Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rationality -- The Work of Satan!

A dedicated Atheist Camel reader and friend emailed me for advice. The issue was this:

“I've been mulling over something that I know would get thrown in my face if I ever discussed my atheism with certain members of my family. That is the notion that science and rational thought are a work of Satan … that he is the one putting all these rational thoughts in our heads.”

My reply follows:

This kind of “argument" comes from the most profoundly religiously infected. No matter what you do to disprove it with reason, since reason is the enemy of faith, their rejection of reality will be unmoved.

First, understand that the underlying distrust and hatred toward science by the most religious is rooted in their fear that science disproves god. But science doesn't seek to disprove god. Science shows that the things attributed to god/gods/ supernaturalism are more easily explained by physics, chemistry, biology, etc. etc ... natural law and observable repeatable principles. If people wish to reject what they can see for what they can't, science doesn't care one way or another. Science doesn’t waste it’s time on fairy tales or fools.

But let’s go to the devil, so to speak. If a devil is responsible for putting rational thoughts in man's minds then Satan must have been responsible for the invention of small pox vaccine; polio vaccine; heart, lung, liver, etc. transplants; medicines to control diabetes; chemo therapy to save the lives of cancer patients; Lasik surgery to restore eyesight; and the countless discoveries and inventions that have reduced human suffering and extended the lives of theists and non-theists alike. All of which are as a result of the rational human mind; the minds of men and women who were not satisfied with "it's God's Will."

If these rational discoveries by rational people are the influence of an evil entity, then perhaps the devil is good and it is god that is evil. For if god is responsible for the creation of all life forms (Genesis), and is responsible for all the good and evil on earth (Isaiah 45:7), then it was god who created the hideous life forms we know as smallpox and polio. If the devil was the root for rational thought which gave man the power of science that defeated god's evil disease creations, then maybe the Satan worshipers are right.

But again, the problem you will encounter in argument with your fundie family members will be that they aren't held to any definitive limitations. That is, if you blunt their illogic and show a rational reason why their position is fallacy, nothing stops them from inventing a new supernatural justification. You know how that works, we’ve seen it time and again: i.e. "Uh, well maybe all the animals on the Ark were babies and didn’t take up much space or need food, or ... uh, or maybe god put them into hibernation so they wouldn't poop or eat each other ,or … uh . .." And on it goes. When all else falls, the default to the usual ... "God did it, and God can do anything." negates any potential for fruitful exchange.

In the case of Science & Rationality = Satan they may proffer that man was responsible for the creation of virus, and illness, and that god gave scientists the rationality necessary to cure them. But again, what is the basis for that reversal? What scripture will they distort and interpret to support it? It flies in the face of their original premise of rationality and science being the work of Satan.

We the rational are at a disadvantage in these kinds of theological masturbatory discussions. We hold ourselves to, are limited to, strict observable and predictable and repeatable events ... the very definitive guidelines of natural law and science. We can’t adjust our argument by begging some supernatural “shoulda, coulda, woulda” explanation. We are held to real world explanations that we know are scientifically sound.

A word of advice -- you will not convince your family with any argument from reason or reality. The hypnotic grasp of the God Virus is not that easily cured. If anything it will intensify their defensiveness of the indefensible. Do not risk alienating your family for the sake of being right. In the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “… just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.”


NewEnglandBob said...

" Do not risk alienating your family for the sake of being right. "

This is great advice, but being devilish :), I need to supply some ammunition for your friend in case he/she needs it.

The family attributes science and rationality to the devil, so it is reasonable to ask them that they must then give up all fruit of the spoiled tree. They need to throw away their medicines and vaccinations and stop going to the doctors and dentists. They must also get rid of all results from science like their televisions, refrigerators, microwave/electric/gas ovens, furnaces, air conditioners and of course their automobiles, trucks and SUVs.

They also need to give up any result of rational thought that they have used in the past to buy any kind of insurance or the rational thinking of sending their children to get an education.

Therefore, unless they are willing to give up the last 10,000 years of human progress in science, technology and rational thinking, they need to STFU.

Rachelle said...

LOL! Hump and NEBob have pretty much covered it all for me...but I will add my 2 cents anyway. LOL!

I think that the religionists who aren't COMPLETELY fecking bat sh-t crazy don't buy into everything they are or were told about their religion/their god/s.

I think said religionists are just so uncomfortable with an atheist in their atheist who may say something they actually AGREE with...that they tamp down any dissonant feelings by spouting rehearsed words that have been implanted in their heads for years.

Questioning a MAJOR belief they have probably held since childhood is too unpleasant for them cuz they're more than likely thinking: "what if I am wrong?? What then? I'm scared. MOMMY!!!" LOL!...It's easier for them to spew nonsense than to think critically...Of course they could simply put their hands over their ears and go "Lalalalala...I can't hear you!" But that would be just as childish as their belief in an imaginary friend. LOL!

zarton said...

I can identify with your friend. Most of my family (minus one other atheist brother)are bat shit crazy when it comes to the god virus. I never engage them unless pushed in a corner, and then, and only then do I combat their irrationality with logic. It does not take long for them to agree to disagree.
As soon as they stop, I let them know that I love them and want to have a healthy relationship with them, but they need to quit trying to "save me".
My advise to your friend would be to leave the god issue off the table. If they want to bring it up, defend yourself, but only until they relent. It is not worth alienating people who genuinely love you.
I would rather have the love of my family any day than to have the upper hand in an argument against them.

Dromedary Hump said...

You guys are right on target, as usual.

As I see it, they cherry pick what science is godly, and which is from satan, much like they cherry pick what scriptural verse they endorse and follow and which they ignore or discount.

The "evil science" is anything that disproves their biblical nonsense. Thus, demonstrating that homosexuality is present in other species and is a natural occurance genetically influenced is "rational science" Satan's deception. Multiple scientific examples that dispell the "irriductable complexity" fallacy upon which they "prove" creationism and reject evolution is more Satanic "rational science."

It's indicative of a sickness of the mind that won't go away for some time. They will see to that.

longhorn believer said...

Hump and zart - I agree. There is no convincing people who have been brain washed their whole lives with rational ideas. And it is not worth losing relationships over. The best that we can do is demonstrate that we can live happy lives without religion, and then if they want information we can provide it. Of course, there is no need to deny the truth about one's self if the subject comes up.

@NEBob - what you said about giving up technology is really ironic. Some of my family attend churches or even pastor churches where it is considered a sin to own a TV or go to the movies. I have an uncle who has preached against television is whole life, BUT he owns a computer and sends me email regularly LOL!! And his life has been saved more than once by good medicine after having heart attacks. He wears a difibulator which regulates his heart beat. I have a cousin who actually goes and rents a hotel room when he wants to watch a football game, but refuses to own a TV!! So obviously there is no rationalizing with people like that, but it does make you want to slap them sometimes! I will never understand how they deal with the cognitive disonance this must create.

longhorn believer said...

clarification - What I meant to say is there is no convincing religiously brain washed people using rational thought

Dromedary Hump said...

heheh..we understood what you meant. Nice post, thanks.

I wonder.. by not having a TV are they:
a)fending off the secular world and it's infectious godless temptations?
b)protecting themselves from rationality seeping into their brains?
c)worried they may be tempted to develope a six pack,wear a dumb haircut, move to the Jersey Shore, and date ugly women who get punched out in bars?
d) all of the above.


Contents under pressue said...

I can't help but remember Adam Sandler's "Water Boy" movie, where the protagonist's mom went as far as saying "foozeball," and Ben Franklin were the devil XD.

Actually, I agree with the mom's assertion on football - I think it's an evil game that sucks the soul (and intellect) out of its viewers.

Dromedary Hump said...

I hate adam sandler.
I believe he is infact Satan's mentally defective 1/2 sister.

Contents under pressue said...

Ahh, you must have seen Little Nicky then =)

Christian Apologist said...

The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

Christians who deny reason and refuse to use their God given intellect are violating the greatest commandment.

The word translated as faith from the greek actually means trust. It is not a lack of reason but an acceptance that the commands of God are good whether we see it or not.

longhorn believer said...

@Hump - a more rational answer would be C ;) There are certainly excellent and rational reasons not to sit in front of the TV all day! But alas, the pentecostal answer would be A. They DO think it is too "worldly" and leads people away from church and god. But the REAL underlying reason they preach such nonsense is the same reason they preach that women should not cut their hair, wear make up, jeans, jewelry etc - and that reason is Power! It's really about controlling people and what they think. Which is why there is no rhyme or reason, and what is preached can be different from church to church even within pentecostalism. There used to be a pentecostal preacher in Tulsa who said that drinking coffee and reading the funny papers was a sin! So those in my family who have escaped this dogma really deserve credit for learning to think for themselves. Of course they tend to be younger and more educated.

@contents - I usually agree with your posts, but I have to heartily disagree with your comments on football :) In case you can't tell by my ID, I'm from Texas, and if I have a religion at all - it's college football! LOL! And here is my rational -
1) It provides an opportunity and an incentive for some kids to go to college and get an education that otherwise would not
2) At UT, the millions of dollars that are brought in by football help support women's sports that do not make money on their own. It costs the academic side of the university nothing.
3) History shows that the male species needs a violent, some what homoerotic, right of passage into manhood. Better football than more war and violent death ;) Don't tell my male football buddies I said that!

I may be a bit of an exception to the rule, but there are intellectuals among us football fanatics!

Contents under pressue said...


I stand corrected then. Do forgive the irrational rantings of a martial arts fan(boy) XD.

Here in Manila, the biggest sports around are either basketball, or boxing.

With regard to basketball, we may have a common ground with regard to scholarships, although even here I am iffy.

While it does provide a fair avenue for underprivileged students, I have also witnessed students who get a free pass at their failing subjects simply because they're key players in the basketball team.

Then there are the incidents where players were pirated from other colleges by richer universities not in the form of a better education package, but with cars, houses, and money =(

Another issue that may come up is that the school's emphasis on one sport may overshadow its other sports programs, or even leave them underfunded.

That happened in my alma mater, Ateneo de Manila University, while the piracy issue was made famous by De La Salle University.

"History shows that the male species needs a violent, some what homoerotic, right of passage into manhood. Better football than more war and violent death ;) Don't tell my male football buddies I said that!"

You have a point there, but I personally prefer something more direct, and mano-a-mano, like boxing.

It's become extremely popular here thanks to Manny Pacqiauo - a shame he won't be fighting Mayweather any time soon though :(

Dromedary Hump said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
longhorn believer said...

@christian - thanks for proving the whole point of this post. There's no reasoning with you!

"Christians who deny reason and refuse to use their God given intellect are violating the greatest commandment."

In case you haven't noticed, we aren't Christians!

longhorn believer said...

@contents - your points on corruption in college sports are well taken. It has its problems just like everything that involves humans and money does. The NCAA here in America does a fairly decent job of keeping the corruption to a minimum. I still think that the positives out weigh the negatives, unlike religion ;)

I don't personally enjoy boxing, but that's probably because I'm female. Also, I freely admit that I have a cultural bias towards football. It's most definitely part of growing up in America and especially in Texas! I have yet to free myself from the football mind virus!

Anonymous said...

Since Ghourds and the Devil are both figments of the Human imagination.... I say go for it and don't be afraid to be CORRECT, Like NewEnglandBob said. When I announced my own Atheism to my Parents more than 20 years ago, we had endless arguments. To Hell with it, you're right, they'rr wrong... stick to your guns!

Rastifan said...

How do you actually reason with people who believe there was a talking snake? People who say that evolution is against nature, but a human walking on water is not?

Amongst family and friends ridicule is not the preferred reaction as it would be tempting in other cases. My aunt who is the bible thumping sort is now convinced that I am the embodiment of Lucifer himself. All because I chase her in to her blind faith when I apply logic to the argument. She now sees this as a defeat, which had caused her to speak ill of me to other family members.

There at least I am glad to say the family spoke up and put down the foot for her. Religion has torn families apart, but even the Christian in mine where not willing to let the patriarch of the family (as my aunt likes to see herself) be the cause for any ill feelings. That tells me the following.

We believe in god, but not to such a degree that we will exclude this ungodly atheist from us. Which gives me hope for them:)

Dromedary Hump said...

To Christian Apologist:

I am going to withdraw my comment to you above. Reading it in the light of a new day I recognized I was applying another thread conversation to this one. Mia Culpa.

However, the concept of reason being anti-thetical to faith is not a new one. It pervades christian thought and various church father's admonisments.

That some 45% of the US population rejects the reason of scientifically supported evolution, big bang, etc., and embraces magical creation speaks to that rejection. That means 1/2 of the Christians in this country are ... as you prefer to position it "violating god's commandment"

My educated guess is thats a minority position among Xtians.

So..can we assume you accept that the story of genesis is a lovely fairy tale and nothing more, and accept scientic reason and evidence?

Dromedary Hump said...

Rastifan: "We believe in god, but not to such a degree that we will exclude this ungodly atheist from us. Which gives me hope for them:)"

You're lucky to have a family who doesn't follow jesus stated purpose of tearing families apart if necessary to win converts to him. (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB)

Christian Apologist said...

Longhorn. I wasnt using scripture to convince you to use reason. I was using it to give you ammunition when you talk to unreasoning christians to get them to think.

Christian Apologist said...

You are probably right about the common view in mainstream christianity that faith and reason are anti-thetical. It is a large source of annoyance for me because I dont see them as such.

To answer your last question. yes and no.

yes I accept scientific reason and evidence, especially as concerns the theory of evolution and the age of the universe.

No I dont think Genesis is a 'lovely fairy tale' I would call it mythology and it should be interpreted as such. It clearly sets out the proposition that God created everything there is by his own power and might. It stands in stark contrast to other creation mythologies of the times which more or less attribute creation to fights between gods.

In short I believe that when interpreting the different parts of the bible we should apply genre analysis on them to determine what kind of literature they are and keep that in mind. For instance poetry and mythology should not be literalisticly interpreted.

Dromedary Hump said...


You being being way too reasonable and intelligent in this thread. Keep this up and you'll spoil our preferred characature of Xtians.

You realize of course that this liberal/moderate iew you are espousingis heresy among some large number of your fellow believers.

It would have gotten you tortured and killed a few hundred years ago. Today, they will just dismiss you as "Not a TRUE Christian."


Christian Apologist said...

A few hundred years ago I would have been a follower of John Wesley, who's theology was based on four things.

Primarily scripture as the ultimate authority, but backed up and interpreted by reason, experience and tradition.

Beyond Belief said...

I was discussing biogeography and plate tectonics with a Young-Earth Creationist friend who insisted the Earth was only 6,000 years old. We spent a week or two sending emails back and forth about all the evidence. I had come to accept the fact that he would never open his eyes and admit that the age of the Earth was on the order of billions, rather than thousands, of years old.

About a month after leaving the topic, I received an email from my friend in which he admitted to being wrong! Imagine my surprise. Only rarely do Xtians see through the fog of their indoctrinated beliefs to catch a glimpse of the truth. I felt quite happy with myself. I had used a rational argument pieced together with insurmountable evidence and had finally convinced a Creationist he was wrong about something. It was then that I read further and found that he had been convinced not by my pages upon pages of writing, but by a one hour lecture given by a Day-Age Creationist who spoke at his church.

Xtians will blind themselves from the truth if it is told to them by a secularist. However, if a fellow member of the flock tells them it’s okay, they will quickly accept it at face value. No questions asked. It seems Xtians will actually listen to reason . . . as long as it is disguised as faith.

Rastifan said...

@Beyond Belief

Nice that your friend saw reason. Always makes me happy when someone reaches through to a creationist.

I know how it works for the dedicated Christian. In my upbringing there where rules for what was to be read and seen.
“Unhealthy” material was forbidden. This I came to learn was just the material the bible and its dogma could not stand up to when scrutinized properly.

This is the very essence of the religious support structure. Proven facts are like an earthquake to it when debated with an open mind. It is that fragile.

I am pretty sure our family priest knew this and made great efforts to arrange meetings, cookouts and other gatherings for the purpose of keeping people from getting doubts and start questioning the church teachings.

Basically the tactic is to keep the pressure up and never give people time to think for themselves.

Dromedary Hump said...

While I long ago came to realize that arguing with creationi8sts is a waste of time, I'm glad to hear that they are sometimes reachable when they can let down their defenses and hear it from a non-threatening source.

I'd have never thought of that. Thanks for sharing it with us.

zarton said...

Did someone mention football, on the eve of the holiest of holy days when the one true god (Peyton Manning) has his second coming to the promised land?

To Longhorn Believer. I would not say that there is "no" rationalizing with the relegiously infeccted as I myself have been one of them and now see logic and reason as a basic life view. Except of course when it comes to the already mentioned football man god. Then and only then will I shut down the thinking part of my brain and rely purely on wishfull thinking.
Joking aside, I will say that no one other than myself changed my mind and I don't feel like it is worth losing family members over their irrationality.
p.s. Jesus walked on water, but Peyton Manning can swim on land

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Hump,
I did a piece called, “The Profound Brilliance Of Carl Sagan.”
My favorite and concluding quote of Sagan’s was, “Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?”

Like Sagan, you said it very well with, “But science doesn't seek to disprove god. Science shows that the things attributed to god/gods/ supernaturalism are more easily explained by physics, chemistry, biology, etc. etc ... natural law and observable repeatable principles.”

With everything being said, science facts are the truths that blind faith religion would only hope to obtain.

Good Postin!!!

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks Eng!!

yes, i saw your peice on Sagan. He was a hero of mine. He should be a hero to everyone.

Matt said...

Normally I enjoy your ranting, but really, I don't think watching our use of the word retard is political correctness run amok.

I suggest you try nigger as a replacement.

Damn xtian fundie nigger... See. How hard was that?