Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Mockery of Christians

(And others who embrace fundamental or literal superstitions)

It’s heart-breaking that, more than 200 years since the The Enlightenment, a significant majority of the world's population still clings desperately, unrelentingly, to superstition. Secularists have spent most of that time either ignoring the faithful or attempting to use rational discourse in an effort to wean our childish brothers and sisters off of the comforting tit of religion. Some gains have been made. But, largely, our attempt has been futile.

It seems certain that it will never completely disappear, but the real problem is not with those who scorn an atheistic worldview simply because they think there are many mysterious aspects to the universe. We have to be willing to live with less literalist beliefs about the universe, such as those imagined by Spinoza or Einstein. The problem lies with those who claim to know with certainty what those mysteries are, how they affect us and how we should live our lives in order to achieve harmony with these mysterious forces.

Reason has little or no value in dealing with such people, any more than giving a chimpanzee an injection of small-pox vaccine is likely to protect the ape from disease. Our human, chimp-like, fundamentalists have a natural immunity to the otherwise powerful medicine of rational thought – at least where it concerns issues of the supernatural.

It’s time to lay aside all pretext of the “friendly atheist” bringing enlightenment to the less fortunate. The way to make some societal headway in this problem is with the use of a blunter instrument. Many have already taken to the use of derisive tactics when engaging religionists, and have been roundly criticized for doing so (often from other rational thinkers). Most of the criticism however, has come from those who have been the very target of what they hysterically call “militant atheism”. The fact that they become so inflamed by this so-called “militancy” might be a clue that they themselves recognize its power and, in so fearing it, have tried to stifle further outbursts from secular thinkers by labeling it with a name that sounds much worse than it is in reality.

Why should mockery succeed where reason has barely made a dent? Because no one enjoys being the village idiot, the class dummy, the one whose pants are hemmed 3 inches too high, revealing the white socks tucked into 2 mismatched dress shoes. As George W. Bush’s presidency slowly imploded over 8 years, nothing was more powerful in bringing about the public disdain than the impression that he was mentally inadequate for the position he held. While difficult to predict, societal memes can be a powerful tool - unfortunately, more powerful than the use of reason alone.

There is no point in making enemies of those who simply think there are mysteries beyond what humankind can ever solve. It is important to make clear in our scorn and jeers that we speak of those who claim to know the “answers” through whatever superstition they cling to. These people are our little regressive half-chimp relatives. Have some fun with them.


Anonymous said...

I for one welcome our half-chimp overlords!

Seriously, though, I agree with you. The best way to bring low the self-important, the overblown and the self-righteous is to point and laugh at it.

Grumpy Lion said...

Hell, the chimps are smarter than the religionists. I know this for sure, because the Great Chimp told me in a dream vision. He was eating Pope Jonny Ratz's head at the time. I thought it somewhat rude to talk religion with his mouth full, but hey, he's the Great Chimp.

BlackSun said...

Yes, I always think it's disingenuous when semi-religious people say "you're just going to alienate people by attacking their religion." If that's true, then they should be unconcerned. We'd just alienate everyone then be ignored. We'd fall on our faces.

Clearly they fear the opposite. Like you said, ridicule works.

The Exterminator said...

I'm a big fan of mockery and ridicule.

What else can the elite few of us do about all the stupid people that populate the Earth?

Anonymous said...

"you're just going to alienate people by attacking their religion."

But I want to alienate them! If it talks like an alien and walks like an alien, it should be alienated! And rationally speaking, these people are as alien as one can get.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

If you've ever looked at one of those one-panel political cartoons on the Op-Ed page, or even Doonesbury, and laughed, then you know the power of ridicule. Making fun of something not only helps you identify with the ridicule by making you laugh, it does so by taking the kernel of the ridiculous idea and exposing it in a simple and understood way.

That's a lot better than a long winded, analytical refutation that few will take the time to read.

Anonymous said...

I like mockery and ridicule. I just don't do them as well as many others.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing really wrong with mockery and ridicule, especially against people who have stubbornly refused to listen to reason previously. For some people, getting hit in the head with a brick works better than any attempt at logic and if that still fails, at least it's entertaining to watch them flail around blindly.

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