Below the Beltway   

Heaven help us: Gene explains religion

Below the Beltway
(Eric Shansby)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, November 14, 2010

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable about religion than are people of faith. Many of my fellow atheists are smug about this, which is a shame. Gloating is arrogant. We should instead use our superior knowledge to patiently educate the rest of you nincompoops. I shall now take your questions about religion.

Q: Is the pope Catholic?

A: Serious questions, please. This is science.

Q: How is religion different from superstition?

A: Superstition is silly. Religion is not.

Q: But how can you tell the difference between them?

A: If it's what you believe, it's religion. If it's what the other guys believe, it's superstition.

Q: That's too glib.

A: Okay, let me give you an example. Hindus and Jains worship Ganesha, an elephant-headed god who rides a mouse. Christians and Jews consider this quaint and adorable, and they are, of course, respectful of other faiths, but they know, deep down, that it is poppycock.

Q: Why?

A: Because Jews and Christians know there is only one God. And He cannot have tusks and a trunk, because He made man in his own image, out of dust and mud, and then made woman out of the man's rib. So the whole elephant thing is obviously just completely preposterous.

Q: Why isn't anyone named Job or Ham or Japheth or Abishag anymore?

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company