A graphic demonstration of the incompatibility between science and religion

June 1, 2015 • 10:45 am

Reader Chris sent me this graphic, which has apparently just been shared over 800,000 times on Facebook:


Now imagine the word “Christian” replaced by “scientist”. Such a person would be ridiculed as being close-minded and impervious to reason. Is refusal to examine counterevidence really something to be proud of?


90 thoughts on “A graphic demonstration of the incompatibility between science and religion

      1. Ironically, if a Christian tried to convert a nonbeliever or someone of another faith, and that person said “You cannot change my mind,” the Christian would see that as evidence of the person’s sinfulness. “O, stubborn fool, who has eyes but will not see!”

  1. Or if you replaced “Christian” with “bigot,” it would make perfect sense. There is a reason “prejudice” (i.e., pre-judgment) has such a negative connotation. But religious “pre-judgement” is somehow a virtue. Probably because God likes his monkeys nice and agreeable.

    1. … specially if you use large-calibre hollow-point. Changes their mind completely in approximately .01 seconds. 🙁

    1. “O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two holywater-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Jesus.”
      — after a famous novel

  2. Has it been shared 800,000 times because people agreed with it, or was it shared 800,000 times because people recognized just how myopic that last bit is? As a culture, we seem very fond of sharing stuff for the purpose of ridiculing it (of which I guess Jerry’s post is an example. I’m not saying such posts are bad, I’m saying this meme’s popularity may be an example of it).

    1. I really think that it was reposted so many times because the posters agreed with it.Now I don’t know that for sure, and can’t be arsed to check, but this sentiment is very common among Christians.

      1. “… and can’t be arsed to check …”

        Professor CC is adopting British-isms! 🙂

        Do Americans have the equivalent “… can’t be assed …”?

          1. Interesting. Did that originate as a corruption of “can’t be arsed”, owing to the fact that Americans don’t say “arse”?

        1. I’ll take your word that it is a British-ism, but I’ve heard it in the US about as far back as I can reliably remember(late 60s early 70s). So, it must have crossed the pond a good while ago.

            1. “Noun
              arse (plural arses)

              1. (dated in New England, current in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, now slang) The buttocks or more specifically, the anus.

              2. (chiefly UK, pejorative slang) A stupid, mean or despicable person.”

              I wonder. My father used the phrase “can’t be arsed,” and similar since I can remember. And he traveled to Australia quite a bit when I was very young. Perhaps that is where he picked it up.

              1. I’ve used it online, I’m pretty sure, at least since the USENET days, which is where I likely picked it up.

                I’d check, but…well, you know…can’t be arsed….


              2. I’ve heard it for as long as I can remember, but it’s considered pretty vulgar. Most people in NZ say “can’t be bothered.” I don’t say it myself, but I do say f**k, for example. (Yes, I know, how do you pronounce **.)

                However, when we hear a British person say it, it’s not considered nearly as vulgar – maybe it’s the accent! 🙂

              3. Yup, darrelle, ‘can’t be arsed’ is so much a part of the Brummie dialect and language of me and my mates that I don’t notice it. I’m 55 and have said it all my adolescent and adult life.

                It feels to me as if the further north you go in England the more likely it will be used: I’d got it into my head that you were from oop north. ‘Appen I was wrong. ‘Owt so queer as folk culture. x

      2. Re-posted has a squishy feel to it. If you ‘like’ something on factbook I think it may/will end up on your timeline so others can see it so that could be counted in the re-posting bucket perhaps.

      3. Yeah I guess we’d have to have some data on what sort of people were liking it to figure that out – data we lack (well…*I* lack…). Ah well, a very interesting poster regardless of why people are forwarding it to their friends.

    2. The same mindset that makes many people devout Christians simultaneously makes them wholly unable to grasp the myopia of the last statement. So I think Professor CC is correct.

      Though I wonder, would their minds change if Lord Vishnu plainly revealed himself in a physical form suspended in the sky?

      1. I doubt it would be particularly effective. Christianity, and most long lived religions, have evolved very good defenses over the ages. For example, you can always attribute things like your example to Satan.

  3. Why do christians have this obsessive need to portray themselves as victims, even when they’re in a position of power? I can understand that a christian living in Saudi-Arabia says something like that graphic, but in the West? Really?

    I notice a similar trend with muslims who scream ‘persecution!!11!’ every time someone paints Muhammed in a bad light or just paints Muhammed.

      1. That bloke is completely oblivious to the fact that his prophet and his koran are very offensive to non-muslims. If ‘offense’ is a reason to make people shut up, the future does not bode well for religion.

    1. Because the New Testament tells them in a number of passages that they will be persecuted, so it’s all confirmation bias from there. They HAVE to perceive themselves as being persecuted in order to confirm in their own minds the truth of the Bible.

      1. Yep. Christianity requires suffering and misery or the whole thing will just fall apart. It is the primary feature of Christianity. Mother Theresa’s interpretation of it was very rational and valid. Suffering is noble and puts you on the short-track to God’s grace, so a very effective way to help people is to help them suffer. Suffering is good.

        1. Spelt ‘Teresa’. Read Christopher Hitchen’s book ‘The Missionary Position’ for the facts on this woman and her genial relations with dictators, tycoons and convicted frauds, and her acceptance of palliative care when she was dying, having failed to provide it for her dying patients.

          1. One of the horrors is that Teresa’s patients suffered from diseases that could sometimes fairly easily be treated in a hospital. Instead, she chose to let them die by the rules of the Catholic Church as spiritual enrichment. These poor souls needed to die or else mother Teresa had no props for her wicked theatre of ‘compassion’.

          2. It’s been awhile, but I have. I’ve also heard him speak of her on several occasions. A particularly interesting event was his “debate” with Bill Donahue.

            Sometimes I wonder if Bill Donahue is actually anti Catholic and is devoted to the RCC’s downfall. I certainly can’t think of a better example of how to turn people off of something than his general behavior.

    2. Assuming your question is not rhetorical, it’s because Christianity elevated victimhood to a spiritual state. See the Gospel of Matthew, chapter five (the Sermon on the Mount):

      10″Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12″Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      Note what a brilliant defensive tactic is employed here. Merely being opposed is the sign you are on the right path!

      1. Thank you and also thanks to dfj79. True, christianity doesn’t make a lot of sense from a position of power. It makes priests look more like the pharisees than Jesus.

        This idea of suffering as the path to heaven reminds me of the horrible Home for the Dying of Mother Teresa. Just thinking about it makes me angry.

      2. Stephen, re: Christianity elevating martyrdom to a spiritual state, the Jews got there about 2 centuries before in 2 Maccabees (Christian canon but not Jewish). In the story of the mother and 7 sons martyred to the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes and how the last son thought of himself as dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life.

        I think I recall a Greek source being repulsed by this suicidal religious impulse but it could be a false memory. But it’s all of a piece with the theme of 300 years of Judaistic religious mania from 167BCE to 135 CE. x

  4. Insert picture of Hear No Evil Monkey.

    “But, Marge, what if we choose the wrong god? Ever time we go to church we’re only making god angrier.”

    1. To contrast this to Pascal’s Wager, we could call it Homer’s Wager, with the double entendre of the name Homer as bonus.

  5. Christians are so Passionate. There Jesus supposedly died horribly for them so that they wouldn’t have to do so themselves. Yet they seem to have a yearning for personal torture to this day.

    It is really childish that 2000 years and more after the purported occurrences of their deity’s self inflicted torture and death, and their ancestors purported persecution, and living in a modern, enlightened western democratic republic, that they still attempt to confer some sort of nobility to themselves personally simply by righteously claiming it is so. As if they have suffered anything remotely like their myths, or that there is any reason to imagine that they might.

    A combination of delusions of grandeur and massive passive aggressiveness.

  6. It’s interesting that these christians equate changing peoples minds to ridicule, torture and murder.

    Which at the very least is a category error, as you can ridicule ideas, but only people can be tortured and murdered.

    A quick perusal of the history of the last 2 thousand years would indicate that torture and murder are still the preferred tools of the religious in general and christians specifically.

    1. To be honest I did not read it as an equation. I understood the intended meaning to be “you cannot make me change my mind by torturing me”. If true (and it’s much more easily said/written than actually carried out under real torture), that is quite an admirable trait.
      Unfortunately what is unwritten on the statement but which we all know to be true is that the person expressing the sentiment also won’t allow his or her mind to be changed through exposure to reasoned argument and factual evidence. That is not admirable at all.

    2. That’s something I find interesting in politics – how a candidate “flip-flopping” is supposedly of weak character. Personally, I think someone who forms their views as a young person and never changes their mind is the weak (and stupid) one. Being able to admit you were wrong are signs of thoughtfulness, strength and intelligence imo.

      1. “Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one’s mind.” Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

  7. I think what goes on in the minds of some (maybe many) cultists is a mental replacement of the word Christian with all manners of private and personal descriptions of themselves.

    Six or seven years ago I might have unconsciously replaced the word Christian with anything I valued: loyalty, morality, family protector, etc.

    Regarding torture, there are a few values I might defend at the expense of being put in danger: free speech is one. I think it is that kind of drive that powers graphics like these. The singular word Christian may just be a parasitic-like afterthought for a more convoluted position. As such, it’s very difficult to argue with such folks because it’s not about that word per se, but rather an entire lifetime of anything a cultist finds valuable.

    Mike, faith-free since 2011

    1. I think you’re right about that – “Christian” to such people denotes all that is right and good about themselves, and informs their whole identity. That in itself is a big part of what’s wrong with religion.

      Good on you for having the courage to look at your convictions honestly and recognizing reality.

  8. “Now imagine the word “Christian” replaced by “scientist”. Such a person would be ridiculed as being close-minded and impervious to reason.”

    Does such a graphic exist? I think the presence of the cross will ensure that people know you’re joking.

    1. Yes, I was wondering if this bit of graphic foolishness was put together by Ken Ham (remembering his position in the debate with Bill Nye).

  9. The martyrdom posture is very popular with Christians in countries where they *aren’t* being persecuted. In this worldview basically anything that doesn’t completely endorse and align their own can be viewed as a sort of persecution.

    It’s an effective tool, one often used by whoever is delivering the sermon or the homily; and isn’t a million miles from the sort of indoctrination techniques used by jihadist suicide cells and any other sort of squad trying to bond a group of disparate individuals into a coherent block: From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

    1. Yup. That’s how, in the U.S., where Christians are a majority and have a great deal of political and economic power, they have to resort to straw-grasping such as the perceived “War on Christmas” in order to confirm the Bible’s prophecy that they will be persecuted wherever they go. Wal-Mart greeters saying “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”? PERSECUTION!!!!

    2. With the fundamentalists here in the Bible Belt, there’s often a strange paradox, wherein the believers can be persecuted minorities (hahahahaha), and at the same time buy into (literally) the prosperity gospel racket. It gives me a bit of a headache to contemplate this paradox, but the rationale is something like this: “As a devout Christian I have suffered persecution, and therefore my reward should be great material wealth and the ability to engage in conspicuous consumption.” They seem to have forgotten the bit about camels and needles and the kingdom of heaven.

      I have a fundie teaching colleague who frequently complains about persecution and things (usually involving $$$) that are “not fair.” Another colleague, who is a Christian but accepts the evidence and science for evolution and climate change, once made a crack about creationists, and the fundie colleague immediately started mumbling and sulking about how “everyone picks on creationists.”

      Some days I cannot roll my eyes enough.

    3. It also implies that those who won’t die for the faith – perhaps by having a forbidden drug transfusion that ensures they survive to care for their children – are lacking in some way. The sort of choices this mentality forces on people disgusts me. It’s basically, “die or you’re not one of us.”

    4. “The martyrdom posture is very popular with Christians in countries where they *aren’t* being persecuted. In this worldview basically anything that doesn’t completely endorse and align their own can be viewed as a sort of persecution.”

      Yes, their definition of persecution is very broad.

  10. To Christians (at least of the type who would agree with the meme), “refusal to examine counterevidence” is a nonstarter. Their mindset is basically “Evidence? We don’ need no steenkin’ evidence!”

    They have faith, which trumps everything else.

    1. They don’t need evidence, unless that evidence confirms their belief, in which case they can use it.

      1. Good clarification. Also, they often have their own interpretation of nature, seeing things as evidence of creation rather than evolution.

    1. Remember, these are people whose scriptures characterize being a sheep (in the figurative sense) as a GOOD thing. The Lord is my shepherd! Closed-mindedness and unquestioning obedience are virtues.

  11. How about this satire:


    I can ridicule you
    I can torture you
    I can kill you


  12. I was a christian a long time. When I first became aware of the persecution feeling it occurred to me that it was because it was direct evidence that it was all true. I mean the scripture says we will be persecuted. But it’s the only evidence. Christians are desperate for evidence and persecution is all there is. I think that realization may have been the first crack in my belief.

    1. Wow. In that way, they take it as evidence that their bible is true.

      Of course it falls apart the moment that you see just about anyone can be persecuted for any belief or lack thereof.

      1. Given the social climate at the time, telling potential followers that they will be persecuted certainly seems well within the possibilities you should cover to keep them in the cult. Surely, there was knowledge of competing ideas, not the least of which were secular criticisms of supernaturalism that preceded Christianity. And that’s not even getting into the history of tribal warfare. I would argue that any religion of the period with staying power would necessarily have to address the persecution problem, lest all the followers leave when it happens.

        1. That’s a good point. It’s similar to the fact that they had to make suicide a sin to prevent all believers from killing themselves to enter heaven. Keeping the religion alive and the money flowing in was always the priority.

  13. It seems there might also be a bit of “affirming the consequent” going on. Consider:

    Jesus was persecuted because he was righteous (Christian premiss)
    I am persecuted.

    I am righteous.

    This (bad) argument then encourages the adoption of the second premiss.

  14. How about: “You can’t do to me what I did to everyone else”

    Randy Lifshotz
    Cell: 954-401-0942

    “After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked — as I am surprisingly often — why I bother to get up in the mornings.”
    – Richard Dawkins


  15. Let’s see what else the poster works for –

    I am a Muslim…. ok
    I am a Buddhist… ok
    I am a Scientologist… no, they tend to take people to court
    I am a Pastafarian… no, just no.

  16. If your retina ended up in the same state regardless of what light entered it, you would be blind.

    Similarly, if your beliefs end up in the same state regardless of what evidence you’re presented with, you are blind.

    1. In the so-called “belief dynamics” literature, there’s a state called “epistemic hell”, where any operation leaves one in this state and that one believes everything. I would think the religious would find this name … disturbingly appropriate?

      (In the simplest models, this state is one where a contradiction has been applied, but I think that’s oversimple.)

  17. The tough thing is that Christians tend to think that being unwilling to change is some great virtue. I think that is what the image reflects.

    But that can be either good or bad depending on what someone is adamantly defending. It’s not a virtue by itself and can actually be a deadly mistake.

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