It’s my badminton night, so you’re not going to get much. But it’s International Blasphemy Day, and I can’t let that go unnoted.
So, for what it’s worth:
- I deny the divinity of the holy spirit.
- Here’s a picture I made of the prophet Muhammed doing a dance: O-Z—<
- I believe in and worship your preferred god/gods, and fully subscribe to your belief system of choice. And now I don't, they're all fake. Universal apostasy FTW.
- That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.
- The flying spaghetti monster is rhetorically useful, but entirely fictitious. And pirates aren't that interesting.
Why I think the occasional outburst of irreverence is important is something I think I covered pretty well in this article, way back when. It’s interesting seeing people’s different responses to today, though. I’m going the fairly straightforward route, partly because I’m too tired to be creative, but not all atheists are getting on board in the same way.
For instance, there’s this dissenting view, which sees the whole thing as childish intolerance. I disagree. What some religious people deem unacceptable – even what they deem punishable by death – doesn’t even come close to being hate speech. You really don’t have to try very hard to offend millions of people, and if you’re just speaking freely without “respecting” their made-up nonsense the way they want you to, it’s not up to you to tread oh so carefully to avoid bruising any delicate egos.
Yes, being irreverent and satirical can often overflow into being an obnoxious ass for no good reason. But going not an inch further than “calling attention to Biblical, Koranic or scientific criticisms” in a rigorously scientific way, as this article suggests, is too much to ask. Some times it’s entirely appropriate to say, “You and your holy book want me dead if I don’t fall in step? Well fuck you, and fuck your god.” We’re not being the first to trample the line of civility.
And remember, in most parts of the Western world, Christianity is far from a denigrated minority struggling against oppression and constant prejudice. Neither the UK or the US has yet had a non-Christian elected leader. Atheists are still the minority, and we’re standing up for ourselves.
That said, there are some pockets of society in which atheism is such a comfortably established standard that we may have to be wary of getting too sure of ourselves, and something like Blasphemy Day can easily become an exercise in aggressive chest-beating. Brian Thompson in particular has chosen to “blaspheme” more against some kinds of standard atheistic thinking than anything else. I hope we don’t reach the stage where saying something like “There are some lovely turns of phrase in the King James version of the Bible” actually becomes a controversial thing to say.
So, yes, we do need to be able to take some mockery on our own side. Although atheists are often said to have no dogma, no guiding principles, beyond a simple lack of god-belief, it can be tempting for skeptics and rational thinkers to form some sort of united front, assuming they fully understand their position on everything, and slip somewhat into autopilot as regards dismissing other points of view. But although atheism is a fast-growing minority, it is still a minority. There are still a lot of places out there where coming “out” as an atheist is hard, and can be a serious and troubling life experience – far more than where being openly Christian would cause similar problems. There are a lot of people out there who need things like the Atheist Bus Campaign, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s posters, and people speaking the unspeakable on International Blasphemy Day, to let them know that it really is okay. Humility and self-deprecation is important, but don’t lay it on too thick too fast.
Really tired. Yay blasphemy. Bed now. Hope this is coherent.