Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fail Quote: The non-superstitious evangelical Christian

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Neil Simpson
Neil Simpson

From evangelical blogger Neil Simpson at Eternity Matters, sneering at “New Atheists” in light of reports that as religiosity goes down amongst general populations, levels of non-religious superstition rise:

As a Christian, I scoff at superstitions. I leave those to non-believers.

Oh, lookie! A man who avows belief in talking snakes that trick us into eating cursed apples, intangible puffs of magical smoke that inhabit our bodies until we die, and a sky-fairy that loves us all so very very much that he’ll cast us into eternal damnation for so much as burping, thinks superstitions are stupid and silly. Of course, I suppose ‘superstitions’ in that context only applies to non-Christian ones, right?

The rest of his post is about the supposed embarrassment (to godless skeptics) of seeing both declining religiosity and rising levels of superstition in increasingly secular demographics. Of course, this is no such contradiction; the fact that many folks are shedding one particular brand of irrationality says nothing about their capacity to continue adhering to irrationality in itself, be it part of a structured religion or other vague paranormal notions. The human brain is hardwired to attach importance to perceived patterns and to seek out simple, seemingly evident explanations for natural phenomenon (or anything that simply “feels good” to believe in). It’s not exactly surprising, therefore, to see people shed religion only to immediately seek out other silly nonsense to believe in. Believers are believers, whether in God or Tarot. Only those who go the extra mile and forcibly come to the conclusion that all superstition is bullshit can truly be called “nonbelievers”.

It’s also simply unfair and dishonest to claim that the increasingly prominent atheistic/skeptic movement is, itself, the instigator for the increase in secularism seen in modern times. For all we know, both the advent of “New Atheists” and the phenomenon of decreasing religiousness could have the same common societal cause at their core, even if we’re unable to pinpoint exactly what it may be. In other words, both may very well be the result of some other influence, rather than one being directly caused by the other. It’s too early and unclear to tell at the present.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)