Sometimes people say things that are so dumb that you just need to share. What is the craziest, most ignorant, awful, etc. thing you have ever heard a theist or deist or anyone else say regarding religion?

I'll share first. Today I was talking with a Christian on Experience Project. They were asking me what I believed and whatnot, as Christians tend to do when they discover I am an atheist. I told her I believed the Bible was not true, and was demonstrably false. She asked for an example, so I started with the obvious: Genesis says the Earth is older than the sun, and every other celestial body in the universe. This is obviously false. Her response, "Well I won't argue with you but I believe that whatever the Bible says is true."

I thought maybe she was mistaken about what the Bible said, so to clarify I asked, "So you actually believe that the Earth, plant life, and the atmosphere are all older than the sun and all the other stars?"

Her response, "If the Bible says so then yes." 

At that point I just said okay and stopped the conversation. There is nothing that can be said to that level of irrational thinking. 

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Luara, why did I KNOW you would leap to the opposite extreme?

I did almost add a caution that a middle exists, but decided to wait and see.

Sam Hayakawa -- semantics professor, Cal State Univ at SF Provost(?), US Senator -- in a 1960s book on semantics said binary thinking indicates stress.

Paraphrasing Julius Caesar -- I waited, I saw, I won.

Don't you just hate what I write?

I guess you're not into answering my question.

What are some dumb atheist comments about religion?  Anyone?

Ah, without the humility/superiority stuff.

The dumbest atheist comments about religion were those I heard at a meeting of the Univ. of Florida Student Atheist Club in 1957.

I was quitting Catholicism but I had studied the usual college algebra and calculus and entered the College of Engineering. Ordinary differential equations, mathematical statistics, and numerical analysis were in my future.

At the Atheist Club I heard people express, not their belief, but their confident knowledge that no gods existed.

"Where's your evidence?" I thought.

They provided none and I concluded that they had a religion no more valid than Catholicism.

And so, agnosticism satisfied me.

After I graduated with a math major, I realized that doing the work of proving my conclusions had been a remedy for the mental damage done by twelve years of being told to just believe.

Twenty years passed before I gave atheism more attention. I was living in San Francisco and decided to hear Madelyn Murray at the American Atheists Convention.

I wanted to know more about the woman whose efforts had resulted in the US Supreme Court's taking mandated prayer from public schools.

Her speech -- its emotionality, not its reasoning -- persuaded me that she needed religion because it gave purpose to her life.

Another 25 years would pass before I would have a chance to come from my closet as an atheist or remain in it as an agnostic. I chose to come out.

As a movement, Atheism has matured. It now recognizes agnosticism. Some atheists are at war with the religions they had been force-fed. It's a war they have to fight. I hope they win.

And now, Luara, you have my nominee for the dumbest atheist comment about religion: certainty without evidence, which so resembles faith.

(Like BB cosmology.)

Here's a great theme for your first humility lecture. Nietzsche said Objection, evasion, joyous distrust, and love of irony are signs of health; everything absolute belongs to pathology.

I guess Nietzsche didn't like math then ;)

But a lot of absolute statements are false.  I don't know that they're pathological, but false.

And why is evasion a sign of health?  Was Nietzsche evasive?

When I said "in the name of humility" I meant by "humility" a recognition of how little one knows, a recognition of one's fallibility, a sense of one's own biases. 

Such humility is crucial for wisdom. 

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

- Bertrand Russell

I often hear absolute declarations from religious people "Natural laws imply a Law-Giver", etc.  They show a terrible lack of humility and wisdom.  Or maybe it's just a socially-conditioned lack of sanity. 

Luara, it's so funny you brought up that Russell quote. Just this week an old college friend quoted it to me exactly. H.L. Mencken put if very directly too: It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull." For mathematics, there's a fundamental split in belief between Platonists and formalists. Platonists believe that objects of math (triangles, levels of infinity, etc.) are "out there" in some basic sense, just like Plato's forms are supposed to be, and that progress in math is "discovering" them.. Formalists believe none of it is 'out there," and that we're inventing it as we go along. Nietzsche's statement means he's a formalist. (In fact he's sort of a god-father of formalism.) As far as the pathological label is concerned, N believed that any belief in any "higher" truth than the physical world of the senses (especially a la christianity) is a "poisonous" misapprehension perpetrated on the entire history of Western thought by Plato. This is unrelated, but N was a philologist, and one of my favorite cracks of his is this: It is a curious thing that god learned Greek when he wished to turn author--and that he did not learn it better.

it's so funny you brought up that Russell quote.

So true, huh?  Smart people can intuit other possible answers, and they have more idea of what's required to prove something. 

I like the mathematical universe hypothesis, which assumes mathematical Platonism

The idea is, roughly, that our universe is a kind of mathematics that has become conscious.  Our universe "exists" because it has conscious beings in it. 

Our universe is more like running a computer program, but perhaps running a computer program could be considered a kind of mathematics (?)


Richard Dawkins said that religion could be entirely explained by the meme that one should believe one's elders without question. As if human beings were really that simple.

Dawkins does occasionally show some tone-deafness. He shows it again when he says his meme entirely explains religion.

Many children looked at their world and did question what their elders had said.

Change happened, and child-like simplicity became fatal to survival.

Change is still happening and child-like simplicity can still be fatal.

He shows it again when he says his meme entirely explains religion.

Where did Dawkins say this?

It seems likely that religion would not exist if there were no childhood indoctrination in religion. 

But that doesn't "explain religion". 

Luara, the line is from an earlier post by Jonathan. Find his post and ask him.

Luara, to quote text from an earlier post by another:

1. type the other's name into your reply,

2. copy and paste the text into your reply,

3. type a few words after it (or what you add will be italicized too),

4. select the quote, and then

5. click on the quote mark in the bar menu over your reply.

If you will do that, people will know what you quoted and what you wrote.



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