Logic’s Last Stand

July 10, 2008

Define Crazy

Filed under: Philosophy — Tags: , , , — Zurahn @ 5:52 pm

Making rules and definitions is hard. You have to make them broad enough to given them proper meaning, but narrow enough scope to have a use. For example, what is an airplane? Well, saying something that has two wings, a rudder a pilot and co-pilot and a rudder would be too inclusive and disqualify biplanes. If we say, a flying machine to carry humans, that would include blimps. You have to get it just right.

Words are also often shaped by our use of them, even if we don’t mean to specifically redefine the word. For example, if we say that a movie is entertaining because it makes us cry, it blurs the line of what entertainment is to the point that it’s hard to use it for anything. Another example would be if we were to say that Superman 64 is not a bad game. If that’s not bad, well, what exactly is?

So, I now pose my question: If believing in a religion–at least the abrahamic religions–does not qualify as insane or at least ridiculous, what does? This is not a mockery, it’s a serious question for evaluation. By all means, the claims made about miracles in any other scope other than religious would immediately be regarded as delusional behaviour.

There is a fair option, though. Extraordinary claims are not absolutely always false, but we most certainly cannot accept them on faith. What is required is justification — evidence. All a religion need do is provide adaquate evidence of the claims made. By all means, that’s not an unfair request.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan.

If you are willing to accept that statement, most certainly you can accept mine.



  1. Not everything is necessarily black and white. For example when it comes to games, there are ratings, not simply “good” and “bad”. You have a wide range of crap, ranging from Superman 64 to Kablooey to Spy Games: Elevator Mission.

    Likewise there is varying insanity in organized religion, from soapbox lunatic to religious yet respected scientist. Obviously they are both wrong, but one is more credible than the other, and may actually be able to put up a little bit of an arguement… even if it includes bananas fitting the hand perfectly.

    Comment by Yarcofin — July 10, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

  2. Likewise you can argue degrees of insanity. Being able to argue that something is not false is not the same as being able to argue that it’s true. Believing the possibility of a god or gods, fine. Not crazy. Believing absolutely in general, tough, but I’ll give them naïve.

    Believing absolutely in a flagrantly self-contradictory book, a henous and vindictive god that tortures, and miracles including but not limited to raising the dead and a talking donkey? No, just no. As I said, if that isn’t enough unfounded belief, then no one can be considered insane.

    The problem you bring up, though, is what we define as “Christian,” which is valid. Many people are self-described Christians, but what that means is vague. If you don’t believe in the story of genesis, the rules in the Bible or original sin, there’s not much left to call yourself Christian, but many seem to gravitate to the label.

    I also mean in terms of delusion, so maybe asking to define “delusion” would have been more appropriate. Compartmentalization is often considered a reason for the ability to be able to both “have faith” yet live in society without actually being functionally crazy.

    Comment by zurahn — July 10, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

  3. Delusional and insane are pretty good descriptions, but I think “gullible” is a better fit (plus less offensive :P).

    Think of Christians as millions of little children falling for the “I got your nose” trick or pulling a quarter out of their ear. Most will believe it because they’re dumb, some will have their suspicions but remain silent and play along, and a very select few will say “WAIT A MINUTE, IT’S SCIENTIFICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO PULL A DAMN QUARTER OUT OF MY EAR.”

    Comment by yarcofin — July 11, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

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