If you are unfamiliar with the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, it basically is a way to ignore the facts. Used in context here, it goes something like this: Religious people tell atheists that if someone just “allows” themselves to believe in god, then god will come to them and they will believe. Okay, sounds good on paper, I guess. But what about people that used to be religious and believed in god that are now atheists? Since they once believed and supposedly could have god “coming to them”, would they not know what that was like now? Would they not see the difference? Enter the excuse- er- fallacy. No, the religious person will reply, in their estimation that person never TRULY believed.
Do you see what the religious person did there? The mere existence of former god-fearing atheists is contrary to their stated beliefs, so they just assume that all of those atheists just never actually believed it themselves. It is exceptionally patronizing and wildly speculative. What it is NOT is honest. Millions of people once believed in god, but no longer do, and those shared experiences are just hand-waved away because it is too much to contend with honestly.
I don’t hand-wave away the experiences of religious people. Indeed, I fully embrace and discuss those experiences. I regularly walk-the-proverbial-dog of the formations of beliefs and religious experiences. And I use those experiences to demonstrate the unreliability of religions. This comes out all the time in my posts and in the comments. I let people give me their full “conversion story” or “born again moment” or their single-most important reason they believe, and then we talk through it. And in every single case, they end up backing down at least in part from their original confidence in their assertions. To a person, they overstated the experience, jumped to an indefensible conclusion, and overconfidently proclaim it to be true. This confidence fades after some precursory questioning. And they don’t hang around after that, or they keep changing the subject to not have to answer the question. (This is for you, Randy.)
You see, religious people have no desire to know what it is like to lose your religion. The few that are willing to be intellectually honest enough usually end up being one of us anyway. But for the rest, they FEAR having to contend with this concept. And you know what they say about leading a horse to water, right? You can lead a religious person to a basic, logical conclusion, but you can’t make them think.
Which is why it is hilarious to watch the No true Scotsman fallacy fall on someone’s head in real time. And by this, I mean someone that thinks, and still thinks, that they believe in god- nay, the RIGHT god, and consider themselves to be bastions of virtuous worship, only to be accused of being heretics, atheists, unbelievers, demons, satanists, or witches.
Down in Tennessee, there are some true believin’ bible belt Jesus cult members that have come under fire because their pastor Greg Locke has accused them of witchcraft. Now, a thinking person would realize that since they aren’t a witch, and witches aren’t even real, that their pastor is a fucking idiot and has been lying to them the whole time about shit he doesn’t understand. But of course these are not thinking people, they are just Jesus freaks that got caught up in politics with a man that claims to speak directly to god.
Naturally, being not-witches, Gina and Brian Warren spoke up and responded to the allegations. And at the end of the day, it turns out the entire thing was just a big-dick competition about church staffing positions. But the important thing to know is they were accused not of being wrong about their opinion, but of being mother fucking witches! Witches I say! You know, the made-up scary ladies from story books? This dude said they were actually witches, and kicked them out of the church. They are kicked to the curb from pastor Greg “the god-damned idiot” Locke’s church. They received threats. They are pariahs.
Now, I feel bad that these people were threatened and their physical safety was in dispute. But knowing that as of this writing they are safe, I find it incredibly humorous and fulfilling watching two nut-jobs accusing each other of working for Satan because they have a difference of opinion on what their imaginary friend would want. To this day, this woman still thinks she can babble utter nonsense and Jesus makes her words a foreign language. Yet according to the other nut-job, she is not a “true” believer. Oh, the irony pierces my funny bone!
Most religious people shield themselves from being called out for their stupidity. And I don’t mean just Christians. I mean all of them. The entire point of churches (or mosques or temples) and blasphemy laws is to ensure that nobody points and you and laughs when you affirm a belief in something stupid. And if someone does, well, they are just that group of not-scotsmen over there. Kill them.
For proclaiming themselves to be not judgemental, it’s hard to find anyone more judgemental than religious people. In the US, if you want to find someone that is constantly judging people for not being good enough, or for being bad, or being the wrong type of person, just go to church. Yeah, they smile and act happy when they are in their bubble, but they are full of judging the shit out of their fellow humans. And their judgement is usually based on telling the other person what they believe. You never believed. Or you just want to sin. Or you are rebelling against god. You believe this and that. You’re not believing the right way.
Nothing is more ridiculous than telling people what they believe. I make a point to not assume what people believe, and CONSTANTLY ask questions. And usually, the religious person’s answers paint themselves in a corner and my work is done. But to straight up tell someone what they believe? It is hard to conceive of anything more arrogant.
Nothing is more poetic justice than someone abruptly finding themselves outside the wall of judgement and hate they helped create.
The Spartan Atheist