They who believe absurdities commit atrocities.
It’s often heard said to me. Apparently, I’m an apologist for irrationality, the epitome of stupidity and number among “they who believe absurdities”. Which, apparently, puts me on some sort of watch list. I’ll commit atrocities, for sure. It’s only a matter of time. Truly I tell you, I’m a ticking totalitarian time bomb!
In fact, belief in God is absurd. The Christian world view even more so. Tertullian, the early Christian writer who gave us the doctrine of the Trinity (the term does not occur in the Bible) is said to have argued, “Credo quia absurdum.” (“I believe it because it is absurd.”) I disagree with Tertullian. The absurdity (or otherwise) of Christian belief has no bearing at all on its truth or falsity. This is a point I want to return to in an upcoming post. All I’m saying now is, yes, I believe absurdities.
The belief that “they who believe absurdities commit atrocities” is itself absurd! And false. It’s axiomatic that all Christians sin. But few Christians commit atrocities. Most sins we commit are “venial” sins as the Catholics say, or “token” sins or “trifles” as Martin Luther put it. Not atrocities. The wages of sin is death. I sure as hell ain’t asking for a raise!
Charity is both a Christian virtue and an epistemic virtue, so I’m going to be charitable and assess the watered down claim that
They who believe absurdities are more likely to commit atrocities than those who don’t.
It’s an empirical claim. We have reason to believe it only if we have evidence that they who believe absurdities are more likely to commit atrocities than those who don’t. But we don’t. So it’s an irrational belief. (Stupid, too.) End of story.
Time for a quick sequel? The original saying is attributed to Voltaire, and I got to wondering if Voltaire actually said it. After all, he never said
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
either. (That was Evelyn Beatrice Hall.) So I did some research. Here’s what Voltaire actually said.
They who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
And here’s what Voltaire said next.
If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart.
Objectivists score own goal! Christians sit on sidelines and drink beer. Sounds good to me.
Time for a quick coda? If you do happen to be in the mood to commit an atrocity, but you’re short of ideas, look no further than your friendly, neighbourhood atrocity vendor. (Psst! Want some atrocities?) (I’m kidding. Thou shalt NOT commit atrocities. I hope I didn’t really need to tell you that. You came here from SOLO? Oh, okay.)
WARNING: The lyrics to the song below rank among the most violent, gruesome and sadistic that I’ve ever set ears on. They qualify as extremely gross even by death metal’s usual lyrical standards. Self-parody? You decide. Either way, the lyrics are testament to Slayer’s pure epicness. As one YouTube commenter remarks, “Wow if this isn’t genius what the hell is.”