Eternally Stupid

FOX “News” Channel have their own priest. Since it’s currently time in the US to get the next presidential circus race started, Father Jonathan Morris weighed in on the important question of what quality a presidential candidate must have. One of these qualities, at least according to the priest, is fear of eternal consequences in order to be trustworthy:

[Faith is] a belief in God; a belief that there are eternal consequences for your actions. And I think that a leader that doesn’t have that — a set of core beliefs that help him to make justice an important part of his life and his decisions because he knows that there are eternal consequences — well, it’s somebody that it’s hard to trust.

We should remember that like most TV personnel, it’s Morris’ job to look good, not provide intelligent theological points. We should also disregard the point that although Morris doesn’t mention a specific faith, he obviously means a faith with only a single god; and one that also sports eternal hell. He therefore accidentally excludes all faithful Jews (no Hell), Hindu (multiple Gods), Buddhists and Jainist (neither Gods nor Hell) from his list of trustworthy people. So what was probably meant as a minor attack on atheists turns out to be a disparaging comment against anyone who is not a faithful Christian nor Muslim.

But, probably quite unintentionally, Morris makes an interesting point. What should we think of a person whose decisions are influenced by irrational fears rather than sound ethics?

Put another way: do you really want your government to be lead by a person who

  • spends time contemplating the next life while there is so much left to do in this?
  • might wish to hasten the end of this world in order to enter paradise – while having everything needed to bring about Armageddon?
  • makes decisions based on a millennia old code of conduct that condones slavery, genocide and misogyny and eschews any conflicting modern ethics?
  • may fear that he’ll be punished for being nice to gays?

These questions boil down to this: do you really prefer a leader whose actions are guided by an irrational fear of an invisible dictator in the sky over someone who decides important questions by looking at facts and weighing them according to rigid, ethical principles?

Unfortunately, too many US americans answer that questions with yes.

This is going to be one frightening presidential race.

Criminal Phobia

Ed Miliband, UK opposition leader and head honcho of the British Labour Party, stated in an interview with a muslim news service that he would outlaw Islamophobia.

We are going to make it an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime

This is a really bad idea.

The reasons for this are manyfold, and while I suspect that Miliband’s heart is in the right place for suggesting this, it’s disquietingly obvious that his brain isn’t:

First, a phobia is an irrational fear, i.e. a fear that has no base. For example, agoraphobia is a fear of open places. Most importantly, though, a phobia is a medical condition.

There are doubtless people who have an irrational fear of Islam, and by extension fear those who adhere to Islam: Muslims. These people are a tiny minority. They are not the people Miliband wants apprehended, because they have a true case of Islamophobia – a real phobia. They suffer from a medical condition. You can’t, or shouldn’t, really, make that a crime. If you did, you would make falling ill a crime. Imagine if the government outlawed having a cold. They could throw you in prison for sneezing.

Yeah, it’s that preposterous.

There are, on the other hand, many people who criticize many aspects of the Ideology called Islam. There are quite rational reasons to fear Islam’s Ideology – about as many rational reasons as there are to fear Christianity, Judaism or any other religion.

Some people are not only rationally afraid of what damage such an ideology could inflict on society, they experience disquiet – even apprehension – in the presence of devout practitioners of religion: muslim fundamentalists, for example. Their unease isn’t entirely baseless: criticizing Islam in the presence of islamist fundamentals can be dangerous, even lethal. The shocking images of the Charlie Hebdo massacre are still too fresh to ignore. So these aren’t the people Miliband is after either.

I submit that what labour actually wants to outlaw isn’t really Islamophobia. They want to outlaw hate-mongers who seek to make political hay or gain personal status from inciting hate. These people aren’t Islamophobes. They are the exact opposite – they love Islam, for they can only thrive in its presence.

But the problem lies much deeper: Islamophobia is an ill-defined term that entered the English language in 1997; today it is a term devoid of true meaning yet has become rife with accusation. It was coined to call out (perceived) prejudice against Muslims. As such, the term is strongly misleading: it conflates an Ideology (Islam) with people (Muslims). This has lead to serious misunderstandings, a fact that is constantly being maliciously exploited.

For example, a few months ago, on Bill Maher’s Real Time, Actor Ben Affleck verbally attacked Philosopher Sam Harris for his critique that Islam is the Mother Lode of bad ideas. Affleck interpreted the criticism as a slur on Muslims: Muslims are idiots.

This is the kind of misunderstanding that results from conflating things that must be kept separate. It has also resulted in a strange imbalance: If someone openly said The Torah is the Mother Lode of bad ideas, nobody would think them to be an anti-semitic, merely overly critical of some scripture. Do the same with the Quran, and many people label you an Islamophobe.

Because of this, the term Islamophobia is now actively, and intentionally, used to stifle criticism of Islam. Such criticism is interpreted as an attack on muslims. It’s as if a doctor who said “sugar is bad for your health” was understood as saying “people who eat sugar are bad”.

Making Islamophobia a hate crime in this context would be like making Blasphemy a criminal offense: say God Damned and get thrown into jail for committing a hate crime.

So the issue runs deeper than mere semantics. What we must do is disentangle ideology from believers, concepts from people. It’s not Islamophobia that should be labelled a hate crime. Discriminating against Muslims should be. And the word for that is anti-muslimism, the muslim pendant to anti-semitism. Both should be a criminal offense.

How do we determine anti-muslimism? If your actions are directed exclusively against Muslims (people) simply because they are Muslims, you are guilty of anti-muslimism. If you are critical of Islam (ideology), you are not – even if people don’t like, or feel offended by, your opinion. Ridiculing an ideology is not an attack on its adherents, no matter how offended they may feel.

The problem with this approach: too many people have problem grasping that last part. See Ben Affleck.

Satanic Viagra

Reports on religion become stranger by the day. A recent report in the Telegraph made me question if editors had given up on journalists altogether. How else would the following subhead have slipped into publication:
 

‘Pope Francis’ effect credited with rising demand for exorcisms around the world.

Excuse me? Credited? That’s like saying Jihadists are to be credited for 9/11! The whole article reads like an episode from The Twilight Zone:

States Father Cesare Truqui, chief Exorcist in Chur, Switzerland:

“Pope Francis talks about the Devil all the time and has certainly raised awareness about exorcism. But all Latin Americans have this sensibility – for them, the existence of the Devil is part of their faith.”

Truqui uses a rather broad brush here, as I’m sure that not all Latin Americans are as batshit crazy as this idiot. But he does point to a real problem: in order to shore up their dwindling numbers, the catholic church is ratcheting up a fictitious threat to scare people into staying. They obviously don’t give a damn that full-on bronze-age superstition will scare borderline psychopaths into hurting or killing others – the end justifies the menace, so to speak. After all, it is quite damning (ha, ha) evidence that satanic possession is a phenomenon that only afflicts Christians.

But what bewilders me most is how priests can state the most outrageous stupidities without reporters calling them on it. In the interview, Chief Exorcist Truqui states that

I once treated […] a man who was obsessed with masturbating – he did it every day, many times

Seriously? So when you are able to jerk off multiple times a day you are now possessed by the Devil? Hey, I wish I could do that. Exorcise your libido? Did someone perhaps confuse that word with exercise and called the wrong professional? Only the uptight, sexually dysfunctional church could find something wrong with that. Listen, you idiots, don’t you know that Pfizer has a major product line to give clients what you think is the Devil’s work? Are you really that retarded?  

It gets worse. Claiming he can discern the difference between medically ill people and those truly possessed by the Devil, exorcist Truqui enthuses

There are some classic signs – people who speak in ancient tongues, for instance. Other people have supernatural strength when they are in a state of possession[…]. In some cases, people are able to levitate.

Note that Truquil carefully avoids an outright lie here – he doesn’t say that he’s ever witnessed such an event, just what would be indicative of a possesion. No reliable evidence of levitation, spontaneous language abilities, or truly superhuman strength has ever been recoded, and Truquil knows that. He just spouts these idiocies for the simple minded believers to sell his snake oil.

It’s not as if he doesn’t know it:

“A considerable number of the cases referred to us are in fact psychiatric cases”

Another narrowly avoided lie: they all are.

Word!

Deeply religious Christians claim that the Bible is the perfect, unerring and true word of their god. Devout Muslims state the same about their sacred texts. Their God, of course, is omnipotent, benevolent, and omniscient. However, said deeply religious people never see the contradiction of their assertions with reality that become glaringly obvious in discussions. When quoting their own holy text to such a believer, atheists often hear something like this:

  • “You took that quote out of context” (a Christian favorite, and corollary to “you need to read the whole bible to understand it”.)
  • “That [the quote] only makes sense in its original language” (a Muslim favorite)

What they seemingly don’t understand is that you should never use these arguments if you think that your sacred texts are the true word of god because of a simple fact:

An omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent being’s true, perfect and unerring word would be impossible to misunderstand.

Also, such a word would not, at least in theory, require any means of interpretation – everyone would instantly recognize and understand its message. The direct, true word of a supreme being transcends traditional communication and coalesces in our thoughts with its full meaning perfectly intact, impossible to misunderstand or misrepresent. An omnipotent being would get its message across.

Now, since not everyone agrees on the same interpretation, let alone same sacred text, something must be wrong. A truly sacred text would not allow a belief to fracture into denominations, nor would it allow factions to go to war over the correct interpretation (orthodox vs protestant vs catholic Christians or Sunni vs Shia Muslims): there would only be one interpretation. Such a text would unite and convince instantly. It would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind.

Supposing, of course, that this god is truly benevolent. It’s entirely possible that a malevolent God seeds many convincing yet contradictory, deliberately imperfect holy texts throughout the world to spread the mayhem, distraught and death we see today.

But if we assume that god is benevolent, and not a prankster, any true word of his or her would pass a very simple litmus test – it must be universally understood.

So here’s an easy test that you can apply to something allegedly holy: if that text required any kind of translation, it’s not His true word.

Pagan vs. Heathen

A few weeks ago, in an aside, I used both terms pagan and heathen in the same sentence, prompting my father to ask me what the difference is. Truth be told, when I was writing, I simply used both words because I liked the rhythm, while being dimly aware that I was probably using two terms that essentially were synonyms.

So what is the difference between a pagan and a heathen? It turns out that the answer is not simple at all.

Historically, both terms were used by people who believed in the Bible God to describe people who didn’t subscribe to the Judeo-Christian belief – but with subtle differences. Both were derogatory terms. Pagan was used to identify an idol worshipper of Hellenistic origin (Zeus, Jupiter, Athene, etc.). The term Heathen, on the other hand, referred to the untamed wild northern people – living on the Heath – who worshipped Asgardian gods (Odin, Thor, etc.).

Later (around 1000 AD, after Christianity had become more entrenched in Europe and belief in Hellenistic and Asgardian gods became rare), these terms became less distinct. From inside Christianity, everyone who wasn’t a Christian was referred to as a heathen, including Muslims (who are a subset of the Abrahamic faith), and Atheists (rare as they were), but excluding Jews. So after the crusades, the words heathen and pagan became true synonyms.

Of course, it is important to note that both terms require a frame of reference: the word heathen or pagan loses meaning outside the Christian sphere. Islam, for example, does not make the distinction: for both words, the Arabic translation is الوثني, i.e. a primitive unbeliever (yet Islam itself makes the distinction between Unbelievers and People of the Book (أهل الكتاب): Jews, Sabians and Christians).

Today, of course, it’s even more complex. New Age Bimbos have rediscovered belief in supernatural BS, and have honestly started to refer to themselves as Pagan or Heathen. The fact that they refer to themselves as a non-christian rather than what they actually believe in tells us everything we need to know about the level of intelligence involved in these believers.

And then of course there is my favorite meaning: nowadays, when someone jokingly refers to herself as a heathen or pagan, she usually means to say that she has some residual belief, but not as much as her family would like her to have. This believer usually sees the inside of a church either as a tourist attraction, or on Christmas and Easter.

Which reminds me: Happy Easter, to all you heathens and idol worshipers! And to all the Christians who went on a hunt for quintessential pagan idol: the Easter Egg.

Kill Bill

In California, a lawyer has filed the Sodomite Suppression Act, a new bill that will legalize murdering gays

by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.

Since this is California, the bill will go to the signature-gathering stage because under California law, any bill that you introduce will do so – provided that you cough up the USD 200 fee. So Matt McLaughlin thought this was a wise investment, and paid in full.

Somewhat predictably, this caused people to become flustered; some even went so far as to call for McLaughlin being disbarred.

Now I don’t think that submitting a bill, even if it was created from pure, unadulterated hate and mixed with equal amounts of terminal homophobia such as this one, should result in legal action against whomever submitted it. For a number of reasons:

  • progressing the bill is a phenomenal waste of resources, yes. But don’t kill the messenger. The correct response is to change the process, not to punish the person who uses it correctly. If you can submit such an insane bill, something may be wrong with your legal system.
  • that being said, I think it’s also a sign of a healthy trust in your population that you allow whackjobs to submit whacky proposals. Even if we don’t like what’s proposed, at least all proposals are heard. This is actually a good thing.
  • also, I think freedom of speech is more important than silencing an idiot because we don’t like to hear what they want to say. Let them speak freely. That way we also know whom to avoid in the future.
  • this is a another great example to cite when some believers tell you that religion is good for people

And of course, reading the comment section is as entertaining as visiting the local zoo: asks a (presumably devout Christian) believer:

Is this nutter for real?  Sadly, he gives Christians a bad name.  I think he may need to acquaint himself more closely with the teachings in the Bible which are based around love, not discrimination and hatred

Obviously, that commenter, unlike hate-filled Matt McLaughlin, didn’t read the bible.

Muslim Creationism

A few days ago, I found a book in my mail box. It was made from glossy, high-quality paper, some 300 pages thick and titled The Evolution Deceit. Since it’s no secret that I have disdain for pseudo-science, especially when it serves to spread religion, I thought a friend was poking fun at me, giving me a fake book, or a well-made satire. After all, even at a cursory glance, it hits all the wide-eyed creationist highlights and the introduction reads like something straight from The Onion.

[…] the theory of evolution constitutes the underpinning of a deceptive philosophy that has held sway over a large number of people: Materialism.

Now, that is high satire. I mean, come on – claiming that a natural order can become an ideology is funny. I wish I had thought of that.

However, I quickly found out that not only is the book real, it also represents a tragically inept attempt at spreading religion:

  • First, the book is peddling Creationism. Here in Switzerland, levels of education are high, and only a few stubborn half-wits believe in the literacy of ‘God created Adam from clay, and Eve from a rib’. The potential audience for this kind of book, the occasional US ex-pat aside, is minuscle.
  • Then, as I was stunned to discover, the book is selling Islamic Creationism. This is astonishing for the simple fact that unlike Christianity, Islam never had a problem with evolution. So this book first creates a problem where none exists, and then tries to sell Islam by solving a non-existing issue. And if this wasn’t enough, Switzerland is a predominantly Christian country, with very little sympathy for Islam. So if you do find someone stupid enough to believe in creationism, they’d already be a Christian.

If you want to sell that kind of crazy here, I don’t think that you could pick a worse combination than Islam and Creationism – even if you wanted to.

The book itself is pretty much what you’d expect from someone foolish enough to try and use ‘science’ to disprove Evolution: misrepresentation (‘Darwin claimed in Origin of Species that Whales evolved from Bears’), misattributions, false assumptions, misdirection, really bad math (these Creationists sure love miscalculating probability), outright slander (my favorite: ‘Darwin is responsible for Hitler, Nazis and Communism’), allegations of conspiracy against ‘alternative’ science, and of course mountains of suggestive evidence that has been taken out of context. It doesn’t help that the author is also a conspiracy theorist and – this is a first – has both denied and affirmed the Holocaust.

But why am I writing about a deranged, scientifically illiterate or dishonest author who is prepared to lie in order to sell his religion? After all, there are tons of those, and nothing of what he writes is original nor noteworthy.

It’s not so much the fact that yet another scientific ignoramus is sacrificing his integrity on the altar of his imaginary master. It’s this: the book has enormous production values: high quality paper, lots of good photos and illustrations, impeccable layout, and well translated. The production values are higher than most school books I’ve seen recently, and it is distributed for free (I was wrong – no friend dropped off that book; everyone on my block got one as unsolicited mail).

I find it unsettling that someone would spend this amount of money to produce and distribute a book dedicated to undermining knowledge, reason and science. This book undeniably looks and reads better than most academic books I read at university. I’m worried what it could do to a poor community where real science books are difficult to come by and where people have little means to discern science from hateful claptrap.

This book wasn’t written to educate, to better this world and humanity. It’s been written, produced and distributed to prey on unsuspecting people; to infect minds with a divisive, dangerous ideology, disguised as science.

It serves as yet another unwelcome reminder of the fact that there is no evil that fundamental Christians do that Islamists won’t imitate.

Idiot worship

Why are we here? What is our purpose? Atheists usually answer this with ‘happenstance’ and ‘none at all’, respectively. Believers, however, say that this is too sad a proposition for them to accept. They state – with no little emphasis – that we are here because god created us, and that our purpose is to worship Him.

Let us think about this for a while. So God created us (let’s not go into ‘in his own image’, that’s a bit too much). God created this universe with 200 billion galaxies, each containing 300-400 billion solar systems, and then, as his crowning achievement, he created us. So we can worship him.

Really? Why? To me, almost everything is wrong with this picture:

First, the scale is off. Let’s assume I was a God, and created more solar systems than there are grains of sand on earth. Why would I then want to create a single, tiny planet that orbits one of the more obscure, run-off-the-mill suns in an ordinary galaxy, and populate it with a race of ignoramuses? To worship me? They represent not even a  trillionth of a percent of my creation; yet I went to all this length just to have that infinitesimally small fraction worship me? Why isn’t my crown achievement in a setting befitting it’s purpose – The centerpiece of my creation?

If I had the power to create a universe and the desire to be worshipped, there are much, much better ways to go about this: create an immense, beautiful plane (with physics that allow this), populated by trillions of smart, brilliant and fun beings that worship me.

Then, allegedly, if we worship Him in our lives, we’ll get to worship Him even more after our death. Am I the only one who thinks that this not only incredibly boring, but also an incredibly stupid set up? If before and after death is the same, the concept of death is completely irrelevant. Except for those who don’t worship God – those will be tortured in eternity by this allegedly benevolent god. And here, again, the scale is off: the proportions don’t match: an infinite punishment (eternal torture) for a finite transgression (non-worship in lifetime). Wouldn’t that be an infinitely immoral punishment?

Yet that is not the biggest issue I have with a god that requires worship – it is this: doesn’t it strike you as incredibly petty of a supreme being to have the need to be adulated? This god is all-knowing and all-powerful. Compared to gods, humans are less than ants, idiotic motes of dust who can’t even perform a single miracle, or break a single physical law. Pathetic. If I had the urge to be adored, I’d want to be adored by beings of importance, not the bunch of losers that ruin their own planet the same way pigs trash their sty.
I seriously doubt that a God would want to be worshipped, at least not by us. Consider: Programmers have a rare privilege; they can create virtual worlds in the programs they write. They are, in a very small way, gods and creators of the programs they write. Few, if any programmers ever feel the urge to write code that extols the virtue of their coder. It’s no challenge, serves no purpose, and makes them look really pathetic. So why would a God want something that even the lowliest, personality disorder-ridden geek wouldn’t want?

There is no way a god would ever want to be worshipped. At least not by you, me, or any other human.

So why do believers insist that we must worship their god?

Yep, that’s what I think, too.

Selling Religion

Some people have said that the Ten Commandments represent the crown achievement of morals. Obviously, these people are mistaken. The majority of Christians, after a short, perhaps brutal discussion will agree that the commandments could have dramatically improved humanity had, for example, the first two commandments (I am the Lord, and Don’t blaspheme) been thou shalt have no slaves and thou shalt treat men and women as your equal instead.

So why aren’t they? Is God a moral lightweight? Why did the Ten Commands fall short? Believers say that the Commandments reflect the time that they were created; they were a political compromise. Had they been phrased more ethically aggressively – for example had they held imperatives to abolish slavery and institute gender equality – that would have prevented the belief from spreading. It was important to first get the people into your belief; afterwards you could then improve the standard, making everyone more moral.

Indeed, forcing men to give up slaves and treat former property (women) as their equal is a hard sell. From a political view, this makes sense. Creating a more moderate code of conduct would increase the likelihood of acceptance, and raising the bar afterwards is a sensible approach to improve society.

Yet that doesn’t make sense in a religious frame of reference. The very context of how the commandments were given, as narrated in the Bible (in Exodus) makes it abundantly clear that God could have demanded anything from his followers. Let’s look at this through the eyes of one of the Israelites in Exodus:

I had just witnessed God’s might first hand – a few days ago he parted the sea to let me through; then he drowned the entirety of Egypt’s army. That’s powerful stuff. So, I’d do my best to get on His good side. What’s that you say? He’s uncool with me selling my daughter into slavery and treating my wives as property? No worries, he’s bossman; I’ll play ball! After all, those were also pretty nasty plagues he visited upon that Pharaoh guy a couple weeks back. So, hell yeah, I’ll release my sex slaves and be nice to women. Hey, I see reason in the form of vastly superior might…

Arguing that after such a display of might it would have been politically unwise to demand ethical conduct from your subjects doesn’t make sense. God had just proven beyond any doubt that he was willing to enforce his word. Arguing that God tempered his commandments so more people found them palpable makes sense only under two assumptions: the story never happened, and you assume that God would not enforce his commandments – the very story that presents the commandments be damned.

Therefore, if you argue that the Ten Commandments reflect the time they were issued you also argue that there is no god to back them up. You admit that you have to sell your belief on the merits of the rules, not the might of your deity. Plus: hoping to increase the standard after the fact may work in modern day democracies. It doesn’t work in theocracies that rely on written scripture – scripture that can’t be changed after it was written. After all, the Ten Commandments haven’t changed much in three thousand years (except changing thou shalt not murder to not kill and don’t covet thy neighbor’s wives to wife, singular).

So this is what it comes down to: the Ten Commandments are not divinely inspired. They are a simpleton’s sales pitch.

I’m with stupid

If there is one expression that makes me gag in disbelief at the sheer amount of pompous, delusional self-aggrandizement then it would be

having a personal relationship with god.

First, what should we think of a person who claims to have a relationship with a deity? Doesn’t that immediately disqualify them from any further discourse? If someone in earnestly tells you a god is their personal friend, they are conceited jackasses, or are playing with only half a deck of cards. Probably both.

Just what goes through the mind of someone who feels they have to tell you something like this? It’s the ultimate name-dropping – is it even possible to appear more desperate in seeking attention? Just by itself, personal relationship with god is such a cringe-inducing, pathetic statement that I have difficulties hiding my contempt, and I usually have to avert my eyes.

Have you ever paused to think what this person, in all honesty is trying to tell you – what they have convinced themselves of, and what they want you to believe: that they regularly converse with a super-being; that this being not only exists, but that it takes their moronic views [Note: if you are a super being, all human thoughts are moronic by default – its intelligence would see past all our petty self interests and there would be nothing interesting we could contribute in an exchange of ideas with it] serious – and that this being offers personal insight, solace, and advice.

It gets worse: if we were to allow for all this to be true, we’d have to contend with the fact that even though these people regularly converse with a super-being, all advice and information they receive is stupid, ordinary, and banal: not one believer with a personal relationship to their god has ever shown to have supernatural understanding of, or brilliant insight into anything. So this super-being is either not very smart, or deliberately feeding its counterpart bad information. Which means that you have a personal relationship with an über-prankster, a being that continually has jokes on your account.

So, just by looking at the record we know that bragging about a personal relationship with gods is a sure way to get you and your god ridiculed – for good, documented reason.

Yet that is only half of what makes the expression so fundamentally stupid. Let’s say that we agree that the person claiming to have a relationship with god is not stark raving mad. This means that they tacitly agree that it’s more likely to have a relationship with a pet rock than an entity that nobody ever saw or could be proven to exist. A pet rock you can at least hold in your hand – but it would never answer to any kind of interaction. Yet, any sane relationship requires interaction from both sides. What would you think about a person who earnestly tells you they have a relationship with a rock? Wouldn’t you think them at least a bit pitiful?

What, then, would you think of a person who tells you that they have a relationship with a pet rock that you can’t see, touch, feel or otherwise detect?

But it’s the personal bit, the utter ridiculousness of the insinuation that the relationship is based on personal exchange that makes it such a tragically pathetic proposition, so impossible to accept. Because, let’s face it, it’s not personal until the object of your relationship responds to your individual communication, in ways curtailed to you. Everyone knows that when gods talk to you, you have gone mad. So again, there is tacit agreement that, clinical cases aside, in this ‘personal relationship’ the other side has never, ever, responded. And yet these people call it a personal relationship.

So why are they doing it? Pompous self-importance perhaps. Trying to impress the easily impressed probably. In many cases, they have been told this idiocy by other believers – and repeat it now in vain hope that if they say it often enough they would someday believe it themselves.

Just sad.