Mixed metaphors

November 20, 2013 • 8:31 am

In his accommodationist book Rocks of Ages, Steve Gould importuned both science and religion to keep their distance from each other: “Thou shalt not mix your magisteria.” But he didn’t say anything about mixing metaphors.

Rocket surgery

Now that they’re starting to build atheist churches (a horrible idea), are we going to start making similar embarrassing errors on our signs?

Evolution, Mr. Roemer, is not rocket surgery!

h/t: Barry

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45 thoughts on “Mixed metaphors

  1. “It’s not rocket surgery”

    No, Jerry — not an embarrassing mistake. I think this is a popular joke phrase making the rounds and probably an intentional attempt at humor.

    1. I heard this phrase on the Public Radio NPR just this past weekend. I can’t remember where but I think it was on one of the humor radio shows I listen to, such as Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me or What d’Ya Know. It was indeed meant to be jokey, it got good laughs, and I think it is a popular joke right now.

  2. Atheist churches primarily are peer groups for people who spent the majority of their lives believing nonsense. They need some guidance, but for an well formed atheist the church idea is useless and embarrassing.

    1. “Well formed atheist?”

      Oh, come on. Different people enjoy and/or need different things. Sure I’d be happier if they used a word other than “church” — but after seeing how well Paul Kurtz’ term “Eupraxsophy Centers” went over, I guess I’m willing to wait for a semantic improvement over time.

      1. Churches are, for many people, just the unit of society smaller than a city and larger than your family or officemates (and, importantly, less invested than either of those). Also cheap group therapy. And some people like to sing. I think religion is an ancient example of product bundling, packaging some good things in with some crap you’d never buy by itself. And the good things are not for everyone, of course, but no product is.

        Now, singing atheist songs or pretend worshiping something or, for that matter, restricting your social club to atheists (why not just say that religion has no authority in the club, all are welcome), may be a bit silly, but I think the intuition that there is something belief-independent that appeals to people about “church” is not that far off base.

    1. I think it gives ammunition to those that like to wrongly proclaim that atheism is a religion in a tu quoque way.

  3. Seems to me that the term “atheist church” misses correctitude by a country mile.

    First, they are NOT churches. No clergy, no liturgy, no divine this or that, no worship, no scriptures (though some writings might be called that).

    Further, the term misses two distinct types of groups that might fly that flag: mere social groups where one is guaranteed the absence of bibble thumpers; and support groups for those who have escaped the borg of religion. These are not the same.

    Let’s call them, instead of “churches”, clubs and support groups.

    1. You could just call them secular support groups.

      I don’t get why you’d call them churches… or maybe it’s just bad satire. 🙂

      1. All power to them and what they’re doing, and if that happens to take place in a church or chapel, then sure, go for it.

        It could be a cultural thing though… around here the churches are pretty much empty.

        1. I’m in Switzerland where churches are pretty empty too. Perhaps less so in the rural areas of the Catholic cantons, I don’t know. However, whenever there is a mass or service that will be relayed live on TV on Sundays, they suddenly fill up!

          1. That’s just about the same here in Denmark. People go to church for weddings and funerals et al and that’s it. Some may pop down for a quick christmas carol come december, but that is hardly the majority imo.

            We’ve got way too many churches that are just standing empty ’cause almost every town or village has an old church.

  4. As others have pointed out, the phrase “rocket surgery” is, as they say, “a thing”. My wife and I use it frequently – and we first encountered it spoken, not on the internet (although internet searches confirm it is now fairly common).

  5. I believe that this is intended as a joke. These church signs/billboards have become a definite hit online and very competitive, especially if two or more churches are close together. They are all over the internet, so the pressure to find a humorous message, often when the churches are close enough to carry on a ‘dialoged’. Some of them are priceless, whether you share the belief of one creed or another. If you’ve never read any of them, you should. Nothing like a ‘cat fight’ (esp if both or all of the church doctrines are conflicting.

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