Hi Kindred Soul,
Leprechauns are definitely less well adapted memes. On the one hand, they were never the crucial cause of an apocalyptic cult; from start to finish the leprechaun story is recounted with a twinkle in the eye, the Irish way. On the other, a leprechaun won’t get you eternal life, or condemn disbelievers to hell in perpetuity, etc. So it really doesn’t have what it takes to prevail culturally compared to the claims Christianity, Islam or CoJCoLdS.
Nevertheless, the leprechaun, if considered as a “real god”, remains a fantastic, fabulous account. Like I said, the leprechaun doesn’t come with monasteries and robes and cathedrals dotting the landscape, so it’s fabulous nature is much more abrupt, giving it some pedagogical value.
Christianity’s strength, the strength that puts it on at least the same level as Atheism, is not merely that it was favored politically for over a millennium, as you suggest, but that Christian origin events, whatever conclusions are to be drawn from them, happened since we have had records and histories, an advantage the belief in Leprechauns would not have even if empires and kingdoms had favored them for the past millennium. For this reason, it seems to follow that the non-theist attempt to draw parallels between the two, Christianity and Leprechauns (and similar myths) is still quite unsupportable.
The same level as atheism? I can’t believe what I’m reading. Atheism is the rejection of fabulous, unsupported, mystical claims. It’s not at parity in any case. It may be incorrect, but it’s either got a profound epistemic insight, or it’s fantastically wrong. But as a matter of reasoning and evidence, the tools we use everyday to build real world knowledge, it’s just everyday tools being applied. Christianity makes a number of outrageous claims with respect to our empirical observations. Atheism does not, and the difference could not be more stark. I don’t know what kind of numerators and denominators you are applying here to come up with some kind of “parity”, but I invite you to lay that out, if it’s anything more than just naked assertion; atheism needs no miracles accepted, no supernatural mysticism to be embraced. It only relies on the tools everyone, including Christians, use every day – reason and rigorous analysis of the evidence toward validated, tested, objective knowledge.
I chose leprechauns because that is a specific example I had seen used for the non-theist argument. I have already argued, as is still to my satisfaction (I hope the reader will not be tempted to “poison the well” and suggest that because I am Christian I am more unreliable than a non-Christian), that Christianity is certainly not inferior, on a logical likelihood basis, to Atheism.
It has nothing to do with your reliability or trustworthiness to represent things as you see them. The problem is a breakdown in reasoning. Christianity is wholly inferior on a logical, rational basis, and it is proud to be so – it relies on faith, the hope in things unseen. It’s claim to fame is the departure from reason to embrace the mystical, the supernatural, the “beyond-reason”. Did the sun stand still so Joshua could finish his battle for a couple hours? Well, if that’s the claim, that’s quite a fantastic claim. It militates against everything we bring in empirically, and is extremely problematic as a practical event in a number of ways. Logically, it’s a complete bust, a report that a fair judge, just going by the evidence available, would dismiss out of hand. But for those who embrace that story, it’s not embraced because it’s logical, concordant with all we know from physics and nature, but because of faith, a commitment that trumps logic and reasoning, rather than follows it.
That’s just one example. I trust you understand I can go on and on with as many examples as you’d like to make this point.
So, for the sake of argument, even if one would conclude that belief in Leprechauns is not inferior to Christianity (and therefore, given what has been established, not inferior to Atheism), that would do nothing to dilute Christianity’s credibility anymore than Atheism’s; that is, if one (for the sake of argument, as it has not hitherto been done) convinces me that belief in Leprechauns should also have an equal “1 in 51” share in chances of being true to Christianity and Atheism, it certainly doesn’t upset my point.
I think leprechauns are more easily dismissed just on the basis that no one is seriously proposing them as actual beings (that I know of, anyway). That is an immediate “loss” in comparison to Christianity. But setting that deficit aside, the leprechaun is a much more plausible story than Christianity; we can much more easily rectify the claims of leprechaunism (as I understand them – can be pressed to reveal pot of gold, will dart away instantly if you take their eyes off them, are diminuitive, human-like characters, practice in shoe making and repair…) against what we know of the real world than we might do the same for Christianity. On the “stretching credulity” scale, Christianity scale is a heavy hitter, and leprechaunism is small potatoes (to mix my metaphors).