An old philosophical one, summing up Stephen Law’s God of Eth argument against theodicy. Just to keep things ticking along while this storm blows over.

If you haven’t signed the petition against the LSESU, and you want to, it’s here:

If you fancy printing yourself a “provocative” t-shirt, there are hi-res images available here:

Or you could just buy one from the CafePress shop.

Thanks for reading Jesus & Mo.

Discussion (87)¬

  1. Alfie Noakes says:

    Love it.

  2. Hobbes says:

    Another in an unbroken series of winning toons! Sproing!

  3. Ivan says:

    I notice that when the Independent reported on the LSE kerfuffle the other day, the article featured a picture of the Jesus cartoon but not the Mo. Odd, that….

  4. Author,
    That really is incredible. Thinking about it, I think it would actually be easier to defend the evil deity proposition than the omnibenevolent proposition that is usually floated.

  5. Justin Case says:

    Even when I was about 10, I noticed that everything good which happened was attributed to god, and everything bad was attributed to satan. If, for example a young woman in a car accident pulled through after hours of doctors’ work on her, it was god (and not the doctors) who got thanked. But if she died, it was satan who had gotten the best of the situation. That appeared to be fitting the data to the theory.

    But if my card hand won, and I attributed it to god’s will, my friend attributed his hand’s loss to satan. even though it was the same game. Strange.

  6. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Free will is simple, easily understood
    What’s hard is the difference between evil and good
    The function of the accoutrements of all of creations
    Are subject to machinations of man’s inter relations
    With those living in any neighbourhood.

  7. Bruce Vereshagen says:

    Re. The LSE kerfuflle: as they say, any press is good press. I had never heard of this strip before reading about “T-shirtgate”. Upon reading the news article, I immediately googled the site and came here. I am now working my way through the archives and have signed up to the email list. I believe the author should try to generate a scandal on an annual basis. You couldn’t buy PR like this.

  8. Jobrag says:

    This is the basis of an argument that there is no god. There is too much evil for there to be a benevolent god and too much good for there to be a malevolent god.

  9. DocAtheist says:

    Oh, Author! I want that one on a t-shirt!

  10. Necessary Evil says:

    Just thought I’d say, Hi.

  11. JohnnyQ says:

    One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

  12. Epicurus says:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

  13. KayeJinn says:

    Better to beg Satan for mercy than expect any help from doG.

  14. steve oberski says:

    A quick skim through Genesis demonstrates that god lied to Adam (But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die) while the serpent told Eve nothing but the truth (Ye shall not surely die).

    The horrendous body count in the bible, numbering in the millions, can be directly attributed to god or his human flunkies acting on his direct orders. For such an evil being Satan actually killed 10 people, the seven sons and three daughters of Job, but only because god allowed it as part of a bet. Yes, the supremely good god used his people as collateral for a bet.

    This god dude is one seriously sick psychopath.

  15. Undeluded says:

    Thanks, Author, for exposing me to Law’s God of Eth. Frankly, I had not seen that argument before, and I hasten to adopt it. I shall make a point of familiarizing myself with more of Law’s work.

    There are quite a few ways to approach this extreme reach of totally moronic ‘philosophy’ – I mean that of inventing a mythical entity, then giving it supernatural (but very human and usually very male) attributes, and then squirming to justify this invention every time facts are brought up to refute its validity. Unfortunately, these facts took a very long time to come into being, meanwhile allowing the myth to become ‘sacred,’ ‘holy,’ ‘sacrosanct,’ ‘immutable,’ and what have you.

    One method is satire – here Author is a grand-master. I doubt whether anyone could improve the strip in this direction. A blunter approach would include ridicule and mockery – well used by us on numerous occasions. However, I doubt whether anyone on the non-atheistic side of the fence would be persuaded to join our ranks by these cartoons. Perhaps a very intelligent agnostic with a sound sense of humor would do so.

    Another method would be logical persuasion – perhaps in a face-to-face debate with a borderline religionista. I’ve discussed this in previous threads.

    The methods above are based on the “I’m right and they’re wrong,” or “I’m smart and they’re silly” (and similar) premises. Yeah, sure, when you debate, that is the position to (inwardly) take. What bothers me, however, is a question I find myself dealing with when I’m alone. The question is: “Why do the religionistas think the way they do?” And that is coupled with “Why don’t I think that way, too?”

    IMHO, I think it boils down to the way our brain is wired. It’s the same for all humans – and it is tuned to survival in the wilds of 150,000 BC (give or take a few millennia) in Africa. In fact, it’s probably true, more or less, for any living organism with any kind of brain. However, humans have the huge (and singular) advantage of speech and language, and hence learning. Learning thrives on curiosity, and what we are curious about is mainly how new phenomena fit into recognizable patterns. The smarter ones find answers – and though sometimes untrue are, for their time, irrefutable. Yet, the basic wiring in our brains has changed only as far as evolution permits it (which is very little).

    It’s these answers that need tackling. Perhaps ‘explanations’ is a better term. One can distinguish between valid explanations and all the other kinds. I recommend David Deutsch’s book “The Beginning of Infinity” for a detailed dissertation of how to do exactly that. As to how our brains are wired – for my purposes here, allow me to recommend “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, which gives a lucid (admittedly theoretical) description of human behaviour when it comes to understanding the world around us and decision making.

    So why do I and religioniostas think so differently? I’m pretty sure it’s because I handle ‘explanations’ the ‘correct’ way and they do not. The books I mentioned above provide very powerful notions that the religionistas need to deal with – and I have not seen any response from them to date. I intend to promote these notions. I admit that these concepts are still rather new to me (I read these books very recently) and I still need to formulate my arguments into debatable ammunition. But I’m getting there.

    Finally, I would like to dismiss the moral approach – ‘proving’ the existence or non-existence of god by phenomena judged to be good or evil (I wonder if there is a middle-ground for the religionistas; like “this [whatever] is neither good nor evil.” I don’t expect a unanimous agreement on anything here, either). The average human is very biased when she claims that sanitation is a ‘good’ thing and that cancer in a child is ‘evil.’ That’s natural. But ask her about testing drugs on monkeys or global warming – and you’re not so sure what she’ll answer. If she’s religious, she’ll probably have the same views as her ‘spiritual leader,’ and these gurus often disagree as well. So please let’s agree that morality is completely subjective, largely depending on your upbringing, and in no way indicative of the workings of reality.

  16. floridakitesurfer says:

    The moral approach can be used effectively, but not as a grand slam stand alone fight’s over argument. Consider the following:
    The Noah’s ark story is false. It wasn’t a memory of Jewish people. It was copied from the Babylonians about 570 BC when the Jewish priesthood had been banished from Palestine to Babylon.
    A fundamentalist won’t be convinced by this. I am likely to be asked how I know. Here is the grand slam:
    Notice that the Babylonians portray God as genocidal, but we know that God is Morally good. (For some fundies you’ll also have to explain why genocide is bad. Be sure and mention the killing of babies in the womb.)
    I’ve used this argument successfully repeatedly. It works. But obviously I am not getting a person to give up Xianity, just chipping away at the edifice of stupid they have built up to defend being Xian.


  17. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Would it not be a good idea to actually find some evidence for the existence of a god before debating its qualities?

  18. Undeluded says:

    FKS – the best use of so-called morality as an argument is right up there in the strip, IMHO. Indeed – J’s response of “ridiculous” is the only response he can give, innocently believing that when He says it, it’s true, whereas when I say it – it’s false!

    AoS – I’m surprised! Who bears the onus of providing the evidence you seek? Certainly not we! And the entrenched will point at the universe and claim “there’s your evidence!” Next comes the ‘evidence’ for omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniparient and probably omnibuses as well. Oh yes, all-goodness and loving, too!

  19. Matthew says:

    “Couldn’t you make exactly the same arguments for the existence of a supremely evil god?”

    These aren’t arguments for the existence of a good god, but simply counter-arguments to the conjecture that such a god, if he existed, would not conceivably create a world like the one we see.

    If it could be shown that an evil god (or, more trivially, an indifferent god) would be able to create a world like ours, that wouldn’t be an argument for his (excuse the gender assumption) existence.

    All that said, I don’t think the arguments can simply be inverted.  The idea of an evil god as the opposite of a good god becomes incoherent in some ways:
    – what would be an evil god’s motivations?  Would he want for us to become evil?  To suffer?  To find joy in evil, or to never find joy?  Would he want us to go out of our way to hurt people, or just to be self-absorbed?
    – what would be an evil god’s approach to truth?  Would it be most evil to always lie, to lie randomly, so as to be incoherent?  To try and build trust in order to break it on something important?
    – should we have friends to work with to work evil more effectively, or should we make as many enemies as possible?
    These questions can have comparatively straightforward answers for a good god, but not an evil one.

    I think the point of the question is that if all the arguments given can be adapted for an evil god, then that would undermine the arguments’ validity.  I would argue in response that they probably can’t, and that it wouldn’t.

  20. machigai says:

    that was painful

  21. I’m with Acolyte on this subject. I’m not going to speculate on the nature of a god that doesn’t exist. But nice job of inverting the logic there, Author. I shall rush off and sign the petition now.

  22. Mary2 says:

    I don’t understand why people would worship this god. Believe in = ok: worship = no way. This deity is happy to let 100s of (presumably innocent, Christian) children die in a mudslide in Brasil but focuses all his magic powers on ensuring that the ‘right’ person wins a tennis match.

    AOS, you take away all the fun if you have to provide evidence for a god before playing with the rubbish in the holy books.

    Matthew, you have spent far too long contemplating the existence of an evil god! ;P

  23. Undeluded says:

    Come on, Aos and DH. We’re not here to hone our definitions of what the attributes of a god are. Rather, we need to A: try to discover why religious people believe what they do, B: how come these beliefs become ‘facts’ – the so-called legitimacy of claiming that imaginary fabrications in ancient scriptures actually describe reality, and C: how do we counter this quite massive, world-encompassing delusion.

    Mary2 – nice summary. The term ‘worship’ – when referring to a deity – is a tough one for me, too. It seems to always involve feelings of love and devotion, combined with ceremonies and veneration. Whereas these qualities could be deemed admirable when aimed at another person (no matter whether or not he or she is worthy of it) – even if for some observers this person never even existed – when they are directed at a book, a cross, a statue or any other inanimate object, I get this eerie feeling that something is profoundly wrong! And yes, my definitions of right and wrong would probably be contested by believers – subjective morality again!

  24. Jobrag says:

    DH If you can demonstrate that by the contradictions in his nature that god doesn’t exist then debating his nature is not pointless.

  25. Mary2 says:

    Undeluded, I agree. If you’ll forgive the Godwin’s Law, to me it smacks of ‘worshiping’ Hitler or Stalin. I can understand why one may support or even admire them/their ideas/actions (struggling and humiliated after WWI, H provides a convenient scapegoat and gets the trains to run on time etc), or why one would go along with them and enact their edicts (self preservation, to get ahead, only following orders etc.), but worship?

    Does one really look at an esteemed leader, however amazing their improvement of the economy/society etc. and be so impressed one believes they walk on water (so to speak)? Maybe I am just very cynical or need to talk to more North Koreans.

    Author, am busily saving up for several t-shirts.

  26. pete says:

    Its either free will or part of guds plan, depending on the context.

  27. hotrats says:

    DH If you can demonstrate that by the contradictions in his nature that god doesn’t exist then debating his nature is not pointless.

    I think there is a built-in difficulty in putting questions about ‘God’s existence’ in the same sentence as the phrase ‘his nature’. As DH and AoS point out, existence must be primary to any collection of attributes, and can’t be offset against them in support of a logical proof of itself.

    In Tom Stoppard’s excellent play, ‘Jumpers’, the central character is a professor of Moral Philosophy, who makes the point neatly:

    “Is God? I prefer to put the question in this form because to ask ‘Does God exist?’ appears to presuppose the existence of a God who may not … although to ask ‘Is God?’ also appears to presuppose a being who perhaps isn’t… and is thus open to the same objection as the question, ‘Does God exist?’.

    But until the difficulty is pointed out, it does not have the same propensity to confuse language with meaning, and conjure up a God who may have any number of predicates including omnipotence, perfection and four-wheel-drive, but not, as it happens, existence.”

    There is also the secondary problem that believers have different conceptions of ‘God’, and most of the ‘contradictions in his nature’ arise from these differences; the intrinsic contradictions in the ‘God’ concept (eg between omniscience and free will, or omniscience and omnipotence) are ignored or glossed over by believers in debate, as indeed they have to be if the whole edifice of their ‘faith’ is not to come crashing down.

    Debating the nature of ‘God’ and ‘the Devil’ is as productive of facts as debating the nature of unicorns or Superman. The most it can reveal is the prejudice of the participants; it can never make any definitive statement without the fallacy of assuming as given what needs first to be proved.

  28. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Undeluded says:
    October 10, 2013 at 9:03 am
    Come on, Aos and DH. We’re not here to hone our definitions of what the attributes of a god are. Rather, we need to A: try to discover why religious people believe what they do…..

    That’s easy; a) because they don’t want to be dead when they die, and b) because they lack the imagination or intelligence, or both, to understand the Universe in material terms.
    But mostly a.

  29. hotrats says:

    BTW, I never know how to pronounce your nick; is it Jo Brag or Job Rag?

  30. Micky says:

    AOS, can I offer a third reason?

    c) because they’ve been brainwashed.

  31. Mahatma Coat says:

    May I go back to the LSE matter? The disturbing, no, distressing thing is that, on the claim of a couple of people that they feel offended, action is taken against ‘offenders’ with no appeal, no testing in a properly constituted jurisdiction, no inquiry into the facts. Seemingly, anything that might even refer to Moslems or Mohammad is automatically offensive. And by the way, offence is taken, not given.

  32. European says:

    Don’t forget how close LSE has been (?) to the Ghaddhafi family….

  33. “Come on, Aos and DH. We’re not here to hone our definitions of what the attributes of a god are. Rather, we need to A: try to discover why religious people believe what they do, B: how come these beliefs become ‘facts’ – the so-called legitimacy of claiming that imaginary fabrications in ancient scriptures actually describe reality, and C: how do we counter this quite massive, world-encompassing delusion.”

    Acolyte, Micky, Jobrag, I agree with all your suggested answers, but I’m convinced that we’ve answered these questions many times and a complete answer involves the social factors such as instant group acceptance and support, dopamine released into the brain by rituals and repetition of familiar ceremonies, cognitive dissonance (the believers have invested too much of their identities into religion, and this prevents them from accepting any evidence), fear of exclusion, comfort in the face of total insignificance and meaninglessness, etc..

    It’s a bit like trying to understand why a person still smokes cigarettes, given the downside. It isn’t simply a matter of nicotine being addictive. That’s over in three days. It’s the social significance – using a cigarette to reward behaviour, ritual exchange as a form of bonding (Here, have a cigarette, mate.) oral and tactile gratification. Similarly, with religion, any single answer such as “fear of death” is not enough. It’s a delusion that gets woven into a person’s psyche from childhood, and untangling it takes thought and work. Like quitting smoking, the impetus has to come from a recognition of the damage that’s been done, and continues to be done. Unfortunately for most people this damage is not as obvious as stained fingers, bad breath, smelly clothing and cancer.

    I’m convinced that most Christians do not really believe the dogma. As somebody said recently, they treat the bible like a Microsoft user agreement, scroll to the end and click on “agree”. Confront them with the total absurdity of Noah’s Arc, for example, and they shrug it off as allegory. Unless they are total nutters, in which case there’s no hope for them. In any event, attacking the dogma, or the contradictory attributes of their imaginary overlord, seems rather pointless. It isn’t the dogma that has them hooked, just as it isn’t really the nicotine that has smokers hooked. It’s the social, societal, brain chemical, and emotional components. We confront that by offering an attractive alternative to the children, and letting the old folks die off.

  34. Mahatma, I think the LSE matter is pretty clear. Those who were offended took offence because they desperately want attention and publicity. The LSE brass played right into their hands, and walked out on the thin ice feeling confident that the majority of people will side with believers over atheists. The resulting rumble is bringing benefits to everybody, our side probably more than theirs’. It would be interesting to track Author’s subscriptions and T-shirt sales as a function of Muslim publicized protest. I suspect we are winning here.

  35. JohnM says:

    @ DH
    Okay, okay … I’m going to buy a T-shirt right now.

  36. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Yeah, I guess I was a trifle simplistic in my answer, DH, but as there are probably as many reasons people believe as there things for them to believe in; and, as you pointed out, we’ve been through the minutae more than once before now, I thought I’d go for brevity and wit…..and forgot to include the wit 😉

  37. Jobrag says:

    Hotrats, Jo brag, I’d never even thought of Job Rag.

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Jesus walks into a hotel, goes up to reception, puts three nails on the counter and asks “Can you put me up for the night’?

  39. mary2 says:

    DH, you make me feel the urgent need to take up smoking.

    AOS, Oooooh, funny.

  40. botanist says:

    Jo brag, how funny, do we have to start thinking ho trats too?
    A warm welcome to the Cock and Bull, all the new readers. It’s a great place to hang out.

  41. Undeluded says:

    Mary2 – Ooooh, Godwin’s Law. His name alone (apostrophe-less) seems so appropriate for this blog! But seriously, I do not think you are cynical. Admiration, even diminishing of oneself for a cause (donations, volunteering, etc.) is commendable when aimed at something that can prove itself by direct results. When the target is an inanimate, let alone imaginary, it is a quirk of the human thought process – delusion.

    Hotrats and DH – spot on. A doff of the hat!

    Aos – well, no, actually. Nobody wants to be dead (except suicidals). And very many believers are as intelligent as you and I; there are certainly several even more intelligent than I [blush].

    Micky – you are right in (what I believe to be) is the majority of cases! And that, the brainwashing of populations when in their childhood, is IMHO the greatest crime against humanity ever committed, and is still being committed! Indeed, we all get our basic education from home and early schooling. But when such teachings advocate the shutting out of inquiry, the deliberate channeling of thought into a narrow system of irrational beliefs, instead of exposing the youngster to as wide a range of stimuli provided by reality (in accordance with her age), I rise in protest.

    When I mention ‘delusion,’ it is a case of certain people believing and others not believing. Each side opines that the other is wrong! Which side is deluded? When you see a magic trick, the conjurer provides the illusion in order to provoke your delusion. There – now you believe that the card appeared out of thin air and that the Statue of Liberty disappeared. And that the magician has supernatural powers. For a second, that is – you know it’s a trick, but you don’t know how he did it. He fooled you, and you enjoyed it – even paid money for the entertainment. When the trick is revealed, you are no longer deluded – and it’s up to you, whether or not you’re happier now you know the truth (I know I am).

    The truth. Key word. When charlatans like Uri Geller spout their supernatural (“para-psychological”) powers, there is always one audience they always shun like the plague – magicians/entertainers and illusionists, who could immediately see exactly how their stuff was done (I have a sprinkling of experience in ‘magic,’ and I’ve had personal encounters with Geller). So exposure is relatively limited (James Randi notwithstanding), and these people find a following large enough to support their livelihood, despite their rather obvious false pretenses. Poor deluded suckers – they deliberately shut out reality, and bring about the derision of most of sane human beings.

    But it gets worse. When we involve pseudo-science (homeopathy, chakras, vibrations, auras) people are deluded by buzz-words. Now it’s the scientific community that needs to make an effort to refute these claims. But the number of followers are large, the claim being “I don’t care what scientists say, my doctor prescribes this, and I feel much better.” The delusion actually helps and brings comfort – the placebo effect! Truth is put aside in favor of peace of mind (to make use of DH’s analysis). However, we have not yet totally departed from rationality. One group claims veganism, another global warming, yet another astrology. The opposing camps are large, and yet you could imagine a rational debate on these issues with people being convinced to move from one side to the other.

    Not so the case with religion – the worst. No sounder argument against religion exists than when their apologists attempt to ‘explain’ their views using science and reason. It is up to us atheists to expose this – and when the believers admit that their claims (and so-called evidence) are all irrational, I’ll let them be.

  42. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    The problem is, undeluded, that many believers will happily admit that religion is irrational; if it were rational they wouldn’t need faith, and it’s that faith that will get them safely through the Pearly Gates.

    Aos – well, no, actually. Nobody wants to be dead (except suicidals). And very many believers are as intelligent as you and I.

    I think you misunderstood what I meant by ‘because they don’t want to be dead when they die’. Of course nobody wants to die, and atheists and believers alike know that one day we will die. It’s just that the grown-ups among us are able to accept that death is final; that when we’re dead, we’re dead. For those unable or unwilling to accept the inevitable, religion promises them that the lights will never go out – as long as they have faith.

    If science did one day discover that our consciousness does in some way survive our bodily death (I know, I know, but it’s only a for-the-sake-of-argument thought experiment) and that this applied equally to all, irrespective of what they do or don’t believe; and further, that there is no god involved; indeed, that that gods were a red herring all along; if all this came to pass, I have a sneaky feeling that, diehard fundamentalists aside, religion would die a death almost overnight.

    One last thing, undeluded. Please stop telling us that intelligent people are also religious. Some of the smartest people I know are also some of the least educated, while some of the dumbest have letters after their names. I don’t care what their IQ may be, if they were that bloody clever they’d have figured out what an imbecile like me had worked out all by himself long before his teen years had come to a close.

  43. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    oops, messed up the blockquoting there. Given another few thousands of years, I may one day get the hang of it. I’d better start praying… 😉

  44. Mary2 says:

    Undeluded, Ooops! Can I claim adding inappropriate and leaving out necessary apostrophes as a result of head injury? I might need emergency re-education from the POTWA Peeps.

    AOS, I thought you just derided ‘for the sake of argument thought experiments’ two comments before the last. Or are they allowed as long as we are not for-the-sake-of-argument allowing the existence of a god in our argument?

  45. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    No Mary, I like ftso arguments. My comment you mention wasn’t about the discussion here, it was a reference to the centuries-old attempt to reconcile the nature of an impossibly paradoxical (excuse the tautology) deity with observed reality in order to justify a continued belief in that deity.

    Not sure what the problem is with Godwin’s; you apostrophised it, so did undeluded, as did I, as would anybody familiar with the use of the possessive apostrophe. One refers to a Godwin when a comment falls foul of Godwin’s Law.
    I don’t understand undeludeds apostrophy-less remark.

  46. Undeluded says:

    Mary2 and AoS – Godwin’s Law has an apostrophe (which is correct). Remove it and you have a name, which could be hyphenated to mean… oh, never mind. I take it all back. I’m a rotten punster.

    AoS – “…many believers will happily admit that religion is irrational…”
    Well, that kind of takes the sting out of all their claims, doesn’t it. Or isn’t it all their claims, just those they cherry-picked? Even more important, how do they reconcile their alleged acceptance of irrationality with truth? There’s a huge chasm between “My love for her is admittedly irrational, but I can’t help it!” and “My belief in the trinity (or scriptures, or prayers, etc.) is admittedly irrational, but it’s still true!” Whereas the first statement is acceptable, the second is not – and I have never heard it claimed!

    Re the “nobody wanting to die” – thanks for the correction. Yes, I did misunderstand.

    And re the combination of intelligence and religion – well, I wasn’t aware I had made that statement in the past so that I need to stop now, but even so I think your yardstick for measuring a person’s intelligence by the level of their religion is somewhat harsh. Correct me if I’m wrong (again), but it seems by your assessment that if you were introduced to someone whose religious leaning was unknown to you, and she impressed you as being very intelligent without discussing religion, and that subsequently you learned she was religious – you would change your mind about her being intelligent! She hadn’t figured out what you had at an early age, therefore she is deemed less than an imbecile. Ouch! Bottom line – lack of intelligence may account for some people being believers, but it is definitely not an all-encompassing criterion (together with not wanting to be dead).

  47. Mary2 says:

    AOS and Undeluded, You meanies! 😉

    As someone who is a generally quite a grammar-Nazi (although not in the league of the heads of POTWA) I have been sitting in front of my computer for days (it’s fun not being at work) thinking: ‘OK I can still put together an almost coherent sentence but struggling with apostrophes ….’ Perfect way to mess with my head, people! Next you’ll be telling me I use far too many commas!

    As someone who is also a complete fan of pointless arguments just for the sake of it, I am also happy to concede points like ‘OK, let’s assume your god exists’ just so we can then argue about whether s/he is actually more evil than Voldemort.

    Re religious people being stupid – definitely not speaking on behalf of AOS – it is possible to understand that, generally speaking, religion has no bearing on the intelligence of the believer (I know some intelligent people who swear by homeopathy) but still use the word ‘stupid’ as lazy shorthand for ‘people who do not always submit their beliefs to the full range of rational and sceptical thinking’.

  48. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Ah, Godwins! Brilliant. My apologies for the misunderstanding.
    I really should have picked up on that as well, because for the last few months there’s been a TV ad running for an ‘ambulance-chasing’ outfit called Godloves Solicitors, and every time it’s on my irony meter bursts.

    Undeluded “My love for her is admittedly irrational, but I can’t help it!” and “My belief in the trinity (or scriptures, or prayers, etc.) is admittedly irrational, but it’s still true!” Whereas the first statement is acceptable, the second is not – and I have never heard it claimed!

    Never? You’ve never asked a believer a tricky question about some impossible godly act, only to be told that ‘of course it sounds silly when you put it that way, but him upstairs moves in mysterious ways’? That’s religious shorthand for ‘yes, I know it’s impossible but it’s in the book so I’ve got to believe it, and to believe it I have to suspend rational thought and resort to the mystery of god, which you will never understand because you haven’t got faith’. And they espouse faith as if it’s a good thing!
    That is not what I’d call an example of an intelligent way of looking at things.

    Now, I’m nothing special in the intelligence stakes – maybe above average but not by much – so this isn’t some kind of intellectual elitism, but it seems to me that if they have given their religious beliefs any more than a cursory examination and still come up secure in their faith, then one has to wonder at why.
    Your rather obvious (in hindsight) joke I failed to spot revealed a blind-spot in my humour-detecting abilities, but I’m not overly concerned; I could after all blame it on tiredness, or pain medication, or a sign of aging. But religion is, if you’ll pardon the language, one fucking huge blind-spot, a yawning chasm in otherwise intelligent peoples’ rational thought processes.
    Regarding your example of the intelligent, religious woman, let me ask you; would your opinion of her change if she confessed to a belief in the efficacy of homeopathy? psychic surgery maybe? or begins to wax lyrical about her very own abduction by aliens? Would you not think that for all her obvious intelligence something had gone wrong somewhere?

  49. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Hi Mary2. Your post wasn’t there when I began mine; fancy us both picking homeopathy as an example. Great minds think alike, eh?
    Now stop fretting about grammar, UPOTWA is all about checking severe abuses of the language. If we started throwing potwa’s about for punctuation I’d have drowned in a sea of the buggers myself.

    But I’m still awestruck at your casual ‘oh, I’ve been in a coma, by the way’, so you can do no wrong for me.

  50. Mary2 says:

    AOS, Oh the irony of complaining about my slipping grammar while leaving the ‘U’ off ‘UPOTWA’!

    The coma excuse will wear off all too soon, unfortunately. I could use it to explain my missing the lovely ‘God wins’ but it is more likely that I just proved Undeluded’s point about atheists having no automatic excess of intelligence!

    Don’t be too awestruck by the coma thing – it was much worse for everyone else around me – I slept through the whole thing. I am now continually arguing with Mary1 about my convalescence regime: to me I had a narrow escape with no real harm done whereas to everyone else I should, statistically speaking, be dead or (to quote that great philosopher Agatha Christie) “imitating the vegetable kingdom as far as possible”. The facial bruising has been very useful in garnering sympathy but has almost faded to insignificance. I have had $300 worth of library fines waived (puppy ate several expensive books) so it’s not all bad! Besides, I have been quite the local celebrity. I would have liked my 15 minutes of fame to have stemmed from something I actually achieved, other than to forget to duck when a car creeps up behind you, but you can’t have everything. The best bonus, for me if not for everyone else, has been the amount of time I have been able to spend playing on the internet!

  51. hotrats says:

    Found this in PJ O’Rourke’s entertaining ‘Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards’:

    Failure is obviously the key to Darwinian selection. Survival of the fittest can’t work if the unfit are still hanging around. There they go, dodging comet collisions, being chased by predators but always managing to escape, getting stuck in tar pits then extraditing themselves somehow, getting tar all over the place. It drives the fittest mad.

    Failure is necessary to evolution but equally necessary to creationism. Picture Adam and Eve, after an eternity, all talked out, with the thrill of nudity long expired. Adam keeps mowing and dethatching and reseeding paradise. He’s given up golf. He doesn’t have the swear words for it. He futzes, putting the billionth coat of Thompson’s Water Seal on the fence around the Tree of Knowledge…. The beasts of the field are tired of one another. The lion lies down with the lamb; the lamb snores. The serpent ends up eating all the apples himself. He’s too fat to go out and do any tempting. From this we’re supposed to fill a Bible?

    Reading without due care and attention – well it was Saturday night – I was surprised at AoS giving you kudos for your sangfroid about having come out of a comma.

  52. mary2 says:

    Hotrats, you may have just won the internets! You have just provided the missing evidence for both the inevitability and necessity of the bible and everything in it.

    The answer to every question is now solved: ‘But WHY did the snake tempt Eve?’. But WHY was evil necessary?’

    ‘Because, if it was otherwise, it would be a bloody boring world. God would have drowned it just for something to do.’

    By the way: coming out of a comma would have fitted in better with the rest of our conversation.

  53. Undeluded says:

    AoS – “…‘of course it sounds silly when you put it that way, but him upstairs moves in mysterious ways’…”

    Well, no actually I haven’t heard that claim – I mean, not both halves together. Usually, it’s either I am the “silly” person or mystery prevails. Which does not mean that the statement you provided is not said numerous times in numerous ways. Perhaps, I am just encountering religious people who are slightly on the intelligent side.

    “…if they have given their religious beliefs any more than a cursory examination and still come up secure in their faith, then one has to wonder at why.”

    Right on! That is my question as well. You believe the answer to be stupidity, whereas I lean toward a misdirection of the human thought process (delusion). And it is a plain fact that highly intelligent people can be easily deluded (and yes, of course, stupid people, too). Faith, in itself, is not stupid. It’s what you choose to have faith in, that could raise eyebrows. The same goes for hope, fear, love, envy, etc., – those irrational, though perfectly natural, emotions we all have in varying degrees. And we are all deluded in some aspects to certain extents.

    “…religion is … one … huge blind-spot, a yawning chasm in otherwise intelligent peoples’ rational thought processes.”

    I take exception to the word ‘otherwise.’ Everybody has blind spots (you confessed to your own, and I’m in there with you). That is not a reflection of intelligence. I ‘believe’ in mathematics though I never got beyond differential equations and matrices. Do I have a blind spot there? Yes, I do. I could dedicate years to studying and perhaps get to understanding most of it. And yet – those composers, poets, historians, novelists, lawyers, philosophers, linguists, a handful of politicians (and those I know of I regard as highly intelligent) may not know a whit of math. Indeed, they probably don’t care, either! They have blind spots and acknowledge them. Are they lacking in intelligence, too?

    The case of the “…the intelligent, religious woman…”

    If I found out she followed homeopathy, abduction by aliens, or worshiping a juju, I would consider her extraordinarily deluded. However, my rating of her intelligence would not swerve even by a bit. I would urge her to try to convince me where my blind spot is – and the more intelligent she is the sounder her arguments will be (to her), and the stronger my counter-arguments would (it is to be hoped) be. Would she think I am deluded? I think not. Perhaps inexperienced in faith, lacking in revelations, misunderstanding of scriptures. If she is one of the entrenched – well, she remains an intelligent lost cause, and that’s just too bad! Another possible borderliner lost – it happens all the time.

    But I’d like to clarify my position here. I have already stated that the religious “camps” we atheists face are the entrenched and the borderliners. If I debate someone, it’ll be a borderliner – otherwise I am wasting my time. However, that does not mean I am not interested in what makes the entrenched tick! After all, it is mainly they who provide me with the arguments and ammunition I need to debate the borderliners. There are, however, varieties of these religionistas – mainly the sheep and the leaders. The former include the brainwashed from infancy and the stupid – and yes, there is some, but in no way total, overlap between them. Still, I find no benefit from listening to them or reading their stuff. The latter are the power-hungry, and I would even venture to label some of them criminal-minded. The larger their following, the more powerful they become. It is their ideas and methods by which they assemble, guard, and attempt to enlarge their flock, where I am alert. Thankfully, it’s been some time since any really new arguments have been put forth.

    Would a ‘sheep’ admit she has a blind spot? I think never. It’s just not conceivable for her. Would a leader? I think that under circumstances she would! Heavily disguised, perhaps, and on various topics – but if the issue is of the possibility of her faith being mistaken: never. In public, that is. In secretive privacy, who knows “what goes on under the Pope’s robes.”

  54. Lurker111 says:

    I just wish I had these guys’ beer budget. :/

  55. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    That is my question as well. You believe the answer to be stupidity,

    No, I believe that believing in things that are obviously false is not intelligent behaviour.
    There’s possibly a misunderstanding over what I mean by ‘intelligence’ here. I’m not referring to learning or the ability to learn (or the lack thereof). If I were going head-to-head in a quiz with Steven Hawkin and the majority of questions were about theoretical physics, I’d lose badly, but if they were mostly about 18th/19thC English ceramics, then I’d likely kick his arse. That is no reflection at all on our respective intelligence, it simply shows that we have focussed our learning in different areas. The same applies to you with mathematics and to your poets, lawyers, historians, et al.
    The sum total of human knowledge is so vast the most highly educated person on earth can only know but a fraction of current understanding. I wouldn’t deride that person for not being able to tell a first period Worcester blue and white cream jug from a similar piece by the Lowestoft or Chelsea factories.
    But the intelligence I’m talking about has nothing to do with education, it’s the ‘raw’ intelligence if you will; the ability to tell reality from fiction; fact from wishful thinking; the ability to smell bullshit when they see it.
    A well-educated person might believe in gods, or homeopathy, or alchemy; an intelligent one will not – I’d go as far as to say cannot do so.

    For my money, a well-educated believer is proof that it is indeed possible to be both incredibly smart and incredibly dumb.

  56. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Shit! Steven HawkinG.
    See, hotrats, it’s still there.

  57. Chiefy says:

    Hotrats, your quote from O’Rourke reminded me of this, one of Darkmatter’s best. What if Adam had never bit the fruit?

  58. Mary2 says:

    AOS, I may be wrong but I believe it is ‘Stephen’ Hawking (or, according to Deluded, ‘Step Hen’).

    I am seriously amused by imaging a group (presumably of teen-aged hoodlums) deriding people for not knowing a Worcester blue and white cream jug from a Chelsea blue and white cream jug. Makes those theoretical physicists look decidedly rough and tumble! (apologies to all those who will, no doubt, be offended by my stereotypical depictions of both physicists and ceramicists – am laughing AT the stereotypes not at the ceramicists – am also envious of anyone who knows that much about anything!)

  59. Mary2 “am also envious of anyone who knows that much about anything”.

    I’m with you there. I can’t think of a single subject in which I can claim to have mastery or expertise. I know lots of things about lots of things. But there’s nothing at all I could claim as an area of expertise. Even areas where I have a life time of familiarity, I look a complete fool if I open my mouth around somebody who actually knows a thing or two. It’s depressing. After so many years of learning about stuff, to be without expertise in any area is decidedly discouraging. Sigh.

  60. Chiefy says:

    I feel exactly the same way, DH. I like hanging out with people smarter than me, because I learn things, but it does make me feel inadequate. I used to worry that my manner of speaking would make people think I’m a fool. Now I realize that everyone already knows that I am. And I’m old enough to not care.

  61. Chiefy, exactly. That’s one of the charming things about the Cock and Bull. I get to hang out with people who know far more than I know. But like Acolyte, I draw a distinction between smart and ignorant. I never fault a person for being ignorant. But wilful ignorance that thinks it knows all the answers, that’s called stupid. For me the frustrating thing about fundies is their absolute refusal to look at and consider the evidence and explanations that are so readily available to them. I think it’s pointless to argue the nature of god, but it isn’t pointless to discuss the evidence for evolution.

  62. Mary2 says:

    My fellow ‘Jacks-of-all-trades’, it does make us quite good at Trivial Pursuit and other quizzes, yes?

  63. hotrats says:


    Yes it does. Unfortunately ‘Trivial Pursuit Champion’ doesn’t look so impressive on a CV.

  64. Undeluded says:

    Mary2 – I realize the letters UN stand for a marginal, unimportant front for inaction, but when dropped from my nickname it reverses everything I stand for. Oh, well, I probably deserved it anyway for my Godwin poke…

    AoS – you are one of the few that I cannot convince with an initial response – and perhaps I’ll never be able to. I need to think about your arguments before carefully formulating my response. I thank you for that.

    We need to clarify how we understand certain terms we used. We don’t want to mix them up carelessly and give the impression we mean one thing when we actually mean another. I try to be stickler for correct interpretation.

    I use “intelligence” as the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge. If anyone lacks this capacity he is retarded. You, apparently, prefer a different definition.

    “Knowledge” = all that a person has perceived, discovered, or learned.

    “Smart” = clever = mental adroitness or practical ingenuity and skill. “Dumb” = the opposite, or lack, of smart.

    “Education” = the result produced by instruction, training, or study. It might, or might not, develop a faculty for logic and reasoning.

    “Belief” = confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately given to rigorous proof.

    “Delusion” = a false belief (or opinion).

    Whether a person with the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge chooses to channel this capacity in ways others may find unacceptable, has nothing to do with her intelligence. It is something you are born with (or sometimes not, sadly) and is very much at the level that prehistoric man had. However, the level of our knowledge and skills has advanced in leaps and bounds, bringing us to where we are. Prehistoric man, and his successors until very, very recently (in cultural evolutionary terms), believed in deities as answers to a natural drive to find solutions to questions referring to the understanding of the world around him. Why? Because he had no alternative(s). Those of similar belief gathered into tribes and clans and, lacking opposition, sustained, nurtured and perpetuated these beliefs. Call it religion. No matter that they were deluded – there was no one who could tell them that. When a tribe of one religion clashed with a tribe of another religion, the ‘stronger gods’ prevailed. Switching from one set of gods to another was commonplace, as a matter of expedience. But they were not stupid.

    Today we have several things that our ancestors did not. Mainly, we have exposure to the multiplicity of ideas and beliefs, several of which are downright contradictory and yet co-exist. Your ‘raw intelligence,’ though well-defined, is a very personal and subjective approach. Your religious opponents will claim, with equal justification, that they have the true “ability to tell reality from fiction; fact from wishful thinking; the ability to smell bullshit when they see it.” Plus additional qualities they claim to have and you don’t. But it really boils down to what distinguishes the atheist camp from that of the entrenched religionista – each claims “I am right and you are wrong!” and neither side is capable of pointing at explanations that the other can accept. Which is the cause of the frustration described by DH.

    And I’m very uncomfortable with DH’s term of ‘willful ignorance.’ Don’t you think the religionistas could claim the same about us? Sure, they’re wrong and we’re right – so what? But when they claim to know all the answers – that’s delusion. Not stupid, not ignorant, not dumb, not retarded – just wrong! Some of them are open to doubt, perhaps revealing a higher level of intelligence. These are the borderliners – and I focus on them.

  65. Chiefy says:

    The religionistas certainly do claim that about unbelievers, Undeluded. They keep trying to trap us into admitting that we hold certain positions by faith. Look to William Lane Craig for a perfect example of willful ignorance. I’m sure he is quite intelligent. He is able to reframe any argument into his belief system, and seems quite unable to see things from a different paradigm.

  66. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Undeluded: “AoS – you are one of the few that I cannot convince with an initial response – …”
    Thank you. But if that surprises you as much as it does me, maybe it’s due to your tactic of only debating borderliners. To paraphrase from one of your own responses to me earlier, perhaps you’re just too used to encountering people who need help thinking things through.

    “– and perhaps I’ll never be able to.”
    I’m always prepared to change my mind. Good, solid evidence is preferred but a convincing, logical argument has been known to do the trick.

    On reflecting on our discussion today I got the distinct impression that we are arguing over semantics, and believe it or not, on wondering how to try and explain myself to you I was planning on taking my argument back to pre-sapien times. You’ve done just that, but seem to have reached a slightly different conclusion to the one I had in mind.
    Unfortunately, real-life has to intervene for the moment so I’ll have to come back to this later.

  67. Mary2 says:

    Hotrats, sad but true.

    UNdeluded, oooops. Thousands of apologies. Pure accident – I did not mean to imply anything. If it makes you feel somewhat mollified, I always feel bad when abbreviating Darwin Harmless’ name to DH. Where I grew up DH stood for a mild insult for doing something stupid; implying that someone had the brains of male genitalia (D*-Head)

    Undeluded and AOS, don’t stop. I am enjoying the discussion.

  68. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Undeluded, before I get to our main discussion I want to pick up on a few points from your last post.
    Firstly, you’ll get no argument from me on the mental capacity of prehistoric man. I think it’s pretty much accepted that, were a newborn infant from 40,000 or-so years ago transported through time to be brought up in the modern world, then all else being equal it would fare no better or worse than a child born to a 21stC woman.
    However, what I do disagree is with “Your religious opponents will claim, with equal justification, that they have the true “ability to tell reality from fiction; fact from wishful thinking”, particularly regarding ‘equal’ justification. We have all the evidence garnered from several centuries of scientific endeavour that shows anybody bright enough to understand it that there is nothing in the Cosmos that cannot be explained without recourse to the supernatural; their ‘evidence’ boils down to nothing more than a 2000 year-old book and, erm, faith. The two are no more equal than a nuclear warhead and a catapult.
    The same applies to “And I’m very uncomfortable with DH’s term of ‘willful ignorance.’ Don’t you think the religionistas could claim the same about us?”. Of course they couldn’t. We don’t reject their claims because the evidence doesn’t fit our arguments, we reject them because they lack any evidence. They, on the other hand, will either accept a scientific discovery if they can somehow twist it to fit the God hypothesis – “Irrefutable evidence of evolution? Goddidit, intelligent design” – or where that scientific evidence cannot be made to fit they simply reject it out of hand “Fossils dating back millions of years? No, dear fellow, they were put there by God no more than 6017 years ago during the Creation, just to test the faith of you scientificallists. Carbon dating? God, you atheists are perverse”.
    Rejecting perfectly good evidence because it conflicts with belief, where the person doing the rejecting is able to understand the evidence, or refusing to even look at the evidence – that is willful ignorance in a nutshell.

    Finally, I want to thank you, undeluded, because at the end of that last post of yours you have actually negated the need for me to continue arguing my point about intelligence and religious belief.
    “But when they claim to know all the answers – that’s delusion. Not stupid, not ignorant, not dumb, not retarded – just wrong! Some of them are open to doubt, perhaps revealing a higher level of intelligence.”
    Meaning that the ones with access to all the evidence ‘our’ side has, and the wit to understand it, yet who continue to profess belief, are perhaps exhibiting signs of diminished intelligence. Massive intellect, maybe, but what use is intellect if it is not used intelligently?
    Taken to its natural conclusion, one could legitimately argue that a person maintaining a delusion in the face of so much contradictory evidence doesn’t have religion so much as a psychiatric disorder. In fact, one could go so far as to suggest that in any other area but religion, such people are usually directed toward treatment. I’m not saying all believers are mentally ill, just that the more entrenched ones often display very similar symptoms.

    I look forward to your response, undeluded.

  69. JoJo says:

    I know it’s more work, but please, Author, please!!!

  70. Undeluded says:

    AoS – I’ll try to conclude (we have another strip coming up shortly). Here goes…

    I think it is basically an interpretation issue. We atheists have a certain world view (which is kind of universal to atheists) while the religious have another (in fact, several, according to the religion in question). These views are contradictory in many ways.

    You, AoS, believe that the ‘wrongness’ of the other side is indicative of a mental disorder. Rejecting logic and reason (in the realm of faith) must be a result of an evolutionary defect. Gullibility = insanity, and may be measured at varying levels. (I know I’m stretching it somewhat, but I’d like to make a point.)

    I, on the other hand, claim that intelligence (the way I define it, and which you have accepted) is not involved in the reason for religion. What causes it to thrive are numerous other factors, the main being that it is allowed to. At one time, not long ago, all nations were religious. Some still are and, by and large, from the progress viewpoint they are relatively backward. But not because of lack of intelligence. However, even in non-religious countries we still have the ‘political correctness’ issue. ‘Freedom of religion’ might be considered noble and advanced by some, but what we need is ‘freedom from religion.’

    I certainly hope (for the well-being of the world) that modern atheism, which is presently in its infancy, will eventually succeed in taking religion off its high pedestal – a position it has held since forever! This won’t happen overnight. The shift is happening, due to logic, reason and science. Our inherent intelligence is affected by rational arguments, but it will take time (a very long time, I’m afraid) to reduce religion to a fad followed by cultists only. The rise of atheism does not indicate superior intelligence, just the openness to oppose long-held dogmas. It is similar, though not yet as successful, to the ascent of science.

    Reciprocal claims by the religionistas – of course they do (thank you, Chiefy). And, in their view, justifiably. We cannot accept this, we ‘know better’ – and yet, until very recently, laws of the land were dictated by those very arguments. In many countries they still are – courts of law, rules for family behaviour, dress codes – it’s all around us. In fact, atheism was not only commonly frowned on, it was actively suppressed (and in some locations, still is)! Legally and officially. As for ‘willful ignorance’ – yes, in our terms, but not in theirs.

    Religious doubt and intelligence – I used the word ‘perhaps’ and I’m glad you did, too. You rationally (by our terms) believe that sticking to an irrational (by our terms) belief is a mental aberration. Your apply the term ‘psychiatric disorder’ to some cases, and as a layman on these issues I agree (pending professional opinions), but that is not lack of intelligence. Though this possibility does indeed exist in theory, there is always the other side of the coin. I cannot fully understand (you cannot, either) why the religionistas reject evidence – does that make them stupid? Similarly, I cannot fully understand the workings in the mind of an Einstein or a Hitler – does that make them stupid? It’s in the interpretation of what we don’t understand, and sometimes we jump to unwarranted conclusions. I cannot use the basic religious principle “I do not understand, therefore god did it” and paraphrase it to “I do not understand, therefore you’re stupid.” And claiming you do understand might give you some peace of mind, but it would be somewhat pretentious. I can only hope that one day such understanding will come to light in a way that would convince one side, any side, to adopt the other.

    I dislike putting labels (dumb, crazy, idiot) on those we oppose. It’s like our private gossip circle, which only serves to reinforce our own views. Outside our circle I consider it mud-slinging and name-calling. The toughest epithet I use is ‘deluded,’ and I can use it in a debate. Using the other forms would be plain rude and debate-stoppers. In both directions.

    Some people believe that rationality is the only yardstick by which to measure intelligence. But until it is clinically accepted that being deluded equals being insane or being a moron, I’ll adhere to other causes for delusion.

    Funny – I usually debate borderliners on religious issues. Here I am now, enjoying a good debate with someone on my side! AoS – we may be commenting on other issues in the next strip. If you feel the need to continue this topic, perhaps Author would allow us to be in contact by email.

  71. JoJo says:

    Oh, you two – get a room!

  72. Micky says:

    I don’t think intelligence is a factor, but environment definitely is. How many children in Saudi Arabia have a really good think about the meaning of life and decide to become jewish based on their analysis of the facts?

    Believers tend to be indoctrinated from an early age, and have done their fair share of indoctrination as an adult, which is how this nonsense is perpetuated; they have a ‘sunk cost’ in their faith and are compelled by its doctrine to defend it.

    There’s no point trying to reason with them. Oppose them? Yes. Marginalise them? Yes. Give them a platform? No.

  73. Hmmmn. I thought I had posted what I thought was a rather elegant defence of my term “wilful ignorance” but my comment isn’t here. Acolyte defended the term, but I think I will take another crack at clarifying what I mean by it.

    “And I’m very uncomfortable with DH’s term of ‘willful ignorance.’ Don’t you think the religionistas could claim the same about us? Sure, they’re wrong and we’re right – so what??” -Undeluded

    The so what is that they are wrong. We are not ignorant. Most atheists know more about religious dogma and scripture than most fundies. We have looked at the evidence they have presented, considered it, and found it lacking.

    Let me give you an example of the opposite of wilful ignorance: My partner sat silently on the sidelines (oooh. I like that alliteration) while I ranted at a creationist friend of ours who was ridiculing the very idea of evolution. When the conversation was over, my partner said that she didn’t know enough about the subject to have an opinion, but that she was going to investigate. That she did, plunging into all the arguments presented by the Intelligent Design crowd and reading the responses from the scientists. Since she’s a smart person, she quickly saw the holes in the Intelligent Design arguments, and the strengths in the logic and evidence for evolution. She became a firm believer in scientific explanations for our origins.

    That is the opposite of what the wilfully ignorant do. They refuse to read books by actual scientists, reading only cherry picked excerpts offered up by Answers in Genesis. They are not only ignorant, they are wilfully ignorant. They do not want knowledge that might change their mind.

    I’m interested in knowing, Undeluded, why you are uncomfortable with the term. Is it not accurate? It seems accurate and appropriate to me.

  74. two cents' worth says:

    Jojo, many thanks for the link!

    So much for “people of the book” 😉 !

  75. omg says:

    Instead of using Allah, they can use “My imaginary friend”. That should solve the problem as it will apply to any religion.

    The glass of wine win…

  76. JoJo says:

    Yup. Apparently it’s now got to be Allah(TM)…. You couldn’t make it up. Oh, hang on. They did.

  77. Mary2, your association with the initials DH is probably not all that inappropriate. Don’t worry about it.

  78. Undeluded says:

    Yes, DaHa (I shudder to think anyone might misinterpret “DH”) – your description is not only accurate and appropriate, it is also lucid and delivers clout! The term ‘willful ignorance’ is befitting for those people. My discomfort, which stems from a modicum of uncertainty, is the scope of the people it applies to. An enormous percentage of religionistas (the sheep) just believe what they believe, and mainly avoid opportunities for clashing with anyone of any view differing from theirs. So they don’t clash with me either, and in all honesty I cannot call them willfully ignorant, because maybe they aren’t. Among the leaders there are those who also avoid public debates – for all I know, they have read Darwin, Dawkins, et al, and may even agree with them to various extents. But they cannot (or will not) acknowledge this openly. I believe there’s a (confirmed) item going around about priests who do not believe in God. I give them the benefit of the doubt as well, and I’ll never debate them anyway. But those remainders of the leaders, those who preach out in public, proselytizers, and even those who take part in public debates to prove their point and win votes (not to get answers to questions; those I would consider as borderliners) – oh yes, they certainly are willfully ignorant!

  79. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Undeluded, thank you for an interesting discussion. I still think our main point of contention is one of definition, so I’ll leave you with the details of a conversation I had with a young chap last week.
    Young Chap: I’m a superhero.
    Me: Really?
    YC: Yes. I’ve got a magic sword.
    Me: Oh yes? What does it do?
    YC: It makes me fly so I can fly up to the sky and rescue people.
    Me: Oh, right. So what are you rescuing them from?
    YC: From falling.
    Me: Yes, I got that bit, but what are they falling from?
    YC: (with a withering, ‘is he really this stupid’ look on his face) The sky!
    Me: Obviously. But why are they falling in the first place?
    YC: (extra-withering stare) Because they can’t fly.
    Me: Yes, but how did they get up there?
    YC: I don’t know, I haven’t rescued anybody yet.
    Me: Well that’s great. You are lucky, you know. I wish I could fly.
    And that was when my 3-year-old grandson started giggling his little head off. “You are silly, grandad, I’m only pretending. People can’t really fly”
    Later that day my daughter phoned me to relate a conversation she had with him when they got home, a conversation that began “Mummy, is Grandad really clever, because he believed me when I said….”

    If a three-year-old can see how ludicrous it is for us grown-ups to believe impossible things……….

  80. mary2 says:

    Aos, “what use is intellect if not used intelligently?” – Beautiful. Lovely phrase. I think you have just helped me understand how really clever people cane believe really stupid things.

    Damn, Undeluded, nice job. The “gullibility” bit has now got me contridicting my new-found knowledge from the previous sentence.

    So let me see if I have got this right (any misunderstandings due to still injured head not being an inherent dullard – although many would disagree):

    Aos: They can be intelligent but believe inaccurate things because they don’t always use the intelligence.

    Undeluded: They can be intelligent but believe inaccurate things because gullibility and upbringing lay stuff on top of intelligence.

    If that is vaguely accurate I am glad I am not asking you two to water my potplants – we would have a second Noah’s flood. 😛

    DH, 🙂

    AOS, how do you know I don’t have a magic sword which allows me to fly? Prove I can’t fly.

  81. Chiefy says:

    You got me giggling, AoS. Why is it that three-year-olds have better logic than religionistas?

  82. Undeluded says:

    AoS – cute dialog. You were both having fun – and so did I. Can’t blame the tyke, though. Bright though he is, you fooled him – intentionally – into thinking (believing) that you believed him!!! When he gets older he’ll see through you right from the start.

    I reciprocate your enjoyment of our discussion. I always need to remind myself that religion was invented (long ago) by intelligent people. Long-living habits die hard.

    Mary2 – Thanks for your comments. You got my meaning pretty close, and your assessment of AoS’s argument is close to mine. Your potplants are safe…

  83. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    mary2 says:
    October 16, 2013 at 3:04 am
    AOS, how do you know I don’t have a magic sword which allows me to fly? Prove I can’t fly.

    Oh, I know you can fly, Mary, at least for a short distance, but you’ve really got to work on your landing 🙂

  84. mary2 says:

    AOS, 🙂 Damn, hadn’t thought of THAT come-back!

  85. fenchurch says:

    Not sure why believers worship and promote a god that clearly does not have our (the humans’) interests at heart. We as a race practically, universally condemn child rape, mass suffering, and acts of injustice, yet believers are required to explain away such as necessary goods to justify their omnipotent god’s tyranny/logic?

    What ‘free will’ infractions were involved in the deaths of scores of fervent believers in the 2004 Tsunami?

    Or was that just a “lesson” for us poor worldly types whose comprehension of the necessity of such horrors to “god’s plan” is lacking?

    Or, is it maybe that I can’t truly appreciate the beauty of non-lethal forces of nature whilst walking on a beach without having a few thousand dead bodies washing up to the shores now and then in contrast?

  86. Josh says:

    When I was a child, I knew virtually no evil, but I certainly appreciated beauty and fun…do babies need to know evil before they can truly laugh?


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