Monday, 26 October 2015

Why Are Some Atheists so Gullible?

A friend posted this witticism, from an American atheist association, on his Facebook page... It had 30-odd thousand likes on the association's page.

But you know there's a few little things wrong here.

In the first place, to a blind man the colour of the cat and room are irrelevant. The cat's existence is, but the others are no obstacle to the blind man.

In the second place, Oscar Wilde was a Christian. He was a David Cameron style of Anglican, often flirted with the possibility of going across to Rome, and landed safe on Tiber's side on his death bed. But, as I say, he always had been a believer.

Stephen Fry once played Oscar Wilde. Mr Fry is an atheist. I suspect the atheists have confused the two. They do, after all, have one thing in common. You're going to make me say it aren't you? That's right. They both studied Latin at school.

Then there's just one other thing about this quotation. Apart from it's not as clever as it's supposed to be and it's by a believer, I'm not convinced it's by Wilde. I've done all the research on it (ie I've Googled it) and there's no proper citation. No book or play quoted anywhere, no context, no date or place or time. Brainyquote is not technically a guarantee of a quote's authenticity.

So they're quoting something on the authority of a pretty picture on a poster. Previously I've mentioned the poster about an "atheist cathedral" which is actually the library of a college dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. I'm not sure why some atheists are so eager to accept things on authority with a lack of evidence just because they happen to agree with them. But I've got a theory. I reckon it's because they're gullible.

Here, have a real Wilde quotation. It's brilliant.
The silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendour and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of year
 To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
'Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.'
Anyone lost a black cat? The blind man just brought it in. What a time to be delivering blinds. I was still in the bath.

Quick Edit: Thanks to Doug and to Mike P on Facebook.

About 5 minutes in.... (though the whole thing is pretty good)


  1. You are correct in asserting that Oscar Wilde never said those particular words ascribed to him. It has become increasingly prevalent in some social media to support a particular view with a fictitious quotation from a famous historical person, safe and secure in the knowledge that the person cited is not able to refute the words that they are alleged to have said.

  2. New Atheism is a busted flush, the quality of their internet memes has gone radically downhill in the last three or four years. I regularly see friends on Facebook sharing awful illiterate, inaccurate, incoherent stuff, and when I (wearily) correct or challenge it they don't argue back but just respond, "Ok i didn't know that thanks".

  3. Hmmm, wouldn't finding a black cat in a dark room (regardless of the state of one's own vision) be a nice analogy for faith? You know the cat is in there and and stick with it until you find it.

  4. Check Charles Darwin's entry on WikiQuote, there's a quite good summary of the believed provenance of the phrase. It appears to go back to Lord Bowen, c 1911.

  5. I've read quite a bit of Wilde in my time, and that sentence just doesn't sound like him. It's too repeptitive, and Wilde, when not writing stage dialogue for powerful leading ladies, was enviably concise in making his points.

  6. The quote is half-based on a Rowan Atkinson sketch of Sir Marcus Braybrook MP. But it's nothing to do with atheism.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. You are as astute as you are educated (last para of this) Marcus Browning MP though Mike got the name slightly righter on Facebook

  7. I think the cat belonged to some guy named Schrodinger.

  8. Since when did meme's have anything to do with what's true?

  9. SOME atheists are gullible? Nope. They're ALL gullible! I respect other people beliefs with the exception of atheism. Gullibility, stupidity, arrogance, ignorance, narcissism and cruelty are all exclusive characteristics of atheism and all of those things annoy me to no end. Atheism is disgusting and completely undeserving of respect.


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