26 August 2022

The study of absurdity

Some Christians rebuke atheists' dismissal of Christianity by claiming that we don't know enough about it to reject it, that we haven't studied it enough to assess it.

In fact, this is often not true.  Many Christians know very little of the Bible or of theology; it's a common observation that atheists often know more about those things than the average US Christian does.  There are people such as Bruce Gerencser and Dan Barker who spent decades studying Christianity and actively preaching it, but eventually repudiated it because their studies led them to the conclusion that its central beliefs were almost certainly false.

Aside from that, such believers do not practice what they preach.  Have they made such an exhaustive study of Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist theology and sacred texts before dismissing those religions?  (The same applies to their claim that if we would just sincerely pray to Jesus to reveal himself to us, he would do so.  Have they ever sincerely and open-mindedly prayed for Zeus to reveal himself to them as the true deity?  How about Rama?  Or Ahura Mazda?)  Of course in the vast majority of cases they have neither the time nor the inclination to do so.  Neither do we.

I have never seen any reason to take any religion seriously, nor any reason to treat any one of them as more plausible than all the rest.  When the beginning premise of something is that we're all born with inherited guilt because 6,000 years ago a talking snake persuaded a woman made from a rib to eat a piece of fruit from a magic tree, I really don't need to pore over the nuances of St Augustine or John Calvin to realize I'm dealing with silly nonsense that can safely be dismissed.

I put God in the same category with unicorns or dragons or fairies -- I can't absolutely prove it doesn't exist, but it's so implausible that it's not worth spending any time or mental energy on it.

The fact that all religions are merely products of human culture is affirmed by the way they vary more or less randomly from one part of the world to another, just as other aspects of culture do.  Science, by contrast, is universal.  There is very little resemblance between the beliefs of Christianity and Shinto, but the speed of light and the age of the Earth and the rate of decay of radioactive isotopes are the same in America and Japan and everywhere else, because those things are not products of culture; they're objective facts about reality which can be measured by anyone with the proper equipment and the skills to use it.

For that matter, even within Christianity there has always been an endless proliferation of sects, with the differences between them being important enough to believers to motivate horrendously bloody wars and persecutions at various times.  Christians claim to be the bearers of absolute truths which we should all accept, but in two thousand years they've never even been able to agree among themselves on exactly what those absolute truths are.  Does this chaos look like the result of a revelation from an all-knowing and all-powerful deity, or the product of past generations of befuddled people struggling to make sense of an interminable anthology of random gibberish?

Then there's the moral angle.  The Bible condemns homosexuality, beard-trimming, picking up sticks on a certain day of the week, and so on and so on.  It accepts slavery, depicts God as commanding various invasions and massacres, and mostly treats women as inferior.  (No, Jesus did not make all the Old Testament stuff obsolete -- see Matthew 5:17-19.)  A person who actually got his moral values from the Bible would be judged a depraved lunatic by any modern civilized society.

So, yes, I know enough, I've studied enough, to see that this junkyard of nonsense is completely unworthy of any further consideration.  It's no wonder that the rise of mass education, and especially mass access to information and ideas via the internet, are leading to a veritable stampede of people abandoning religion.


Blogger Bruce Gerencser said...

As you know, I interact with a lot of Evangelicals. It always amuses me when they suggest I don’t know anything about the Bible. Did all my knowledge about the Bible and Christianity magically disappear the moment I deconverted? 🤣🤣 I’ve met a lot of atheists who know the Bible quite well. Stupid, they are not.

26 August, 2022 03:48  
Blogger Lady M said...

Does this chaos look like the result of a revelation from an all-knowing and all-powerful deity, or the product of past generations of befuddled people struggling to make sense of an interminable anthology of random gibberish? That is a good sentence! I am surrounded by the befuddled here in Colorado Springs.

26 August, 2022 03:59  
Anonymous Jimmy T said...

"Some Christians rebuke atheists' dismissal of Christianity by claiming that we don't know enough about it to reject it, that we haven't studied it enough to assess it." Mostly the very same Christians who've never absorbed the Beatitudes into their own lives. The teachings of Jesus (if he existed) were all about compassion for our fellow human beings. I really don't see many Christians living their lives accordingly, and certainly not the nationalists...

26 August, 2022 07:36  
Blogger Mike said...

"woman made from a rib"
Of course, we all know that Eve is a transgender clone.

26 August, 2022 07:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Bruce: I've seen plenty of that on your blog. It's like them claiming that if you're not a Christian now, you never could have been one. Never mind that it flies in the face of obvious facts.

Lady M: Thanks! Unfortunately the most befuddled are the most serenely self-assured that their own sect is the one true one.

Jimmy T: If there's one thing hard-line Christians are good at, it's coming up with rationalizations for not behaving like Jesus told them to.

Mike: Makes as much sense as all the rest of it (none).

26 August, 2022 08:25  
Blogger Mary said...

Perfect post, but Gheeze….I feel surrounded in central Fla and the politicians really milk it for the faithful…and it’s so disingenuous.

26 August, 2022 08:50  
Blogger Pliny-the-in-Between said...

I've never read the Lord of the Rings. But I know enough about it to admire its world building while being completely comfortable with saying that it doesn't have anything to say about the true nature of the universe.

26 August, 2022 15:10  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Excellent! Very well said! Thank you!

26 August, 2022 16:35  
Anonymous spirilis said...

God does not equal religion. To think that a religion could encompass God seems inane on it's face. I wish someone could explain to me how worshiping a book (even authored by a deity) is not plain and simple idolatry?

26 August, 2022 22:18  
Blogger Kay said...

My grandfather was a Buddhist priest. I asked him what the best religion was. He said there's no best religion. It's what a person does with his or her beliefs that make it best or worst.

26 August, 2022 22:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: The nonsense is more persistent in some areas than others, unfortunately. Here in Portland I don't need to deal with it much.

Pliny: Heretic! Blasphemer! :-) Good analogy. Lord of the Rings actually makes more coherent sense than the Bible, probably because it wasn't written by ignorant primitives thousands of years ago.

Ricko: Thanks!

Spirilis: I know religion and god(s) are two distinct concepts, but they're obviously connected, and both equally silly.

Kay: I would think it's about what a person does, period -- with or without beliefs. Both religious and non-religious people can do good or bad things.

27 August, 2022 00:06  
Anonymous NickM said...

“I wish it need not have happened in my time.”

“And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

-JRRT - Fellowship of the Ring.

... and so much more. Google it or read the books.

I was going to say available everywhere* except...

Have a look here...


FFS! Alamagordo, NM! Where a secular Jew J R Oppenheimer genuinely stole fire from the Greek Gods has a beef with J R R Tolkien over religion and "witchcraft"? Maybe he was just one "R" from the pyre himself. Oppie also quoted from Hindu scripture. Blasphemer! Halibut was alas out of season and, you know, what with a war and like stuff... Oh, and the test was called "Trinity".

*With the obvious exceptions - I doubt the DPRK would not take kindly to the depiction of the overthrow of a Dark Lord. The PRC banned Pooh Bear.

27 August, 2022 05:43  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I'm Agnostic. I'm not religious at all.

27 August, 2022 13:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: At least I know Christianity isn't picking on my particular time -- it's been a plague for two thousand years.

I know very little about Allah-magordo, but paranoid nutjobs can be found anywhere, especially where things like witchcraft are concerned.

Mary K: Congratulations on escaping the plague.

28 August, 2022 00:08  
Anonymous NickM said...

I think the genuine witchcraft unleased at Alamogordo at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945 is an exemplar. I did physics for a reason - to be a wizard for real. For me it is largely fixing computers these days but... That is still magic for some. For me it's a lot of buggering about with posidrives and a multimetre, eating dust under desks, cables out the kazoo and a lot of muttering, "Who the fuck did that!". But, we don't talk about it. I maintain it as wizardry because that commands a higher hourly rate. I turn whine into data flow. I love it.

28 August, 2022 05:02  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

I like being a pagan. no book to tell us what to do.

28 August, 2022 12:10  

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