This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← A Deal-breaker

A Deal-breaker - Comments

MondSemmel's Avatar Comment 1 by MondSemmel

Even more so than the article about naturalism that appeared in 50 Voices (typo in the title btw) of Disbelief and was subsequently linked to on this site, I think this one is my new favorite contribution. In fact, it's so good that I really do have to buy the book now - which is a pity, since I still have tons of other books to read, but I can't help it! It's simply too good =(.
The arguments have all been there before, of course, but the tone is remarkably unique - unique enough that it might even convince some people who aren't even really on the fence of this issue to at least stop for once and listen for a bit...

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:18:00 UTC | #419647

wald0h's Avatar Comment 2 by wald0h

This is so insanely good that it finally convinced me to buy the book.

I'm in the same boat MondSemmel, so many books, so little time!

This essay was so unbelievably passionate but sincere. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you, Ophelia.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:20:00 UTC | #419648

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 3 by zeerust2000

A brilliant article, it sums up many of the thoughts I've had myself. Believers start with the axiom that god exists and will quite literally bend over backwards to carve a tortuous pseudo-logical pathway using all kinds of metaphysical jargon until they reach their desired conclusion. And they don't realise what they are doing. If a car crashes and everyone is killed except a baby in the back seat (this actually happened here recently)you can be sure someone is thinking that god saved the baby, without realising the irony in that. I agree with ModSemmel that the tone of this article is great, I'm half thinking of printing it up in leaflets and tossing a few hundred over the fence of my local catholic high school.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:26:00 UTC | #419651

robaylesbury's Avatar Comment 4 by robaylesbury

Possibly one of the best pieces I have ever read. It encapsulates so many of the doubts I have and frames them with intoxicating clarity. I left Christianity almost three years ago, and as I ponder the ignorance of my former state this article encourages me to continue to get alongside
my Christian friends. The world is such a wonderful place with such grandeur to behold. They are crippling themselves when so much could be theirs for the taking.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:32:00 UTC | #419655

Ophelia Benson's Avatar Comment 5 by Ophelia Benson

Thanks, all!

I'm blushing...

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:40:00 UTC | #419660

JuJu's Avatar Comment 6 by JuJu

It seems that when a religious person has to discuss who and what god is and does, they fall into some kind of a trance. In this trance they seem able to ignore critical thinking, and evidence doesn't matter. Not only must they believe in imaginary things, they also believe that all the science that contradicts there feelings must be incorrect. When the subject switches to something other than religion or god then science is once again acceptable and used as if it was the best way to answer questions. This is very strange indeed.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:45:00 UTC | #419661

Fizzle's Avatar Comment 8 by Fizzle

Ophelia has increased RB's book sales by at least one.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:46:00 UTC | #419663

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 7 by Sally Luxmoore

Ranked as excellent. I have the book, but realise I hadn't read this one!
Thanks for putting this up.
I shall try to remember this particular bit,

God’s CV: God is the eternal omnipotent benevolent omniscient creator of the universe, and has blue eyes.
It will be enjoyable seeing the indignation and puzzlement on people's faces when asked to explain why they don't like that little addition.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:46:00 UTC | #419662

amuck's Avatar Comment 9 by amuck

50 Vocies of Disbelief is on the to buy list, after reading the Ophelia Benson article it just got pushed to the top.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 01:13:00 UTC | #419673

sara g's Avatar Comment 10 by sara g

I won't be able to buy the book until after the new year. I hope she doesn't mind if I print this up on festive paper and put it in my Christmas cards. I started reading the best bits out loud to my son, but found I was reading the whole thing.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 01:29:00 UTC | #419676

Orion73's Avatar Comment 11 by Orion73

I enjoyed Ophelia Benson's article but I found myself rolling my eyes at her references to red hair and blue eyes. Where is this place where people still believe in a God with European features and will insist that he looks that way? Isn't it obvious that the image of God having red hair and blue eyes was invented by persons who used religion as a tool for their own agendas? I'd much rather she'd stuck with other discrepancies.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 01:43:00 UTC | #419678

erindorothy's Avatar Comment 12 by erindorothy

A brilliant article. Very funny too, but ultimately tragic that it has to be said! Buying the book very soon. thanks Ophelia.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 02:06:00 UTC | #419682

The_Intangible_Fancy's Avatar Comment 13 by The_Intangible_Fancy


I'm not sure I understand your objection to the references to red hair and blue eyes. The point of bringing those features up was to show how ridiculous it is to suggest that God has such features. It is an important point to make because there are many people who DO attribute features like that to God without realizing that they are simply projecting their own desires onto God. Just look at the average depiction of Jesus, a middle eastern Jew, in America: white skin, blue eyes. People think that this is actually what Jesus looked like. So I thought the point about red hair and blue eyes was well made.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 02:40:00 UTC | #419685

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 14 by crookedshoes

i am trying to memorize this word by wonderful word. thank you, Ophelia. it hits so many nails on so many heads.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 03:16:00 UTC | #419690

nother person's Avatar Comment 15 by nother person

I too have added 50 Voices to my list of books I want to own and give to certain people. I agree this is a superb article. Thank you, Ophelia.

Don't take it amiss if I point out one small weakness. In the section on faith and god hiding, how do we answer people who tell us that god is only hiding from us because we have not opened our hearts... claiming that god is 'present' to them every day and etc. blah, blah.

Not that I expect one article to answer every possible objection, but I suspect that this is the escape route many take to avoid your logic.

The only answer I have for this is, "Well, you're deluded." True, I think, but sort of a conversation stopper. There's got to be a better response. Any thoughts?

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 04:10:00 UTC | #419699

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 16 by DocWebster

This article is the closest I've ever come to hearing another voicing thoughts swirling in my own head. The logic is so simple a 2 year old knows it instinctively and has to be trained out of that knowledge if there is any chance for the parent being able to blinker their child into religious conformity. How do you know? If only we could ever get an honest answer from the faithful to that very question we wouldn't need to worry about religion anymore.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 04:20:00 UTC | #419702

jonjermey's Avatar Comment 17 by jonjermey

I have raised the point before, but it goes well here: how can creationists assert that

1. The universe was created by a scientific process about which we know very little.

is a worse explanation than

2. The universe was created by a divine being about which we know absolutely nothing.


Thu, 03 Dec 2009 04:31:00 UTC | #419703

Philster61's Avatar Comment 18 by Philster61

I find terribly amusing when Christians say how much they know God and have a "personal" relationship with "him". Then on the same breath they will emphatically state how "He exists outside of time and space".

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:02:00 UTC | #419711

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 19 by SaintStephen

I have the book. It's great, and I read Ophelia's excellent essay last week.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:05:00 UTC | #419712

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 20 by SaintStephen

18. Comment #438171 by Philster61 on December 3, 2009 at 5:02 am

I find terribly amusing when Christians say how much they know God and have a "personal" relationship with "him". Then on the same breath they will emphatically state how "He exists outside of time and space".
Exactly! Cognitive dissonance in the flesh.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:08:00 UTC | #419713

zeerust2000's Avatar Comment 21 by zeerust2000

What I like about this article is that it sums up so well the things I find just plain silly about religion and which believers seem oblivious too. It's a real hitting-the-nail-on-the-head piece. Way to go Ophelia. I'll have to get the book now for sure.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:09:00 UTC | #419714

blitz442's Avatar Comment 22 by blitz442

"But then (we are told) “faith” would be too easy; in fact, it would be compelled, and that won’t do. Faith is a kind of heroic discipline, like yoga or playing the violin. Faith has to overcome resistance, or it doesn’t count. If God just comes right out and tells us, beyond possibility of doubt, that God exists, that’s an unworthy shortcut, like a sprinter taking steroids. No, we have to earn faith by our own efforts, which means by believing God exists despite all the evidence indicating it doesn’t and the complete lack of evidence indicating it does."

Actually, even if God did come out and unambiguously announce His(?) presence, we would still not be compelled to worship him according to the profound doctrines of Christianity, and there would be no interference with free will. I would assume that the Devil has both unambiguous knowledge of God in all His glory and free will, yet still willingly disobeys.

So, perverse as it is, the Devil is given a much better opportunity to make an informed decision about God than us, God's "beloved" children.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:25:00 UTC | #419717

Russell Blackford's Avatar Comment 23 by Russell Blackford

You rock, Ophelia!

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:45:00 UTC | #419719

Logicel's Avatar Comment 24 by Logicel

nother person, perhaps a response in the style of: Why would god expect us to close down the mind it gave us so we can open up our hearts to accept its existence if all it had to do was to leave some evidence so we could use the mind it gave us? Nope that would not work, because they would say, exactly, if we had no challenge, like closing down our minds to open up our hearts, than it would not be a test. But then again, a test for what? Our gullibility, that's what. So that is the kind of cruel and confusing god they are worshiping. You can point out that using the mind it gave us would be the correct challenge. Gullibility must not be required to feel reverence, admiration, or love for an entity. EDIT: In other words, paraphasing the glorious Ophelia, equating gullibility with love is the deal-breaker.

Could any religious believer regard the tone in which Ophelia has written this funny, witty, and clear piece as being strident and disrespectful?

Of course they could as that is what happens to your mind when it is on the drug of faith.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 05:53:00 UTC | #419721

Logicel's Avatar Comment 25 by Logicel

For those few that may not know, it is thought that Ophelia is the inspiration behind the bar woman in the Mo and Jesus cartoons.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:00:00 UTC | #419722

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 26 by Laurie Fraser

Ophelia, that is a magnificent bit of writing. Incisive, witty, funny, but overwhelmingly intelligent. If He wasn't before, God is now well and truly dead.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:01:00 UTC | #419723

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 27 by SaintStephen

Logicel says Ophelia Benson is the bartender:

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 06:53:00 UTC | #419728

russkid's Avatar Comment 28 by russkid

A lot of people think they know things about “God” which they have no good reason to think they know, and even which seem to be contradicted by everything we see around us. It’s odd that the discrepancies don’t interfere with the knowledge.

A lot of people but not the atheist ? Do you know anything about God ? Of course I know you cant answer that without qualifying it with a justification of your atheism ... but just sayin.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 07:17:00 UTC | #419733

Sandra S's Avatar Comment 29 by Sandra S

28. Comment #438194 by russkid

Yes, obviously an atheist asserting that there's no good reason to think "God" exists is on the same ground as the overcompensating homophobe who just knows He hates homosexuals or uses natural disasters for justice.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 07:25:00 UTC | #419737

russkid's Avatar Comment 30 by russkid

Yes, obviously an atheist asserting that there's no good reason to think "God" exists is on the same ground as the overcompensating homophobe who just knows He hates homosexuals or uses natural disasters for justice.

If the atheist asserted only that he found no reason for himself, personally, to believe in a God then I would have to agree with your sarcasm.

Your opposition to the theist in the way that your atheism is a variable in your judgment of how people behave ( right or wrong ) is turning you effectively into a theist, minus the God.

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 07:38:00 UTC | #419740