Blasphemy: It’s not just for nonbelievers.
One thing has struck me as particularly ironic, that those who most vocally call for blasphemy laws to protect their personal religious claims from criticism often expound on views that seem very close to blasphemy against their own Gods. I’ll give three examples of this that are particularly common:
- “I know that my God thinks, likes, hates and wants the same things I do.”
Not only does this commit the sin of pride, it commits that of presumption, because the claimant cannot establish how they actually know these things, and how the rest of us somehow miss these insights despite reading from the same scripture.
If you cannot explain how you know something, it’s a good bet that you probably don’t really know it. And yes, we nonbelievers do read scripture — often cover to cover, every verse — it’s one reason many of us no longer believe.
- “I believe because of what I gain if I’m right and what I won’t lose if I’m wrong. It’s a deal I can’t refuse. Better safe than sorry.”
This makes God out to be a simpleton, who it is assumed won’t catch on to the self-serving motives of those who follow only for calculation of personal gain and avoidance of personal loss. It’s cynical, selfish and manipulative. It’s also dishonest to ourselves, to others, and to the very God we pretend to believe in. It is, I think, VERY insulting to any Deity worth His (or Her, or Its) title and name.
We cannot ‘choose’ to believe what we really do not, merely by acting as though we believe. As our brains ordinarily tend to operate, we either believe or not, arriving at our ‘truths’ by those beliefs we adopt as an act of feeling, according to our needs, wants, and any prior beliefs we already hold.
- “God is testing our faith.” by (A) deliberately hiding all evidence of His (or Hers or Its) existence (B) faking the fossil record to fool unbelievers (C) inspiring scripture that’s too often interpreted in confusing and contradictory ways.
This would sound incredibly insulting to any Deity, as it portrays God as a liar, a cheat, and a trickster, especially when it is claimed that God is perfect or would never deceive or lie for scripture says so.
Never mind the circularity of reasoning behind that, but even we lowly human beings, small as we are would feel insulted. The claim also contradicts the common idea that God is all-knowing and absolutely so, not the limited omniscience of the fictional character Doctor Manhattan.
Because a truly all-knowing being would by definition not need to ‘test’ anything, since that’s something that’s only done when finding out what’s not already known.
Unless you worship Loki, Nyarlathotep, or Coyote, it’s not a good idea to make claims that portray your god as someone given to deception and trickery.
If you make or have made any of the three claims bulleted above, then at least consider the thoughts of this wicked, unrepentant, and arrogant atheist:
Cut it out.
No one respects the views of whiney, thin-skinned hypocrites.
Think about what you yourself say before becoming righteously indignant.
You are not doing your religion any favors in saying things that will discredit it — you make it look bad and risk creating even more atheists from those who otherwise might have been your fellows in faith.
I’d like to close this with a little story I heard some years ago:
A famous writer at a comic-book convention got himself drunk during a party in the consuite, leaned a bit too far back into an open, tenth floor window, and fell to his death, drowning, in the hotel swimming pool below.
He woke up, the smell of sulfur and burning flesh and metal in his nostrils, to see a large being with red skin, horns, and of course, the obligatory pitchfork standing over him.
“Welcome to Hell! I’m your personal demon and I’ll be taking you to your cell where we have interesting things planned for you — for eternity. Please follow me.”
Not seeing any other option, the deceased writer was led by his demonic escort through scenes of horror, pain, and misery, seemingly right out of Dante’s Inferno.
There were people being burned by white-hot fire, only to immediately heal as they continue to burn and scream. “Who are they?” the writer asked. “Oh those would be liars.” responded the demon, amused by the question, “They bore false witness in sermons one too many times.”
There were people encased in ice with only their heads exposed, being savaged by flesh-devouring vermin of the most horrid sort. “What about them?” the writer asked. “Oh, those would be bibliolaters,” said the demon, “They invested too much authority in scripture, even over God Himself. Ah, down this way, please. We’re nearing your cell, and have some very special things planned for you.”
The final scene the writer beheld before arriving at his cell was the most telling. The Damned were all dressed impeccably, in their “Sunday best” you could say, and were suffering from no apparent injury but moaning and wailing loudly, and, predictably, with much gnashing of teeth.
The writer turns to the demon and asks, confused, “Who are those people? What are they here for?” The demon responded with a fangy smile, “Oh, those would be religious fundamentalists, and they are here because God hates being told what to think.”
Yes, I’m aware that the examples of unintentionally blasphemous statements aren’t phrased in the most charitable way. But the intent is not to create strawmen to easily knock down, but to unpack what is actually being claimed, even if it isn’t stated that way. There are many variations of these statements, far too many to deal with all of them individually, requiring that the phrasing be as representative of all variations together as possible, a sort of ‘one size fits all’ abstraction that preserves the overall meaning of the claim no matter how it’s put.