My Photo

Recent Reading

  • Susan Jacoby: Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism

    Susan Jacoby: Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
    Excellent overview of the prominent role that freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, and deists) played in America's past, including the founding of our country, the abolition of slavery, and giving women the vote. (*****)

  • Sam Harris: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

    Sam Harris: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
    One of the most frightening books I've ever read. Among numerous other topics, Harris argues that it is almost inevitable that atomic weapons will fall into the hands of religious radicals -- if not terrorist, then perhaps a nation with religious radicals in charge. (****)

  • Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

    Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion
    Highly recommended. Despite what you might have heard, Richard Dawkins does not spew venom in this book. Flames do not shoot out when you open it, nor does bile drip from the pages. Far from being an hysterical, rabid diatribe against religion, it is a quite measured, logical explanation of the evidence against God and why religion should not be treated with such reverence. (*****)

  • Daniel C. Dennett: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

    Daniel C. Dennett: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
    I highly recommend this book for anyone who is about to embark on studying religion and atheism. Why do people enjoy music? Why do we like to socialize? Why do we sometimes become violent? Science has attempted to answer each of these questions. Dennett proposes that science attempt to answer another: Why are people religious? Even if one of the religions is true, that still means that billions of people believe religions that are not true. Why? What is it about our evolutionary past that makes us willing to believe? (*****)

  • Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

    Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
    Why wasn't Europe invaded by ships carrying gun-wielding Native Americans or Africans, rather than the other way around? This is an excellent explanation of why some societies became quite advanced, while others remained primitive. (*****)

  • Richard P. Feynman: "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character

    Richard P. Feynman: "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character
    Very entertaining and thought-provoking collection of anecdates from the life of perhaps the best-known physicist of the 20th century. (****)

  • Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack S. Cohen: The Science of Discworld
    You'll have to visit Amazon UK to locate this one. This book explains science concepts by comparing them to the decidedly different physical laws of the Discworld series. (****)
Powered by TypePad
Member since 01/2005

« Advice on Designing Scientific Posters | Main | Three Atheist Books on New York Times Best Seller List »

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.

Submit to Digg | Submit to Reddit

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834544a0669e200d834e0379753ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Nightline covers the Blasphemy Challenge:

Comments

Frank Walton

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

TW

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.

Wally Hartshorn

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.

Frank Walton Sucks

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/the_rational_response_squad_radio_show/hamurookis_irrational_precepts/10036

Frank Walton

(feel free to repost this info anywhere)

Emanuel Goldstein

I deny Rook Hawkins!

The comments to this entry are closed.

December 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Good Reading

Who's Who

  • Joe McFaul
    Business Litigation (and litigation avoidance) on behalf of businesses and their insurance carriers
  • Eugenie Scott
    Director of NCSE
  • Paul Kurtz
    Founder of CSICOP
  • Michael Shermer
    Founder of Skeptics Society
  • James Randi
    Debunked Uri Geller; founded JREF; offers $1M to anyone who can prove any paranormal ability.

Stats


  • Locations of visitors to this page

Carnival of the Godless