31 July 2010

What would Dawkins Do?

It's argued by some that even if religion (specifically Christianity) is false, it still might be useful on occasion to some people. Certainly on the face of it, this might have some merit. Here's a story about a would-be Christian robber being turned from his evil act (still running away though) by the words of the Christian shop assistant [BBC News].

Once certainly has to admire the presence of mind and the calm resolve of Ms Nayara Goncalves, the shop assistant, and good for her, I say. She defused a very dangerous situation - OK, the gun was only a replica, but she wasn't to know that, and one gun attracts others, and these situations frequently end up messy in the USA.

So suppose an *atheist* robber comes face to face with an *atheist* shop assistant? What then? How could that situation be handled? I can't see how a lecture about The Blind Watchmaker or memes or the ahistoricity of the resurrection myth or speculation about the origins of life is going to cut the mustard - you need a soft yellow underbelly. In the case of the theist, that SYU is the meek and mild Jesus thingy, washed down with a bit of fire and brimstone, no doubt. The atheist's weak point is *where*, precisely?


  1. Good question.

    Presumably, if it's the sort of calculated, rational Atheist, chances are they wouldn't be robbing the store at all. Or would have a pretty darn good reason to. You could try a rational argument to their chances of getting caught and put in jail for life if they shoot you, possibly promise not to report them if they go away.

    Chances are though, if an atheist is robbing you, it's the ignorant, "don't care about this stuff" type. The best you can do is try to scare them off with something they don't understand enough to call your bluff; or appeal to their sense of common morality - it probably won't work, but then again appealing to religion is essentially the same as guilt tripping and is also unlikely to work, this anecdote notwithstanding.

    I agree that religion is a point of leverage there. Another reason to not have it? Rob a few stores and let me know how that worked out for you ;)

  2. Actually if you watch the vid, the poor robber really doesn't want to be there. It's all a bit tragic. Another point is that the store assistant *lied* - she said the cash would come out of her earnings; that *cannot* be the case. Anyway, she did well, and fair play to her, but I don't think this tells us much about the power of Jesus :-)

  3. I think the penny just dropped in my noggin! Is this why "Christian Atheism" is your preference?

  4. Hi Graham,
    No - it's more a matter of trying to tip the hat to the journey as well as the destination.

  5. There's a whole new post in that comment!

  6. By the way, excellent job on this site!!! I keep mentioning this as I'm very, very impressed! A lot of the posts that haven't generated comments are v interesting in their own right.

    And it's great that Christians and Atheists can discuss and debate like this...no sense in the on-line communities where we just congratulate ourselves on how right we all are. I hope you can get a nice wee community going here.

    Well played, that man!

  7. BTW - the fact that you can post like this across a range of issues proves what I've been saying for a long time.

    You're scary smart.

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