Whenever I hear politicians or other public speakers wind up a point by saying that it is “important”, I dismiss it as padding, a filler, a chance to catch one’s breath, a hollow anticlimax to all that they have just said. Without explanation, it is at best a vacuous value judgement. Unless they tell me WHY it is important, I consider the phrase as completely devoid of . . . importance.
But more . . . important is the adverb some TV journalists in particular use to modify the abused adjective : “incredibly”. If they said “immensely” it would remain an empty phrase but at least it would not emasculate the powerful word “incredible”. Something is incredible if it is unbelievable. The phrase “incredibly important” suggests that something is SO important that we would not believe just how important it is. But what it says is worse than that : it says it is IMPOSSIBLE to believe the degree of importance possessed by whatever the speaker is talking about.
Before you explode and tell me I am splitting hairs or do not recognize perfectly acceptable rhetorical hyperbole when I see it, let me tell you why I am losing my cool about a stupid adverb. This Blog’s subject is religion, belief, faith, credulity. Religions preach as facts things we atheists consider literally impossible to be true and impossible for us to believe – in a word, incredible. The word should be reserved for this purpose, along with all other claims that have no basis in reality. Some people expect us to give credence to the most outrageous propositions just as they do. But I will not take their word for it, just because they say it is a fact, anymore than I will accept incredible “events” recounted in their “sacred” writings and the groundless beliefs and promises with which they are filled.
I felt it very important, but not incredibly important – for the reasons I have given – to clarify all this. I would find it surprising and truly regrettable, but not incredible, that anyone could disagree with me – on this point at least . . .