"Totally coup, yo."

Louis C.K. responds to BEAST criticism, poorly




So I got some DMs the other night about my last post:

ck dm

“Hey you completely misunderstood and misquoted me and then ran with it.  I didn’t say athiests are arrogant for not believing in god.

I said they’re arrogant for claiming that they absolutely know there isn’t one and never was.  When they do. And it smokes.  Im playing

With ideas.  Anyway go ahead and be disappointed and constantly certain that you know everything.”

I couldn’t DM back because C.K. doesn’t follow me. He only follows one person on Twitter: Colin “The Butcher of Comedic Timing” Quinn, which is actually pretty funny. He didn’t reply to my @tweets either, so I’ve been morally waffling over whether to post this. Either way seems cruel. I like Louis C.K., so I want to give him his say. But I also like Louis C.K., so I want to spare him his say. But in the end, I figure this is the only way to communicate with C.K., and arrogantly explain it is he who “smokes.”

I quoted C.K. twice: “Atheists are arrogant” & “You can only see for two miles.” I’m fairly confident those are accurate. And atheists do not believe in gods, so “atheists are arrogant” means that people who do not believe in gods are arrogant. As for misunderstanding the gist of the bit, I know several others in the audience who walked away with the same understanding, and no one else has contacted me regarding my “misunderstanding.” Giving C.K. the benefit of the doubt, maybe he simply failed to fully convey his point—his silly, Straw Atheist point.

No atheist I know is so epistemologically dull as to assert that they absolutely know there isn’t a God. (And are there people who think God once existed but he, like, died of a stroke or something?) We tend to think of the possibility as so very unlikely that hedging our bets seems a needlessly philosophical exercise. We’re also technically agnostic about other things for which there’s no evidence, like leprechauns and unicorns.* But society doesn’t care so much when we “arrogantly” dismiss these other very unlikely things as obvious bullshit. And I’m far from certain why.

I’m far from certain about many, many, many things. I’m certain of very little in the grand scope of things, and considering the ever-expanding nature of human knowledge, I think most honest people would say the same. How does consciousness work? Where’d the universe come from? Why is matter set up to self-replicate—hydrogen to helium through genes and people?! No one knows! That’s the awesome thing about living in reality. You don’t need leprechauns or gods to be amazed (and baffled) by the world. And with some things, it’s important to get your ass off the philosophical fence and say, “Come the fuck on!”

Who knows if it’s OK to stone gay people to death? Who knows if women should be executed for adultery? It’s arrogant to presume you know the answer, right? We can’t be philosophically certain that God’s edicts are for reals, yeah? What about same-sex marriage? Access to contraception and reproductive rights? Are those dim North Dakota fucks on to something? Can’t possibly know. What about this Washington Times fuck-wad who supports Ugandan efforts to make homosexuality punishable by death? I mean, if God supports—demands those things, and we can’t know if God exists…

Clearly, C.K. has not argued the above points, but we live in a world where God is used to justify all sort of deplorable things (and a little good too, so shut up), and dodging behind detached intellectual exercises in this age provides philosophical cover for those awful things. It’s just weak sauce. Weak fucking sauce, Louis C.K.

Anyway, you get the idea, and I should get going. It just rained here, there’s the fainest rainbow on the horizon, and I’m gonna go mug me an Irish midget. Who knows, right?

Philosophically wank @ me on Twitter

*There’s bound to be a Philosophy 101 student who’ll say that the existence of leprechauns can be tested while God is metaphysical, unknowable. Well, to that person: Go fuck yourself.

UPDATE: I found this elvish, little man ranting about gold, and I thought it might be a leprechaun, but when I got closer I realized it was just Ron Paul.

  • http://twitter.com/reiling Reiling

    I think you’re mixing up the words ‘believe’ and ‘know’. They’re different.

    • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

      I know you’re a little wanker. And I believe you should go fuck yourself.

      • http://twitter.com/reiling Reiling

        That’s funnier than anything in your article, but it still demonstrates a misunderstanding of ‘knowledge’ and ‘belief’.

        • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

          Sorry, I meant I believe you’re a little wanker, and I know you should go fuck yourself.

          • http://twitter.com/reiling Reiling

            OK, I give up. You’re much smarter and more interesting than Louis CK.

          • http://twitter.com/reiling Reiling

            P.S. You guys have really go downhill since Tina Brown took over.

    • Andreas Egeland

      I would argue that practically there can be no real difference between how they are used.
      Mr Murphy might condemn what can only be called a philosophical response to this, but seeing as believe means to “hold something as true”, although popularly used as “suspect something as true” then the quesiton of a difference must lie in our certainty of whether somethign is true or not true.
      In this case, we do not believe in leprechauns. Would it be fair to say that we know there are no leprechauns?
      I think yes, but even if you disagree, there is a problem in that most knowledge is by virtue of being reliant on either axioms or evidence so that all knowledge can only be as certain as the axioms or evidence they rest on. Axioms, as we know, are basically assumptions, I should not have to explain further why these are not ultimately certain. Evidence, as we also know, is reliant on the senses, so the existance of possible sensory “tricks”, such as optical illusions, auditory misrepresentations (you hear some random noise, but your brian interprets it as your name being called or similar) that means there is necessarily doubt about knowledge. All the things we know, then, are by necessity identical to all the things we believe, using the second definition I presented.

      TL;DR The ultimate uncertainty of everything means that there is no difference in the practical application of “to know” and “to believe”.

      Also, sorry, for the wall of text.

      • kranko

        Not to butt in, but these are two distinct words with two distinct meanings, philosophy 101 sophistry notwithstanding:

        Believe: accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of
        Know: be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information

        • Andreas Egeland

          Generally the reason why I claim they are the same is not because the definitions actually are the same, but because the way we use them, especially considering how uncertain we are about knowledge, is almost always identical.

          But also the fact is that people don’t just randomly start believing things without cause (though it sometimes seems that way).

          And because people believe some things for reasons, and knowledge is defined as belief through observation, inquiry, information, then knowledge and belief will be used extremely similarly.

          I can argue longer for how everything is uncertain blah blah blah, but really I only wanted to point out that popular use is generally identical :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.blake.71 Bill Blake

    seriously? why would would louis ck respond to your blog criticizing his act.

    • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

      Cuz I’m, like, super important and junk.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.blake.71 Bill Blake

        i’ll go with that.

      • http://twitter.com/dorkulon heathenish

        Maybe because he knows he’s wrong and instead of admitting it decided to compound the error.

  • RTF916

    Dear Louis CK, some free comedic advice. Every time you talk about God, you become less funny.

  • Guest

    Dear Louis CK, every time you talk about “god”, you become less funny. Remember the days when the self proclaimed moral crusaders would criticize the comedians? Remember Eddie Murphy’s story in “Raw” about Richard Pryor telling him to tell Bill Cosby to “have a Coke and a smile, and shut the fuck up!”? Shows you how far comedy has fallen. Now the comedians are the moral crusaders annoying us with their lectures.

  • Guest

    Dear Louis CK, every time you talk about “god”, you become less funny.
    Remember the days when the self proclaimed moral crusaders would
    criticize the comedians? Remember Eddie Murphy’s story in “Raw” about
    Richard Pryor telling him to tell Bill Cosby to “have a Coke and a
    smile, and shut the fuck up!”? Shows you how far comedy has fallen.
    Now the comedians are the self anointed moral crusaders annoying us with their

  • NunyaGDbidness

    Actually, I know a ton of atheists who think ABSOLUTELY that there’s no god. They’ll run directly to the “burden of proof is on the person making outrageous claims” argument. This is why I identify as agnostic. Cuz wreally, who the hell can know what an omnipotent, universe creating “being” is like, or is not like, or if it exists, or if it’s a figment. Atheists can be every bit as annoying as the blindly faithful.

  • hello

    Sorry Ian but I think this is boring. I also think you are riding on C.K.’s coat tails by making a big deal of criticizing him. It’s a fairly common way of getting
    attention on the web.

    • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

      You’re right. I should write about people and things no one’s ever heard of. Thanks!

  • kozmund

    So…uhhh…I probably should just leave this alone, but for some reason I’m not going to.

    When you take a bit and quote two short sentences, you are almost certainly misquoting (at least in spirit) That was the most frustrating part of the original post. If the bit was only those two sentences, sure, but it was obviously longer. Louis CK is not Stephen Wright. He creates context that spans his sets. An essential part of The Funny is context. A fine comedian can spend a few minutes making statements, none of which they or the audience believe, to communicate something in a way that’s humorous.

    It also sucks that your method of addressing the issue is a touch boorish. While admitting that you’re technically agnostic, you insist that everyone *you* know that uses the atheist label doesn’t think of things in the way the joke requires to work. You’re also failing to see why it’s funny.

    In the interest of killing humor dead, from what you’ve actually bothered to quote, here’s how this joke went. “Atheists are arrogant. They can only see 2 miles.” (In my head, I can hear the slightly nasally thing he does when he’s being strident.) As an “I don’t have any reason to think a teapot is orbiting Mars” variety of atheist, I think that’s funny. So let’s tear this bitch down to find out why. “Atheists are arrogant.” Ok, if that’s the set up, I’m expecting a certain line of argument. I’m set up by every negative interaction I’ve had when identifying as an atheist. My brain is primed for a certain thing. “They can only see 2 miles.” Hey, that wasn’t what I was expecting! That makes me laugh! And it’s technically true if I’m looking towards the horizon on an arbitrarily sized oblate spheroid attempting to view objects that are also arbitrarily sized! You’re right in a very small, but humorous way that I couldn’t actually promise you there wasn’t a yeti three miles away. Sure, there’s perfectly fine biological and engineering reasons they don’t make the entire plane out of what they make the black box out of, but that doesn’t require the first person to tell that joke to have been ignorant of (or aware of) them for it to have been funny.

    Seriously, from the quotations you’ve put forth, the joke wasn’t intended to be funny from “Look at all of those dumb-dumb atheists.” The comedy is about mutual, universal human limitations. Getting upset about it seems fairly silly to me, considering how much of Louis CK’s material is firms seated in the mutual, the universal, and the limited.

    • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

      It was a very short bit. Those two quotes were enough to get the message across. Whatever. This is far from a huge story. I’m not saying CK’s an enemy of reason or anything. But the deference given to the agnostic position just bothers me–especially since it’s never applied to other ridiculous things, like unicorns, etc.

  • xrefused

    It doesn’t seem like he responded all that poorly, more that you’re a petty motherfucker Murphy. Maybe you should go smoke some weed or go for a run or something.

  • Tod Stiles

    Methinks thou dost protest too much

    • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

      Yeah, it’s hard to not appear arrogant when arguing you’re not arrogant. Only an arrogant person would care about that, right?

  • Guest


    • http://twitter.com/Ian_Murphy Ian Murphy

      Your CAPITALIZATION really RAISES a GOOD point.

      • kranko

        How thoughtful of that person to give you something to talk about other than your weak article and even weaker responses to criticism

  • The decider

    This the greatest endorsement of the Bush administration I’ve ever read. Mission accomplished Ian Murphy.

  • Christopher Riordan


  • Christopher Riordan

    I’ve said this many times to Ian – no one cares if you do or don’t believe in god. There’s nothing new under the sun, no one is shocked or offended or impressed with atheism OR faith anymore. It’s a nonissue. Some people, like Ricky Gervais and Ian Murphy, seem sort of obsessed with trying to disprove god or mock believers. If you can’t do it in a funny way, what is the point? I like the way Bill Maher rallies against religion because its entertaining – a lot of atheists just do it in a whiny and obnoxious way. Like Josh Bunting! I personally prefer to read Ian’s political commentary rather than theological posturing. I didn’t read most of either of these articles, and my only interest in them is that I like C.K. as a comedien. I don’t know if all atheist are arrogant or not, but I do know Ian Murphy is arrogant as all hell. Could just be a coincidence he is also an athiest. That’s probably what got Ian so mad – CK hit the nail on the head and Ian internalized it. It takes a big man to admit he’s arrogsense of self-worth

    • Christopher Riordan

      That was a glitch and I don’t feel like correcting it. Carry on without my final sentence about how I myself am an arrogant asshole.

  • Andreas Egeland

    I am just such a Philosophy 101 student… and I’ve just found and realise I love your writing, despite, or perhaps because of all the criticism directed at philosophy.

  • RTF916

    Yeah, I’m a comedian. So, I’m going to preach about god. You know, to make y’all laugh.

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