"Discussing" David Silverman's Quote With Justin Schieber and @CounterApologist

Here is why internet celebrities are divisive. Because they can be. Since I'm against atheist divisiveness I have plenty to do, and in doing it I guess that makes me divisive too. I am against a cookie cutter-mentality, a one size fits all approach to capturing this planet for reason and science. I am against the attitude that we should all do this or think that, and if we don't we are ousted from the atheist ranks of the cool people. This reminds my of High School all over again, but it's happening.

Sometimes I just inadvertently back into these difficulties. Recently I liked this meme of Dr. David Madison's who posted a David Silverman quote. I Tweeted it and said, "Yep. Honesty requires atheists to tell the truth, not placate them, no more than doctors with patients." Controversy ensued.

Justin Schieber @RealAtheology didn't like it, tweeting, "Asserting that, contrary to what religious people actually report, most of them already know religion is false is fucking stupid" (direct quote).

Now get this. Justin Schieber knows that the president of American Atheists said something not just in error, but stupid, and not just any kind of stupid, but "f*cking stupid." That means Dr. Madison and myself are agreeing with something f*cking stupid too.

Keep in mind Schieber is entering his third year at a community college in Michigan (from what I understand), so he knows more than we do about what's considered stupid. His following makes it so, if nothing else at over 11k people. And look at how he disagrees when asserting, yes asserting, his case. He adds a special word for emphasis. Okay. That's what a "discussion" amounts to 'round some parts. The question left unresolved is which gatekeeper gave him the credibility and audience to be where he is. [Hint: One of the most obnoxious atheists on the planet, Ed Brayton, a comedian who goes around telling child molester "jokes."]

So I replied: "What's stupid is not trying to understand that which is being communicated, but misunderstanding it to appear smarter than others."

Then enters the one called @CounterApologist: "No" he says, "It's bullshit when theists say atheists 'really know' god exists, & it's bullshit when atheists say the inverse."

Loftus: "Was Nietzsche stupid when he declared God is dead? If not, what was he doing?"

@CounterApologist: "That's not remotely the same as claiming to know what most believers truly think about their religious beliefs."

Loftus: "Reasoning please?"

Schieber: "John, it says most religious people know all religion is a lie - read the context if you must. It's foolish. Stop being such a partisan hack."

Schieber @RealAtheology says: "He [Nietzsche] was declaring that god was increasingly irrelevant with increased secularization of modern world. The hell does that have 2 do w this?"

Again, Silverman wrote: "Religion is a lie, gods are myths and most people know it."

Since I don't think Silverman is f*cking stupid--I met him a couple of times and he seemed reasonable to me--I take this statement of his charitably. Now I know that in the internet era charity isn't to be found much at all, especially from people who crave more followers (look how Schieber treats me). So Schieber and @CounterApologist refuse to consider the president of American Atheists is smart because it makes them look good to claim otherwise. See how that works? It's easy to do if you wish to impress Christian believers and look smarter than others, when you yourself lack academic credentials. I find that divisive. I find that uncharitable. I find that egocentric. It's an attempt to get the attention of believers since you need their attention to have credibility.

By contrast I think people are reasonable and have reasons for what they say, so I try to find them. It's the charitable thing to do. It can also be the hard thing to do. I may be wrong in the end, but it takes more than this for me to conclude Silverman is saying something f*cking stupid. I think he's just being provocative. It's inciting or even exaggerated speech meant to make believers do some research into the demographics for the first time in their lives. When they do it'll cause them to wonder why we number so many. Maybe they'll find this site: The World's Newest Major Religion: No Religion. Okay, if they do they'll come away from a site like that thinking Silverman is wrong. But then there may have been no other way to get them to do that research.

Nonetheless, there is some truth to it.

My wife and I just watched the 2004 movie "Laws of Attraction" starring Julianne Moore as the divorce lawyer Audrey Woods, and Pierce Brosnan as Daniel Rafferty, her number one rival. In the movie Rafferty really loves Audrey, and they get married (go with me on the details). When Rafferty inadvertently screws up a high profile case for her, Audrey demands a divorce. His response: "I will give you a divorce, gladly. Because call me old-fashioned, but when you love someone you should be unselfish enough to give them whatever they want." That's when Audrey realizes she really does love Rafferty. My wife--who's an authority on these matters(!)--concluded Audrey had really grown to love him too, "it's just that she didn't realize it." You see, Audrey seemed more about her career than her love life with Rafferty. She just didn't realize she grew to really love Rafferty until that very moment.

Can a person love someone and not realize it, or not realize it fully? Conversely can a person hate someone and not realize it, or not realize it fully?? I bet so. The brain lies to us so many times about what we prefer to be true that we'll deny the clear evidence to the contrary. Audrey's career was so important that her subconscious brain refused to allow her conscious brain to realize how much she loved Rafferty. It happens all the time. The brain keeps us from accepting what we prefer is not the case for social and personal reasons unrelated to the evidence. Again, it happens all the time.

What's this got to do with Silverman's quote? Perhaps a great deal. The allegedly f*cking stupid part of it is where he said, "...and most people already know it (yes, they do)."

Can someone disbelieve in god and not realize it?

Nietzsche's point (above) was probably that the people of his day didn't act as if god was alive. So they have killed him and didn't yet realize it. It's the secularization thingy Schieber got right. Maybe Nietzsche's point was that god had already been debunked by reasoning and science. If so, reasoning and science have killed him, even though the masses don't know it yet.

The point is that we can interpret Silverman's quote along either of these two interpretations, both of which involve people who didn't yet realize what took place in Nietzsche's time. In Silverman's case, most people know religion is a lie but don't yet cognitively realize it. After all, the lengths they have to go in order to defend their faith is ludicrous. They already know the other gods and goddesses are built on myths and lies, so inside their heads they know theirs might be too. It's what drives them to read apologetics books written by apologists who special plead their case all the way to the bank.

So just like Aubrey in the aforementioned movie, the brains of most people are lying to their hosts on a conscious level, but on a sub-conscious level they really don't believe. They are going through the motions, going to church, saying their prayers, but secretly inside, unknown to their conscious selves they don't believe and are subconsciously denying it. I suspect most people are in this boat so saying so is not stupid at all. They are practical atheists who live as if a god doesn't exist.