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

Comment

← Are all religions equally crazy?

jac12358's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by jac12358

Well, by "crazy" do you mean "likely"? When atheists excuse certain religions it is usually based on the lack of damage their doctrine dictates or their followers unleash. Other than that it is a relative judgment call. "Mormonism is just Christianity with some extra stupid ideas." Well, true, but one must be careful in determining the probability (based on a complete lack of evidence) of a religion based on how crazy it sounds.

Remember, as I've argued, we all - even atheists - hold biases and delusions. Free will and such. But I needn't go into such a contentious topic here. We still FEEL the earth is still and speak of it as such colloquially, even though we KNOW now it is not. We say the sun rises and sets when it does nothing of the sort. We say "I was just here yesterday" but as far as spacial coordinates you were nothing of the sort, that location which both you and the address on earth a millions of miles away from where you were both yesterday. And so on - intuition is not always to be trusted, and what we call "crazy" is sometimes not a measure of proposition's deviation from known scientific facts, but rather from "common sense."

As an example, consider this pair of propositions:

  1. Queen Elizabeth II time travelled back to visit Elizabeth I.

  2. Queen Elizabeth II time travelled back to visit Elizabeth I AND danced the Macarena nude before her court.

Of course we can dispense BOTH as completely unlikely since the Queen does not currently possess a time machine. But the 2nd proposition is even LESS likely because even if she did, she most certainly would not disrobe and perform such a dance publicly.

Now consider these two, in which the claims are religious/supernatural ones:

  1. In the Beginning God created the Universe.

  2. In the Beginning God created the Universe while wearing a toupee made from the puree of mimes fermented in purple fairy baskets.

IN WHAT SENSE can the second proposition be considered LESS LIKELY than the first, since we have not established god as a known entity, or even an understood one in what he can and cannot do? Certainly if he can create the universe having said toupee would be child's play. Yes, it is silly, and may be considered more crazy - or perhaps what is meant is simply more imaginative?

And if either proposition resulted in a religion in which its followers committed atrocities, those atrocities alone would not render the base claims any more or less likely.

And so, I suggest this thread really asks three questions, each with potentially mutually exclusive answers for each religion they are asked about:

  1. Are all religions equally LIKELY?

  2. Are all religions equally DANGEROUS?

  3. Are all religions equally IMAGINATIVE?

Sat, 21 May 2011 02:44:16 UTC | #629062