Challenge: Religion in a Box

Posted: August 2, 2011 by Amy Hall in Choosing My Religion, God Has Spoken, God is Real, Weekly Challenge

Both the guys are out this week, so we’re going to do something a little different for the challenge. Here’s the challenge: Entertainment is never just entertainment; there are always worldview claims being made implicitly, if not explicitly. So let’s practice digging out those claims and responding to them. Watch this video I found on Funny or Die, find the assumptions and objections hidden in there, then list them along with the way you would respond to one or all of those points if you were discussing the video with a friend. Or just list them and let someone else respond. Or respond to something on someone else’s list. Let’s see how many we can find, then let the discussion begin!

  1. Gunlock says:

    The producer is assuming that the viewer doesn’t already have “Religion in a box”. He assumes that the viewer isn’t already superior. He also states you will become blissfully ignorant when receiving this product; thereby assuming you are not currently blissfully ignorant. One problem lies in this marketing. If you were to purchase this product you would have to believe you could get this GREAT VALUE for nearly nothing. This assumes your viewer is already blissfully ignorant before buying. Only the blissfully ignorant would buy; thereby confirming the faulty belief that only the owners of “Religion in a Box” are blissully ignorant and do not think for themselves. If you are a thinking being before Religion and not after, then the faulty advertising would not work on the viewers. The marketers just fed information they wanted you to believe in a way they wanted you to think ONLY to viewers that want to be fed information. Making this Propaganda! Not making these statements true. Also accomplishing the producers task by feeding the vulnerable the food that the vulnerable want, NOT need.

  2. Ginger Anderson says:

    Some of assumptions I saw in the video were: —That all religion is silly. To which I would ask, “Is it sillier to believe that our complex universe came by accident or an intelligent Designer?” –All religion is illogical. My response: Is it logical to say we are animals but right and wrong exist for us. Right and wrong do not exist in the animal kingdom. —“Pre-packaged truth,” thereby lumping all religious teaching into one box instead of dealing with the merits of each. An analogy: If I was packing a small bag for a trip and put in a bottle of medicine, then someone came along and threw in some candy or even some poison, that would not mean that the medicine was not still in there. Someone could say, “All I see is candy and poison.” and I would respond, “Look closer. The medicine is in there.” —The video also spoke of religious people as acting superior. That is easy. I have met atheists who are also very superior in their attitude so, not believing in God doesn’t necessarily help that problem. Christians are reminded in the Bible that our salvation is not by our works, so we have nothing to boast about. We are acting unchristian if we act pridefully. —Then the video had the “group #’ reference. Atheists also belong to groups, so that argument is moot. —The books at the end of the video were to imply that religious people did not study science or ethics. Of course, many scientists are Christians and there are whole courses on Christian Ethics. —Finally, to Mark Twain’s quote at the end: He lived before Joseph Stalin.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Ginger, good job in making it clear that acting as if you’re superior is a matter of human sin, not necessarily tied to any worldview. I also like that you would make it clear that when Christians act superior, they are sinning, according to Christianity. You might want to follow that up with a reminder that it’s not a surprise to us that we discover we’re sinners! In fact, this is the whole reason we need Jesus.

  3. bobby says:

    its an Ad Hominan Attacks she’s just attacking Religon and not showing why it’s Un-Reality. But i Want You To Remember EveryBody and i mean Every body is Doing Religion. Everybody is trying to answer MetaPhysical Questions about the world. so this idea that religion is somehow un-real is un-real in of itself if the anti-reilgious person or the secularist objects to the states/goverments laws or else do they have to appeal to? Theres nothing else to appeal too if your a secularists or anti-religous

    • Amy Hall says:

      Good point–if there’s no God, then all ethics are subjective–i.e., unreal. If that is the case, then their made-up ethics are no more real than religion.

  4. That was about the lamest thing I’ve seen in a long while.
    Either that, or it was a brilliant parody of how fundamentalist atheists like to argue.

    I’m still trying to decide which it was supposed to be….

  5. I received my “Religion in a Box” yesterday. But I got shorted!
    The promised extra “Absolute Superiority” product was missing!
    I think the producers of the video kept it for themselves…

  6. Amy Hall says:

    Ha! Mike, you made me laugh. 🙂

  7. Since the main questions were answered, I wanted to offer something to go with your statement that worldviews are being offered. My wife was watching a soap opera. One girl is chiding another, in total astonishment, “You mean you two haven’t done it yet? What’s wrong with you?” As if casual sex is expected. I mumbled something about, “Not that there’s anyone with any morals on the show”.

  8. Philip Motes says:

    Here are some of the assumptions/objections that I could gather:

    1. Naturalism is true.

    2. All religions are false (“not based on reality” and “silly”).

    3. All religions are basically the same (any differences are as arbitrary as the difference of a group number).

    4. Religion’s only purpose is to alleviate worry and anxiety.

    5. Religious people are ignorant and have a superiority complex.

    I will leave it to others to offer responses.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Great point with #3–I didn’t catch that one! And I didn’t think to even write #1, but of course that’s the deepest assumption of all.

  9. Aaron Shepard says:

    I’m sad to say that the ” religion in a box ” idea is not a new product. It has been on the market for a long time now, along with the ” absolute superiority”. It has just been packaged in different boxes. The boxes I’m talking about are TV, radio, and computers. For years now the religions of atheism, humanism. and just about any other form of man serving religion has been sold for a much higher price. I think you would be hard pressed to find any of these boxed services for less than $25.00 a month (except for antenna TV and radio which both come free, sometimes whether you want it or not)

  10. Michael Pemberton says:

    1. Assumption: People seek religion to answer questions regarding
    a. The purpose of life
    b. What happens after death
    c. What is right and what is wrong (morality)
    d. What is truth
    Statement: Religion supplies unrealistic answers to these questions for people who do not want to think for themselves by loading them down with pre-digested thoughts and keeping them ignorant; all the while turning a nice profit. This profit is, by snide implication, the true motive of all religion.

    2. Faith is designed to free people from having to think.

    3. Faith is contrary to logic.

    4. Religion provides contentment that is based on an ignorance of the real world.

    5. Religious belief produces a feeling of superiority, and probably the behaviors of superiority that go with it.

    6. One HUGE underlying assumption that all religions are pretty much the same. That is, since all the statements can be proven true for some (often most) members of some (probably most) religions (by count of religion, not followers), they are therefore true of all members of all religions.

    Overgeneralization is the primary fallacy of the work. One could find anecdotal examples of each of their points, but that is not the same as proving each point. Far from it, the anecdotal examples may actually serve to highlight where the assumptions are wrong.

    The second, and possibly more grevious fallacy is the assumption of obviousness. That is, the authors assume that it is obvious that all the questions are of the same nature, and can be answered to the satisfaction of a thinking person without religion. Furthermore, they assume that the only purpose of religion is to answer these questions.

    One approach to this, if you encountered a person presenting the case in this fashion, is to begin by asking, “What leads you to believe that?” Irrespective of their answer, responding with, “Can you show me logical proof for that?” would begin to expose the weaknesses in their thinking, leading them to, hopefully, consider that there may be some reasoning on the side of faith that they should consider listening to.

  11. Amy Hall says:

    Great job, guys! Here are some things I spotted:

    1. It’s a weakness to depend on religion to tell you what’s right and wrong. The really brave and determined people work through the deep questions for themselves. (This attitude of non-religious superiority and mockery of religion makes the superiority comment later on pretty ironic.)

    2. In order to be religious and get the benefit of not having to work these things out for yourself, you need to turn your brain off and ignore the “silly.”

    3. When you do this, you separate yourself from reality.

    4. And you’ll feel superior to others because you think you have “answers.” (Again the brave and smart people recognize we can’t know what’s true in religion…because nothing is.)

    5. Plus, religion will take a lot of your money.

    6. And then in the quote at the end: Religious people cause great unhappiness and destruction because they think they know what’s best for everybody.

    I think if someone were to send me this video, I’d probably point out how it’s kind of funny that these people obviously feel superior to religious people—doing what they say they don’t like about Christians.

    Then I’d pursue that idea further: Do you think Christians feel superior to others? Why? In what way? Then I’d explain that I don’t feel superior, but instead, I feel incredibly grateful that God has forgiven me when I deserved nothing from Him.

    I think that route would be the most direct way into clarifying what Christianity is about. I generally like to clarify what I’m talking about before I get into defending it. If I started right off the bat going after #5, or #6, or #2-3, we might get sidetracked into apologetic points without my friend ever getting a picture of what I was arguing for.

    But after that, I think I’d go straight for #3 and make it clear that the claims I make about Christianity are claims about reality–that they represent what is really true. Then we could move into reasons why I think it’s true (#2). And if it’s true, then it makes sense to learn what it teaches about reality! It would be silly to make up your own answers just for the sake of making up your own answers. The prudent thing for people to do in any area of knowledge is to learn from those who know the truth about that area (#1).

    That’s probably how I would go about this. #5 and #6 are the least important things to cover—to argue #5, you’d have to convince your friend of our motives, and that’s nearly impossible to do by argument (they would probably just say, “Well, you’re different, but that’s how the rest of Christians are”), and #6 could either take you far away from what’s most relevant, leading down a never-ending road of “But Christians are also bad in this way, and this way, and what about this bad thing they did?”, or turn into “Oh yeah? Well atheists did this.” Not that those things don’t have their places (you’ll have to cover them eventually), but they tend to get people defensive, and that would probably be the end of the conversation.

  12. Michael Pemberton says:

    When dealing with this kind of “presentation” of athiesm, I think it would be important not to chase the red herrings too much, aggrivating though they are. I find that many athiests I deal with have become quite adept at aggrivating Christians.

    For instance, I posit that it is possible for something to be both silly and true at the same time. Silliness is a perception, not necessarily fact. Many things that seem silly to the average observer are actually true, and often quite impactful. Another way to look at this is to note that, to the average person in 1890, the theory of evolution seemed silly. Yet most athiests would contend that it is true.

    For another example, if religion could deliver eternal happiness for a price, wouldn’t “thousands of dollars” be reasonable? Observe that many people pay that much for their country club membership. I am not arguing whether or not religion is profitable, only that such profit would not be an unreasonable price for the promised goods.

    I once met a girl with a T-shirt that said, “Athiests Are Beyond Belief.” I asked her if really felt that was true. She replied, “Yes.”

    To which I said, “I don’t believe you.”

    She answered back, “Believe me.”

    My response: “Do you really believe that?”

    Her conclusion, “I do.”

    Spending time in the discussion dismantling these errors may make us feel good, but does not really bring them to the point of considering the claims of faith. It seems to me that dealing with the deeper issues is more fruitful. Of course, if you are only dealing with a scoffer, which is what this video seems like, is rarely of any value.

    What, indeed, is the purpose of life? What is the basis for moral decisioning, and what implication does that basis have for us? Is there a reason to consider anything beyond the obvious in this world that we consider ‘reality’? If even one ethic is absolute, what does that imply? These are the questions they scoff at in the video that we might find some fruitful discussion around. The answers to these will make the other issues disappear.