You can find the above image in Wikipedia’s entry on “facepalm,” and indeed that’s what it looks like. The sculptor, Henri Vidal, intended nothing of the sort. It’s a representation of Cain’s grief and shame after he had murdered Abel, his brother.
That’s a fitting mix of reactions to the following image, which was shared yesterday on the official Richard Dawkins Facebook page.
How might one respond to this? I can think of perhaps three or four ways.
Some skeptics and atheists will undoubtedly take it gleefully at its word.
A far, far better response would be to give it a good knowledgeable point-by-point answer, a fisking. Anne Thériault has done this admirably at her blog The Belle Jar. Those who are inclined to believe what’s in the graphic should read her post closely and repent of their ignorance.
A third sort of response might be to turn away and cough politely to cover your laughter, as you might do when the man at the party says, “You know, I’ve been studying relativity, and I think I can show that the whole universe revolves around the earth after all.”
Or you could use the more contemporary but less courteous variant on the same response: a facepalm.
Consider for example the idea that “Easter” and “Ishtar” have the same pronunciation, and that this “fact” (more accurately a “false fact”) has something to do with Easter “at its roots.” To believe that would require believing that the roots of Easter can be traced in part to an English-language word. There’s a rather large difficulty there. Need I explain further?
The graphic’s creator also thinks that Constantine “decided to Christianize the empire” (did he issue the Edict of Milan in English, I wonder?), and that this was when an Assyrian/Babylonian fertility celebration was altered to represent Jesus, while in reality it’s all about fertility and sex.
I want to explain why that’s wrong, but I cannot. I really just cannot. I’ve got too much of a problem with taking it that seriously.
I could deliver a facepalm. It would be well deserved. If I did, though, it would be marked by grief for this kind of ignorance, coupled with something like shame for the apparently poor job the Western world has done at combatting it.
It makes me sad. God help us all.