Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Blasphemy Challenge

My response to The Blasphemy Challenge. If you haven't heard of this yet, it's a public campaign from the Rational Response Squad encouraging non-believers to openly deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. In Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10, Jesus warns that, "Anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven." Doing just that on the world wide web, I hope to make it clear that Jesus' warning is one false dilemma I won't be losing sleep over. It's too late to secure a DVD copy of "The God Who Wasn't There" for the mere cost of your immortal imaginary soul, but it's never too late make a statement and a stand for reason.

7 comments:

Jacob Davis said...

As a former Christian and current something-or-other, I’m quite concerned that those poor souls participating in the Blasphemy Challenge have been deceived by the contest’s requirements and are not actually signing over their souls in an irrevocable manner. The requirements of “Unforgivable Sin” are simply not met by the act of denying the existence of the Holy Spirit.

A quick study of some related text (Matthew 12:22-31) will show that eternal damnation may only be assured by attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of the Devil. The passage is centered on unbelievers telling Jesus that he was possessed by an evil spirit, and that he used the evil spirit to cast out another evil spirit. Jesus replied, telling them very specifically that they had just committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as it was the Holy Spirit that empowered him, not Beelzebub.

If you’re going to blaspheme, do it properly! This “I deny the Holy Spirit” stuff is for pansies.

Thanks for the fun link!

I came onto this post from boingboing.net, by the way.

Ross said...

Thanks for the clarification, Jacob Davis. I'm glad you found my blog - boingboing.net is a great site.

I don't think responders to The Blasphemy Challenge are too worried that they've incorrectly damned their souls, nor do they really care about the technicalities of soul-losing - it's all imaginary anyway. The point is that they don't believe in that crap, and I think the point has been made abundantly clear. But, just in case, let's be thorough and see if I can do this properly:

You know everything on the planet that the Holy Spirit is doing right now and has done for all time? Well, it's not the Holy Spirit, it's actually the works of the devil. All the evil stuff, like terrorism and school shootings? That's been the work of the Holy Spirit.

How's that? (You may point out that it doesn't count because I don't believe in the devil either, and you'd be right. In that case, I'm sorry; I've done all that I can.)

Jacob Davis said...

No, friend, you still sound to be at risk of salvation to me. I think you'll not have given the Sacred Spook a firm rejection until you waltz (yes, waltz, none of that sissy boot-scooting crap) into a Pentecostal Church of God at the height of their frenzied worship, find a large sweaty fellow who is speaking in tongues and dancing, and tell him that he's speaking the speak of the boogeyman. You might also tell him that he is dancing the dance of Marduk and Tiamat. That should do it.

As for belief or disbelief, it doesn't really matter. The point is that "glory," or "credit" as we mere mortal rhetoricians call it, goes to someone other than Sacred Spook. Some might argue that the reasoning is that when you offend the said spook, it withdraws from you and you cannot have a relationship with God. I would argue that Spook is more like a high school girlfriend and so easily offended or threatened that it withdraws at the slightest hint of potential betrayal, away to a safe distance that it might not get any brimstone on its halter top and mini skirt as it chucks your ass into the fire. But that's just me.

Robert said...

Until now, I never commented on the science/rationality vs. religion war. I am a practicing scientist and not particularly religious. But I allow myself to think and talk about anything: science and religion and their philosophical and historical relation.
I am very annoyed by the (very recent, not ages old) dirty war that is currently being fought between religious hard-liners and scientific hard-liners. I don't need to lose a word about the former group, we know them. But the second group, those "who stand up against the threat of superstition", they are a pain in my behind. They produce dogma, where there previously hasn't been dogma. Science, although constrained by the use of sound method, is free to do what it wants (Maybe calling it "natural philosophy" will help getting the point). It does not need protectors throwing profanities, bloggers selling pro-darwin stickers, and "enlightened" youtube zombies spitting on other peoples beliefs.
Note that imho:
"Believing in the Results of Modern Science <=> Being Rational/Enlightened"
It may in many cases be true that
"Believing in the Results of Modern Science <= Being Rational/Enlightened"
but anybody who merely believes the story of one side and does not reflect critically upon the alleged truths or theories he is told is just that: a believer.
And whether you express this belief in a youtube video or on a bumper sticker does not make a difference.

Being atheist by default sure is hip nowadays. But please, do not stop the dialogue just because you think that you are right and everybody else is a moron. Of course, it is impossible to talk to the hard-liners, but I guess that the remaining 90% of the population is ready for some interesting debates and will enjoy a critical reflection of the matter more than the usual exchange of opinions and profanities between science fans and scripture fans (e.g. creationists).

But one has to accept that this dialogue has to be conducted on a meta-level and that the relation of science and religion is a matter of philosophical debate.

In my opinion, only those people who are willing to engage in such a debate are truly enlightened. This includes recognizing that some people have radically different solutions to the problem of knowledge and consult different authorities on it. That is just the way it is. Remember: "Nothing in excess"

Best
R

Robert said...

Sorry, the 2. proposition should have been:
"Believing in the Results of Modern Science => Being Rational/Enlightened"

Brian said...

I understand it is considered uncool and superstitious to have a religion nowadays. I would like to make the point that extremism in any form is damaging however. People who turn to their religion for their science or reasoning, and ridicule real science and reason, are just as silly as those that turn to science for religion and spirituality as it seems many people do.

There are many of us out here who are caught in the middle of this silly war b/w science and religion. I believe the two can coexist and have in certain often ignored segments of society.

One classic example of a Christian extremist who uses religion for science is one who believes that the earth is 10k years old and created in 6 days, and won't listen to evidence on the contrary. These people are trapped in the irrational and believe if you disagree with this premise, you deny God. These people hurt science and stifle rational thought.

I propose that the Atheist who views his mother, wife, or friend as simply a clumps of well structured matter and believes their desire to help and love them is purely a chemical reaction is also silly and disturbing.

One of these two individuals is much more likely to feel an emptiness in their lives.

I don't think life is about proving whose beliefs are right and whose are wrong or that ridiculing others points of view with satire is a great thing. Do you really think ridiculing those who disagree changes their mind? And even if you did change their mind, would you feel better about yourself? Would the world now be a better place now that a once charitable Christian is now an Atheist and sees no reason to help out his local Church?

Churches feed and house the poor, help pick people up when they are down, and help raise the spirits of the sick and widowed elderly. Shouldn't they get some slack for that? Or does it not matter since these things were done for irrational and superstitious reasons.

Ross said...

Thank you for your comments, Robert and Brian. In lieu of responding point-by-point, I have written a new post titled "Respect the Believer, Question the Belief" that will hopefully clarify my position on the interaction of believers and non-believers. I think we agree a lot more than you might think, and you might have been projecting a lot upon me that was not actually in my video.

I'd like to respond to one thing you said, though, Brian. I agree that religious people have provided and continue to provide valuable contributions to humanity. I actually do still go to church, and I participate in many of its community outreaches. In fact, I support the church both financially and with volunteer service, and I am still trying to resolve the best way to do this in an honest manner. Luckily, I attend a church that is very community-minded and does not promote the sort of fundamentalism that you and I fear alike.

There is beautiful art and music, wonderful fellowship, and much needed community service that should not be tossed aside like the proverbial baby with the bathwater. However, I think that these many positive aspects of religion come from very natural sources, and do not require us to believe anything unproven. I believe this firmly, but that doesn't mean my mind is closed.