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Feb 28 2013

Please don’t use this argument

I got briefly drawn into a twitter argument with a fellow atheist who proudly flashed this image:

badarg
The next time you get bullied by religious people on facebook, remind them that they are using hardware and software invented and built by atheists, including facebook!

That is embarassingly bad. And when I pointed out a few of the flaws in that claim (briefly, ala twitter), he just repeated the claim and then accused me of trolling.

Look, it’s a terrible argument. It annoys me in multiple ways.

  • Have you ever heard Christians claim that all of science is built on a Judeo-Christian foundation? I sure have (WARNING: Creationist video on autoplay at link!). I’ve been told many times that Newton didn’t believe in evolution. It sounds stupid when they say it, it sounds stupid when atheists say it.

  • What, do you really think there are no religious scientists and engineers? Tim Berners-Lee is a Unitarian Universalist. Guglielmo Marconi was both a Catholic and an Anglican. James Clerk Maxwell was a Baptist. I mean, seriously, you’re going to claim our modern technological world is the product of atheists, and you’re going to ignore Maxwell? Jebus. Pretty strong selection bias you’ve got there.

  • I die a little bit inside when you tell me that your paragon of techno-atheist excellence is Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Who thinks that Facebook was something that couldn’t possibly have been invented by a devout Christian?

  • All anyone needs to do is cite one Christian who worked on the development of the internet, and your argument dies. Is it wise to stake your claim to something all it takes is one counterexample to shoot down?

  • I notice all the exemplars in the picture are white men. Keep using this logic; let’s start bragging to everyone on the internet that they are using hardware and software invented and built by white people. It’s the same argument. Do you see the flaws yet?

  • We are living in an interesting little bubble of time in which our best educated, most economically stable people are drifting into more secular ways of thinking. Odds are that if you’re sufficiently secure economically that you can go to Harvard in a tech field, even so secure that you can drop out of Harvard, you’re also likely to be secular or liberally religious, and you’re also more likely to be white. Do not confuse cause and effect. You are succeeding because being godless and pale-skinned gives you an edge — you’re looking at people who started out on third base. It’s not because being godless gives you special science powers.

You are not going to find many people who are more adamant than I am that religion and science are incompatible — they are fundamentally different ways of determining the validity of truth claims, and one works while the other perpetuates garbage — but I am not going to confuse that with an incompatibility between religious people and science. Scientists who are religious are quite capable of setting aside supernatural beliefs to work well and succeed in the lab. Being an atheist doesn’t turn you into a scientist or engineer. Avoiding church doesn’t make you a better scientist or engineer — practicing science, no matter how silly the hobbies you practice in your spare time, does that.

72 comments

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  1. 1
    glodson

    Being an atheist doesn’t turn you into a scientist or engineer.

    I would add that being an atheist doesn’t even mean that person is rational. It just means they got one rational belief.

  2. 2
    Caveat Imperator

    Two words:

  3. 3
    Caveat Imperator

    Two words: Salem Hypothesis

  4. 4
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    “Science” at it’s widest provided those things, or rather the platform on which they were built… The methodology doesn’t give a shit what it’s practitioners believe in private!

  5. 5
    mythbri

    The next time you get bullied by religious people on facebook, remind them that they are using hardware and software invented and built by atheists, including facebook!

    It’s a terrible argument for all of the reasons PZ listed, and it’s a terrible argument because arguing with religious people on their home turf (religion) is ridiculous.

    I realize that a lot of people have become atheists by reading the Bible or other “holy” book, or by paying close attention to their religious leaders and being able to spot the (many, many) inconsistencies contained therein. But this is a mostly internal process.

    Even the lurkers who read the religious/creationist de-bunking arguments here at Pharyngula are engaging in an internal process, because I rarely see that the religious commenters that come here to save us all and force us to repent for our wicked, blasphemous, atheist ways suddenly say, “My GOD, you’re RIGHT! I’ve been lied to for my ENTIRE LIFE!” They might do that later. Engaging in the arguments here might plant or at least water the seeds of doubt – but I’ve never seen anyone become convinced “in the moment”, as it were.

    When you engage religious people on religious ground, instead of secular or humanist or rational ground – citing scripture back and forth, or quoting from historical figures – their minds just shut down. I know that for Mormons particularly (of which I was one), they are so well-trained to perceive criticism and arguments as PERSECUTION that they will not – cannot – engage in good faith.

    If you open the door to “Look at the awesome things these people did – and they’re atheists!”, then they’re free to come back with “Look at the awesome things these people did – and they believe in God!”, then there’s nowhere else to take it.

  6. 6
    mythbri

    Also, arguing with religious people on religious or theological grounds has the effect of conceding the legitimacy of those grounds. If that’s the very thing you’re trying to argue them out of, it seems counter-productive.

  7. 7
    Gretchen

    Depends on what the religious person in question is saying.

    Is he/she saying…

    …that atheists are all idiots?
    …that atheists don’t contribute anything to society?
    …that atheists are existential nihilists who see no point in being creative?
    …or in interacting with others?
    …that atheists lack purpose in life?
    …that no atheists are important? Famous? Wealthy?
    …that they don’t know of any atheists?

    If any or more of the above, then yes– this is a useful reminder.

  8. 8
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    glodson wrote:

    I would add that being an atheist doesn’t even mean that person is rational. It just means they got one rational belief.

    Not even that. It may mean they were simply never encouraged to accept a particular irrational belief, and grew up without it having thought no more about it than the vast majority of those who are believers think about it from their side.

    Short version: atheism can be as socioculturally constructed as theism.

  9. 9
    consciousness razor

    Who thinks that Facebook was something that couldn’t possibly have been invented by a devout Christian?

    Or even Satan himself. Now that I think about it, are we sure Zuckerberg isn’t Satan? Maybe there is no Mark Zuckerberg. “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.” Wait a second — maybe I’m Mark Zuckerberg…. Fuck.

    I “like”* that science and engineering are used as a stand-in for atheism or secularism (or anti-bullying or whatever this shit is supposed to be about). I never see the arts or humanities or anything else used this way. It’s kind of nice, because as a non-scientist/engineer, I don’t have to worry my little head about people responding to this crap. Is it supposed to imply the humanities are religious? If not, then in what sense are science or engineering supposed to be non- or anti-religious in some special way? I mean, if we’re not conceding everything except Facebook (and electricity, nuclear bombs, etc.) to the religious, it might be nice to hear that part of the argument too. Maybe it just wouldn’t fit on the .jpg/argument.

    *That’s Facebook-speak for “hate.”

  10. 10
    ogremeister

    Steve Jobs in the picture…wasn’t he a Buddhist?

  11. 11
    consciousness razor

    Steve Jobs in the picture…wasn’t he a Buddhist?

    Buddhist, atheist, whatever…. The point is that we all get to piss on the internet and claim it as our territory.

  12. 12
    ChasCPeterson

    Buddhism posits no gods.

  13. 13
    aaronbaker

    Well said, Myers.

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    If not, then in what sense are science or engineering supposed to be non- or anti-religious in some special way?

    oh come on.

    which fields have routinely been involved in rejecting the specific, testable, claims of the religious?

    there’s your answer.

  15. 15
    philboidstudge

    PZ — in the Twitter exchange, you tell this fellow he’s making a bad argument for atheism. But he isn’t making an argument for atheism. Then you write a blog post demolishing an argument he didn’t make. What’s that called again …?

  16. 16
    Ichthyic

    …why in hells would a creationist be angry with a sociologist, when he has a geologist in front of him telling him there is no possible way the earth could only be thousands of years old?

  17. 17
    ChasCPeterson

    you write a blog post demolishing an argument he didn’t make. What’s that called again …?

    hmmmm. What do you think, Lou?

  18. 18
    Ichthyic

    in the Twitter exchange, you tell this fellow he’s making a bad argument for atheism.

    must be only in the twitter exchange, because that has fuckall to do with what he is saying here.

    what’s that called again?

  19. 19
    alanbagain

    Science and religion definitely were mixed in the 19th century in the UK.

    In the field of geology, many of the early scientists were those who had the time and opportunity to look around them as they travelled. As like as not this would have meant ministers of religion such as Reverend Adam Sedgwick who proposed the Devonian system and developed the geology of Wales and the Cambrian system. I have been to his church in Aymestrey, Herefordshire, a minor place of pilgrimage to geologists, with a plaque on the wall of the nave.

    It was these Christian men who could see that a literal, YEC, interpretation of the Bible did not fit their observations.

    (Sedgwick was the geology mentor for Charles Darwin although he disagreed with him on evolution.)

  20. 20
    philboidstudge

    must be only in the twitter exchange, because that has fuckall to do with what he is saying here.

    “He” who? PZ ? Yeah, that’s my point — PZ’s demolition has fuck-all to do with the “argument” he pretended to have with some kid who was just trying to point out the irony of religidiots who use Facebook and associated technology to harass atheists. I guess irony is dead …

  21. 21
    Ichthyic

    more like you had no point?

    PZ never claimed it was an argument for atheism that he was trashing here.

    I can clearly see his writing at the top of the page.

    I can only conclude, therefore, you must be talking about something that happened in the twitter exchange itself.

    if so, it’s not relevant to this argument here, so perhaps you should fuck off back to twitter?

  22. 22
    Dunc

    I mean, seriously, you’re going to claim our modern technological world is the product of atheists, and you’re going to ignore Maxwell?

    It’s amazing the number of people who think they’re “into science” who’ve never heard of Maxwell… And who seem to think Tesla was some sort of demigod. Well, one of them gets a chapter in an undergrad physics textbook, and one gets a footnote…

  23. 23
    Ichthyic

    who’ve never heard of Maxwell

    sure I’ve heard of Maxwell…

    ;)

  24. 24
    consciousness razor

    PZ’s demolition has fuck-all to do with the “argument” he pretended to have with some kid who was just trying to point out the irony of religidiots who use Facebook and associated technology to harass atheists.

    What irony? If a religious person owned Facebook or some other technology (it’s not as if all atheists own it, anyway) would it somehow be non-ironic when they used it to harass atheists?

  25. 25
    Dunc

    @23: Well played.

  26. 26
    PZ Myers

    PZ’s demolition has fuck-all to do with the “argument” he pretended to have with some kid who was just trying to point out the irony of religidiots who use Facebook and associated technology to harass atheists.

    Uh, “some kid”? He calls himself a “cynical old bastard”, and his twitter avatar looks 30ish+.

    You’re missing the point. There’s nothing ironic about ‘religidiots’ using facebook. Ten year olds use facebook. His premises are false: it wasn’t only atheists who built the internet.

    Do you feel the irony of using the alphabet, invented by pagans and priests, to write arguments against religion? I don’t. Why should a Christian consider it any more unusual for them to use technology, than for you to use it?

  27. 27
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Science and technology is possible to do in spite of the foolish beliefs that all humans are susceptible to.

  28. 28
    Ichthyic

    @23: Well played.

    I almost put a trigger warning on that.

    it’s delightfully gruesome.

  29. 29
    anteprepro

    PZ — in the Twitter exchange, you tell this fellow he’s making a bad argument for atheism. But he isn’t making an argument for atheism. Then you write a blog post demolishing an argument he didn’t make. What’s that called again …?

    Hey, let’s everyone put on our Assclown brand Pedantry Hats like this upstanding internet citizen and take a peek at the twitters!

    *Peeks, eyes bleed*

    From what I can tell, the “you are making a BAD ARGUMENT for atheism” is in response to the totally sophisticated argumentation at the tail end of the conversation. Namely “u are obviously a troll”. Prior to that, PZ’s only tweets are:
    1. Asking if the person seriously believes that only atheists are responsible for “tech”
    2. Agreeing that science and religion are incompatible but saying that religious people can still do science.
    3. Saying “All it takes is one Christian engineer to demolish a claim that the internet is dependent on atheism”.
    4. Mentioning how the argument could easily be turned around by Christians (must be grateful for Christian tech).
    5. Saying that he disagrees with the sentiment in the image when the Twit retweets it.
    6. In response to an admission that not all scientists/engineers are atheists, says “So atheism doesn’t have much to do it with right?”

    Look at number 3 again: This is where the people on Twitter started blubbering about strawpeople. But look at the fucking image in question again. That IS the argument that the image is making (that the internet and related technology was dependent on atheists). The person in question tweeted that image not once, but twice. And, of course, number 3 puts the lie to our guest from the Twitosphere’s disingenuous presentation of the conversation. Strawmen indeed.

  30. 30
    Dunc

    @28: Yeah, people forget the dark side of the Beatles… See also “Norwegian Wood”.

  31. 31
    Crissa

    This argument only works if the religious person states that Atheists cannot do something.

    And yes, it hurts me to think Zuckerberg is on our side on something. You don’t trust a bank embezzler to be your banker. Just don’t.

  32. 32
    ChasCPeterson

    heh.
    I clicked on Ich’s Maxwell link @#23 expecting this instead.

  33. 33
    Ichthyic

    *Peeks, eyes bleed*

    exactly why I started and ended my experiment with Twitter on the same day.

  34. 34
    consciousness razor

    …why in hells would a creationist be angry with a sociologist, when he has a geologist in front of him telling him there is no possible way the earth could only be thousands of years old?

    How about an anthropologist like Boyer, who goes into depth giving naturalistic explanations of religious beliefs and practices? I was already assuming sociologists and the like are scientists; but if you want to say those don’t count, I could at least see why some creationists would still be angry with them.

    Or, say, a metal band which is making people sin with their devil music. Or someone who writes naughty literature which disparages religious ideas. Or a lawyer who fights for freedom of religion or other secular issues which undermine religious traditions. Or, fuck, if the important part is just making creationists angry, anyone who’s not a creationist apparently makes them angry, no matter what they do.

  35. 35
    glodson

    Mentioning how the argument could easily be turned around by Christians (must be grateful for Christian tech).

    If I recall correctly, the majority of doctors in the US are theists. At least, as of 2005. This could be turned around to say that it is ironic that atheists owe their lives to Christian Doctors.

    “The next time an atheist is questioning your god, remind them that they are only breathing because of Christian doctors.”

    This argument is just as bad as the original as it ignores the most salient point: medicine and technology are not founded on an understanding of religion, but of science. This style of argument would be better used against an anti-science person.

  36. 36
    theignored

    I would figure that when a theist claims that their worldview (esp if it includes YEC-ism like that first site PZ linked to) would be to first point out the statement of faith those people have to agree to as a condition of their employment:

    By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

    So they start off assuming the bible is true, and outright promise to toss aside any evidence that goes against that “hypothesis”.

    Yeah. That is the exact opposite of how science works! None of those scientists that Sarfati meantioned, at least as far as I’ve bothered to read that shit, ever had to take an oath like that.

    If a scientist ever did, they’d be cutting themselves off from learning anything new! How is that attitude supposed to be the basis of science? It can’t.

    What Sarfati lacks the honesty (or knowledge?) to say is this: Most of the people before the 1850′s were creationists because they didn’t have the wealth of information that they have now. As knowledge increased, that view became more and more untenable. For the most part, those people that Sarfati use in his article were creationists because they didn’t have the information that would refute it yet. If they had to obey an oath like that, they likely never would!

    In “The Creationists” by Ronald Numbers (if I remember correctly) he talked about how Henry Morris, the founder of the Creation Research Society which started all this bullshit, was complaining that the people they were sending off to get degrees were always losing their faith, or at least their belief in YEC-ism. So, he came up with that oath.

    If that shit was true, no such oath would have been required in the first place! Their worldview is exposed as being false by that oath alone, much less it being the “basis for modern science”.

  37. 37
    Ichthyic

    I clicked on Ich’s Maxwell link @#23 expecting this instead.

    it is kinda sad that the pop culture references to various Maxwells are indeed more recognizable than the Maxwell who was so influential as a scientist.

    *sigh*

    I feel I need to post a “science for kids” link now, to make up for it:

    http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/scientists/jamesmaxwell.html

  38. 38
    Ichthyic

    How about an anthropologist like Boyer, who goes into depth giving naturalistic explanations of religious beliefs and practices?

    touche!

    but then, now were in the realm of the Dishonesty Institute type response to “materialism”.

    it’s not gonna ring a bell with your garden variety creationist.

  39. 39
    Ichthyic

    I was already assuming sociologists and the like are scientists

    uh, you ARE clear that I wasn’t assuming they weren’t right? Only explaining why creationists glom onto people like geologists, physicists, and evolutionary biologists.

  40. 40
    consciousness razor

    uh, you ARE clear that I wasn’t assuming they weren’t right? Only explaining why creationists glom onto people like geologists, physicists, and evolutionary biologists.

    Okay, fair enough. That did seem like the implication, but if you’re just adopting their distorted physical-sciences view of science, I guess that’s pretty reasonable. But they still tend to have a distorted perspective on practically every subject imaginable, so I’m not sure where that leaves us.

  41. 41
    Brain Hertz

    I mean, seriously, you’re going to claim our modern technological world is the product of atheists, and you’re going to ignore Maxwell?

    And don’t forget William Shockley, one of the inventors of the transistor and widely credited as being one of the original founders of silicon valley. Also well-known for his writings in support of eugenics.

    Being a driving force behind technology isn’t a guarantee against believing crazy shit.

  42. 42
    tbp1

    The phrasing is awkward, too. It reads like Facebook is an atheist, rather than that the creator of Facebook is an atheist.

  43. 43
    Julien Rousseau

    some kid who was just trying to point out the irony of religidiots who use Facebook and associated technology to harass atheists.

    Does that mean that it is ironic that Dawkins uses a technology from a Catholic to attack creationism?

  44. 44
    strange gods before me ॐ

    The phrasing is awkward, too. It reads like Facebook is an atheist

    Could be.

    http://isfacebookskynet.com/

  45. 45
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Chas,

    Buddhism posits no gods

    except when it does.

  46. 46
    captainahags

    To me, this meme/picture/whatever is on the level of the ever-obnoxious “Well if you’re so atheist, why do you use money with UNDER GOD printed on it???!!11??” Just seems like a non sequitur.

  47. 47
    Tom Foss

    That image is so ugly and awful that it must have been designed by Satan. Therefore, God exists. QED.

    Seriously, the dumbest thing about this is how close it is to an actual reasonable response to common theist arguments, as Gretchen @7 noted. Is the theist saying “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good”? Then it’s potentially worthwhile to note the “good” contributions of atheists to the world. Is the theist saying they don’t believe in science or that science is just opinion? Then it’s potentially worthwhile to note that the same scientific method they doubt when it’s talking about evolution is what’s responsible for the computer they’re typing at and all manner of other technologies, whose effectiveness act as support for the process and findings of the whole scientific enterprise.

    But otherwise, the argumentum ad Facebook-and-iPadium is a terrible non-starter and non-sequitur.

  48. 48
    Dabu

    We can thank the very devout Michael Faraday for helping us get started with electromagnetic induction, a process at the core of the vast bulk of technologies we enjoy today.
    The argument macerated by PZ does not bear fruit in any direction. Is it ironic to enjoy champagne because its manufacturing process was honed by believers?

  49. 49
    Stephen Minhinnick

    You are all using computers, and Alan Turing, the “father of computer science”, was an atheist!

    I win.

  50. 50
    mike

    Don’t agree with you at all PZ, some theists are so thick, so sheltered that the concept of someone being an atheist is so foreign to them that they really think we’re baby-eating heathens. Pointing out that atheists are just regular people and are people capable of doing great things(like the ones pictured) is an effective way of getting your foot in the door of a theist’s brain. Once inside you need a more sophisticated argument, granted, but this is a good start

  51. 51
    bad Jim

    The fact that Tim Berners-Lee is a Unitarian Universalist doesn’t mean he isn’t an atheist. I think that a plurality of the members of my local fellowship are. There are some generalizations you can make about UU’s – they’re liberals, for example – but religious belief isn’t one of them.

  52. 52
    John Morales

    bad Jim, ahem. He believes he has religious belief, even if you don’t.

    In his own words:

    If you’re used to other religions you might be confused by UUism being called a religion, but it qualifies I think. Like many people, I came back to religion when we had children.

  53. 53
    throwaway

    I wanted to join a UU church shortly after deconverting from Xtianity. I didn’t though, because of the sense that vagary and woo would be prevalent, and giving those conclusions a free pass based on civility is not something I could live with if confronted by it every week.

  54. 54
    ChasCPeterson

    sg, as far as I can tell, Buddhist ‘deities‘ aren’t what most people would call ‘gods’. But I really don’t know much about it.

    Another kvetch about the OP image: why is the aspect ratio so screwed up on 2 of those photos? I believe that young people are so used to watching video on the wrong screens that they don’t even notice any more when the aspect ratio is tweaked. I see it in the college newspaper all the time; they have a photo, they have a place they want to put it, and they just drag a corner to fit it there whether it distorts the photo or not. Makes me crazy.

  55. 55
    testostyrannical

    Sometimes you have to fight stupid with stupid.

  56. 56
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I notice all the exemplars in the picture are white men. Keep using this logic; let’s start bragging to everyone on the internet that they are using hardware and software invented and built by white people. It’s the same argument. Do you see the flaws yet?

    Oh, you get MRAs arguing all serious that everything was invented by men, therefore it proves that women are inferior.

    testostyrannical

    Sometimes you have to fight stupid with stupid.

    Yep, whenever you yourself fail at smart.

  57. 57
    throwaway

    I can tell you right now, the types of people who would be convinced by this dreck would not be any better off at critical thinking. There is a young woman on Facebook Atheist group who believes in ghosts and such because she has personally experienced things which line up to that explanation. And she will not accept that her arguments from personal experience do not signify a reflection of reality.

    When I first got into atheism what appealed me about the burgeoning movement which was going on was that one of the goals was to spread critical thought and aid people in how to actually go about critically thinking about taboo subjects. It wasn’t meant as simple gotchas, and PZ wasn’t being a poopyhead for the sake of being a poopyhead. There was something underlying the criticisms of creationism and scientology and catholocism and transubstantiation which the image lacks and that is that we are critical thinkers. You think an intelligent Christian with massive compartmentalization would be impressed by such a graphic? If the answer is no, then maybe you shouldn’t tout it as the height of rational debate.

  58. 58
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @PZ:

    Do you feel the irony of using the alphabet, invented by pagans and priests, to write arguments against religion?

    GASP! You’re right!

    I’m going to invent my own language, with my own letters, and blackjack. It’ll be the skeptical language, and we can communicate on how awesome we are and how better we are and how those silly religious people can’t understand us…

    On second thought, forget the language and letters. Who wants to play blackjack!?!

  59. 59
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Chas,

    as far as I can tell, Buddhist ‘deities‘ aren’t what most people would call ‘gods’.

    (Start by thinking ancient Greek gods.) They take Hindu gods, like Yama and Brahma, continue to call them gods, and keep them approximately as powerful as they were in Hinduism. Okay, they are also subject to samsara, like everyone else, but that’s just what makes it Buddhism: the gods also die eventually (though it can take ridiculous lengths of time). I don’t think immortality need be definitional to godhood; it’s just that gods tend to be immortal, and Buddhism deliberately breaks this expectation.

  60. 60
    strange gods before me ॐ

    And as far as I can tell, samsara-for-gods is the only big break. So for a local potential-convert to Buddhism, it’s almost a minimally counterintuitive change.

  61. 61
    PZ Myers

    Turing? Hah! Babbage was an Anglican who even applied to be a minister. TRUMPED!

  62. 62
    flex

    And Oliver Heaviside was a Unitarian!

    No modern operational calculus for you!

    (Or Maxwell-Heaviside equations of electromagnetism.)

  63. 63
    yubal

    I am not going to confuse that with an incompatibility between religious people and science.

    Aymen.

  64. 64
    Osiris Neits

    ” Tim Berners-Lee is a Unitarian Universalist.”

    Just for the record, being a UU does not in itself imply religion. There are people of many different beliefs in the UU community, including athiests.

  65. 65
    Cynickal

    Every time you use poor logic, P. Z. Kicks a puppy.
    WON’T ANYONE THINK OF THE PUPPIES!?!

  66. 66
    PZ Myers

    I DO NOT KICK PUPPIES.

    Kittens, though…

  67. 67
    lpetrich

    Sure, there have been lots of religious scientists and technologists, but they have believed in lots of different religions, including religions and sects that the religious-scientist advocates likely dislike.

    Our classical Greco-Roman predecessors – at least nominal Hellenic pagans
    Pythagoras – reincarnation and the wickedness of eating beans
    Galileo – a cherry-picking Catholic who famously argued that the Holy Spirit tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go
    Isaac Newton – a nominal Anglican who denied the Trinity and who spend an enormous amount of effort on interpreting Bible prophecies
    Adam Sedgwick, William Buckland, etc. – Anglicans who spent much of their time doing geological research as a hobby
    Michael Faraday – a Sandemanian / Glasite

    Even among atheist ones, there’s a lot of variation. Would one become a Marxist because of evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane? Or a Randroid because that’s what a lot of Silicon Valley technologists seem to be?

  68. 68
    Ichthyic

    Kittens, though…

    well, I guess that explains grumpy cat.

  69. 69
    Hank_Says

    Is it okay that I’m offended by being lumped in with Zuckerdouche and Steve “planned obsolescence and model-spamming” Jobs?

  70. 70
    theignored

    testostyrannical

    Sometimes you have to fight stupid with stupid.

    No. Never “fight stupid with stupid”…they’ll beat you with experience.

  71. 71
    bad Jim

    Responding to John Morales at 52:

    I have to admit I don’t know why UU is called a religion and why its participants can refer to it as a faith, when they emphasize that what you believe is up to you. My impression is that the services are similar to those of other Protestant churches, but the words to the hymns are often different and many different faith traditions are included. Perhaps religion is just a place to go on Sunday morning to hold hands and sing and listen to an interesting talk.

    During the few years I attended, from the time my mother could no longer go by herself until she couldn’t go at all, I found it not altogether unpleasant and learned a few things I might not have otherwise. The hymns were unavoidably frustrating. As a boy I had a fine voice and a good ear and even belonged to the chorus at school, but when my voice changed I wound up with a baritone drone, by which, unfortunately, nearly no tunes are improved. Whenever I opened my mouth I worried, is this going to make us sound like a bagpipe?

  72. 72
    Azuma Hazuki

    @70/theignored

    Perhaps what is being said here is “argue on their level.” Which level will seem stupid to us. But it’s futile to try and communicate with someone if the very level of the argument alienates them. People hate being made to feel stupid, and some knowledge of human psychology is very helpful here.

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