William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Blasphemy Contest!

Blasphemy contest
No, I am not kidding; and, no, it isn’t mine. But, asinine as it sounds, a real-life, swear-against-God, Blasphemy contest.

The so-called Center for Inquiry (CFI) is an off-shoot, rather malign growth, of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (now shortened to Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). When these folks used to chase ambiguous noises mistaken for ghosts they had a sense of humor, but after their success exposing Uri Geller’s spoon bending tricks, they had nothing left to do and they became dour and depressed. Instead of gracefully disbanding, they sought new enemies, resorting to imaginary ones when necessary. The Party must survive! They now feel that a good time can be had by encouraging people to curse a God in which they do not believe. Rules are here.

What’s blasphemy? Not a bad question, that. In our egalitarian, ego-centric universe the concept is now known only to academic historians, a few isolated and timorous humanitarians who fear being accused of it, and those who live in Flyover Country. Knowing this, CFI helpfully provides a definition:

Blasphemy: n. the act of denying or scoffing at God or God’s alleged attributes.

This called to mind a word which succinctly describes CFI’s behavior:

Juvenile: a. characteristic of children; immature; childish; puerile; infantile; as, a juvenile temper tantrum.

Who else but a spoiled brat teenager would rhetorically ask, “Are there topics you shouldn’t be allowed to discuss?” Not to be denied any whim, they are indignant that some “governments and institutions—and even some individuals—want to keep certain topics off limits.” With this, they broadcast their stunted imaginations and espouse a desire for an absurd philosophy. As an individual (I am not yet a government), I can think of plenty of topics that are off limits, and should be.

Suppose I know where the secret attack will take place. Any competent government should restrict my speech on this topic. It’s a cliché, but everybody agrees that my freedom to express “Fire!” in a placid theater should be circumscribed. And in keeping domestic harmony, an infinite set of subjects are sanely verboten.

But perhaps they are not arguing about the limits of free speech? Maybe they suggest only that all sufficiently broad subjects should be allowable. If so, then who disagrees with that? The folks at CFI have invented for themselves a pious foe; they fret that they are being hounded by befrocked men carrying ropes. When in fact, everywhere in the Western World, religion is on the retreat. Smug buffoons like John Stewart have made it a national sport to derive the best clever insult of faith.

Only restless adolescents derive pleasure from burning straw men. We can see this in their contest rules:

To enter, all you have to do is create a phrase, poem, or statement that would be or would have been considered blasphemous. Entries may take any form (haiku anyone?), but must be 20 words or less.

The key words are “would have been considered blasphemous.” This acknowledges forcefully that the battle they fantasize themselves in is long over. Not only that, but they are the victors. This spurious contest casts them as the kind of ungracious winner who shouts “Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!” over his victim.

There is the bare possibility of such a challenge providing a microscopic benefit, but only in a society which ruthlessly suppresses any hostility to the native religion. The martyrs who organized such a contest would rightfully enter into the Annals of Humanity. But that time has long past in these United States, and I wonder if these brave souls will shuffle off to Iran and publicly fly flags denouncing Allah. Much more likely, they will remain safely on the divan and chuckle to themselves Beavis-and-Butthead fashion, “Huh, huh. Religious people are stupid. Huh.” Brave, brave.

Anyway, it’s idiotic to malign the objects of faith when it is the acts of certain men that deserve castigation. This is like a quack doctor cursing the symptoms and ignoring the disease of his patients. Or as senseless as protesting the makers of a knife used by a maniac on a killing spree.

But let us acknowledge that some subjects are sacred to Progressive Man, and that speaking disparagingly of these topics is thought to be blasphemous. Here, then, are my entries for the contest (I emailed them per the rules). I want to emphasize that I am not necessarily endorsing these statements. But I do know what thoughts sting the modern mind. Some of them are low blows.

  • The equality of mankind is not desirable and is foolish to seek
  • Race A is intellectually inferior to Race B
  • Substitute “Sex” for “Race” in the above
  • George Bush was a good and wise president
  • Barack Obama should not be president
  • Theistic men are more moral than atheistic ones
  • Israel has the right to defend their country in any way they see fit

What are your entries?

Update, Friday morning: I forgot to include the email address to submit your blasphemies. Here it is: blasphemycontest@centerforinquiry.net. You are also required to have “CFI Blasphemy Contest” in the subject line.

26 Comments

  1. How about:

    “God is real and all will be judged according to His law.”

    I can’t imagine anything that a devout atheist would find more blasphemous.

  2. According to Larry Iannaccone, religion is flourishing in the US while it retreats elsewhere in the West.

    Also, the phrase ‘devout atheist’ is very silly. Which, I suppose, could serve as my entry? I mean, if we can pick and choose who to offend with our blasphemy, there’s obviously many folks who insist that atheism is a religion just like any other. For the record, I’m agnostic, which I consider the only philosophically reasonable position to take on religion, god, and related whatnots.

    Oh, here’s another entry: Calling someone a ‘denier’ isn’t an argument against their position.

  3. My entries:

    “Not all cultures are equally developed.”
    “More democratic doesn’t always mean better governance.”
    “Gender equality (in the strictest sense) is not a realistic or desirable goal.”

    And finally, the most awful blasphemy:

    “Michael Bay is, in fact, a good director and has made good films.”

  4. Oh shoot, I forgot an important one!

    “Corporations are good for the world.”

  5. Any Non-PC is the current blasphemy of course. So my deeply held blasphemies are:
    Tobacco smoking is good for you – relax and enjoy it.
    Global warming is nothing to do with mankind, if it is even happening at all.
    Morality is not relative, (insert stupid belief here) is/are wrong and I am going to say so.
    My child is more intelligent than yours and needs to be educated as such.
    If your religion can’t be questioned and can’t evolve then it is just dogma.
    God is real and wants you to grow up and take responsibility for yourself like any good parent.

    I could go on, but I am just so tired of all the nonsense around me…

  6. Sure sounds like a three-year old running around yelling “poop!”.

    How about: “Only in the Judeo-Christian West could one stage a blasphemy contest without fear for his life.”

  7. FIRE!

    There, I said it. Some clichés are exactly called “clichés” because they are stupid.

    Morality is not relative, (insert stupid belief here) is/are wrong and I am going to say so.

    Ahaha, I rofled at that one. Very good.

    God is real….

    Goin in the same unreal vein, huh? I like your ironic style.

    My own blasphemies:

    Ayn Rand was a selfish “logical” moron
    Induction is a problem of knowledge
    There’s no absolute truth
    Theocratic religions are the worst danger of the world right now.

  8. What about “There was no Holocaust”? I think it’s even illegal to say that in some parts of Europe – e.g. a British “historian” was sent to jail about a year ago in Austria for publicly claiming that Auschwitz was not a concentration camp.

    Certainly Naziism and particularly any general praise of Hitler are still at least taboo these days, if not blasphemous.

  9. Global warming is a religion.

    Barak Obama is George Bush with the volume turned up.

    Clones are people, too.

    Alan Greenspan — “The increased availability of subprime mortgage credit has created new opportunities for homeownership.”

    Pete DuPont — George Bush is the most liberal president since Lyndon Johnson.

    Woody Allen — Science is an intellectual dead end. It’s a lot of little guys in tweed suits cutting up frogs on foundation grants.

    George Carlin — Rape is hilarious.

  10. The average Canadian has one testicle, just like Adolph Hitler — or, more precisely, the average Canadian has 0.96 testicles, an even sadder plight than Hitler’s, if the average Anything actually existed.

  11. “Does this make me look fat?”

    A question that should never be asked.

  12. No, honey, your fat makes you look fat.

  13. Consensus means nothing.

  14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CYYih6l5CQ

    Jesus died in Japan.

    I win this thread? Yes?

  15. “Man must exploit the earth if he is to survive.”

    BTW, although I am not a very religious person, I canceled my subscription to The Skeptical Inquirer two years ago over their anti-religion tendencies.

  16. Briggs

    September 26, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Ari,

    Not quite. The Mormons beat the Japanese to it; in a sense, anyway.

    Mike44,

    There’s a few good guys left, but I know what you mean. Once they started publishing Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s wife), I was sorely tempted to cancel.

  17. Smoothing time series prior to analysis is always the right thing to do… 🙂

  18. I get the impression they meant religious blasphemy only and never considered anything else. Seeing a response to your e-mail would be interesting. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one though.

  19. I don’t think we should discuss Hannah Giles naked or in a bikini, and we should definitley not use the word in discussing Hannah Giles.

  20. But you have all forgotten that as any modern atheist knows not only is there is no GOD: but Richard Dawkins is HIS prophet.

    As for modern cuss words they are a bit anaemic, such as Good Grief. Terribly polite and politically correct if you ask me. Rather like Tarnation instead of damnation.

    Nothing new there then, ‘Zounds’, is believed to be a corruption of God’s wounds, but I doubt anyone has used it for two hundred years.

    Me I believe in the tried and tested full blooded ones from the mild ‘dammit to hell’ to those not printable on a respectable blog like this.

    So much more satisfying I find.

    Kindest Regards

  21. Ali G:
    “Is breast reduction morally right?”
    Fair trade tea tastes dreadful
    Low energy light bulbs aren’t bright enough.
    Never mind the whale, save yourself. (bless, I don’t mean that.)

    Could Jesus walk on custard?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4K8r9OUIBM&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=F1D42AFEA1ED4451&index=26

  22. I let my subscription to Skeptical Inquirer lapse when they stopped being skeptical

  23. a jones-or, as Wolfgang Pauli (of “Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!” fame) once said “Well, I’d say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first commandment of this religion is ‘God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet'”.

    And with that, I would like to add this blasphemy: Not only is AGW not right, it’s not even wrong.

  24. Andrew you may have a point there.

    I am aware of that quote and earlier ones too. Huxley wasn’t known as Darwin’s bulldog for nothing.

    But at least in those grand old days the Theists came out fighting. So there was real debate and disputation.

    As there was over the new physics, and I think De Broglie’s pilot wave has been discussed here. A truly interesting concept because whilst it is wholly unsupported it obviously fills a need to try and understand quantum mechanics in an intuitive way.

    It is very difficult to comprehend that these processes might run entirely counter to our intuition based on simple observation of the real world in which we live.

    Otherwise Gods go in and out of fashion as do their prophets. What was wrong with Baal says I? and although a bit antique I believe he still has some worshippers. But I think Dawkins is possibly the most fashionable prophet of atheism at the moment: and few would consider themselves worthy to unloose his shoes.

    But when it comes to the great self proclaimed prophets of AGW there are many who would and do wash and worship at their feet. It must be the government grant money you know.

    Some people will always sell their souls for a bit of hard cash.

    Mr. Briggs I apologise if that is too strong. Please snip if required.

    Kindest Regards

  25. Mr. Briggs, while I almost always agree with you on everything, in this case you may have missed the point entirely.

    What CFI is driving at are the sorts of curtailments on free speech that prevent people from presenting things like that cartoon of Mohammed (spelling?) as a bomb-carrying terrorist.

    It’s not, “…they fret that they are being hounded by befrocked men carrying ropes…”

    They DO agree with: “…it’s idiotic to malign the objects of faith when it is the acts of certain men that deserve castigation…”

    It just so happens with one religion that discussiong the ACTS OF MEN invariably involves their motives based on misguided interpretations of their object & other declaration of their faith.

    These cannot be neatly separated. Yet some free-speech-restricting laws have been proposed that, in the view of many, go way too far.

    Of course, CFI does lean atheistic and the contest may very likely have other motives as well. However, one key point come down to this:

    One’s practice of their religion should not, in a free state, be such that another must adhere to standards of propriety based on that religion instead of some objective social value system.

    A Jew or Christian can practice their religion without making non-believers/non-practitioners practice some elements of thier faith. However, a Muslim will take such great offense at a perceived slight at not only thier faith, but some of the objects of their faith, that they may be & have been inspired to violence or other social disruptions. In a free society, as structured in the USA, so far, that goes too far when one’s exercise of their religion MANDATES certain behaviors from others–espeically if the State is to codify those religiously-based mandates into law. At that moment, religion becomes part of the State law–which is still unconstitutional.

    Sure, social norms suggest offensive behavior should be off limits out of courtesy. But in places like England/Great Britian & elsewhere, such religiously based laws that give Islam special status have been proposed. THAT is what (at least in part) CFI is ranting about — on that much I can agree with them.

  26. Briggs

    November 3, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Ken,

    I have often said on this site that I am of no religion. Thus, I do not object to this contest on religious grounds. And I’m with you in desiring a ban on speech codes, particularly those that are based on religious or politically correct reasons.

    I object to the contest of the grounds of civility. The very name is idiotic and designed to bring out the worst in people. A quick search revealed this site which contains entries from some of the ‘nets less advanced minds. I predict that those sorts of entries will form the vast majority. And I think nothing positive can come out of a contest like this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2017 William M. Briggs

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑