In case you don’t recognize the reference, it’s a photo of Hugh Laurie as Dr. Greg House, saying “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” For those who don’t know, House is not only an atheist, he’s also not shy about slamming religion, and never allows theists to get away with saying something stupid. I mention this in case someone thought maybe after the quote above, he went on to say something about the necessity of believing in transcendent spirituality because it’s psychologically true or some such nonsense. He didn’t. He wouldn’t.
So I don’t know what this church was thinking when it put up this banner. But I figure that the best way to find out would be to ask them. So I found a contact address on their web page and sent them mail:
Dear sir or madam,
There is a photo circulating on the Internet, purporting to show a banner outside Rathmine’s Parish, quoting the character House, from the TV show of the same name, saying “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” See http://twitter.com/#!/bdbdbdbd/status/124582300972351488
First of all, may I ask whether this is correct? I have no reason to believe that the photo has been edited, but it can’t hurt to ask.
Secondly, if the photo is accurate, then I admit I am as puzzled as the person who posted it to Twitter. It seems to say that there are no good rational arguments for religious claims, and indeed that rational arguments point toward the falsehood of religious claims. Certainly that is what the character meant in the show.
So may I ask why Rathmine’s Parish would display this? Is there some secondary meaning I’m not seeing?
We’ll see what kind of response I get, if any. It’s been two days, and so far I haven’t heard back.
Update, Oct. 28, 2011: I’ve heard back.