Why Accomodationism Fails (Again)

stupid4I’ve written many times on the utter failure of accomodationism and the pure idiocy behind defending anything simply for the purpose of defending it.  Accomodationsts, even atheist accomodationists, don’t want anyone to feel bad, therefore they justify even the most absurd claims with a variety of silly explanations, simply to avoid disappointment among the believers of idiotic things.

In a recent forum thread, someone posed the question: “How can the Bible be wrong, why would God lie to us?”  I answered, pointing out that this presupposes the existence of a God in the first place, something for which we simply have no evidence.  It would be like saying “the Harry Potter books must be perfect, why would Voldemort lie to us?”  Yes, I know, ignore the fact that Voldemort and God don’t line up very well in their respective mythologies, I think it still makes a valid point.  Both God and Voldemort are mythical creations.  Neither can “lie” to anyone, outside of the contexts of their particular literary works.  It’s a nonsensical question to begin with.

But don’t tell the accomodationists that.  Immediately one jumped up and started making all sorts of claims about the anthropological value of the Bible, the mythological value of the Bible, some of the historical value of the Bible, etc.  I pointed out to him that none of those had anything whatsoever to do with the original question, the one we were all in the thread to discuss.  While indeed the Bible might have literary and anthropological value, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s largely a book of mythology, with characters that almost certainly never lived as described and a main supernatural force that’s certainly imaginary.  In fact, he even agreed that people who take the Bible literally are out of their gourds, yet he couldn’t stop claiming that it must have some value, therefore we couldn’t dare make anyone who believed it feel bad.

Of course we can, and we should.  Not because they believe it, but because it’s blatantly false.  Accomodationists are so desperate to find excuses that they forget that there’s such a thing as reality.  They want everyone to inhabit a world that’s tailor-made for their own personal happiness, even if everything around them is a fantasy.  I have never and will never buy that.  Believe what is actually true and if that makes you unhappy, deal with it.  Better yet, grow the hell up and realize that reality isn’t here for your pleasure.  I think that is something that a lot of modern-day people simply don’t get.  They’re so used to getting everything they want, it’s getting to the point where being happy is seen as a civil right.  How dare anyone ever do anything that makes you sad!  Reality ought to conform to your wishes!

But to get back to accomodationism, what’s the point?  Some accomodationists claim that they simply see a way for religion and science to coexist.  Yes, they can, although not peacefully, except in the case of the most liberal of theologies.  Fundamentalist religions have already proven they are completely incapable of coexisting in the real world.  Creationism in schools?  Opposition to gay marriage?  Flying planes into buildings?  Killing bloggers?  Surely not even the most clueless accomodationist would think that these people can coexist with secular society.  The only case that can be made are for ultra-liberal theists, the “cafeterian Christians” who are juts paying religion lip service in the first place, and these people are, by and large, atheists who just don’t know it yet.  They’re social theists, people who don’t really buy into it, they just pretend to believe because they think their sainted grandmother would want them to.

On the other side, a lot of accomodationists think that religion, while not true, can have some value or redeeming qualities in the modern world.  Name one.  Come up with one redeeming quality that’s not coddling an immature and clueless believer, that’s not keeping the crazy religious borderline sociopaths in line, etc.  In other words, come up with a single value that cannot be achieved, as well or better, using wholly secular means.  I don’t think it can be done, so that’s not a valid reason.  In fact, I think that the reason some people are accomodationists is they lack the balls to stand up against the overwhelming tide of theism in the world today.  No, religion isn’t going away any time soon, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t oppose it at every turn.  Murder isn’t going to go away either, does that mean we ought to coddle murderers and make them feel good about what they do?  The idea is absurd on it’s face.

I really wish that accomodationists would stop making excuses for people to believe ridiculous things.  Whether theists are happy or sad is irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is whether they are factually correct and I think that the vast majority of my readers would agree that they simply are not.  As such, they and their beliefs ought to be opposed, the only valid goal any of us ought to have in this debate is who is right and who is wrong.

And they’re not.

6 thoughts on “Why Accomodationism Fails (Again)

  1. “therefore we couldn’t dare make anyone who believed it feel bad.”

    The thing is, this stage is somewhat necessary a lot of the time. Especially when you are talking about a belief system that is inherently silly. When I first left my religion, I looked back at some of the things I believed and was very embarrassed by a lot of it. It seemed reasonable at the time because everyone around me believed it too, but looking back I asked myself “how did you buy into that garbage?” It felt shitty at the time, but I’m glad I went through that phase, I’m better for it now. Growth can be difficult, but good for us in the long run.

  2. Great blog, I agree why do we need to accomodate lies. In any other aspect of life it is not tolerated. If I lie in court I will be indited for perjury, in science I will get my work retracted and fired. So why does religion get special treatment?

  3. There's a difference between being an 'accomodationist' and a jerk.

    For instance, saying 'Your argument is dependent on God existing…': Entirely true, and a perfectly fine argument in terms of form and correctness. It's not however an effective way to talk to people.

    Imagine if you had a small child approach you, and say, "If fish are blue, how is it that we can see them in a stream?". Now, there's a "correct" answer along the lines of "You're wrong, fish aren't blue", and then there's a more effective answer of "Well it appears that fish are blue, they are actually a variety of colours. In addition, Water isn't.. (insert your own explanation here).

    There's a difference between smacking someones face repeatedly against a correct logical proposition, and making an effective appeal to someone. If you are actually trying to change someone's thoughts and not just be "correct", then your argument needs to be modified accordingly.

    You wouldn't enter a courtroom dressed in a lab coat and make a case for your innocence based purely on statistics – instead you need to make an appeal to the jury (or judge) on multiple levels, such as personally, mentally, visually and emotionally.

    This isn't to say that your argument isn't correct. Your argument is perfectly correct. Your argument however, is a terrible one for actually changing the opinion of people. The so called 'accomodationist' isn't trying to make a weaker argument, but one that is more likely to be accepted by their audience – just like a lawyer is going to wear a nice suite, so too do you need to dress up your argument well.

    1. But by and large, the adult believers that are being debated aren't children, they ought to know better. Most theists that we run into, this isn't their first rodeo. They have already been hit with the idea that their beliefs are false. They've already been provided with the evidence. They've already decided that they're going to disregard the evidence because their own personal emotional comfort is more important to them than the facts or the evidence, or even the consideration that their beliefs are untrue. Therefore, there really is no point in presenting all the evidence over again, it's already been seen and rejected. Now's the time for a good swift kick in the back of the head, hopefully to get some brainwave activity working.

      But we're talking about accomodationism here, aren't we? Accomodationists aren't being "nice", they're not presenting reality "kindly", they're refusing to present it at all for fear of hurting someone's feelings. That's where we part company entirely. Reality needs to be defended and truth needs to be presented regardless of whose feelings it hurts. I hold no false illusions that anything I say will ever convince the fanatic theist, there's no way they can ever be convinced by reason because their religious beliefs did not come from reason. The people watching from the sidelines, however, the ones who don't hold fanatical beliefs, certainly can be convinced, both by the evidence presented and by the utter failure of the theist to present anything of substance on their own.

      1. Clearly these people have already been shown that their beliefs are false. You just admitted that much – and yet they persist. Again, you got the reason perfectly – 'their own personal emotional comfort'.

        Perhaps the response isn't to take them back through the logical steps. If you are simply concerned about 'correctness', well, then, stop what you're doing – you're correct – go have a celebratory wank and go back to hiding in your basement and waiting for the end of the world.

        If you are actually interested in attempting to convince people (as opposed to just mentally masturbating yourself), then you need to move them in small easy to grasp steps. "Maybe we can interpret the Bible in different ways" -> "The Bible doesn't seem consistent" -> "The Bible disagrees with known fact" -> "The Bible is patently false".

        The other thing you need to do is to show them they can still have 'personal emotional comfort' and be an atheist. Perhaps introduce them to some philosophies, or at least a group of people they can spend time with. For a great many people (including myself at one point), Church represents the only available avenue for social contact, and it's not until there's an alternative that the person will start to feel safe trying views other then what their church promotes.

        The truth at the end of the day is that humans are more likely to be followers then leaders, and will in most cases simply accept and spread whatever they are told. Most people don't understand algebra, much less quantum physics. Most people don't understand that arguments have a 'form', or have even heard of the word 'fallacy'. To most people, the idea of evolution and being created from dust are just as incredulous. No amount of facts are going to change these people – you need to make your case appeal to more then just science and facts.

        You want atheism to actually be spread and grab hold? You want to actually convince people? Stop putting everything in terms of 'right' and 'wrong', because you're ultimately enforcing a dichotomy which for most people is 'good' and 'evil', and leads us down this path of mumbo-jumbo religious BS. Learn to make arguments that appeal to humans, not just logicians. We live in a world where ~40% of the population thinks it's still ok to kill someone because of their sexual orientation – what in the world would make you think a purely fact based argument is ever going to win?

        1. Again, it's all been done, you seem to think that just being slower or more deliberate is going to make these people realize the error of their ways and you're wrong, there is nothing whatsoever that can be done to convince them that they're wrong. That's the very nature of the fanatic. See, atheism is already spreading and taking hold, I don't have to worry about that. For the utter fanatics, they will never change their minds no matter how much evidence there is that they're wrong, we just have to wait until they drop dead and the next generation comes along. Doesn't mean we can't have fun with the idiots that are here while we wait.

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