"Nothing Is So Worthless as Superstition"

Ain't it the truth?!

“A religious person is a dangerous person. He may not become a thief or a murderer, but he is liable to become a nuisance. He carries with him many foolish and harmful superstitions, and he is possessed with the
notion that it is his duty to give these superstitions to others. That
is what makes trouble. Nothing is so worthless as superstition. . . .”

— Marilla M. Ricker, "Science Against Creeds," I Am Not Afraid Are You? (1917). Read more about Marilla M. Ricker in Women Without Superstition: No Gods - No Masters.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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Comment by Loren Miller on March 19, 2010 at 9:11am
Gad, from one fairy tale to another??? Grimm, indeed!

As for "damned," that word is about as generified as "Christmas" is, at least around here. I can recall either Isaac Asimov or Robert Heinlein using "condemned" as a substitute, but to me, they represent essentially the same thing. In a pinch, I refer you to Lewis Carroll:

"When I Use a Word, It Means Precisely What I Want It To Mean....
--Humpty Dumpty
Comment by Michael J. Maloney on March 19, 2010 at 7:52am
Loren: Understood. I also understand the need for baby steps. Turning around the Titanic is tricky, slow, methodical business. My approach is to FIRST, stop feeding the monster. I noticed you used the word damned. I don't, wouldn't and would scold myself for entertaining the use of it. Words like damn are food/fuel. Damn is a religious word, a fabricated fear word. Using words like pray, hope, or wish while arguing the horror of religion is like trying to stop the Titanic at sea holding up one hand and yelling, "Halt!" while holding a can of diesel fuel in the other.

I applaud your concepts, wording (ie., social inertia) understanding and drive. And embrace your recognition of the grunt work required. I agree entirely.

But please, please don't tell me Rumpelstiltskin can't spin straw into gold. THAT would be very grim.
Comment by Loren Miller on March 19, 2010 at 7:35am
Just remember, Michael - naming Rumpelstiltskin got rid of HIM ... but that's the only instance I know of where naming your adversary did so. There is going to be a LOT of grunt-work involved in this mess ... and I fully expect it to get very damned messy.

I've mentioned this before ... but we're also dealing with an addiction here, maybe the worst kind, since at least in the cases of drugs or alcohol, the objects of addiction are visible and their physical impact on the body well understood. Getting a religion addict to swear off isn't easy, as you can't cut them off from their own imaginations or beliefs regarding deities or afterlife as you can their Budweiser or crack cocaine. We can lead them to reason all we want, but until they can embrace it themselves and acknowledge the illusion they have indulged in, any further action on our part is pretty much futile ... or that's how I see it.
Comment by Michael J. Maloney on March 19, 2010 at 7:20am
Social inertia eh? Great handle. I'll adopt it. Social inertia fueled by primal fears. Now we're getting some where. If an abstract can be described in understandable terms, it is a step toward giving it mass and identity. It's kin to giving a face to terrorism. Once the monster can be identified, it is much easier to argue the dangers created by the momentum and enormity of the hysterical superstitious swarming mass (religion). Thanks Loren.
Comment by Jason Spicer on March 18, 2010 at 8:37pm
Yes, social inertia is sort of like a big rugby scrum, but far more likely to cause injury.
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on March 18, 2010 at 8:17pm
I think people still have those superstitions too. Apparently black cats are the least adopted. Most magic and psychic tricks have been exposed, but some people either don't know or just don't listen. "Ancient" and "wise" are considered synonymous, and so people either keep doing, or rediscover, superstitions from thousands of years ago.
Comment by Loren Miller on March 18, 2010 at 8:16pm
It's called "social inertia," Michael, and sadly, it has a couple billion people just between the christers and the muslims providing the social mass which continues to move in its own stupid direction. And, just like with physical inertia, it will require a considerable counter-force to negate it.
Comment by Michael J. Maloney on March 18, 2010 at 7:59pm
I find it troubling. Magic has been exposed, most people no longer believe stepping on a crack will break their mother's back and laugh at the idea of 7 years bad luck for smashing a mirror. Yet religion (another superstition) continues to have a strangle hold on most otherwise intelligent people. Go figure.


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