A case of invincible ignorance: the atheist

Catholic priests, when required to instruct a potential convert who seems incapable of grasping the simplest points of doctrine, speak sometimes of “invincible ignorance”. This is an interesting phrase: wilful ignorance, not stupidity, is the problem, and nothing penetrates this wall. It frequently happens that a lack of interest is mistaken for stupidity. Most of us are incapable of understanding matters in which we have no interest, whereas those who are passionately interested will master a subject which, to others, appears complex and abstruse.

I once had a friend who edited a journal of “Comparative Religion”. One day his neighbour accosted him over the garden fence. “I’m told you’re involved in religious matters,” he said, adding with the pride of an independent thinker: “I feel I should tell you that I am an atheist!”

My friend expressed mild interest and asked the man if he had ever read Plato or Plotinus. He had not. “Perhaps you have studied St Augustine and Aquinas? No? Pascal might be more to your taste? Ah, then perhaps you have ventured further afield. “The Upanishads?” “Never heard of them,” said the man. “The Quran?” “The what?” This went on for a while until my friend sighed and told his neighbour:

“You are not an atheist. You’re an ignoramus.”     

Gai Eaton, Remembering God. Reflections on Islam. pp 139-140

Categories: Atheism, Gai Eaton, Islam

14 replies

  1. I would invest in a taller fence

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Taken, there are many ignorant atheists, but blind faith believers or bigots aren’t any smarter, both lack man’s most essential attribute: reason (ratio).
    How intelligent men can be atheists is understandable, how intelligent men can believe in a “force beyond his grasp” (Hobbes!) is, but how such person can worship “beings”, invented by past smart prophets and arrange their lives around such human doctrines, even die or kill for them is inconceivable. (Yes, one could wish, that Moses had made a fence around his 12 tribes and stayed behind, LOLOL)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I always say to atheists if you don’t believe in religion there is a way to know God exist, by death. But they don’t want to check it out until the death comes to them.


    • Sam,
      men is part of the universe’ constant transition. “Death” is a human term, rocks are formed (born) and also disintegrating (dying) together with plants and animals. Second, death doesn’t “come” – this is already a loaded religious description. We just stop living – that doesn’t need a god. Your “explanations” are pure sophism and don’t work outside a belief. Cheers


  4. @whyyouhatebeingafag,
    We came for a duel of wits, but wont challenge an unarmed person 🙂 (since your keybaord or your motorskills allow only one sentence).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. An atheists go to answer is ” I don’t know” or ” maybe one day science will find out”. With out hedging an option for a price drop you would be looking at endless losses as in the stock market. Atheism doesn’t sound like a reasonable social concept in the least bit to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Firstly, “hedging your bets” would make you nothing more than a shallow, pragmatic crypto-christian Jesus wouldn’t look very kindly upon. A bit like the Chinese bowing to the entire gallery of known eastern and western deities…
      Second, “Atheism doesn’t sound like a reasonable social concept in the least bit to me.”
      You would have to give a reason for your claim. There are societies which do not have books of prophets, gospels, commandments – although not atheist in the strict sense, but for our purpose – which show much less problems than we monotheists have…


      • I think you misunderstood my example and that’s my fault because “options” In the stock market can be difficult to understand.


  6. Sir,
    I understood you well enough as I do trade in options at the exchanges.
    Anyway, you still haven’t explained your assumption, that atheism wouldn’t be a reasonable concept for society. But we are not looking for a fight and we don’t expect answers.


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