Monday, September 21, 2009

Freedom From Religion

Recently, I came across the website of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Currently they are running an ad campaign in San Francisco, displaying bus ads with various quotes by well-known "freethinkers." I have to say, if pithy quotes were the sole determinant of the validity of an argument then these quotes would completely obliterate religion. But, since we live in a world of rationality, empirical verifiability and logic, a witty one-liner packs about as much punch as a napping kitten. Just for fun, let's look at the quotes they chose:

"Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain
Where I come from, we call that ignorance, stupidity and denial. On a more serious note, how do know that Christianity isn't true? To properly claim something is false you must either present reasonable evidence to show that it is false or else show for certain that some antithetical claim is true. Since no-one has yet been able to disprove Christianity, then for this claim to have any base, Mark Twain has yet to show us any alternate explanation for the existence of the universe, for the unity and diversity exhibited therein, for the "mannishness" of man and for the regular divine interventions into human history.

If you are rejecting Christianity simply because you don't have a better answer then you are guilty of making the same irrational leaps of blind faith that you accuse religious people of making.

"I'm an atheist and that's it. I believe that there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people." - Katharine Hepburn
Yet another skeptic who isn't quite skeptical enough. Let me ask a quick question. How do you know that we should be kind to one another? You don't. So, you don't actually believe anything at all... Well, at least that's what you say you believe. Have fun enjoying your life of happy inconsistency. Oh wait... you already did.

"As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from slavery of religion." - Butterfly McQueen
I'm glad you think that. The apostle Paul might disagree with you, but who's to say that he really existed, anyway. Happily, you have my adamant support, since I am libertarian. Believing that freedom is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind, I would fiercely defend your right to remain a slave to sin and condemn yourself to hell. When you're there please send me a postcard. I'm sure the blazing inferno is horrifyingly resplendent!

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." - Richard Dawkins
Maybe so, but I'd rather have an unpleasant fictitious character than a pompous, blathering, asshole like Richard Dawkins making his living off of mockery, blasphemy and uninspired demagogic literary fluff.

In any case, I definitely see where Richard Dawkins is coming from, and I think his quote is quite insightful. I mean, if I knew of some all-powerful being who wipes out 99% of earth's population when they displease Him, who kills the firstborn sons of stubborn fools who oppose worship, and who afflicts greedy liars with leprosy, and if I happened to fit nicely in all three of those categories, I doubt I'd have such a positive view of God either.

"I don't believe in God, because I don't believe in Mother Goose." - Clarence Darrow
Yeah, sure. And I don't drink water, because I eat carrots. For an attorney, you don't seem to make the best categorical distinctions. I guess the good thing about not believing in religious fairy tales is that you'll never have to experience the clich├ęd fairy tale ending of eternal bliss. Who would want that, anyway?


  1. If the reason of the world did not extend beyond pithy one liners we would be in a bad place. Thanks for responding to some of them. I would be curious to know your fuller answer to Mr. Dawkin's quote about the God of the Old Testament. This seems to be one of the hardest questions for Christians to answer, and perhaps the one most commonly asked by the skeptic of the Christian God. How could a loving, creator God destroy his creation? Or suggest, nay command, "his people" to slaughter whole nations?

    This is a tough question that I have wrestled with and still struggle to give a satisfying answer for myself or for those skeptics who ask me.

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