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I am not saying that religious people are universally stupid. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that atheists are universally smart. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that religion doesn’t provide comfort to and enrich the lives of billions of people. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that everything in the modern scientific consensus is true. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that everything that some asshole passes off as science is true. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that there are no people who attempt to reconcile science and religion. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that nothing good has been done in the name of religion. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that nothing evil has been done in the name of science. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that the tradition and community people get from their religions isn’t valuable. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

I am not saying that religion is inherently tyrannical and oppressive. I’m saying that religion is factually incorrect.

There are atheists that say some of those things that I’m not saying. Which is bad, because all of those things I’m not saying are douchebaggy and factually incorrect and also completely unnecessary.

My radical position is that you should not believe things that are factually incorrect. Even if believing them makes you feel nice. Even if it makes you a better person. Even if it connects you to your community and your ancestors. (You can go to the rituals without believing in God, anyway.) Even if some other people over there believe factually incorrect things sometimes too.

I feel like having to justify why believing things that aren’t true is bad is like having to justify why hitting people who don’t want to get hit is bad. It… is? Duh? But the number of otherwise intelligent people who say “they’re nice and they aren’t hurting anyone, what do you care?” suggests otherwise.

The doublethink necessary to believe things that aren’t true hurts your ability to figure out what’s true and what’s not. Not necessarily; humans are very good at compartmentalizing and often, say, take “I feel it in my heart” as adequate on matters of theology but not on matters of medicine. But in aggregate turning off your critical thinking and rationality sometimes hurts your ability to be rational.

If you believe things that aren’t true, you’re going to make decisions based on the false things you believe, and decisions made based on inaccurate information are usually bad decisions. If you believe apricot pits cure cancer, you might skip chemo. If you believe there aren’t any cars on the street when there are, you might cross and get hit by an SUV. If you believe all-nighters improve your grades, you might flunk an exam. If your map says that Disney World is in Michigan, you will never get to meet the Mouse. For that matter, look at basically any atrocity in history, nearly all of which were caused by people believing untrue things (usually “this group of people is inherently evil,” “God said so,” or “our ludicrous political system totally works”).

As a practical matter, there are a lot of false beliefs in the world, and most forms of theism I encounter in day-to-day life are not actively hurting people and, in fact, might be making people’s lives better. So I’d prefer to try to get people to not believe in untrue things that are also hurting people first.

This is really just a plea for atheists and theists to stop arguing about religion is good. Who cares? The question is whether it’s true.

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