Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jesus and Spiderman: An exercise.

One of the biggest problems facing religious discourse is the emotion inherent in the positions taken. An interesting method of separating the passion from the logical structure of the arguments beings hurled across the coffee shop gift table or bus station urinal is a simple substitution. Instead of Jesus/God/Saviour/messiah, etc. simply say Spiderman. Instead of The Bible, say Amazing Spiderman, issue 323. Stripped of its irrational religious power, most statements are seen to be ludicrous. This also applies, by the way, to poorly structured arguments in general. Improper appeals to authority and blind devotion to a specific scientist's work can also contribute to the ambient level of stupidity in the universe.
For example,
  • How do you know the bible is true? Because it's the word of god.
  • How do you know that? It says so in the bible.

Religious arguments are lousy with this kind of circular reasoning. The problem with the statements becomes obvious to almost everyone if you spiderize them:
  • How do you know Amazing Spiderman, issue 323 is true? Because it's the word of Spiderman.
  • How do you know that? It says so in Amazing Spiderman, issue 323.

Give it a shot. More examples to come (The bible is full of them. So is Amazing Spiderman, issue 323, for that matter).