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The Blasphemy Challenge

(For those of you who might be sensitive to the idea of blasphemy or of a person you [presumably] care about POSSIBLY damning himself to hell, please first listen to my thoughts below and then skip out on the 'truly blasphemous' thing under the cut.)

The AGGRESSIVELY skeptical/atheistic group, The Rational Response Squad, recently began a campaign called "The Blasphemy Challenge" (Warning: link leads to a YouTube video), in which they are giving away $25,000 worth of copies of the documentary The God Who Wasn't There.

All you have to do to receive a copy is post a video to YouTube. Just one, little video. The caveat is that the contents of said video has to include what is known as the 'unforgivable' sin, denying the Holy Spirit, the one sin said to guarantee a first class, no return ticket to Fire and Brimstone land.

Let me be frank. I am not necessarily a fan of the RRS, although I do respect them and feel that their methods are necessary in order to get the topic on peoples' minds. In that way, they're similar to the Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock of atheists, except that they don't seem to misrepresent things the way those two do. But they are definitely aggressive and don't always pick their battles, either, despite having their hearts in the right place.

When I first heard of this Blasphemy Challenge, I thought it was a silly idea. I felt that it would likely legitimize and muster the overly religious side it was meant to counteract. By feeding them ammunition, the RRS would allow them to say "Well, if you're singling the Holy Spirit out, you must believe in it to deny it," or "Atheists are just angry at god." Which, of course, it did. I was also worried that this would only highlight the negatives of atheism, eg. what we don't believe in, or even worse, would continue to make people think that atheism IS a unified belief rather than simply a LACK thereof. Finally, I thought it would look like the hollow protest of immature people, the way certain 'Satanists' I once knew used to take pleasure in praying in church with pinkies, forefingers, and thumbs touching in 'devil signs.'

But as I thought more about the Challenge, some positives came out of it. Firstly, I realized it was a good way for people who had been raised in fear of certain more hard-line versions of Christianity to declare their lack of fear and bolster their feelings. I also realized, after watching several of the videos, that people weren't just using it as an excuse to thoughtlessly mock a religion. Rather, they were generally very calm, rational, and almost polite about it. Not all, mind you, but many. Possibly the BEST thing I noticed was the amount of autobiography being included. This represented the vast range of people who become atheists, as well as the various ways these people identified themselves as such. This was a heartening twist, and one not too expected to my cynical mind. It gave a young and human face to something often associated only with older academics and antisocial types.

The more I thought about it and considered it, the better of an idea it seemed to be. Silly, perhaps, and maybe not ultimately accomplishing much other than a show. But I felt that such a show, in the right words, could be a positive and beneficial thing for atheism, secularism, and all the assorted naturalistic/materialistic categories. But still, there was a lot of negativity in the videos, a lot of rejection. I thought that maybe someone should, in addition to firmly but politely rejecting things, affirm other things as well. And I thought if SOMEONE should do that, it might as well be me.

So I went and recorded one, and the link is

Here comes the blasphemy

You should note that I do not have my webcam with me here in London, so I had to create this by writing a script and collecting together still images off of Wiki (share and share alike! Woo!), and my own photos. Next I recorded the voiceovers using that basic Sound Recorder standard on Windows PCs. Then I used the ULTRA sucky Windows MovieMaker to combine those things, edit them, and turn the result into a .wmv file. The damned thing crashed at least four times, costing me over an hour. But I am mostly happy with the end result.

I don't know, or care, if I'll be getting a free copy of that DVD. I'm just glad to have put my individual perspective on things out there into the aether. Until I can manage to get some kind of podcast (which I frankly doubt I WILL get to do if I've got to do it all myself), this is the best way I've got to express myself.

And yeah, maybe that last line was a little immature, but hey, some people really think I'm going to hell just for saying those words. I merely had to demonstrate that I don't agree with that and am not afraid of their threats.