Believe absurdities? Commit atrocities!

Over on my other blog (where I’ve wasted way too much time lately, but that stops right now) it’s often heard said (for example, right here) that

They who believe absurdities commit atrocities.

It’s often heard said to me. Apparently, I’m an apologist for irrationality, the epitome of stupidity and number among “they who believe absurdities”. Which, apparently, puts me on some sort of watch list. I’ll commit atrocities, for sure. It’s only a matter of time. Truly I tell you, I’m a ticking totalitarian time bomb!

In fact, belief in God is absurd. The Christian world view even more so. Tertullian, the early Christian writer who gave us the doctrine of the Trinity (the term does not occur in the Bible) is said to have argued, “Credo quia absurdum.” (“I believe it because it is absurd.”) I disagree with Tertullian. The absurdity (or otherwise) of Christian belief has no bearing at all on its truth or falsity. This is a point I want to return to in an upcoming post. All I’m saying now is, yes, I believe absurdities.

The belief that “they who believe absurdities commit atrocities” is itself absurd! And false. It’s axiomatic that all Christians sin. But few Christians commit atrocities. Most sins we commit are “venial” sins as the Catholics say, or “token” sins or “trifles” as Martin Luther put it. Not atrocities. The wages of sin is death. I sure as hell ain’t asking for a raise!

Charity is both a Christian virtue and an epistemic virtue, so I’m going to be charitable and assess the watered down claim that

They who believe absurdities are more likely to commit atrocities than those who don’t.

It’s an empirical claim. We have reason to believe it only if we have evidence that they who believe absurdities are more likely to commit atrocities than those who don’t. But we don’t. So it’s an irrational belief. (Stupid, too.) End of story.

Time for a quick sequel? The original saying is attributed to Voltaire, and I got to wondering if Voltaire actually said it. After all, he never said

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

either. (That was Evelyn Beatrice Hall.) So I did some research. Here’s what Voltaire actually said.

They who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

And here’s what Voltaire said next.

If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart.

Objectivists score own goal! Christians sit on sidelines and drink beer. Sounds good to me.

Time for a quick coda? If you do happen to be in the mood to commit an atrocity, but you’re short of ideas, look no further than your friendly, neighbourhood atrocity vendor. (Psst! Want some atrocities?) (I’m kidding. Thou shalt NOT commit atrocities. I hope I didn’t really need to tell you that. You came here from SOLO? Oh, okay.)

WARNING: The lyrics to the song below rank among the most violent, gruesome and sadistic that I’ve ever set ears on. They qualify as extremely gross even by death metal’s usual lyrical standards. Self-parody? You decide. Either way, the lyrics are testament to Slayer’s pure epicness. As one YouTube commenter remarks, “Wow if this isn’t genius what the hell is.”

13 thoughts on “Believe absurdities? Commit atrocities!”

  1. Okay then, what about the crusades?

    And if you say that’s historical, I’ll go along with that, but then there’s the Irish Troubles, and the bloke who drowned in Lyttelton Harbour about three years ago who prior to that had tried blowing up an abortion clinic in Christchurch?

    And then there’s the Bosnian war: atrocities aplenty of Christian against Moslem.

    Hell, there’s even one of my lovely sisters who was giving birth to the rugby team for God even though it was doing her health in.

    Um. Exclusives, that Wacko wacko, and Catholics?

  2. Exclusives? Check. That Waco wacko? Check. And Catholics? Check. Okay then, what about the Crusades? Check. (It’s those bloody Catholics again.) But you see, Mark, when it comes to who’s the most atrocious, it’s a numbers game.

  3. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and Lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy Paths”.

    It is true that the Doctrine of the Trinity is ‘Absurd’ to the Human interlect. In this respect by rejecting it Islam appears ‘More Rational’ Yet is it True to Say Islam therefore tends Less towards Atrosities? Does it mean Islam is more likely to be true? I think not. And the Objectivists are Hipocrites as they use a anti-individualist mentality to Condemn all religious people by collectivising them all into one Box and deem us all equally guily of Atrosities by association! What a dirty trick! Eg I am lumped and judged with ‘Crusaders’, ‘Witch burners’ Etc. The Folly of such a mode of thought exposes Whom really believes absurdities!

  4. Richard, re the numbers game, yes, humans without a philosophy of reason, and NIOF principle, are evil, every bit as the fiery fundamentalist.

    Tim: “And the Objectivists are Hipocrites as they use a anti-individualist mentality to Condemn all religious people by collectivising them all into one Box and deem us all equally guily of Atrosities by association! ”

    Um, guilty, but only as in I’ve posted here, following the principle. And the principle to me is if you don’t own your life, and feel you are answerable to an Other, that’s akin to switching off your mind to consequences, and nothing good can come from that. Face to face, and on SOLO I hope I treat people as individuals, one on one: this goes for Richard, certainly.

  5. So would you blow up an abortion clinic Reed?

    Do you believe violence against doctors practicing abortion is warranted?
    Warranted, I don’t know. It’s not unjust.

    What are your thoughts – by your measure some abortions are murder –
    What actions are warranted to prevent those murders?

    Why no MOJ posts… I have lots of ideas but find explaining stuff a difficult. Provoking a discussion seems to work best for me but it doesn’t work if there is no opposing perspective.

  6. Mark, the NIOF principle does all the work. With all due respect, Objectivism is “a philosophy of reason” in name only. I think Objectivism is more absurd than Christianity. I really do. And that’s the real show-stopper. We can’t play the numbers game if we don’t agree on what beliefs count as absurdities, and we don’t.

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