Blasphemy Day: A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists

Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports on Blasphemy Day for NPR:

Last month, atheists marked Blasphemy Day at gatherings around the world, and celebrated the freedom to denigrate and insult religion.

Some offered to trade pornography for Bibles. Others de-baptized people with hair dryers. And in Washington, D.C., an art exhibit opened that shows, among other paintings, one entitled Divine Wine, where Jesus, on the cross, has blood flowing from his wound into a wine bottle.

Another, Jesus Paints His Nails, shows an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion, applying polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross.

“I wouldn’t want this on my wall,” says Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues. The Center for Inquiry hosted the art show.

Jordan says the exhibit created a firestorm from offended believers, and he can understand why. But, he says, the controversy over this exhibit goes way beyond Blasphemy Day. It’s about the future of the atheist movement — and whether to adopt the “new atheist” approach — a more aggressive, often belittling posture toward religious believers.

Some call it a schism…

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  • Lex

    Religion is as religion does … when these atheists evangelize, preach intolerance of rival beliefs, have schisms over points of doctrine, and generally conduct themselves exactly like a bunch of True Believers, what sets them apart from any other gang of fundamentalist loonies? Regardless of which particular set of beliefs they've latched onto, fundies have more in common with each other than with actual rationalists. Change every proper noun in an Ann Coulter or Pat Robertson polemic, and you have a Richard Dawkins or Chris Hitchens polemic. “All those other beliefs are Evil, they're destroying our society, and we have to fight them until our beliefs are the only ones left!”

  • mutterhals

    “what sets them apart from any other gang of fundamentalist loonies?”

    Reason. Consider this payback for the eons of damage religion has afforded mankind.

    • raptureTHEhair

      Those people who caused this “damage” as you call it, were indeed religious people, mostly among the Luciferian nature. These so called “Christians” couldn't be further from Christ. Believe in what you want, but keep it to yourself because at the end of the day, still no one gives a shit about some goons standing around saying “hey dude, look what i don't believe in! watch me blasphem this painting”. Yeah man, you are really getting things accomplished, turds.

      • mutterhals

        I'm not trying to accomplish anything. A militant atheist is merely one who refuses to hide their disbelief. You keep your beliefs to yourself. No? Well, I'm not either.

      • Lex

        Ahh! Conspiracy Theory, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…. the Luciferian Conspiracy must be responsible, because it couldn't possibly be that Christians are Intolerant! I mean, Yeshua bin Yosef (aka “Jeezus”) said to love thine enemy (making no exclusion for the Enemy, aka the Adversary, aka Lucifer), and to turn the other cheek … so anyone who claims to be a Christian and doesn't do these things must be a hypocrite, and not a real Christian … RIGHT?

        So come on, say you love Satan, or you're not a real Christian!

    • Lex

      Vindictiveness is reasonable? Fanaticism and intolerance are reasonable? What about the murderous state atheism of the Soviet Union, was that somehow more reasonable than the Inquisition or the various genocides perpetrated by theists?

      That's what I'm on about. As someone who embraces no religion at all, I can see little difference between those fundamentalists who embrace the religions of Christianity, Islam, or Atheism. Reason has nothing to do with any of them; emotional investment and cognitive bias are the primary factors in the beliefs and behaviors of any fundamentalist, regardless of the specific dogmas that they extol.

      • mutterhals

        Atheism is not, and has never been, a religion. To assert otherwise is ridiculous in the extreme. Atheism was not responsible for despotic regimes, it was a mere facet of them. In such regimes, the figure of god was replaced by that of a dictator, but the same irrationality persisted. This lame 'atheists are fundamentalists' argument has been refuted so many times it is almost not even worth saying.

        Again, a militant atheist is merely one who refuses to hide their disbelief.

        • Lex

          Atheism is, and has always been, a religious belief-system: like any religion, it asserts that it knows the truth about things that can't be observed. The only difference, as between any two religions, is the details of what is being asserted. Trying to claim otherwise is ridiculous in the extreme, and whining about Atheism not being responsible for the horrors done its name is every bit as pathetic as when Christians whine about how the Inquisition wasn't carried out by “Real Christians.” The lame 'Atheism is Science' argument has been refuted so many times that it's almost not even worth doing again.

          Again, a militant atheist is merely a fundamentalist who refuses to acknowledge that he's a fundamentalist.

      • mutterhals

        Also, being a fence-sitting agnostic is less respectable than being religious, in my opinion. At least the religious have convictions.

        • Lex

          Ahh, so you finally admit that science is objectionable to you. Being a “fence-sitting agnostic” is the definition of science — which never proclaims truth, but only ever asserts “the best model that fits the data we have access to now.” Being a fundamentalist True Believer who doesn't even have the guts to admit that he's a fundamentalist True Believer is less respectable than being a bible-thumping hypocrite, in my opinion. At least the bible-thumpers have the courage to admit that they don't care about facts.

  • Monkey's Uncle

    How hard is it to just say… “that's a bunch of bullshit” and than move forward? This whole new atheist movement sounds a lot like what happened to gnosticism. People started taking things literally and creating an us and them. Which a distinction is necessary, but one must also realize them is also us.

  • davetta

    Blasphemy Day designed by atheist? In order to blasphemy wouldn't you have to believe or concede that there is a power to blasphemy? I think so! So watch out atheists you are on your way to proclaiming that there is a God. As a Christian I want to tell you that you are on your way to proclaiming that there is a Christ and that He does exist.

  • raptureTHEhair

    all i'm saying is this: Atheists just proved my hypothesis that they are just as annoying as fundamentalist Christians like Joel Osteen or any other person standing on the corner passing out tracts………Won't be long until they too have their mega complex to frolic about shoving Richard Dawkins books down the throats of people who need to be told what to believe.

    • mutterhals

      Just because you continue to repeat something doesn't render it true. You are perturbed that an atheist would choose to express their disbelief anywhere. The hyperbole you describe is in no danger of happening. Relax, no one is trying to take away your silly wish fulfillment.

      • Lex

        And just because you continue to deny it doesn't render it false. You are perturbed that your beliefs are being shown to be as ridiculous as those you ridicule, and it's clearly making you upset, just like it does for any True Believer. The more you deny the obvious — that your beliefs are just beliefs like any others, your religion is just a religion like any other — the more you weaken and undermine your credibility as seeker of truth.

  • Plato's Son

    it took us many many years to show Einstein's relativity theory had the least amount of error in its predictions. How much longer would it take us to prove that God does exist?

  • Gregory

    Atheism falls apart simply based on this: that religion is bad. There are political systems masquerading as religions and that is what atheism reacts to. But to say that all the people who have ever lived who believed in a spiritual dimension to life are idiots or gullible or just didn't know any better is illogical, arrogant, unintelligent and yes…irrational. The question isn't “Does God exist?” because this is Judeo-Xian-Islam trying to say their God is the true god. When an atheist says “God” they're reacting to these religions that are not religions but political systems that use people's need for spirituality as their raison d'etre.

    The question is “Gods do exist because we have understood this for thousands upon thousands of years…but what are gods exactly, based on our limited perceptions, senses and frame of reference?”

    We are ourselves spiritual beings because physical reality is actually composed of nothing, empty space and the push and pull of forces. Atheism is the obsession with superficial reality that at the quantum/sub-atomic level defies logic and rationality. Take away the physical reality and you have only mind, consciousness. Gods exist, but if they are only expressions of our consciousness that does not make them any less real, because we ourselves are not real, in our mundane understanding of “reality”. We are temporary ambulatory motions of mud, clay that learned how to sit up right, and yet we know we are more than simply that. We are how the Cosmos knows itself. I was paraphrasing Carl Sagan just then. Atheists are so close to the truth and yet they don't realize what they're doing.

    We're at a point in our history where we're able to move away from religion as a cultural/racial identifier to a deeper understanding of our spirituality. The political systems dressed as religions are reacting against that, the Xians in Uhmurkah say “we want our Uhmurkah back” because they see the world changing, the Islam terrorist groups grow more in power because they begin to set aside the mask of religion to simply become the military force that Islam was when it was created, Xianity and Islam and Judaism routinely demonstrate via their spokespeople that they are not spiritually enlightened, they are only both paranoid and also want to rule the world. The more these types of religions are rendered no longer viable, the more fundamental they will become. Atheism is also an expression of this, as people react to these “religions” but take to big a leap to say because these “religions” are bad, then all religions has always been bad, which again is illogical and irrational. Atheism is the Irrational Response. But Atheism is a way to go tabula rasa and make a clean break.

    Having done this, an Atheist has a chance to actually research the history of religion and see that it isn't bad, but for long centuries has been the driving force of civilization. When man was intelligent enough, he began to be in touch with the other layers of reality, not just the superficial physical one. Arthur C Clarke saw religion as a necessary evil in a stage of our evolutionary development…but he still looked to the stars for beings in the heavens, which is really the same difference.

    The arrogance and certainty that atheists express, which makes them figures of scorn and derision by those of us who know better is a juvenile/immature reaction to the understanding of the importance of man. That we are the sentient expression of the cosmos. That we are the microcosm to the macrocosm The expression of man as the ultimate being is getting to the understanding that we ourselves are spiritual beings, that we are gods-in-training and our ultimate fate is apotheosis.

    Atheism is the attempt to deny your own existence.

    selah

  • nobody

    Articles about religion …

    … attract a lot of stupid comments.

    http://xkcd.com/386/

  • NaTaS

    Wait. Does that mean trading bibles for Sexual Services…so to speak. Isn’t considered prostitution.. right?

    Hey you know why Jesus hates M&M’s???

    Because they keep falling through his hands ((rimshot))

    ahh okay had my fun

  • NaTaS

    Wait. Does that mean trading bibles for Sexual Services…so to speak. Isn't considered prostitution.. right?

    Hey you know why Jesus hates M&M's???

    Because they keep falling through his hands ((rimshot))

    ahh okay had my fun

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