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This Week: Everyday Humanism

When All Else Fails, Baffle Them with Bullshit.

We get a lot of comments on our Facebook page from random people, and occasionally we get the odd “hit and run” theist, believer or New Agey type who wants to blow our collective minds with what they think is a debate-ending question.

Y’know, the verbal equivalent of Hulk Hogan’s Big Leg Drop. The sort of brain melting stumper that would just leave us standing there with a bit of drool on our chins. But, most of the time, it’s just a pointless rhetorical query with a lot of poetic pizazz and no real substance or point to it.

Basically all empty brain calories, but very pretty sounding. A bunch of words that make sense individually, but are arranged in a way that sounds profound, but has little discernable meaning. The  sort of woo-woo nonsense that Deepak Chopra peddles for a living.

Last Thursday, a rather beardy gentleman who listed the afore-mentioned Mr. Chopra as one of his “people who inspire [him] ” posted the following question on our Facebook Wall:

Why don’t you want God to be real?

Now this is the sort of question we get from theists a lot. Our own Deanna Joy Lyons answered his post with simple and direct honesty:

In my case, I just don’t think any gods are real. After examining a lot of evidence, and histories of many religions, I have concluded that it’s most likely that all gods are made up by man. In the case of the Christian god, I am very glad he is not real. That guy is a scary, violent being.

Beardy McDeepity answered:

I can’t agree with the christian god either. christians today promote hate. hate never builds. it just kills. I believe Love is God.

Basically, the same sort of vague and meaningless feel goodery that goes on greeting cards, bumper stickers and Jedi dialogue bits in the Star Wars prequels. But since I like to take people at their word and give them the benefit of the doubt — though Sam thinks I’m too generous in this regard — I wanted to assume that he wanted to have a real conversation in good faith and possibly have an interesting exchange, so I answered as clearly as I could muster.

 What I want is irrelevant. The universe doesn’t exist for my convenience and my wishes don’t always reflect the way things actually are. Love is an emotion. And saying “God is love” is just a bumper sticker, not any sort of profound thought.

While I don’t believe because there is no real evidence for the existence of any gods, I am also glad that there is no evidence.

I am glad because I don’t want the universe to be a monarchy, where everything that happens is the result of the wishes of an all-powerful, all-knowing ruler and king who owns me and has a right to my life. I don’t find that sort of thought comforting, I find it creepy and think it sounds a bit too much like living in North Korea.

With all of the needless suffering in the world — from childhood leukemia to airplane crashes to birth defects to earthquakes — adding an all powerful being who is choosing or allowing that sort of thing to happen, only leads one to conclude that said being is cruel and malevolent. And even to the extent that a being with power over me is intentionally hurting me to make me a better person? How is that any different from the bad guy in the “Saw” movies?

I don’t want that to be true, and I’m a bit shocked that anyone would want it to be true. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be.

Beardy McDeepity:

Anything that supports Life is profound.

Face. Palm. Though I have to admire his ability to completely ignore the points I made and narrow in on a way to respond in a completely meaningless — albeit, pretty — way. And that why I hate New Age bullshit.

While we see this show as a way to share our perspective and open a dialogue with just about anyone, we’re less than interested in talking to people who, rather than discuss these topics in good faith, are more interesting in having an opening to just parrot Scripture at us or spout on meaningless and poetic mantras while ignoring everything we say.

About the Author: Mike Gillis

Mike Gillis is co-creator, and co-host of Ask an Atheist. He hosts the Radio vs. the Martians! and Mike and Pól Save the Universe! podcasts. He also enjoys comic books, the Planet of the Apes, and the band Queen.

Feedback and Commentary

9 Comments 0 Trackbacks
pinko September 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Random capitalization Makes words more Truthy.

Reply
Libbie September 26, 2011 at 8:00 am

Come on. That’s not even pretty-sounding wootalk. I’ve seen better wordplay at the bottom of slush piles.

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Daniel O Broin September 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I agree with your points and share your disdain for New age, but find it hilarious you had to say all this: “But, most of the time, it’s just a pointless rhetorical query with a lot of poetic pizazz and no real substance or point to it.

Basically all empty brain calories, but very pretty sounding. A bunch of words that make sense individually, but are arranged in a way that sounds profound, but has little discernable meaning. The sort of woo-woo nonsense that Deepak Chopra peddles for a living.”

… in a point complaining about rhetoric.

Reply
Mike Gillis September 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I’m not sure I see your point, Daniel. What I’m talking about is when someone makes a statement or question that sounds pretty, but means less and less the more you think about it.

Basically, I want people to have a point when they make a point.

When someone says “anything that promotes life is profound,” what does that even mean?

It reminds me a great deal of a four person debate that Michael Shermer and Sam Harris had with Chpopra and some New Age woman. At one point in the debate, the woiman started talking about “the world mind walking with itself.”

Guh?

My overall point is that it’s impossible to have a constructive or coherent conversation with someone when you can’t summarize the things they’re saying into meaningful sentences.

Reply
Kilgore Troute September 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

Dan Dennett calls this a deepity.

Reply
Henry (from San Jose) October 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Even more to the point, Beardy McDeepity seems to have a serious case of belief in belief, ala Dan Dennett. I’m surprised he didn’t also say, “You have to believe in something!”

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Ron S. October 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm

These sorts of deepities are what religion, politics, and business share in common. Infectious memes. They propagate themselves without concern for their own content. People hear them, they sound good. They are essentially meaningless. So they can mean anything you want them to mean. They make the infected look “wise.” It reminds me of the character “The Sphinx” in the film “Mystery Men.” In rhetoric, the killer phrasing is “antimetabole.” For instance, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Reply
Mishkafofer January 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Deepak got an infinite wisdom, you all should feel sorry for lacking infinite financial resources for paying his generous (dare say infinite) wisdom.
This argument is infinitely correct.

Reply
Camilo May 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm

“spout on meaningless and poetic mantras while ignoring everything we say”

You just described my sister!

Reply

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