I Don’t Think This Church Gets Its Own Advertisement…

I’m sure a lot of you have seen this image online, featuring a quotation from House, M.D.

Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.

I love that line — it’s funny. It’s true. And for some reason that I still can’t figure out, a Catholic Church in Dublin is using it in an advertisement:

Why?

Anyone care to offer an explanation?

(Thanks to @bdbdbdbd for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Varun

    It’s a typical MLK type comment. Reason is the enemy of faith, that kind of thing. They’re proud of their faith, and therefore proudly saying they’re irrational.

    • Anonymous

      “Typical MLK type comment”? Care to elaborate? I don’t follow.

    • http://www.facebook.com/FreeThoughtCrime FreeThoughtCrime

      I think you mean that’s a typical ML (Martin Luther) comment, not an MLK (Martin Luther King) comment.

      • Anonymous

        That’s what I was wondering whether he meant.

    • Anonymous

      But these are Catholics. The sorts of people who have spent over a millennium rationalizing their faith to the point where they think that their religion is the inevitable conclusion to anyone who truly exercises the facility of reason.

    • HealthPlanner

      Do you have evidence (reference, source) for your “quote” about MLK?

      • Coyotenose

        It’s just a mental typo. Martin Luther said that nonsense, not MLK.

  • Anonymous

    Radical Christians are immune to irony.

    This isn’t the first billboard that says that reason and inquiry are bad things [because they threaten people's faith]. They are proud of their ignorance and defiance

  • TiltedHorizon

    I love ‘House’, but if he was a real person he would be a terrible person to be around. A self destructive, self loathing, ego maniac who robs the joy out of any situation. I guess this is why they use his image, to liken Atheists to a fictional character who is a terrible person.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

      Ohhh, that’s devious if that’s what it is. I mean, part of me is saying that anyone who’d actually try this ad could never be devious in any way that merits the term, but bitter experience has shown that if there’s one thing the religious are good at, it’s finding ways to make the out-group look bad.

    • NickDB

      I’d love to have a drink or two with House, think he’d be awesome to hang out with.

      • Anonymous

        I’d rather have a drink or two with Hugh Laurie.

        • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

          Id’ rather have a drink or three with Olivia Cockburn.

          • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

            I’d rather have a drink or four with Ibis3.

            • Anonymous

              Hey, thanks Katherine. Just noticed this while I was looking for some other comment I’d made on this site somewhere. You’re on if we’re ever in the same geographical area.

              • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

                Yay! If you’re ever in DC, lemme know!! :D

          • Drew M.

            And hope she lives up to her name.

    • iammrsnesbitt

      If that’s what they’re trying, it’s bound to fail. Most people who watch the show thinks House is an AWESOME character, even if he’s a jackass. Byronic hero and all that, I guess.

    • Anonymous

      Sort of like an ad saying that Hitler was Catholic, so join the evangelical church instead.

    • Gus Snarp

      I think that’s got to be it. That’s an argument that you’ll hear from plenty of atheists too, that House is a terrible example of an atheist on TV because he’s displayed as being fairly immoral, drug addicted, etc. I dont’ know what the creators/writers/producers of the show intend with House, I always just thought he was supposed to be a complex character, and I generally like him. I think he’s supposed to be sort of unrestrained, giving people the truth that someone really ought to. I don’t like the drug addiction, but I think it makes an interesting story line. But then I haven’t watched in ages, partly because it quickly became so damn formulaic.

      Anyway, I think you’re right that this Church must see the character as being broken because of his lack of religion, and all his flaws flowing from that. I don’t think it’s going to be very effective though.

      • Rich Wilson

        I also haven’t watched in forever for the same ‘tired of formula’ reason, but I don’t think House is without morals.  He just has his own set of morals, and “the ends justify the means” seems to be a big one.

        Recall the scene were Wilson cut House’s cane so it would snap.  House fell on his face, but I think also had more respect for Wilson for ‘fighting back’.

        • Gus Snarp

          More proof that morality is relative. Of course, I did say “fairly immoral”, and I meant that as part of a complaint that some people have about the character. But yes, he has his own moral code. 

  • Claudio Ibarra

    Religious people don’t usually understand the concept of “things that make sense.” Otherwise there’d be no religious people.

  • NewEnglandBob

    Why?

    Because they are irrational?

  • Tiny Tot

    Reminds me of a sign I saw on a church in Idaho: “where Jesus and the real world meet.” I thought it was funny that they were admitting Jesus is make-believe.

    • Anonymous

      Hemant should make a blog post about ironic church signs. Would be fun

      • Anonymous

        That’s not ironic.  It’s expected.

    • Kwells Hoekstra

      What it is really speaking to is putting your faith into practice.

  • Realjuancho

    the embrace the irrational as a christian virtue.

  • kimono54

    To religious people, it is seen as a positive trait for someone to have faith in something despite evidence against it.

    • Chris Miller

      On the other hand, perhaps a person of faith sees evidence someone without any desire for faith doesn’t see.

      • Coyotenose

        Well, humans do see things that don’t exist all the time.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          Oh, like I keep seeing my dead cat out of the corner of my eye?

      • Anonymous

        Sorta like how those pedophile priests see a desire in children for sexual attention that those without such desires don’t see?

      • Newavocation

        I think their sign could have easily said something like “Get drunk on Jesus” Living a sober life is really tough for the believeaholic 

      • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

        Quite true. Wishful thinking does lead you to imagine that all sorts of silliness is evidence.

    • Kurt

      You hit the nail on the head!  I had a similar epiphany this weekend (after years and years and years of hanging out with religious folks… slow learner I guess).  If there ever appeared an absolute, verified, unmistakeable sign** that their god was real, it would do most churches more harm than good.   They consider it Very Important to Believe in what can never be verified, because Faith (TM) makes you Good (TM).  If it could be seen and heard, there would be no need for Faith.  Atheists would rejoice and accept the proof (and, I suppose, become theists) but churches as an institution and way of life would fall apart.

      ** And I’m talking about some miracle like the Eiffel Tower coming to life, swimming to London, speaking to us in the voice of James Earl Jones, and then submitting itself to months of scientific investigation at the Mayo Clinic.  Not the regular stuff like kittens, sunsets, pancreatic cancer, and fresh nectarines that are usually seen proof of the divine.

  • Mr Z

    The folk in Dublin have some special concerns. Recently the government (or parts of it) have all but called the pope a child molester and criminal. The subliminal messages in that country might well be quite confusing without local context. You see, it is reasonable to prosecute criminals no matter where you find them; a reasoning Catholic would do so.

    The undertone of the sign might be to ignore those baying for the prosecution of the P man, and eviction of his minions… while having no real impact on faith of the Irish in general. 

  • Mary

    I think their sign should say, “We are irrational. Come join us!”

  • Bzc

    They’re irrational and proud of it.

  • Annie

    Anyone else think that Hugh Laurie looks a bit Jesus-like in this photo? 

    And why would they quote of fictional character?  Oh…. right.

    • Coyotenose

      Reading that made my tea go down the wrong way. Thanks a LOT :P

  • Mrs. B.

    They’d probably love: When insanity is outlawed, only Christians will be insane.

  • Rich Wilson

    There’s a level of head-in-the-sanding that those of us who try to keep our heads out of the sand just aren’t going to get.  This article made the rounds not long ago: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/138957812/evangelicals-question-the-existence-of-adam-and-eve

    “This stuff is unavoidable,” says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. “Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have.

    “”If so, that’s simply the price we’ll have to pay,” says Southern Baptist seminary’s Albert Mohler. “The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.”

    Mohler and others say if other Protestants want to accommodate science, fine. But they shouldn’t be surprised if their faith unravels.

    In other words, it’s better to stick your head in the sand and hold onto your theology, because then you’ll at least have your theology.

    Some people can’t handle the truth.

  • Rich Wilson

    There’s a level of head-in-the-sanding that those of us who try to keep our heads out of the sand just aren’t going to get.  This article made the rounds not long ago: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/138957812/evangelicals-question-the-existence-of-adam-and-eve

    “This stuff is unavoidable,” says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. “Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have.

    “”If so, that’s simply the price we’ll have to pay,” says Southern Baptist seminary’s Albert Mohler. “The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.”

    Mohler and others say if other Protestants want to accommodate science, fine. But they shouldn’t be surprised if their faith unravels.

    In other words, it’s better to stick your head in the sand and hold onto your theology, because then you’ll at least have your theology.

    Some people can’t handle the truth.

  • Adam Pearce

    Wait … did you want a rational explanation or an irrational one?

  • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

    Has anyone tried simply asking them what they mean? There’s an email address right there on their web page, where it says “contact us”.

    • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

      Email sent. I’ll see what response I get, if any.

    • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

      In case anyone cares, here’s my message.

  • Texas Ed

    Don’t knock it! May create a small crack in the faith of some believers. It’s gotta start somewhere, why not the local Catholic church? Where is there more need for the birth of reason and rational thought than there? Although, that is one embryo they would rather abort…

  • Anthrosciguy

    Explanation?  Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      Sorry, I don’t quite see how that’s relevant. The Dunning-Kruger effect is that people overestimate their competency in issues specifically where they are not competent. I don’t quite see how that’s relevant. 

  • mingfrommongo

    Odds on the church paying Hugh Laurie for the use of his image & the producers of ‘House’ for their intellectual property? Odds on whining about ‘persecution’ if they get a cease-and-desist letter?

    • Andrew

      As long as you’re an organization that gets automatic non-profit status on the merits of your name alone, it’s OKAY to steal people’s intellectual property.

  • miller

    I’m quite sure that a Lutheran church near UCLA once put up signs like this. I never asked them why. The same group would also have a table with a “religion is for the weak” sign. That, I understood, was based on their belief that we are all weak.

  • miller

    I’m quite sure that a Lutheran church near UCLA once put up signs like this. I never asked them why. The same group would also have a table with a “religion is for the weak” sign. That, I understood, was based on their belief that we are all weak.

    • Thin-ice

      Exactly. That was my answer (before I de-converted) to those who said that “religion was a crutch”. I said we are all crippled and need help to walk upright. What a depressing worldview…

  • Anonymous

    What’s  not to get?  They think rationality is limited and to be disparaged.

    • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

      That’s my take too.

      Don’t bother with that rationality stuff. It won’t work. Come sit around with us hand share in the warm fuzzies, that’ll do the trick.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ryurack Rebel Yurack

        I don’t think there are too many warm fuzzies in Catholicism…

        • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

          I always thought that looking down on the torments of the damned from heaven would feel a bit like roasting marshmallows over coals, only with more screaming.

    • http://www.facebook.com/alewis2 Adam Lewis

      I think you are most likely right.

      My bet is that if that is not it, they are using the ploy “We aren’t religious.  We have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that IS rational.” 

  • Observer

    Makes me think of there other church signs.

    • http://twitter.com/TortugaSkeptic A secret red slider

      It makes me sad.

    • Burger

      I have no words :(

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Sadly we never know if these signs are real.

  • ChristFollower

    eh….I would guess the intent was to provoke people to think about the very question raised by the (very humorous) quote from “House.”  Sure hope they paid for or otherwise got permission to use the image and quote.  If not, shame on them.

    Some might note that “rational” carries its own set of boundaries on how to address the big questions of life. 

    Some might also note that there is a long history of rational constructs to address the big questions of life that do allow for possibility of truths  encountered by revelation as well as discovery.

     Just saying….  and I also thought that perhaps an alternative viewpoint to  “religious people are all idiots” might be welcome…..or be a novelty.  

    …or perhaps not, to both.

    • Coyotenose

      Those constructs are called Apologetics, and I’m afraid they’ve been roundly and universally shredded time and again. The idea that they’re rational is the real “construct”, in the most artificial meaning of the word.

      It makes no sense at all to give shrift to revelations once you’re aware of how good the brain is at fooling itself, and how many errors it makes up to and including hallucinations.

    • Andrew B.

       Perhaps you could refer these people to this blog so they could explain what is meant by “‘rational’ carries its own set of boundaries on how to address the big questions of life,” as well as share some of the “rational constructs to address the big questions of life that do allow
      for possibility of truths  encountered by revelation as well as
      discovery.”

      Alternatively, you could just continue to allude to the alleged existence of such people as though merely asserting they exist is of any interest to us.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      I think the odds are good they have *not* paid to use the likeness or the quote. Who owns House anyway?

      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        Is that relevant? It seems well within fair-use especially if they are trying to criticize it. 

    • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

      Some might also note that there is a long history of rational constructs to address the big questions of life that do allow for possibility of truths  encountered by revelation as well as discovery.

      Calling them “truths” without any way to confirm that they’re actually true is what we call “jumping to conclusions.”

  • Trina

    Notice how in the quote below the ‘House’ quote it doesn’t say ‘believing,’ but, rather, ‘wanting to believe.’  

  • Tim minchin fan

    Heh, “dare to be stupid” by weird al yankovic comes to mind,

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      +1 to you, sir!

  • Tim minchin fan

    Heh, “dare to be stupid” by weird al yankovic comes to mind,

  • Dan W

    Irrationality is not a virtue. Neither is ignorance. I wish more people would realize that.

  • Rufus

    To quote Einstein:

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

  • Matthew Bond

    If I have to guess, maybe it’s “edgy”, like the Christian version of calling yourself the N-word. Then they will probably plan an entire presentation around why House has it all wrong, after all. And it’ll be so edgy that if any House-loving atheists showed up, they’ll hear all these novel arguments they’d never considered before and have a come-to-Jesus moment.

    That’s my guess, in all seriousness.

  • Anonymous

    Religious faith isn’t rational. I think most religious people understand that, although, like atheists, they will get caught up in the pointless argumentifying of “proving” god’s existence or the “question” of good and evil (not a question at all, since the question’s premise contains the answer).

    Does this church get it? I don’t know, but they either have to be of average intelligence to put it up understanding what it means, or of faahaar-below-average intelligence to put it up misunderstanding what it means. Odds are on the former (despite the average atheist’s bias about the stupidity of religious people). 

  • Wwmlcd

    I’m an ex-Catholic; and haven’t practiced for over 40 yrs. I think what’s going on with the House ad is tantamount to an inside joke. Catholics believe that their faith is not only a good thing and a virtue, but also a gift from God. Rational arguments would, therefore, always be trumped by faith and would be irrelevant. The joke is that we atheists don’t know this and would actually say what house said. As Ricky Gervais would say: “They’re havin’ a laugh.”

  • Lancep62

    I can share a reason why. Or, more specifically, share something that confirms that they do cherish ignorance and irrationality. A friend of a friend on Facebook post ed this and that tricked me into seeing it. I saved it for moments like this.

    From her entry:
    Today I choose to bypass the carnal mind of logic and reasoning because it leads me to confusion. God does not want us confused. I want the holy spirit to flow through me and all that takes is BELIEVING, 
    no figuring. Joyce Meyer Ministries.

    Joyce Meyer does indeed instruct her followers to turn off their brains.


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