When someone asks me something that includes some reference to a god...anything about any god...my thought process immedately equates the question with asking a mathematician to divide by zero.

It is very hard to get a believer to understand the position of a non-believer. They find it difficult to understand how the their claims of a god's existence could be denied. There have been some nice analogies put forward over the years to try and get people to understand. (My favorite is calling atheism a belief is like calling bald a hair color.) But they are usually just dismissed as irrelevant and ignored. The believer then just continues their pre-programmed diatribe as if they've heard nothing at all.

For me, the best alternative is to say something that would simply stop them. I don't care to get them to change their mind; I just want them to shut up. If they end up thinking, then fine. But I don't count on it.

The analogy I've come up with is that telling me that I have to accept a god is like telling a mathematician to divide by zero. It's a nonsensical mathematical claim that most people have heard about and can hopefully understand. If I don't give their initial claim the weight of being valid in the first place because of its nonsensical nature, then it's hard for them to get past it. They can, like other claims, just ignore it. But I can just keep repeating it until they understand there's nowhere to go from there. The conversation is over.

This is, of course, an analogy, which proves nothing. It is simply a way to try and get someone to understand a little better the stance I hold.

Views: 8

Tags: analogy, divide by zero

Comment by Doug Reardon on September 24, 2009 at 12:05pm
I usually say: Please take your delusions to someone else.
Comment by Dave G on September 24, 2009 at 1:11pm
It does seem to be much easier for them to comprehend a belief in some other religion than a lack of belief overall. I usually use Russell's Teapot as an example of non-belief.
Comment by Prazzie on September 24, 2009 at 5:58pm
Very nice, I like it. As far as I'm concerned, the shorter, the sweeter.
Comment by Reggie on September 24, 2009 at 7:03pm
Nice! You don't have that trademarked or anything, do you NixManes? I may just have to use it. Although, I did like the hair color/bald one, too. Never heard either expressions before. Thanks!
Comment by Nix Manes on September 25, 2009 at 2:34am
Thanks everyone for adding your ideas. It's always nice to know what people are thinking and are willing to offer!
Comment by Mike on September 25, 2009 at 7:25pm
i like to confuse believers with things like "if god is everywhere, then isn't god also in hell?" or pointing out things like "if adam and eve only had cain and abel, then who did they marry and have kids with?" ... one fundy told me that "back then" incest was acceptable and that incest was only made a "taboo" thing later on, or that adam and eve had special "god" DNA that mutated such that their descendants weren't inbred :-D
Comment by LJ on October 25, 2009 at 8:41am
We don't get quite the level of wilful ignorance from our fundies in the UK. At least, so it seems when I'm online, but we still have a few who require a little taking down. I usually ask, "would you prefer to believe or to know?"

I am asked why I "believe" all sorts of things. The truth is, I don't. I either know or do not know. I do not "have faith" that the sun will rise tomorrow, I know that the earth will turn and expose this hemisphere to the sun.
Comment by Henry Ruddle on October 25, 2009 at 10:40pm
My problem with any defense of nonbelief is that it eases the burden on the believer to offer proof.
Comment by Doug Reardon on October 25, 2009 at 10:49pm
e to the i pi = -1

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