clothes and the surfaces of her room. Unlike the other two, he did not live in the premises.
      He is still in jail.

  32. Michael S says

    Wow. Really disappointed in Quillette readers here. I expected to find a more rational crowd here than in YouTube comments or on Jezebel. Not so. The fact that anyone is even debating Knox’s innocence / guilt is still astounding, and shows how little people know about the case, and how willing they are to pass judgement in a state of ignorance.

    Not being experts yourselves, maybe ask what the experts think? Knox has overwhelming support from the lawyers and DNA scientists and forensic psychologists who work for the various innocence projects around the country. She gave a keynote talk last year at the American Psychology and Law conference with renowned false-confessions researcher Saul Kassin. I was there in the audience. She was incredibly insightful, eloquent, and compassionate. She’s an advocate for the wrongfully convicted and a standard-bearer at Innocence Project events. Just follow her on twitter and you’ll see her in the company of Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld who founded the NY Innocence Project. She’s close with Justin Brooks who runs the California Innocence Project. These are people who intimately understand the causes of wrongful convictions. They dedicate their lives to freeing innocent people who are imprisoned because of prosecutorial misconduct, tunnel-vision, coercive interrogations, incentivized informants, and bad forensic science. And they will tell you that Knox’s case is a textbook for how wrongful convictions happen.

    The fact that readers here so casually dismiss her or outright dehumanize her is depressing. She’s not a flippant or unserious person. And she’s definitely not a psychopath. The problem is: people feel entitled to pass judgment based on half-absorbed secondary or tertiary sources. Quillette readers show knows this: GO TO A PRIMARY SOURCE. Follow her on Twitter, read what she actually says, and not only will you find her to be intelligent and critical of SJW culture (something that ought to appeal to this crowd), but you’ll find that she’s pals with Jon Ronson, celebrated author of The Psychopath Test. Read her actual work, like her LA Times Op-ed about Trump here:


    And you’ll find that she references Jonathan Haidt’s Righteous Mind. You’ll find cogent well-written sentences like:

    “There is a kind of loyalty I wholeheartedly support: loyalty to our ideals of due process, equal protection under the law, the freedom to speak one’s mind and to vote according to one’s principles. Only in banana republics do political leaders dole out favors to citizens in exchange for their silence and their vote. By holding personal loyalty above all else, Trump and some of his supporters create a political environment where reason and justice hold little sway.”

    Or read this eloquent and nuanced take on the Michelle Carter case, also from the LA Times:


    Say what you want about the author of this interview, Jeffrey Tayler. As the interviewer, he’s the one selecting Knox’s quotes, framing an argument about atheism. You might disagree with that argument. But you have little reason to dismiss Knox as unintelligent, unserious, or psychopathic. If you came here looking for “new evidence” or a “revealing take on her innocence or guilt” you’re blinded by your own preconception that this is even up for debate.

    I’ve followed Knox’s case for a while, and for the record, this thread is already infiltrated by full-time Amanda Knox trolls who follow her around the internet and forward narratives of her guilt. C Young in this thread is one of them. Anyone linking to http://www.themurderofmeredithkercher.com or “truejusticeformeredithkercher” is basically a 9/11 truther about the this case.

    If you’re curious how justice could go awry so badly, watch the Netflix documentary, read Knox’s book, or talk to virtually anyone involved in the Innocence Project. Read this Science Magazine piece about DNA expert Greg Hampikan, who supported Knox and did DNA analysis on her case:


    The case for Knox’s guilt is so fantastically absurd that you have to lay it out to see it. And the fact that she is vilified to this day makes her probably one of the most unfairly maligned people in history.

    To believe Knox is guilty, you have to believe the following absurd claims:

    1) That she somehow managed to commit a brutal rape and murder without leaving a single trace of her own DNA in an extremely bloody and chaotic crime scene. Keep in mind that Rudy Guede, who was convicted of raping Kercher, left his DNA on and in Kercher’s body, and left fingerprints and footprints in her blood. Yet not one trace of Amanda Knox was found in the room. None of us could walk through a room without leaving skin and hair cells, let alone commit a violent murder. It’s also not possible to selectively identify one’s own invisible DNA traces and clean them up while leaving the rest of the crime scene intact.

    (BTW, #1 alone should show you how ridiculous the case against her is)

    2) That the supposed murder weapon, which does not match the wounds on Kercher, and which was pulled at random on a police hunch from a kitchen drawer in Sollecito’s apartment across town, shows Amanda’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s on the blade. This was a key piece of evidence in Knox’s original conviction. But Knox was acquitted when independent DNA experts showed that the trace amounts of Kercher’s DNA (not blood) on the blade were well below FBI standards and likely the result of lab contamination as the knife (again, pulled at random from a kitchen drawer across town) was tested at the same time as 50 other samples from the actual crime scene.

    3) That a young girl with no history of mental illness or violence before or after or during her imprisonment, who was universally loved and lauded by her family and friends and schoolmates and teachers, who is now supported by countless Innocence Project lawyers and forensic scientists and criminal psychologists–that this person committed a gruesome rape and murder, somehow using her feminine wiles to convince a boy she’d known for 6 days (Sollecito) and man whose name she didn’t even know (Guede) into raping her roommate out of…jealousy? There’s not even a good motive. It’s ludicrous.

    4) That marijuana makes you violent (an argument used by her prosecutor)

    5) That her prosecutor, Guliano Mignini, who had a history of reopening cold cases on occult leads (he was worried about satanic cults) is a clear-headed guy. Read up on the Monster of Florence case. Doug Preston has a great book about it. Well before the Knox trial, Mignini reopened this serial killer case in Florence, and a journalist, Mario Spezi, criticized Mignini’s handling of the case. What did Mignini do? He accused the journalist of being the killer and locked up him for two weeks.

    6) That Knox’s statement’s implicating her boss, Lumumba, are to be taken seriously. Keep in mind this is a 20-year-old girl, in a foreign country, 3000 miles from home, in the aftermath of her roommate’s murder, facing 4 days of interrogation in a language she barely understood. Also, keep in mind that she recanted those confused statements, made under police duress, in the police station and also in the prison the next day. Did the police care? No, they arrested Lumumba anyway. Did they record this interrogation? No, despite the fact that they recorded every other interaction they had with Knox.

    7) That there is any consistent and “normal” way to react to sudden tragedy, and that Knox’s behavior in the aftermath of the incident, seeking comfort from her boyfriend of 6-days, stretching in the police station, is somehow indicative of guilt, despite the complete lack of physical evidence. Any grief or PTSD researcher will tell you that people’s reactions to sudden trauma are incredibly varied.

    8) That all the Innocence Project lawyers, forensic psychologists, and so forth are wrong to support Knox.

    9) The the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation got it wrong while the earlier courts got it right. Read this WaPo article on their ruling:


    The Supreme court declared Knox factually innocent, citing an “absolute lack of biological traces” connecting her to the crime. They also cited “stunning weakness or investigative bouts of amnesia and of blameworthy omissions of investigative activity.”

    The list goes on and on. The case against Knox was always built on character assassination and misrepresentation. There was never any physical evidence linking her to the crime scene. The only piece of physical evidence, the knife, was not found at the scene, and contained such minuscule DNA traces from Kercher to likely be the result of lab contamination.

    That’s it. There isn’t some great mystery here. There never was. Guede raped and killed Kerhcer. He’s in prison. Knox got railroaded. And to this day, she’s maligned, even by rational types like Quillette readers.

    I don’t think Tayler or this article did justice to Knox’s perspective. Her atheism seems to be motivated out of a reaction against the rather common ideological truth that people believe “something just because [they] want to believe it.” That’s her prosecutor, and the media, did to her. The started with a conclusion–that she was a monster–and chose to believe it. They then stuck to it despite overwhelming evidence of her innocence. Knox is advocating a fact-based world-view. Believing what there is good reason to believe, believing what there is evidence for. This is what led her to atheism. If anyone has a bone to pick with religion, it seems to be Tayler.

    I encourage you to follow Knox on Twitter, read her work, and withhold your judgment about people–not just about Knox, but anyone–until you’ve seen a robust sample of material. You can’t know anything about a person from one interview. You need context.

  33. decapartisan says

    the author forgot to reference any society unlike the italian’s where prime suspects of manslaughter are treated with gift wrappings, souvenirs and well wishes.

  34. Oh God, this is such trash. You make it seem like Italy is this dystopian ultracatholic land. I have no doubt that some people called her Luciferian and Satanic, but that just means calling her a cold-blooded murderer and a liar, which she very likely was. Also, she was never referred as a witch or something by the mainstream media at large (source: looking at Italian news every day during those times), you are just cherry picking some statements to build your narrative. Her atheism was probably never even mentioned.

    She almost had an innocent person condemned on a false testimony, luckily he had an alibi, so she was definitely a LIAR. Why is she not talking about that or apologizing about it? Guess what, because she never told the truth about anything from day one!

    Regarding the murder, the Ivorian guy (the only condemned guy) chose the short-form trial and confessed he killed the girl together with Sollecito and Knox. Sollecito and Knox chose to go for the long form and got away with murder. They chose to face long trial times because they knew that was the best chance to get discharged over some cavil, procedural error, or whatever. The bet paid off, it was costly, but they were not victims of an evil judicial system, they KNOWINGLY exploited an inefficient one. There were forensics and confessions, endless retractions, blaming of the police and time wasting. This narrative about her being ‘shamed’ and ‘having the force of will to endure’ is just her playing victim, she did that in Italy and not many people fell for it, but it seems Americans swallowed it well and gladly. We know how you care about justice… we are still waiting for justice on the Cermis!

    • Good points! Let’s not forget that there’s no way in hell Rudy Guede would EVER be able to afford the defense these two well-off young people could.

  35. martti_s says

    People who want to hate do not give a shit about facts.
    ASM has absolutely no backup for his claims.
    Whatever makes him lie like that must be in his upbringing, character or money.
    It is unbelievable the muck that Amanda’s case brings up.

    The book of Raffaello Sollecito give a detailed account about the happenings.
    If you can read, it is here:

    If you cannot, there is an audio book also.

  36. Aylwin says

    Good to here from Jeffrey Taylor. But I suggest writing for another publication. Quillette seems to have attracted a lot of faith heads (I suspect they’re Jordan Peterson followers; someone who plays hide the ball with religion, and has poisoned the well of reasonable debate here)

  37. There you go martti_s: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/28/amanda-knox-free-rich-american-patrick-lumumba-meredith-kercher-murder

    The guy who was falsely convicted through Knox’s false statement was called Patrick Lumumba. Knox admitted the statement was false and she was guilty about it (only after the truth was found out, obviously).

    But please do inform me, what do the books written by the real murderers say about Lumumba and Knox’s bullshit? I’m sure it’s an excellent and credible source and I’m just a paid-up (by whom?) asshole as you say.

  38. Whats so fascinating about this case is that actually the evidence does point to Amanda’s involvement, but mistakes made in the collection, testing and presenting of the evidence by the state, allowed for reasonable doubt. There are so many cases where the State, in anticipating the defence’s strategy, go overboard to overstate their case, focusing on irrelevant issues designed to stir up the public’s opinion, which ends up backfiring by moving the spotlight away from the real evidence.

    I do believe that deception detection done from her public statements and appearances (see Youtube), as well as the circumstantial evidence and the agreed facts (the way her story changed about how she spent that night, her bloody footprints in the bathroom, her implication of innocent people) points to her involvement in this crime.

    The most upsetting part of this whole thing is that she continually claims sexism and discrimination but the real victim of discrimination is Rudy Guede, who very likely did not murder Meredith but instead witnessed the aftermath and did not stay to provide assistance or call the police, and whose story of what he saw that night has been largely ignored by the press.

    This is not the last we’ll hear from Amanda – she will likely be involved in another crime or will continue to make money from the death of this poor young woman.

    Come on Quilette, we expect more from you.

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