Sunday, December 11, 2011

Infographic Interlude

When it comes to getting a point across, a single chart can sometimes be just as effective as a whole essay. Below are five examples that provide insightful criticism toward some aspect of religion.

Some fundamentalist Christians insist that laws in America have their basis in the Ten Commandments, and even that the ancient tablets should be placed in prominent positions in our nation's courthouses. Well, are American laws based on the Commandments? Absolutely not, and I made a handy chart to illustrate this:

In fact, not only does our justice system disregard most of these restrictions (and rightly so), but the first four commandments would violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The rest of these graphics are made by others. Here's one that deals a devastating blow to the concept of prayer as most Christians understand it:

The solutions to this are to assert that God changes his perfect plan to suit the whims of his followers, or to maintain that prayer is only meant to commune with God and reaffirm what he has already chosen to do. The former seems incompatible with God's omniscience—if that was a better course of action, he should already have planned on taking it—while the latter contradicts what Jesus himself said.

Here's a graphic that explains why it's laughable for the religious right to use the Bible in support of "traditional marriage" in the sense of a loving, monogamous, heterosexual relationship. The Bible is clearly not a useful guide to what types of marriage we should allow, given that it tolerates and even endorses varieties of marriage that we recognize as reprehensible today:

Another simple illustration. It seems awfully convenient that God's demonstrations of power become steadily less impressive the closer we get to modern times (and reliable recording devices):

Finally, here's a beautifully color-coded illustration of the correlations between religiosity and various measures of societal health and quality of life in all 50 states. The pattern is visible with just a glance:

Of course, this doesn't establish that religion causes social problems, but it's still a powerful counterexample to the fundamentalist idea that turning our back on God causes God to turn his back on us, leaving civilizations in chaos. Nonreligious people can and often do create healthy and well-functioning societies.

Whether they're data-rich or just convey ideas in an accessible format, visual demonstrations can get a point across with startling efficiency. Words are powerful tools, but sometimes people will give opposing views only a few seconds of open-mindedness before shutting them out. When interacting with believers, I think that a few easy-to-digest graphics can potentially go a long way.


  1. The prayer flow-chart is spot-on. Can't see how any theist could argue against it. At least, not without a lot of hand-waving and a subtle change of the question (Apologetics 101).


  2. I
    I like your graphics. Here is a nice little spoof that has been around awhile that you might like:

  3. I heard about the ultimatum from Neil a couple days ago. Short story shorter, I asked the Christian subreddit what their opinions were. Turns out most Christians aren't like Neil.
    I'm not a Christian, but still, not all Christians are alike (thank god).

  4. Anon,

    Thanks for the link! I was dismayed that one or two people agreed with the ultimatum, but to see most of them in strong disagreement is encouraging.