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February 02, 2007

Nightline covers the Blasphemy Challenge

The Rational Response Squad and their Blasphemy Challenge were covered on Nightline the other night. Here's the video:

I found the whole piece a bit frustrating. The reporter, John Berman, seemed obviously biased against the group, at times bordering on hostile. I found the complaint that they were targeting teenagers to be particularly annoying. Religions target teenagers, so why can't atheists?

Berman also found it strange that people would spend their time opposing religion. Well, some people devote their whole lives to promoting religion, even swearing off sex and marriage to do so. I'm wondering whether he would be just as willing to label ministers and priests as odd?

Berman seemed to be unable to wrap his mind around the idea of God, Heaven, and Hell not existing. As a result, he seemed unable to grasp why atheists aren't worried about saying, "I deny the Holy Spirit".

And there was the usual "what if you're wrong" question, which should have been answered with "what if the Muslims are right and worshiping Jesus condemns you to Hell? What if the Hindus are right? What if the Norse were right? What if the Mormons are right? Which god should I worship?"

Speaking of the Holy Spirit, this reminds me of an event that happened to me in second grade. (For those of you outside the U.S., that means I would have been about 7 years old.) We had recently moved, so I was attending a new school. It was lunch time, and some kid was talking about ghosts. He asked me whether I believed in ghosts, and I said, "No".

Then he asked, "not even the Holy Ghost?", and I again said, "No". This got a shocked reaction as he immediately turned to the kids at the next table and exclaimed, "He doesn't believe in the Holy Ghost!" It was at that point that I realized that what he was calling the "Holy Ghost" my church called the "Holy Spirit". I was extremely embarrassed at my faux pas and couldn't bring myself to explain my misunderstanding.

I find it somewhat odd that I still remember that event 37 years later. I guess it must have been really dreadful, the feeling of being viewed as a heretic -- even though, at the time, I believed in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, just because everyone else did (or so I thought). It was another 10-15 years before I became an atheist.

If you haven't already seen it, here is the video promoting the Blasphemy Challenge:

Oh, by the way, I deny the Holy Spirit.

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February 2, 2007 in Religions, Cults, and Miracles | Permalink


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I actually have my own review of the Nightline show on the blasphemy challenge here.

Posted by: Frank Walton | Feb 3, 2007 12:51:28 AM

Excellent blog. It is strange that some people get really fired up over as much as the thought of someone "denying" religion. It is even stranger, I think, that people will get more annoyed at someone saying they dont believe than them saying they believe in a different deity.

I suspect it has something to do with making them think about their own crackpottery.

Posted by: TW | Feb 3, 2007 2:26:21 PM

TW: re: "It is even stranger, I think, that people will get more annoyed at someone saying they dont believe than them saying they believe in a different deity."

Exactly! I've often wondered about the same thing. If you tell someone you're a Hindu, they'll probably be respectful and might even be intrigued, but if you say you're an atheist, they immediately interpret it as if you had just said, "I'm smart and you're dumb!" It's a bit of a puzzle.

Posted by: Wally Hartshorn | Feb 3, 2007 3:06:20 PM


Frank Walton

(feel free to repost this info anywhere)

Posted by: Frank Walton Sucks | Sep 20, 2007 9:09:46 AM

I deny Rook Hawkins!

Posted by: Emanuel Goldstein | Sep 30, 2007 9:31:42 PM

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