Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Are Atheists Smarter Than Believers?

I'm sorry, I didn't really mean that question seriously, it was just an attention-grabbing headline designed to suck you in.

If I were susceptible to becoming a believer, two things that could push me over the edge are St Mark's in Venice

and "I'll Take You There," the single by the Staples Singers, released in 1972, short version, 3 minutes 15 seconds. I've been singing that one a lot lately. It's not like it's hard to memorize the lyrics:

I know a place (I'll take you there)
Ain't nobody cryin' (I'll take you there)
Ain't nobody worried (I'll take you there)
Ain't no smilin' faces (Lyin' to the races)

That's it. The rest is strictly improv. For example, just now when I was singing it, in the part where on the single Mavis is telling various band members to "come ON!" I was improvising something like this: (I was imagining backup singers singing "I'll take you there," and I was singing the rest.)

Oh, oh, oh, oh (I'll take you there)
Oh I feel something! (I'll take you there)
Could it be the Holy Spirit that I feel?! (I'll take you there)
Oh I don't know! (I'll take you there)
But I feel SOMEthing! (I'll take you there)

Now, apologies to Mavis and the other believers out there, but I didn't mean that. I sang the part about the Holy Spirit because that's a church-y thing to say, and it's a very church-y song. I didn't mean any disrespect when I sang that, I didn't sing it dripping with sarcasm.

When I sang "I feel something!" that was 100% sincere. Music gives me powerful emotions. Art, like those mosaics in St Mark's, gives me powerful emotions. And when I was 11 years old and "I'll Take You There" was a brand-new record and a wonderful thing coming out of our counter-top radio at home, and the people around me were telling me that those emotions were the Holy Spirit, that's what I believed. But not any more. But I still let go and let myself have the powerful emotions. It feels very healthy. But I don't believe there's a God. I think this is humans doing all of this, with some help from other species about which many of us humans are still insufficiently appreciative.

These days, rather than asking if atheists are smarter than believers, I keep reminding myself that not all atheists can possibly be as dumb as the ones posting links about studies saying that we're smarter than believers.

Who keeps insisting that they're smart? That's right:

Fredos. People who are tired of everybody saying that they're stupid. It's actually very sad, I shouldn't make fun of them so much.

(What?! That's crazy talk. Make fun of them is what I DO. And I usually confine my specific remarks to Fredos who have way too much power, who have somehow been mistaken for geniuses. Onward.)

Generally speaking, the atheists who insist that they're smart and they want respect seem to have less appreciation for the religious things which give powerful emotions to many of us, believers and atheists alike. They seem to have much less appreciation for religion, period. "Religion poisons everything," they insist. (That's right, I just called Christopher Hitchens stupid.)

I insist that "I'll Take You There" is anything but poison. And anyone who can't hear that it is religious music has missed out on a lot of great gospel music. All of that also applies to Pharrell's "Happy." It's no coincidence that you see so many church choirs in music videos. Even nasty non-believers like the Rolling Stones can feel those powerful emotions, even at the very same instant that they're mocking religious belief (“I Just Want to See His Face”).

Atheists who have no appreciation for religious music or art, who have nothing, nothing but venomous contempt for anything and everything to do with religion, are tiresome, to put it quite mildly. And to them I'm secretly a Christian. Ahhhrggh. Morons. Whaddyagonnado.


  1. Hi,
    as a relatively regular reader of your blog, you've thoroughly confused me with this sentence: "I think this is humans doing all of this, with some help from other species about which many of us humans are still insufficiently appreciative." What's that supposed to mean? Do you out yourself here as a secret admirer of Däniken and consorts? Or do you believe not in God but in some spiritual creatures who support us humans (angels?) or do you believe in the spirits of the ancestors that pass their age old knowledge on to us? I always thought of you as of a realistic, sober and matter of fact kind of person in matters of faith. Please solve that mystery !
    All the best E.

    1. I'm glad you asked. NO, I do not admire Daeniken and other writers of that ilk, not in the slightest. And I don't believe in spirits of any sort. The other species to whom I alluded are animals: dogs, cats, birds, livestock etc, etc. At the very least, we have eaten them and used their skins and they have given us companionship. When I say that they're under-appreciated, I mean that I disagree with many biologists who still deny that animals think and have emotions. For example, I think it's perfectly reasonable to speculate that dogs have done many things for humans out of love and generosity. Some biologists will respond that humans are the only species capable of either love or generosity.

    2. In that case I agree with you completely! Whoever owned a dog or cat etc. will be able to confirm, that they do think and have emotions, even without scientific proof !