by Luke Muehlhauser on November 26, 2010 in Funny

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan November 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Apologists using this opportunity to side with Occam’s Razor for the first time, in T-Minus 10…

(Though we can tell them, that’s not EXACTLY what William of Ockham meant. As it is stated, “the Razor just generally recommends selecting the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions (aka postulates, entities).” – Wikipedia)


Jugglable November 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm


I think you tip your hand when you post condescending stuff like this. You claim you are an atheist for intellectual reasons. But I think this condescension show there’s a bit of emotion behind your atheism.

Admittedly, I don’t believe in God purely for intellectual reasons. But at least I admit it!

Have you seriously entertained what factors, like emotion, may have been behind your de-conversion? You’ve made an identity out of it.


Reginald Selkirk November 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Jugglable, there are many things in this world deserving of condescension.

Your comment is now among them.


Dan November 26, 2010 at 3:53 pm


What’s the problem with having emotion behind your atheism? Understanding the truth about our world is one of the most important questions, and something I’m proud to be emotional about it. Further more, we still live in a world where the majority are religious, and here in America, we’re forced to work, live, and play under so many people who force god in our faces; majority of Republicans and Fox News, God on our currency, Texas trying to rewrite history books, etc. If we just let things be the way they were, the religious would take over, as they would be the only ones being active in changing how America should be. So again, I see no reason why being emotional is a bad thing.

In terms of this post not being intellectual, how is it not? To me, it’s the ONLY thing this post represents. The image is about how complex explaining things is, is. Far more complex that settling with “God did it” which MANY PEOPLE DO! Are you going to deny that there are people who proudly claim “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!”? Are you going to deny that there isn’t something called “The God of the gaps argument”? Are you going to deny that people use that argument, a lot?


Justfinethanks November 26, 2010 at 4:01 pm


Now THIS is the kind of satisfying smugness I’m talkin’ about!


You claim you are an atheist for intellectual reasons. But I think this condescension show there’s a bit of emotion behind your atheism.

Believing in something because brings you intellectual satisfaction and believing something because it brings you emotional satisfaction aren’t mutually exclusive things. For example, I find the lack of existence of Gremlins who periodically raid the engine of my car to tear it apart very emotionally satisfying. The existence of such creatures would bring me great anxiety, so its an emotional relief to lack belief in the reality of Gremlins. But at the same time, it would foolish to accuse me of not believing in Gremlins simply because I hate the idea, because think I am also on solid intellectual ground in my agremlinism.

Admittedly, I don’t believe in God purely for intellectual reasons. But at least I admit it!

There’s nothing really shameful to admit. Obviously, being motivated to accept something because you find it emotionally satisfying doesn’t mean it’s wrong or can’t be intellectually supported. What matters though is if you can cogently support that emotionally satisfying belief with intellectual rigor.

Have you seriously entertained what factors, like emotion, may have been behind your de-conversion?

How is that relevant? Let’s pretend that some atheist’s motivating factor for leaving their faith is motivated wholly by emotion. That he or she initially became an atheist solely because they hated God’s morality, or wanted to live without someone watching them, or something hurtful happened in their lives and they blamed God for it, or one of the other litany of other accusations that theists throw towards apostates. From that fact it doesn’t follow that either 1) atheism is false or 2) that this atheist didn’t eventually acquire intellectual reasons for accepting atheism that are superior to that of accepting theism.

Atheists can (and do) play the “emotional motivation” game too. Usually by either accusing theists of being unable to handle the finality of death or accusing them of failing to override the hyperactive agency detector in their mind with a healthy dose of skepticism. But since it’s pointless and gets the conversation nowhere, its not a game worth playing.


Jugglable November 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I agree with a lot of what people are saying. My issue is just with what Luke said in his de-conversion story, that he left faith for “purely rational reasons.”

I did not come to faith for purely rational reasons. I grew up in a very secular environment. If I look at my past, I see that I’ve always liked going against the grain, so if I’m going to be honest, that probably has something to do with my journey to faith. I think a lot of the arguments for God’s existence are solid, but if I had certain emotional reasons to hate faith, like if I were molested by a priest as a kid, they probably wouldn’t look so solid to me. I’d side not with the brilliant theologians I do, but with brilliant atheists.

People like to say they have faith or don’t for purely rational reasons, but really that just feeds the ego and we need to be more skeptical of ourselves. I also cringe a bit from embarrassment when Christians assert, “I am a Christian because we have the better arguments and we make better sense of the world!” It has so much to do with culture, upbringing, temperament, etc. Faith isn’t just an intellectual position; it engages the whole of a person and we’re more than just our intellect. I think when people leave the church there’s usually a lot of emotional motivation involved, and same goes for coming to faith. Humans aren’t entirely rational creatures. Try as hard as you can to be objective, but something deeper than your thin layer of upper brain runs the show.


Kyle Key November 26, 2010 at 4:47 pm

“I see that I’ve always liked going against the grain…”
Oh yeah! Big time Catholicism! What a rebel.

I’d recommend not coming to an atheist website if the occasional bit of atheist humor is goin’ to get your Jesus superhero undies in a twist every time.


Bill Maher November 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm


get a sense of humor. When did a joke become smugness?


rupert mirdock November 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Christopher Hitchens is debating TOny Blair right now. Luke, you have so many reviews you need to do.


bossmanham November 26, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Maybe we’ll see the argument from acknowledging that God is the first cause to that entailing that it isn’t complicated. Or is this just more silly new-Atheist-esque condescension, Luke?


Jugglable November 26, 2010 at 6:44 pm

No problems with atheist humor in general. Carlin had a lot of great stuff. Louis CK has some great stuff on the Old Testament in his new special. Mike Birbiglia says some pretty funny stuff about Catholicism in his new book.

BTW Kyle, being a Catholic is indeed goof againstthe grain for me.


Reidish November 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Touche adversaire!

How about: “REALITY: so complicated only God could have done it.”


Kyle Key November 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Hey, yeah! Now there’s a real joke!


Luke Muehlhauser November 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm


Really? Goodness, no. I’m very skeptical that any of us adopt worldviews for rational reasons, including myself. As it happens, the podcast episode to be posted this Sunday discusses this at some length, so stay tuned for that!


Luke Muehlhauser November 26, 2010 at 8:19 pm


BTW, I looked back at the ‘My Story’ post because of your comment here, and found that (as with many other older posts, I suspect!) I did not agree with that part of the post. So I deleted it. So thanks.


cartesian November 26, 2010 at 8:44 pm

So I guess we’re supposed to make this inference:
(1) If reality is describable in such complicated ways, then there’s no way it could be captured in a simple expression like “God did it.”

But if (1) is true, shouldn’t it also be true that we couldn’t capture reality in such a simple expression as “reality”? I mean, if reality is too complicated to be expressed by “God did it,” shouldn’t it also be too complicated to be expressed by “reality”? So, to my mind, this snobby poster contradicts itself.

Clearly we can capture reality with “reality.” So I don’t see the problem in capturing reality with “God did it.”

The *reality*, of course, is that there are more or less descriptive ways to capture reality. “All that” is perhaps the least descriptive. “Reality” is among the least descriptive. *For the theist*, “God did it” will be slightly more informative. The cosmogony in Genesis will be a bit more informative. And all that stuff on the blackboard in the poster (and all the stuff in physics textbooks) will be even more informative.

What’s the problem?


Kyle Key November 26, 2010 at 9:42 pm

The problem is that you, jugs, reiddy whip, and hammy are butthurt over anything even suggesting that The Entity isn’t a good explanation, responding in paragraphs to a post that warranted a few chuckles or scoffs and then moving on. Jesus ;) you’re a sensitive lot.


Cartesian November 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Of course, I was asking what the problem was meant to be with “God did it.” Do you think this poster points to some problem with “God did it”? If so, what *exactly* is the problem? If not, what’s the joke?

I thought the suggestion was that reality is too complicated for “God did it” to be an accurate characterization. But why think that? There is a very complicated physical story to be told whenever I flex my arm, for example. Nevertheless, that complicated event is accurately characterized by “Cartesian did it.”

Here’s something that’s kind of lame: making a bad argument in a snide, jokey way, and then hiding behind the joke like yo momma’s skirt when you’re called out on the bad argument. Yep, “yo momma.”

Also, I admit that I’m probably devoting too much time and energy responding to a poster like this. But don’t you see the irony in your spending time and energy responding to my response in order to tell me how lame I am to devote so much time and energy in response? I mean, if I’m lame for responding to this poster so seriously, aren’t you more lame for responding to my response so seriously? I think we should accept that neither of us is lame, but your accepting that will require that you change your views on lameness. You ready for that, honcho? ;-)


Kyle Key November 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Someone said I’m…l-l-lame? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Thank god I’m not Christian or I’d have to make a philosophical ordeal out of that.


Cartesian November 26, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Kyle, nobody said you were lame. In fact I explicitly said that I thought we should accept that you aren’t lame. Reading = Hard.

Anyway, if you’d like to talk about the substance of Luke’s original post, just let me know.

(Maybe read this once more before responding?) ;-)


Kutta November 27, 2010 at 12:56 am

“God did it” is utterly extremely more complicated than fundamental physics. While physics plus a simple description of this universe’s starting conditions could possibly fit on a CD or even a floppy, god is a complex agent. Physics seem more complex than god to humans because humans are shipped with hardwired complexity to extrapolate and model human-like agents.

See the Kolmogorov complexity formulation of Occam.


DaVead November 27, 2010 at 1:21 am


Thanks for making that update to your bio. I remember when I first came to your site, that was the first thing I read, and it was slightly bothersome, especially since your most recent post at the time was something about atheist comedians. Everyone loves jokes aimed at worldview’s that they think are silly. But I will say that it does suggest to your reader that you may be somewhat unseriousness when there’s this alternation between well-thought out and often sympathetic presentations of theistic or Christian arguments, and other posts that make travestied versions of beliefs or arguments seem laughable. I assume the difference is that you’re willing to give theism or simpler ‘non-naturalisms’ a chance, but not willing to give Orthodox Christianity a chance in hell.

On the other hand, beliefs that are radically opposed to my own do seem silly to me, and silly beliefs are easily cast as laughable even without strawmanning. But so what? What’s wrong with having funny beliefs? I think eliminative materialism is a wildly hilarious view, but I can respect the intelligence of people who believe it. What’s wrong with thinking your own beliefs are funny? Why must the truth be coldly serious and unridiculous? When people say that a belief is so blatantly false that it’s beyond crazy such that it’s laughable, I don’t see how that follows. Obviously false beliefs can be just as hilarious, mockable, ironic, and amusing as obviously true beliefs. But maybe it’s not the belief that is really funny, but rather the fact that there are people who believe it? I’ll have to ask the psychologists when I get a chance.


Luke Muehlhauser November 27, 2010 at 7:12 am


You tend to respond to my silly posts by, imo, taking them too seriously. Why not respond to the ones that are trying to be substantial? :)


Reidish November 27, 2010 at 9:58 am

The problem is that you, jugs, reiddy whip, and hammy are butthurt over anything even suggesting that The Entity isn’t a good explanation, responding in paragraphs to a post that warranted a few chuckles or scoffs and then moving on. Jesus ;) you’re a sensitive lot.

*Yawn*…I responded to a light-hearted jab in kind: with a light-hearted jab. See you on the substantive posts…


Ana November 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

Reality is not complicated — it is just the set of all facts.

Trying to understand reality, is complicated.

To say “God did it” for something like, the question of how can it be that the universe went from a state of non-being into a state of being? is a legitimate answer to a legitimate problem — finite universe and the logical principle that things cannot bring themselves out of non-existence into existence.


Lucian December 23, 2010 at 11:50 am

[Image:] A few dozen/hundred lines of computer-code.
[Title:] Windows.
[Line:] A bit more complicated than ‘Bill Gates did it’.


richard roe October 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

God, the creator of the universe, the beginning and the end, the most powerful… turned himself into his own son, Jesus, whom he then had crucified on a cross, so as to sacrifice himself to save humanity from their sins. (After, of course, raping a married woman)

That’s really not much of a sacrifice for an immortal being. Kind of like an actor dying on stage then going home for dinner.

But then again, being punished for one’s choices is hardly “free will” either.


doobaly December 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

And here you guys are, complaining about being bsmart when your not. Your just blinded by intelligence. Actually use your smarts and find out what the governtment is really about and foigure out you are some of the only fucks who don’t believe in an after life. The are all luciferian, all going twords a one woeld government. Why don’t you read a book that’s barely been tamperd with, read revelations and see if it isn’t happeneing step bu bstep RIGHT NOW! Jesus will come and save those who prosper, and people like you will be left behind and have onw last chAnce to find him again. And that is to repent agant the one world government/ religion. Freemason/illuminati take over. I’m sure you all have some kind of favorite music artist. Garenteed if they mean a shit you will hear somtime in there song how they sold their soul. Even look up the 15 year old girl who died and came back to life and listen to what she has to say. She is now a public speaker, trying to make her people stop following catholic idolizing. ( search: 15 year old dies and goes to heaven). “To live is christ, but to die is gain” 12:3 phili” atheist are lost souls on the fence, using intelliectual smarts to try and cover that missing part oin their heart and that’s god. I’ve shut down college professors on evolution and other things cause I havee more prof that it was a creator that fucking evolving. I hope you guys haven’t lost all your soul yet, my sis is the same way and took me a long ass time to get that intellectual screen off her eyes. Now its impossible for her to not hear nor see the truth in everything.


doobaly December 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

Anyone who says god did it anyway is stupid. God is the creator and gives us a lesson down here, god doesn’t do everything for you. Its your job to find him, and learn to love while here.


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