Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Big Dumb Meme

You've all heard people say that there's no such thing as a dumb question. I humbly disagree, because I've answered plenty of them.

Usually when people say "There's no such thing as a dumb question," what they really mean is "Don't feel badly about asking such a dumb question," or "I'm mentally preparing myself to answer your dumb question... OK, go." If they are of a genial and forgiving nature, they may even mean "It's not dumb to ask questions, even if some of the questions are kind of dumb." But they never, ever actually mean "There's no such thing as a dumb question," because there are, and they're probably about to hear one.

In fact, I'm not just going to post about it, I'm going to take a stab at starting a meme about it. For this meme, I'm going to ask you to answer three (hopefully not dumb) questions: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? Why was it it dumb? And, even though it won't help, because answering a dumb question never does, what's the answer? (Or, as I like to think of them: The Big Dumb Question, The Big Dumb Reason, and The Big Dumb Answer.)

I'll start us off, and I'll begin by saying that it isn't always dumb people that ask dumb questions. This one was asked by someone who is pretty smart... but it's still a really dumb question.

The Big Dumb Question:
(read this in a bewildered tone)
"But... if you're an atheist, why are you in the peace movement?"

The Big Dumb Reason:
Being an atheist doesn't mean that you don't believe in ethics, it means you don't believe in God. You shouldn't need an invisible dude in the sky to tell you to do the right thing (or anyone else for that matter). You should do it because it's the right thing to do. We make the same decisions that everyone else does, we just do it without the metaphysical carrot and stick.

And what does religion have to do with peace anyway? I think if you look at the empirical evidence, you'll find that religion is far more likely to lead us into war than away from it. C'mon... when was the last time religion stopped a war?

Now technically, this borders on being an ignorant question rather than a dumb question; it certainly displays a lot of ignorant qualities. But this was a person who knew me, and knew the kind of person I am, and that makes it pretty dumb.

The Big Dumb Answer:
We have one shot at this, and when we're dead, we're dead. That's it. No karmic do over. No everlasting reward. It's just the end.

Frankly, if I'm right, we have more to lose than we do if you're right.


Now because I'm greedy (and because only about 8 people read this) I'm tagging all of you. You, on the other hand, should each tag three people. These are usually funny stories, and since I didn't bring the funny, it's up to you. Go forth and memeify.

(And in a bit of administrivia, I'll get caught up on comments soon, but I'm a little under the weather and I'm absolutely buried at work. Until then, talk amongst yourselves.)


Flannery Alden said...

Maybe your questioner was confusing atheism with anarchism?

I thought I didn't have a question, but I do...

I hope you feel better!

BeckEye said...

This may be a dumb question, but...


vikkitikkitavi said...

DS, I loved this post. I have a t-shirt that says "Moral Atheist," and I actually had some bitch in the supermarket look me up and down and go "Oh, ARE you?"

I said "Only compared to some."

I gotta say, I don't think she got it.

Because I am not very meme friendly, though, I will tell you here that the absolute stupidest question I was ever asked was when I was at the drive-through window at Taco Bell. I had ordered one item, a Choco Taco. If you've never had one, it's like an ice cream Drumstick, except shaped like a Taco. Anyhoo, the window gal asked me if I wanted any hot sauce for my Taco. I said no thanks and drove away. The end.

Writeprocrastinator said...

Dammit, man! I just hung my up my blogging hat for the weekend!


Be that way!


deadspot said...

First, thanks to everyone who did the meme and passed it on. I knew someone else would bring the funny.

It's possible, Flan. I think she just had a lot of preconceptions about what atheists are like, and the fact that she had known me for a couple of years didn't do anything to dispel those when she found out that I was one. And it's pretty dumb to assume that people who believe in god have some sort of corner on morality, when we've seen what they are capable of.

Schwa? This didn't flow as well as I'd hoped, Becks. I have this problem with writing and writing and writing and not stopping. I mercilessly hacked this post down to size and didn't patch it back together very well. I meant to go back and edit, but duty called at work. (Ha! I said doody! ...that joke doesn't work in print, does it?) I had a discussion about the difference between ignorant questions, which come from lack of knowledge, and dumb questions, which come from being dumb, and parts of this post still refer to sections that I deleted.

Thanks, Vikki. I'm not really that out there about being an atheist. I just sort of assume that everyone can tell from the horns.

Thank you, WP, and I'm so glad you tagged Katie. Her response was hilarious.