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Was That Sarcasm?

By Carl S ~

Anyone familiar with the TV series "The Big Bang Theory" will recognize this question as coming from its character, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, the genius who has trouble relating with us "common" humans. Whether or not part of his problem is due to his being raised by an evangelical mother explains this, we may never know. But it's possible.

List of The Big Bang Theory episodes (season 1)
List of The Big Bang Theory episodes (season 1)
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Wizened Sage and I have noticed that ex-Christians have problems whenever I write sarcasm. In fact, he re-titled my recent submission, lest it be misinterpreted as completely serious, because of this problem. I remember when, years ago, I wrote "My personal relationship with God," which threw responders into ga-ga land. This piece was a takeoff on the oft-heard claim of believers that they do have such a personal relationship. I was making the point that, without actually seeing, hearing, touching, etc. a real person, the relationship is an unconfirmable and ridiculous "experience" - all in one’s head. (Of course, it didn't help that the piece featured a painting of a voluptuous woman.) This was not the first time readers failed to grasp the sarcasm. I think there's a good reason behind this that makes sense. Think about it.

We've probably all read the commentary that religious claims are so far out and ridiculous that you and I can make up our own and submit them as actual, and believers wouldn't know the difference. But we don’t really need to test this out; we can scan claims of the various religions and see how this works. (A good and fast source for this is Bill Maher's movie, "Religulous." Observe the reactions of believers when he points out facts to them.) As practicing believers, you yourself were absorbing nonsensical dogmas without thinking or questioning, leaving you open to not being able to tell crap from fact. Don’t feel alone; billions of believers live that way, every day. I've noticed once, when making my personal sarcastic comments to a believer about scriptural "truths," getting this response: "You're insulting my God." And I can see how he came to that conclusion; he thinks the words of scripture are the words of his god, no matter how contradictory or ridiculous they are. All sarcasm has a bite in its intent, as in, to quote Mark Twain, "Faith is believing what you know ain’t so." We on the outside of religions can and do imagine scriptural writers making their stuff up, knowing their listeners will be gullible enough to accept it without analyzing it. Being aware of when something is for real or if it's sarcasm is very important. Even more important is knowing how to tell the difference, because it means being able to separate fact from fiction. Being seriously religious means you’re seriously gullible.

While waiting for my wife after her church service, I had a discussion with one of her church members in the parking lot. In the course of this, she reminded me that she is "much older than you," implying her age conferred wisdom I had yet to acquire. (She is over 90. My sister was short of 90 when she died, and I’ve known others in their 80's and 90's who didn't learn, either.) Topics she brought up were Earth warming, climate change and weather. I noticed she did not know the difference between climate and weather. She also informed me that planes were flying over most nations, dumping mists into their atmospheres to "poison the brains" of their citizens. This Woman is a believer in and promoter of "alternative" medicine. Her attitude is to mistrust scientists. And strangely enough, as we ended up, although she said about our several topics, "We may never know," and I told her, "That's why we have scientists, so they can research and find the answers," she agreed! These examples show how a believer unthinkingly accepts all kinds of nonsense, not just religious nonsense. And I think this is typical. Whether this is part of the DNA of some people that attracts them to religious/irrational beliefs or vice versa, I'll leave you to ponder.

Just one more thing: While making notes for this topic, I sometimes looked up to see the program my wife was watching, "Deal or No Deal." She gets very involved with the choices contestants make, and angry at their determination to choose without thinking first. Sometimes, she'll even shout out, "Take it and leave!" It's obvious why people get so emotionally involved: the whole program takes place in a bottled-up, very psychologically intense atmosphere. It's a gambling casino for the masses watching, too. Contestants sometimes throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars in taking chances. My wife can’t comprehend how any thinking person could be so foolish. Well, during this game, I mentioned suicide bombers. (Once in a while, I'll do s**t like that.) Irritated, she asked, "What has that to do with this?" So I told her, "Suicide bombers gamble and blow away their lives to gain a paradise that doesn't exist. They'd be better off to walk away with the lives they have." I was being not sarcastic, but serious. Did she get the seriousness? I think she was too involved with the program, like too many people who are so involved with believing nonsense that they don't notice.

I write these words while inspired by the lipstick mark God made on the glass in front of me. Wait. Was that sarcasm? Don't insult my God!