Dumb Things Christians Say

Dumb Things Christians Say January 4, 2018

Editor’s Note: Even if you didn’t attend any church services recently, it’s hard to avoid getting an earful of inane religious comments during the holiday season. There are simply too many opportunities. Here, Clergy Project member David Madison shares some of the many not-so-smart comments he got on the website he set up that turned out to be click-bait for earnest Christians trying to set him straight. /Linda LaScola

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By David Madison

Nobody is exempt from dumb…but why is it a Christian specialty?

“Near the core of religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry.” So said Carl Sagan in his 1986 essay, “A Sunday Sermon” (Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science).

Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society

“Near the core of religious experience is something resistant to rational inquiry”

I guess it just comes naturally to religious folks to dig their heels in when cherished beliefs wilt under rational inquiry. And thousands of apologists, posing as parish pastors and credentialed Bible scholars, have risen to the challenge of coming up with slick excuses to protect the faith—and help the folks in the pews feel better. This combination of intense emotion and intellectual craftiness has combined to create a perfect storm of pervasive dumbness in the Christian ranks.

Now, how do I define “dumb”? It is a blend of ignorance, stupidity, and obtuseness—with a huge helping of oblivious as well. I know the word is overused, but “delusion” is part of the mix too. Individual examples of Christian dumb may include one or more of these ingredients.

In 2012, I launched the Facebook page for my book, four years before it reached publication. Christian trolls have often dropped in to offer their opinions on my project, so I have been in an ideal position to collect examples of Christian dumb.

One of the most common reactions from atheists to my title, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief has been, “What, only ten?” Because they know. So many atheists used to be Christians…until they saw through the multiple absurdities. But never once did a Christian ask me, “Really, there are problems, what are they?” The lack of curiosity and courage is disheartening.

Now for a few direct quotes—you can decide what the mix is in each one: ignorant, stupid, obtuse, oblivious, delusional.

• Sonny H. “I don’t have any problems with my faith!!”

• Robert B: “Looks like this guy has gone the way of many others. There is money to be made knocking the Bible and Christianity. Nothing new under the sun. In it for the sales. Figures. When do the tough questions show up?? Oh yeah, in the book, right.”

Sorry to break it to you, Sonny and Robert, but smart Christians, who study the faith, and think about it at more than a Sunday School level (and who say the dumb things in sophisticated ways) are well aware of the problems. There has been hand-wringing for centuries about the problems I discuss in the book. And who writes the most about these embarrassments? Apologists have written thousands of works to explain why the Christian faith shouldn’t be indicted for so many contradictions, fallacies, fabrications—and downright evils.

If anyone really thinks that I have invented these problems—or that they appear first in my book—please submit my name to the Pulitzer committee. Maybe there’s a prize for creative fiction.

Actually, some Christians have been curious enough to check out the problems that are the focus of the book.

• Bob M. is confident that they are of no consequence: “I read some of the so-called errors. My granddaughter could have refuted them.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬” And, foolish me, my years of work in Biblical studies have not advanced my understanding: “The natural man cannot understand the things of God. This guy has never really studied the word of God.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬”

• Jonathan G. thinks I should move on: “In reading your list of ‘Ten Tough Problems…’ I’m finding that you haven’t asked any new questions that people haven’t answered or refuted already. Perhaps you should try something new.”

Sorry to break it to you, Bob and Jonathan: the Christian establishment has not issued pink slips to the hundreds of apologists charged with thwarting doubt.

Don’t kid yourselves: Every day many Christians are in genuine anguish about the egregious suffering and pain they see around them. They need continual reassurance that their god—who supposedly knows when even a sparrow falls to the ground—isn’t indifferent, careless, negligent. Whenever there’s a catastrophic hurricane, tsunami or horrible mass shooting, they wonder and worry about what God is up to: “It’s all part of God’s plan” wears thin. Some Christians may have mastered the clichéd excuses for God, but many have not. There are clichéd excuses for all of the ten problems.

• Brian T. enjoys unfettered access to The Almighty, and thus offered this verdict: “Junk. God is alive and well. Just talked to Him and got free reign to come down on this bullshit‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬.” A little while later he added a note of Christian charity: “U suck.”

Even Christians would be suspicious about the guy next-door who claims to have chats with God. Moreover, Brian doesn’t seem to be aware that devout Christians have forever disagreed about what they hear from God (by the way, is the “U suck” a direct quote from God?). Theists of other brands (e.g., Jewish, Muslim, Mormon) add to the mix of contradictory messages received via the direct line to the heavenly throne.

One of my posts was about one of the greatest mysteries of all: that Christians aren’t repulsed by the grisly human sacrifice as the centerpiece of their faith.

• Brian K. responded: “This was the only sacrifice that rose from the dead.” I pointed out that belief in resurrected sons and daughters of gods long pre-dated Christianity: it’s a borrowed concept. But Brian’s brain was lost in the Christian fog; I quote him exactly: “You miss the point, this one happen.”

• Matt L. gave me a reading assignment: “Read Lee Strobel’s ‘Case for Christ’ before it is too late for you to learn the truth.”

Could he really imagine that I haven’t read it? I rarely respond to these guys, however, in this case I posted the Amazon link to Robert Price’s book, The Case Against the Case for Christ. But Matt had his eye on the bottom line: “Remember Pascal’s Wager, my friend.” Anyone who takes this wager seriously is truly, seriously dumb.

• Julian H. corrected my view that the gospels fail the test of history, especially when Mark and John are compared: “There are no errors, contradictions or fabrication within the Bible. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‪The character of God himself, manifest in Jesus Christ is consistent throughout Mark and John, and indeed throughout the entire Bible.”‬‬‬‬

• Barry J. was really pissed about the same thing: “Wow, you must be so much smarter than the millions of Christians who regularly read both gospels and don’t find any contradictions!! Can I have your autograph??”

Now what is dumber, Julian and Barry: (1) reading the gospels and not noticing any contradictions—those that have perplexed pious commentators for centuries; or (2) manufacturing tortured excuses after spotting the contradictions?

• Stuart C. cherishes a utilitarian view of God: “So, let’s see what the author does when he needs YHWH’s intervention when he gets an aggressive cancer.”

And so it is that oncologists the world over have noticed that the cancer rate among devout Christians has never inched above zero.

• According to Joyce G., I’m in for a far worse fate than cancer: “My journey is definitely different from yours. I’m on the narrow road to Heaven and you’re on the Wide road to Hell. Sad.”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

It is sadder still that this vindictive version of Christian piety can be traced directly to the words of Jesus and the apostle Paul.

• Raelyn S.: “I’m praying for all y’all lost souls.”

Are these folks auditioning for the next Dumb and Dumber sequel?

One of Al Stefanelli best zingers:

“Debating with a creationist is like trying to teach calculus to a toaster.”

We could slip in the word “Christian” instead of “creationist.” Especially since the Enlightenment, serious thinkers have demonstrated the grievous flaws in the Christian faith: theism itself, of course, but also the claptrap that theologians have invented to flesh out their version of theism. But true-believers, stuck at Sunday school literary levels, lap it all up.

Most of the major cults that hold sway over the world (a “world religion” is a cult that grabbed major market share) have their apologists who can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that their religion owns the truth. Of course the Catholic apologists deny that Protestant apologists are on the right track—to say nothing of the Muslim and Mormon apologists. They ALL know they’re right, and that the others are wrong.

John Loftus wrote a piece recently, “When I say believers cannot be reasoned with, this is what I mean!” He helps us understand why the rank and file—whom we’ve just heard from—and erudite apologists say dumb things:

“Christian intellectuals—that is, Christian obfuscationists—do exactly what Orthodox Jewish obfuscationists and Muslim obfuscationists do. They obfuscate to make what they believe more palatable. But deep down, the real reasons they believe can be seen by paying attention to what rank and file believers say, for after all, they were once part of the rank and file, that is, before they learned how to twist logic on behalf of faith.”

**Editor’s Question**  Heard anything dumb lately? If so, let us know.

====================

David Madison headshotDavid Madison, a Clergy Project member, was raised in a conservative Christian home in northern Indiana. He served as a pastor in the Methodist church during his work on two graduate degrees in theology. By the time he finished his PhD in Biblical Studies (Boston University) he had become an atheist, a story he shares in the Prologue of his book, published in 2016: 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith. The above post is reprinted with permission from the Debunking Christianity Blog.

>>>>photo credits: by Andrea Reese;   By NASA/JPL – Image:Planetary society.jpghttp://technology.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/index.cfm?

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • alwayspuzzled

    The basic argument here seems to be “The faith-filled are gullible idiots, therefore I am right.” Rational inquiry might suggest that when this kind of binary thinking is applied, it is entirely possible that both sides are gullible idiots.

    • ThaneOfDrones
    • Linda_LaScola

      Except that kind of binary thinking isn’t used here.

    • mason

      Not entirely possible or probable since one side demands verifiable evidence and the other side prides itself in having faith in what is clearly scientifically irrational and impossible. You do, alwayspuzzled, consistently have a penchant for false equivalency; you are consistent. 🙂 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c6ca1fd5423554469e3536d84505ee53510da4ca926464689abc8c50586ce19f.jpg

    • Jim Jones

      > The basic argument here seems to be “The faith-filled are gullible idiots, therefore I am right.”

      Just another strawman. That is not the argument.

      Here’s a better argument: –

      Throughout my life, some people have lied to me.

      The only source of knowledge about any religion is what people have said about it.

      Question: How do I know if they are lying or not?

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        THE PROBLEM JIM, IS WHILE THEY ARE IN ERROR, THEY ARE NOT LYING AS THEY BELIEVE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING IS TRUE!

      • alwayspuzzled

        “Throughout my life, some people have lied to me.”
        This appears to be a loaded premise. Rational inquiry might consider this a disqualifier.

        • Jim Jones

          You’ve never been lied to? No stories of ‘Santa Claus’?

      • mason

        straw men, red herrings, circle reasoning, and false equivalency are alwayspuzzled’s stock in the trolling trade.

  • The only person with whom I have been able to have a discussion regarding the contradictions in Christianity ended up referring me to Pascal’s wager and stating that some things just have to be taken on faith. Well, fear and faith don’t do anything to convince me.

    • NEIL C. REINHARDT

      IT IS VERY EASY TO DEFEAT “PASCAL’S WAGER” BY POINTING OUT THERE IS NOT JUST ATHEISM AND ONE RELIGION AS THE ONLY TWO FACTORS INVOLVED. THIS AS ANY OF THE OTHER RELIGIONS MAY BE MORE TRUE THAN IS THEIR RELIGION.

  • FanofNeri

    A sad, but interesting piece, regarding the level of discussion that members of the faithful tried to engage in about this. Truly unfortunate, and so many of the replies lacked any semblance of “Christian charity” from the woman who ended with “Sad.” to the threats of Hell, and “U suck”. Encountered similar recently in a religious Facebook group where people tried to say Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson wasn’t a “real scientist, just an atheist propagandist”. Pointing out his refereed articles, Hubble orbits, etc. got a guy claiming to be working on a Master’s of Divinity starting off with, “stop defending your boyfriend!” and also included “he’s no more a scientist than any intern”.

    As a Catholic, the book sounds interesting to me at least, and well worth the read. Going to go check out the Facebook site for it, since this post mentioned the 4 years it’s been around and that’s where these…feeble attempts at evangelization came from, but did already drop by the Amazon page for it. It seems telling that in the One Star reviews, there’s the same behavior highlighted from the shared Facebook comments, where a guy even brags about how he’s read the excerpts on Facebook and then proceeds to launch into a series of ad hominems after admitting to not reading the book itself. Part of me wonders if such behavior is kneejerk tribalism, the indoctrination we experience growing up in a belief, or an expression of a mixture of the sunken cost fallacy and doubt, not wanting to admit one may have been wrong for so long. Doubt, and I admit this as a practicing Catholic, is something which, I would think, is unavoidable in faith if one tries to look at it through a lens other than “the eyes of faith”, or as some friends have called them, “God glasses”.

    Also, one last thought, the people pushing “Case for Christ”? Probably, CfC is the book that hurt my faith the most, and I’ve read a lot of crappy apologetic. I was having major issues with almost every point of Strobel’s, and then realized we were doing a great big glaring lie of omission when he interviewed Habermas who mentioned his wife’s unfortunate cancer and death by it…in the 1990s. Since by that point, Strobel was a pastor at a megachurch, it seemed disingenuous at best for him to neglect mentioning many of these interviews may not have been from while he was an “atheist”.

    Edit: Killed some typoes.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    Seth Andrews: Christianity Made Me Talk Like an Idiot

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URr0O9aHW38

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    WHY IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE RATIONAL, LOGICAL & INTELLIGENT DISCUSSIONS ABOUT RELIGION WITH A RELIGIOUS PERSON WHEN IT IS ABOUT THEIR OWN RELIGION..

    First, anyone who is so ignorant as to say religious people are not programmed, should ask themselves these questions.

    “Would non-religiously programmed, logical, rational, intelligent and college educated people fly airliners filled with innocent people, into building filled with thousands of innocent people who had never did anything wrong to them?”

    “Would non-religiously programmed, logical, rational, intelligent and educated people shoot doctor’s who provide abortions?”

    “Would non-religiously programmed, logical, rational, intelligent and educated person blow up the federal building on Oklahoma City killing hundreds of innocent people who had never did anything wrong to them?”

    “Would non-religiously programmed, logical, rational, intelligent and educated people blow up health clinics, gay bars and the Olympics in Atlanta, Ga., killing innocent people who had never did anything wrong to them?”

    Second, it is impossible to have intelligent discussions about their own religion with those who were, as babies / children, and before they reach the age of reason at age seven, programmed by those who raised them, to believe in the same religion and the same number of gods, those who raised them believed in.

    The reason it is impossible to have intelligent discussions with them is because their programming is so strong, it over-rides their any abilities they have to use Common Sense, Critical Thinking Skills and Logic. Their programming is so strong it causes them to deny Provable Facts.

    Their programming is so strong, it causes them to not realize the only reason they believe in the same religion and the same number of gods those who raised them believed in and not in a different religion and perhaps a different number of Gods, is simply because they were programmed to believe in the one they do.
    7
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl_TrvIIcBY

    • mason

      So why is this in lower case? Oh yes … I see your explanation about convert case … earlier …

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    MANY CHRISTIANS, WHEN POSTING THEIR COMMENTS JUST KEEP PROVING HOW TOTALLY WORTHLESS THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS AT TEACHING MANNERS, ETHICS, INTEGRITY, HONOR AND MORALS AS THEIR POSTS PROVE THEY LACK ALL OF THEM.

    • mason

      I’d like to read your posts, but the all caps yelling makes it very uninviting and awkward to read. You seem like a rational and reasonable person so I’m wondering if you realize posting in all caps is considered poor etiquette on the Internet. This was pointed out to me some time ago. If it’s a vision situation you can enlarge what you’re typing with Ctrl key and the mouse wheel, or just Ctrl + Shift. Best regards. https://www.lifewire.com/why-not-to-write-in-all-caps-1173242

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        HELLO MASON. THANK YOU!

        BEEN ON THE NET SINCE 1997 AND SO I AM WELL AWARE OF WHAT THE POLITICALLY CORRECT SHEEP THINK. HERE IS WHAT I POSTED TO TWO OTHERS ON THIS.

        I AM 83 AND LIKE TO SEE WHAT I AM WRITING MOST EASILY AND DOING SO IN THE BEST, EASIEST WAY FOR ME. — AND, FYI, NO ONE IS FORCED TO READ MY COMMENTS

        WHILE AT 83, I AM TECH CHALLENGED, BEAUSE I KNOW THAT READING ALL CAP IS DIFFICULT, I EITHER PUT THINGS IN SHORT SENTENCES & PARAGRAPHS. PLUS ON LONG THINGS, I USE THIS WEB TOOL https://convertcase.net/ TO CHANGE THEM TO REGULAR TEXT

        I either put things in short paragraphs or on long things, I use this web tool https://convertcase.net/ to change them to regular text

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          GEE, I WONDER HOW THE MANY, MANY MILLIONS WHO GOT TELEXS AND TELEGRAMS EVER READ THEM IF ALL CAPS ARE SO HARD TO READ. GUESS WE OLDER PEOPLE ARE MADE OF STERNER STUFF,

          by Heinz Tschabitscher
          Updated June 20, 2017

          One of the cardinal rules of writing online, whether in email, forums or instant messages, is to never just use all capital letters. This is known as writing in ALL CAPS. If you make this mistake, you might quickly be told to stop shouting or even booted out of a game or forum.

          When you write in all capital letters, it looks to most recipients as if you are shouting. ONLY TO THE POLITICALLY CORRECT SHEEP

          You should use all caps sparingly.

          It is a strong effect and should remain one, but this does mean that there is a place and time to use all caps.
          When to Write in All Caps

          Just like with spoken words, it’s sometimes necessary to make your text “sound” louder, either for emphasis or when you’re genuinely upset and would yell those same words in person. Then and only then is it acceptable to use all uppercase letters.

          Text in all uppercase is significantly more difficult to read than lower and mixed case text. It’s best to write online in sentence case or mixed case, with proper nouns capitalized as well as the first letter of the first word. That is how people are used to reading printed material.

          It is best used only for short strings of words rather than full sentences. You could choose instead to use italics or bold to set off text for emphasis.

          If you type in all caps because you find it faster and more convenient, consider using lowercase only.

          HOW ABOUT BEING ABLE TO SEE EASIER?

          You will annoy some people, yes, but all lowercase seems more widely accepted than all caps.
          The History of All Caps Writing
          Old-time teletype machines and some early computers used all caps. In newsrooms, reporters and on-air announcers were used to reading wire service stories, police and weather bulletins that were transmitted in all caps.

          The Navy hung onto using it in their messaging system until 2013, and the National Weather Service didn’t switch to mixed case in its bulletins until May of 2016.

          However, early in the internet era, use of all caps on bulletin boards and in email was discouraged and those who used them were accused of shouting. For many years, it was regarded as a sign of being a newbie to the online realm to compose in all caps.
          It is harder to use all caps when texting with a mobile device since there isn’t an easy caps lock button on every mobile virtual keyboard like there is with physical computer keyboards. However, use of random capitalization, especially in names, was for some years considered to be edgy and fashionable among younger users.

          • Michael Neville

            If you have trouble reading comments written in upper and lower case, then I suggest you use any one or more of many display enlargement tools available for free on the internet. I don’t like to be yelled at and I particularly don’t like some inconsiderate twerp calling me a POLITICALLY CORRECT SHEEP when I express displeasure at being yelled at.

            You mentioned Navy communications in your post. Speaking as a retired Navy Chief, I request that you please accept this communication: FUCK OFF!

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            AS A 101ST AIRBORNE PARATROOPER, GO EAT YOUR OWN SHIT!

        • mason

          Thanks … convertcase … yes, very cool

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            DO YOU WATCH SETH ANDREWS VIDEOS? HE HAS MANY GREAT ONES. AND SO DOES DAN BARKER.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    Any truth seekers should watch, and carefully listen to, the facts presented in this video

    This video “The Dark Truth of Religion” has information in it which proves the Christian religion and the story of Jesus are taken from previous religions, thus there nothing new in the Christian religion at all.

    https://www.Youtube.Com/watch?V=a_aajtzr18w

    I say carefully listen because I know if you take a listening comprehension skills test, most of you will have a less than 23% score. And I know this because in a management training course given to all of us in management at NCR’s Electronics Division, we were given a course on how to effectively listen.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

    Leo Tolstoy

  • mason

    As a person who thinks the ridiculous deserves our finest ridicule, I thoroughly https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9c11bb3fc7b7d7c953b2b3f4982982bf804e3ecbbb128f7ecba24138e2e07f40.jpg enjoyed you article David. 🙂