[extropy-chat] Putting God to Rest

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Apr 24 06:18:15 UTC 2007

At 09:56 PM 4/23/2007 -0700, Lee wrote:

[John K Clark:]
> >> I'm curious, are there any other great lies you
> >> think should never be challenged, any other
> >> great evil? That statement is quite simply
> >> ridiculous.... I'm just making what I believe
> >> is an objective statement when I say
> >> religious ideas are asinine.
>No one enjoys that writer's posts as much as I do, I'm
>sure, but still!  Here we have the intriguing conjecture
>that certain ideas are objectively asinine!  Surely very
>few objective statements are so loaded with insult and

If not asinine (stupid), what about somewhere between puerile and 
anile? But are there not a great many ideas, Lee, that most on this 
list would agree are stupid *on their face* given what is now 
knowable by an intelligent adult? A child might indeed believe in the 
Tooth Fairy; this is a puerile act of trusting acceptance. For an 
adult, it would be evidence of either stupidity, extraordinary 
gullibility, or mental disorder. An adult today who insists that the 
earth is flat and that no humans have stood on the moon is stupid, 
not just badly informed, or perhaps being deliberately perverse and 
unworthy of our attention. The fact that many great thinkers of high 
intelligence in the childhood of our culture accepted the idea of a 
god is really of no more than historic interest; most such thinkers 
before the Greek experimentalists probably believed the sun moves 
around the flat earth. Anyone making such a claim today is objectively asinine.

It is rude and offensive to racists, anti-evolutionists and neo-Nazis 
to call them fools and shitheads, but that is what they are. If we 
conclude that the teaching of lies about a "god" is comparably 
pernicious (and in some quarters that would be an easy case to make 
at the moment), I'm with John. Name them for what they are, and hope 
that the sting of rejection from a prestigious corner of the 
community (the scientifically informed corner) shames them into 
thinking a bit about their favorite nonsense.

But that is a hard thing to say, and perhaps shows a want of sympathy 
(as Adam Smith put it).

Damien Broderick

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