Friday, June 13, 2008

I can't figure out how religion rots people's brains - but it does; another example

An old friend of mine wrote the post about how Coyote loves him and what that "means". The person in question isn't particularly religious, tho' he maintains that the universe makes more sense with a governing intelligence than without one and I think this post really . . . make it clear the disjoint between what he says and what I hear.

See, his magical belief in Coyote is the belief in a god that does terrible things for laughs, and he isn't even a very good comedian. He gives an anecdote about how his step-dad got into a car wreck that looked horrible but wasn't so bad, haha, isn't that funny, what a trickster that Coyote is to scare a person like that! This reasoning, of course, ignores all the dead and maimed from car accidents. Well, for them, Coyote's joke was a little meaner. Some people pick bits of glass out of their hair, and other people pick out bits of their baby's skull, but it's just a cosmic joke, right? Which, of course, is how religious people everywhere "explain" things - they just say "it's my god's will". And if you disagree with it, well, then you lack the special knowledge (in this person's case, I don't "get the joke").

The only way this "reasoning" distinguishes itself from Christianity or whatever is that it acknowledges that the reasoning of the cosmos is, at best, that of a not particularly bright vindictive idiot who never the less likes to give his favorite pets pats on the head.


CyberKitten said...

I never understood how people can believe in a God that is so *randomly* vindictive. It's not like he actually spares any of his various adherents after all!

Anonymous said...

So lets get this straight and boil this arguement down to its essence:

You are saying that because bad things happen there cannot be a God ?

You think that if there was a God and I chose to drive my car into a wall a huge foot would suddenly appear and hit my break pedal ?

You are saying that if I chose to punch the next guy I see, God, if he were there, would suddenly appear with a neat defensive manoeuvre.

You think that if there were a God I would not be able to say or think bad things about my neighbour ?.

I am not saying some terrible things don't happen, I just think thats a real crap argument to support your view that there is not a God

Chris Bradley said...


Yeah. "I believe in god - a god that does terrible things even to his 'chosen people'. I believe in a god that made cancer and deformed little babies and typhoons that kill a hundreds of thousands of people." Very weird. Weirder is when they then attribute absolute goodness to this being, or believe that this being loves them, hehe.


The question of evil is real. And, yes, I'm saying that.

See, we don't have too much free will. There are many things I can visualize but cannot do. For instance, I can't kill a person with the power of my thoughts. Words do not cause physical wounds to open on a person's body. We are already limited in any one of a number of ways.

If god was a truly benevolent being, and all powerful, the world would be created where it would be impossible for our personal evil to harm others. It would be no more a limitation in our free will than our inability to fly by flapping our arms, or our inability to kill with the power of our thoughts. We could still be vain, petty, wrathful, proud, etc., but a truly benevolent being would prevent our personal weakness from hurting others.

By the way, I personally do this, try to prevent people's evil from harming others. When I see two people getting into a fist fight, I call the cops and then try to break it up (I usually succeed - it's amazing how fast people stop fighting when you tell them the cops are on the way). Why doesn't god - who knows all and can do all - not do what I would do and stop people from fighting and killing each other?

I actually hope you answer, because they're always so much fun when people talk free will and evil when it is so obvious that we are already tremendously limited in terms of free will.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Now, when you get right down and look at the world. Does it not strike you that your friend’s capricious Coyote, with the dodgy, often dark, sense of humour just about fits the observable facts? Scary

CyberKitten said...

MT said: Does it not strike you that your friend’s capricious Coyote, with the dodgy, often dark, sense of humour just about fits the observable facts?


Anonymous said...

Anon 1 here (I posted first msg).

I don't accept that we have limited free will.... there are lots of examples you were giving that were simply the result of humans exercising their free will.

Deformed babies and cancer ..... I am not going to pretend there is a simple answer, it would be patronising and trite, besides this sort of issue has been debated since people started debating and no one ever came up with an argument that convinced their opponents.

If I did have the answer I wouldn't post it in some blog comments somewhere I write a book and go on a lecture tour.

Shit happens, some really bad shit to people who do not deserve it, does that mean that God must have done it to them ? Or are there natural processes at play too ?.

If there is a God would he have to control everything?, every foetal cell division ? Every formation of a cancer cell?

Does not convince me, if you are open minded and honest the whole "God can't exist cos bad things happen" argument is not that convincing.

Anon 1

Chris Bradley said...


But it offers no explanatory value that is not rooted in untestable, unverifiable and unfalsifiable beliefs. It is useless as both an explanation or cause.

I mean, intelligent design "fits the facts", too. But that's only one of the many criteria that we use to judge if something is true.

Take for instance the correlation between eating ice cream and murder. They trend together. Most murders happen in August, most ice cream is eaten in August. The least murders happen in December, the least ice cream eaten is in December. Could it be ice cream consumption causes murder? It "fits the facts" and is wholly wrong. Coyote is like that. It might fit the facts, but since there is no proof of its existence, nor any way to get such proof, as an independent casual agent, belief in it makes about as much sense as thinking ice cream causes murder.

Chris Bradley said...

Anon 1,

Yes, it is natural processes at play when a baby gets cancer - it is tragic, but sometimes it does, in fact, just happen as a result of natural processes (such as ionizing radiation striking stem cells or whatever). As an atheist materialist, I obviously believe in such things.

BUT if you believe in an omnipotent god, well, that god created those processes. God created cancer. God created that ionizing radiation and decided that cancerous deformities would arise from the interaction between radiation and DNA.

Yeah, there are no good arguments to the question of evil. Because, in the end, if you believe in an omnipotent god you have to admit that god created evil. God, after all, created EVERYTHING. There is no good answer to that.

I also just find it weird that people say they believe in absolute free will given the number of things that they can't do - things that they could imagine doing but CAN'T. And that doesn't even get into the things that they couldn't imagine doing and also can't do. ;) But I know that Christians believe in the absoluteness of free will as a matter of religious doctrine - used to justify the existence of evil. But that still doesn't float, because an omnipotent being could create free will without evil (after all, god can do ANYTHING, right?), or at least create free will in such a fashion that one person's evil doesn't ruin another person's life. Again, an omnipotent being can do ANYTHING.

Which is why we're back to the question of evil. Why would an omnipotent being allow people to hurt each other if that being is benevolent? I'm not omnipotent and *I* try to stop people from hurting each other!

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Woah! What I said was a touch tongue in cheek, mischievous but also accurate. I am not seriously planning to take up following Coyote just now.

Cyberkitten Sad to say the answer is not ‘no’ but a lot closer to yes than many people are comfortable with. Lots of what looks like random capricious unfair bad stuff happens to good people. Bad people equally get the breaks they don’t ‘deserve’.

God, at least in the West, is pretty much advertised as loving, omnipotent, all seeing, not a sparrow falls…

His publicity department have cleaned up his image a bit since the bad boy days. They tend not to dwell on the old testament psychotic jealous lover aspects. If you had a boyfriend, or husband, that behaved that way then society would label certain aspects of it as an abusive relationship.

I guess it depends on how you define God. But if you define God as the only God, omnipotent and good then surely the bad stuff is his responsibility along with the good stuff, because it would be in his power to prevent the bad stuff. All powerful is all powerful after all. The only conclusion would surely be that he lets the bad stuff happen for some reason.

Chris. Coyote is as valid as intelligent design, certainly to those who worship/ed him. Probably includes some ‘intelligent design’ in his back-story. As for testable verifiable. Well shit happens, does that count? I don’t know Coyote’s rules. You could argue that is indirect evidence ;-)

But I do accept your point. Of course an apparent correlation does not mean two things are cause and effect, and tell that to medical researchers while you are about it. In your Murder/Ice cream example, both might also correlated with temperatures above a certain level maybe?

Cikgu Screwtape said...

Hi there,

Thanks for your entries on this blog. We have been having troubles with Christian fundamentalists lately (especially those from Singapore) who oppose us because we refuse to take a hard anti-gay stance or to attack people who do not hold to a narrow Sola-Scriptura fundamentalism. One in particular even threatened to have my son raped/sodomized on his birthday. The rest have been anathemizing us.

Our blog is Jeremiah Blues ( They have also been bragging about their higher authority because of their supposed learning (getting degrees and doctorates, learning Greek, etc.)

Do your part and add your voice to ours. We welcome all comments.


~ Edmund

CyberKitten said...

Cyberkitten Sad to say the answer is not ‘no’ but a lot closer to yes than many people are comfortable with. Lots of what looks like random capricious unfair bad stuff happens to good people. Bad people equally get the breaks they don’t ‘deserve’.

Basically shit happens. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people - but bad things also happen to bad people as good things happen to good people.

A persons 'goodness' or otherwise has *absolutely nothing* to do with what happens to them. Many things may not be exactly random but no one is being picked on (or helped) by the universe because the universe is *incapable* of caring (or acting) one way or another through intention.

It may at times *seem* like a capricious entity is acting on the world, but such ideas are illusions - because we tend to see patterns were there are none & some people feel that they are important enough for the universe to actually notice them.

But people *do* like their comfortable myths rather than actually reality..... Sad really...

Chris Bradley said...


D'oh! I believe you were tongue-in-cheek but when talking about religious things it's so hard for me to tell, because people believe all kinds of whacky things. I mean, Mitt Romney - who tried to become President of the USA - wears sacred underwear. I'm not joking! So even things which, in other contexts, might obviously be wit aren't quite so obvious when talking about religion. ;)

However, that shit happens isn't indirect proof of anything's existence. A explanation that neither predicts nothing nor builds anything is simply not an explanation. Plus, so many things that religious people have thought to be obvious demonstrations of the existence of god have proven to simply not need a god that religious people making pronouncements about the material world simply have no credibility in my mind. So, not only is the explanation that Coyote exists and does bad and good to people simply not an explanation (because you can't verify or falsify it, and you can't use that reasoning to predict behavior in any way), religion has been so wrong so often that there is overwhelming justification to be elaborately suspicious of what people say in the name of religion.

And, yes, the reason why people eat ice cream and kill in August is the heat, hehe. In the southern hemisphere, it's January when all that ice cream eating and murder occurs. And I have told medical professionals that correlation is not causation. I talk to a large number of scientists on a regular basis. I mean, sheesh, almost all my friends are scientists. ;)

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Chris, Never mind Mitt Romney, now you are just being unreasonable...

It is an observable fact that all undies gradually become holy, through use whereupon one replaces them for new stuff with out holes ;-) Maybe that’s what he meant and he is simply frugal? Surely being careful with money, especially public money is desirable in a politician? ;-)

I won’t hold the scientist thing against you ;-) It’s not like they are politicians or anything after all.

CyberKitten. I am not disputing you there. That is essentially my point, probably badly made. The universe can be random. Using that well known razor (after you have shaved your legs) to find the simplest explanation is… well the universe can be random and shit happens.

breakerslion said...

Loki sez: "Drink yer Ovaltine!"

You may now return to less oblique comments.

Anonymous said...

Chris Bradley:

did you knew that you suck?

Well, if not before, now you do.

I'm quite sure that your mother is/was (hopefully was, no women should have the burden of being a mother to such a waste of skin like you) a fat, drunk whore, and your father (again, hopefully was...) a drunken sailor who mistaked your whore mother's rotting cunt to other sailor's hairy ass.

Go kill yourself, you little bitch.

Anonymous said...

Chris Bradley, you hypocritical jackass!

You say that you (YOU, of all people!) try to prevent people hurting each other, but you're hurting other people by mocking their religion, their beliefs etc.

Go kill yourself ASAP!

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

I have always thought that someone truly comfortable in their faith would never react with anger to those who cast doubt, more consider them an evangelism opportunity. I guess not everyone thinks like that or people would not blow up other people in the name of god. I expect God would be perfectly capable of doing that without assistance.