Saturday, January 19, 2008

Flavors of bullshit

Yesterday I wrote about agnosticism and/or atheism. I neglected to mention that one does not need to commit to a single philosophical position towards different ideas about god, just as one does not have to have a single attitude towards different purported scientific theories. Some purported theories (e.g. Intelligent Design) are not falsifiable (at least not as typically presented); some are false (phlogiston, the luminiferous aether); many, of course, are actually true.

There are eight skitty zillion different conceptions of gods. Some differ only in the fine details, others are completely different at a fundamental level. The ideas range from Deism and Pantheism to intentional or unintentional absurdities such as Christianity, Islam or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Still, in a long-established running debate, one must settle on a label. One reason I myself have settled on the label "atheist" is because, fundamentally, I have the attitude, "Tell me what definition of 'god' you're using, and I'll tell you why the idea is bullshit."

If you define "god" as unknowable, it's bullshit because it's meaningless. If you define "god" as difficult to know, it's bullshit because it's irrelevant. If you define god as practically knowable, it's bullshit because it's false (and almost always obviously false and egregiously stupid).

(And if you define "god" as known to be true, it's bullshit because it's trivial. Yes, we know everything that exists does exist, but to define "god" as merely "everything that exists" is trivial unless you assert that "everything that exists" has at least some of the properties typically attributed to god, such as a separately determinable consciousness.)

One could just as easily refuse to call oneself a scientist (in the philosophical sense) because it's impossible to refute every form of pseudoscience with the exact same argument. Intelligent Design is bullshit for different reasons than is Velikovskyism, which is bullshit for different reasons than crystal healing woo-woo, which is bullshit for different reasons than are insane conspiracy theories.

Atheists don't have to be defensive just because religion comes in many different flavors of bullshit. The flavors may vary, but it's all bullshit.


  1. What is it if you just don't care about the question of god? If you don’t believe in arguments that utilize supernatural propositions, then the idea of god is gently pushed out of your frame of reference.

  2. The usual term for not caring at all about the issue — even to the point of not caring whether or not you know — is "apatheist".

    However, given that almost every country in the world has some form of religious dominionism operating politically, with no small few gaining strength daily, I think it is at least misguided to not care about issues relating to "god".

  3. The flavors may vary, but it's all bullshit.

    Same goes for atheist arguments. But don't take that as an invitation to spout more bullshit. :-)

  4. Big words, Jim. Can you back them up? Or are you just a pissant?

    Bring it on.

  5. Ah Larry,

    You are saying the exact things I would say myself if I wern't infinitely too lazy.

    The 'up yours' attitude of this blog is most refreshing. I am so sick of the respect given to bullshit pushers. If someone believes something entirely thick, whats wrong with pointing that out.

    I think there is a direct link between intellegence and Atheism. All the smart people I know are Atheists, only the dumb ones are believers. There are a few exceptions but the rule generally holds

    'Very smart = Atheist'
    'Very dumb = willing to believe something £$£King stupid'

    Sorry for venting here Larry,

    Keep up the good work.

  6. You don't need to apologize for venting, and you are definitely permitted to say "fuck".

  7. I think our language has forced us into this ambiguous set of symbols that do nothing but represent nonsense. And that is religion at its base.

    I think the fear of theists is not so much that they're wrong--I think most do know they're wrong, and the fear doubt brings is best ignored--but that one day they may have to admit they're wrong. Public facade and identity that propagate social cohesion supersede truth.

  8. Public facade and identity that propagate social cohesion supersede truth.

    But of course. Anyone can believe something that's true; it takes absolute commitment to arbitrary, irrational beliefs to separate us from them.

  9. Mm, I'm partial to strawberry-banana-flavored bullshit, myself.

  10. By the way, your link to Velikovskyism just goes back here.

  11. I was going to put this up earlier (when I originally read this) but I just wanted to say that I loved your poetry here - specifically the notion that the various different religions of the world are all just different flavors of bullshit. That is good poetry - and it has what all good poetry has at its core - a big truth in a small number of words.

  12. In America, religious liberty and freedom of conscience is a guaranteed right. I will defend my fellow citizens’ right to believe whatever they want, so long as that belief does not infringe on my rights or otherwise break any law.

    But respecting another’s right to believe what they want does not mean that I have to respect the beliefs themselves. Just because a belief is a ‘belief’, that does not grant said belief immunity from critical scrutiny. Just because an untestable, unfalsifiable supernatural fantasy is deemed to be a ‘belief’, it does not qualify to be granted a level of respect anywhere near that granted to well-supported scientific theories which do lend themselves to disproof.

    In the realm of scientific endeavor, explanatory ideas are at best mere hypotheses which will stand or fall based on their merits alone. Beliefs purport to explain but do not; they simply command blind acceptance.

    Creationism, in any form, has never been able to stand up to critical scrutiny. Creationism is simply a belief without scientific merit and it should be afforded no more presence in a science curriculum than the thoroughly de-bunked case of phlogiston theory (even though the phlogiston hypothesis really was serious science in its day.)


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