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Apr 11 2008

Atheist Plumbing

As promised. Sometimes dreams really do come true…

Brain_question_markQuestions of religious belief — or the lack thereof — can touch every aspect of our everyday lives. The effect can be obvious or unconscious; powerful or subtle. And yet it is in these everyday applications where theology or the lack thereof can touch us most deeply: in our approach to commuting, to home electronics, to long distance providers, to auto maintenance.

And, of course, to plumbing.

SinkThe theistic approach to plumbing is well-known. Drains that are clogged or free-flowing; toilets that flush or overflow; water heaters that are reliable or inefficient — all of these are seen as the work of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent Great Plumber, who ultimately has our best interests at heart. The clogs and overflows, the scalding or freezing showers: these are seen as punishments for sins against God. Or as tests of faith. Or, if all else fails, as that last-ditch, circular excuse: mysterious ways.

Old_broken_urinalBut the evidence does not bear this viewpoint out. Even a cursory glance at the workings of the world shows that good and bad plumbing strikes good and bad people in roughly equal proportions, apparently at random. In fact, recent research shows that countries with high rates of religious belief are more likely to suffer from bad plumbing, not less. And while few would argue that religious belief actually causes bad plumbing (it’s far more likely that poverty and poor education results in higher rates of both), it is clear to all but the most fervently close-minded true believer that, if God is handing out good and bad plumbing as reward and punishment for good and bad lives, his systems and pipe fittings leaves a great deal to be desired.

PlungersMany theists cling to their belief in the Unclogged Clogger as a source of great comfort, and find it impossible to imagine how anyone could find meaning in a world where clean flushes and dripping faucets are doled out by an unconscious and therefore indifferent universe. But the atheist approach to plumbing is not only better supported by the evidence — it is far more effective as well. Atheists see good or bad plumbing as resulting simply from cause and effect in the physical world. And therefore, I believe, we are better equipped to deal with them: to see with clear eyes which of life’s clogs can be plunged, which can be Dranoed, and which must simply be accepted.

Adjustable_wrenchThe Great Wrench is not in God’s hand, or in Satan’s. It is in our own. What could be more comforting than that?

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Nentuaby

    This is hilarity. It is ensuing.

  2. 2
    the chaplain

    I’m sure that I’ll think of you every time I flush the toilet now. :)

  3. 3
    Ebonmuse

    Oh yeah? But how do you atheist plumbers explain the widespread devotion (admittedly, mostly among those who’ve drunk to excess) to the “Porcelain God”? Explain that away, you infidels!
    Yes, I know this thread is getting sillier by the minute. :)

  4. 4
    terrence

    Like the age-old conundrum regarding “If a tree falls etc….”
    ….If I flush a Koran down the toilet, am I a believer, or an infidel?

  5. 5
    Rebecca

    You clearly fail to incorporate the effects of “Intelligent Falling” in your understanding of God’s One True Drain.
    (Can’t get the link to the Onion article to work properly. Google it.)

  6. 6
    lunalelle

    You win at interwebz.

  7. 7
    Nan

    Holy shit. LOL

  8. 8
    Lynet

    Okay, that’s hilarious. Still, I’m surprised you haven’t considered the possible sexual overtones of the act of plumbing. So many religious people would seek to suppress this natural and healthy metaphorical expression of, um . . .

  9. 9
    Rebecca

    Or, as Andrea said, atheist plumbing is when you’re trying to fix a leak and water suddenly comes gushing out of the pipe onto everything and you say, “Oh Nobody!”

  10. 10
    arensb

    Damn you, Christina! [shakes fist]
    Not only do you steal my plumbing metaphor, but you do a better job with it than I could. Damn you-u-u-u-u!

  11. 11
    DSimon

    The “Great Wrench” metaphor reminds me of a Mystery Science Theater quote:
    “Science! Big men inserting screwdrivers into things! Turning them! And, adjusting them!”

  12. 12
    Joe

    I’ve never heard these theories before, I’ll have to ask my tutor his opinions on ‘athiest plumbing’ when I start my plumbing training

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