Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bomb Mots

I have often mentioned the need to have "bon mots" ready to toss into a conversation with believers.  These "bon mots" should be designed to make the believers think about some or all of what they believe.  For most situations, they should be subtle and polite so as not to arouse the ire of the believer's ego.  Such as "no one knows how the universe came to be and anyone claiming to know is making a claim that cannot be true" or "faith is just another way of saying that you don't care about evidence and logic".  Sometimes, however, it can be useful to rattle the believer's mental cage just a bit.

Such "disturbing" statements can be thought of as "bomb mots" and should be used much like Zen Koans.  That is, they can be used to try to break the other person out of his canalized thinking habits.  As is the case with most conversational bombs, it is usually best to say it, perhaps explain just a little immediately thereafter while the believer is still registering what you said, then move on, either literally or figuratively, and let the believer give it some thought.  I like to use these "bomb mots" to undermine believers' implicit assumptions, which are usually those that they learned as young children and have never questioned.  (In fact, that is the purpose of the Zen Koan as well.  They are purposefully absurd statements designed to get the listener to look at the world anew--much as he did when a child.)

For instance, believers have been taught that faith is a virtue.  Frankly, this has always bothered me immensely because I can't see how rejecting evidence and reason can possibly be a virtue.  So, one of the things I like to drop into conversations with believers from time to time is this:

Faith is the single most obscene word in the English language.

Likewise, believers have been taught that religion is a good thing both for the individual and for humanity in general.  One might say in reply:

Religion is a crime against Humanity.

When believers assert that religion is the source of morality, possible replies include:

The moral function of religion is to allow bad people to feel good about themselves.

Religious morality consists of the notion that getting caught and punished are all that matters and that might makes right.

No sane, intelligent person believes religion is true, and no moral person would want it to be true.

If you use any of these or others like them, the best result is that the religious person actually stops and listens to your explanation of why you think it is true.  In many cases, however, it will be best just to move on--or away, as the case may require.

The last suggested reply (that no moral person would want religion to be true) is also useful when religious people accuse non-believers of rejecting god because they want to be immoral.  The first reply to such an accusation is, of course, to say

"I know that is how religious people choose their facts, but I don't choose my facts based on how I feel about them.  I choose them based on evidence." 

Then point out that religion is most certainly not moral and, as I said, that no moral person would want it to be true.  Be ready to explain why religion is not moral.  See my previous posts on that subject for material

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