It doesn’t matter

"I just ask that you don't lump us all together with Ken. Some of us are reasonable"This is another after-effect of the debate I mentioned earlier, and is closely related to the comments I made therein. The image here is one of those shamelessly forwarded, reposted, and unattributed “memes” that can be found everywhere, and I feature it reluctantly because the photos therein are always unattributed and usually lifted without permission. Since this was a recorded debate, it’s likely this is a screen capture from a posted video, but I’d still prefer to give credit where it’s due. I have resized it slightly to fit within my format here, but otherwise left it as I found it.

The key quote is at the very bottom, and it’s what led to the post title, the response of a great majority of scientists, atheists, and even agnostics: “It doesn’t matter.”

Nobody – nobody – that I have ever come across or even heard of thinks all religious folk believe the same thing. Not even that all christians do. Anyone that is embarrassed by creationists or cults or televangelists does so not because they’ve been treated the same, but because they themselves have associated under the same broad label – “christian” in this case. I myself am very supportive of taking individuals as individuals, dealing only with the views expressed directly and not assuming that anyone is a spokesperson for any ideology. As I said in the earlier post, I’d rather see religious folk correcting the others they identify with, those ostensibly holding the same religious views, but I’m not expecting that to happen anytime soon, because it really has nothing to do with creating a coherent set of ideas. Religion is not about explanations, but about status – that’s why there’s no agreement among practitioners.

Trust me on this one, however: the concepts of a literal adam & eve or a worldwide flood are far from being the only things that can be found wrong with religions. The real crux of the matter, and the reason why the distinction made by this meme doesn’t have any impact, is this: there is nothing scientific about religion in any form. There is nothing, in fact, even demonstrable – dependable, predictable, explanatory, or useful. It’s indulgence, and nothing more. No holy book, no scripture, no mythology or folklore or belief system, has ever tied in with the bare facts. Full stop. The bible does not say, “god put it all in motion with the big bang,” or any variation thereof – neither does any other religion. None of them say, “the creator implemented a system that would shape its creatures over time,” or even manages to get the composition or size of the sun correct. To claim that god ‘produced’ the scientific facts is the blatant attempt to shoehorn a belief system into the undeniable traits of our universe – there is not only no evidence of such, there is no account of it, and it did not appear until after science proved creationism dead wrong. It is, pure and simple, made up, well after the origins of the various religions, in a desperate attempt to try and maintain relevance.

Even heeding the pleas of those who try to wield ‘possibility’ as a weapon gets us nowhere. Let’s say that it’s possible that a god really did start it all. So, what now? This gives us nothing to use at all – no properties of this god, no intentions, no attitudes, no follow-through in the slightest. We can’t even determine from this which god it is referring to, since all of them are ‘creators.’ Are we sure it’s just one, and not a committee? Does anyone who uses this argument consider the possibility that it’s actually a nasty little god with evil plans? That our universe is actually a discarded mistake? That we humans are intended to exert some independence and stop relying on the creator? There are a lot of ‘possibilities’ out there, including the possibility that religion is complete nonsense – how does anyone select only one?

All of that is an abject abuse of the term ‘possibility’ anyway, because we cannot actually determine that any of them truly are possible – it’s just using ignorance to insert specific ideas without any reasoning behind them. Probability, however, has something else to say about it. With no evidence of such existence, no effect to be found, no properties to be measured, no examples of gods or supernatural whatevers to be seen, the probability of such a creator is… null. Nothing divided by nothing is always nothing – that’s how probability works. Nobody driving their car down an empty road slams on the brakes because of the possibility that there’s an invisible brick wall right there – but somehow this is supposed to be a valid argument for religious belief? Seriously?

And that brings us to the last little assertion: “Some of us are reasonable.” Well, that really all depends on how you define ‘reasonable,’ doesn’t it? For a lot of people, using semantic gymnastics to excuse a preferred belief system doesn’t actually count, as hard as that may be to believe. While it is certainly possible to be more logical or coherent than creationists, that’s a particularly low hurdle, and there are bigger ones to be found.

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I feel obligated to point this out, after the comments I made in the earlier post regarding how rarely you see religious folk bothering to correct other religious folk rather than, as this post shows, trying to deny any association. It would have been remarkably easy to address this meme to creationists, but that’s not what we see, is it?

Nevertheless, credit is extended to Pat Robertson, of all people, who openly trashed the young-earth standpoint promoted by Ken Ham. He wasn’t (at least within the video clip at that link) defending his religious position to scientists or atheists, but addressing other christians when he called it nonsense. He still promotes a lot of really bizarre beliefs, but at the very least we get to see a prominent religious figure who aimed in a more useful direction. Baby steps, baby steps.

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