This is a guest post by a long-time commenter at this blog, Richard S. Russell. Richard is a retired research analyst (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction) and long-time activist in the realms of atheism, science fiction, and liberal politics. He has more opinions than any ten people should legally be allowed to have but makes up for it by giving them away as fast as possible. He blogs irregularly at richardsrussell.blogspot.com.
For years, CNN.com published essays on what they called their Belief Blog — something to do with religion and occasionally atheism. And I’d often join other atheists in the comment section as we pointed out the many, many flaws, fallacies, and outright lies in the cases the religionists are trying to make. I in particular often favored humor in my observations, but I’m hardly alone in that regard. And this has led any number of religionists to whine that we have no respect for them or their faith, and that we’re just mean to poke fun at them.
I don’t deny that I derive a certain glee in doing so, but I submit that it’s a perfectly normal, utterly human reaction, in defense of which I offer up one of Jesus’s favorite tactics …
= = = = = = T H E P A R A B L E = = = = = =
You’re sitting around your favorite table at the corner tavern with the usual gang, when your friend Norm comes in, all excited.
“Norm, where ya been, buddy?”
“Guys, you’re not gonna believe this, but I swear it’s true, every word of it. I was just leaving the house and heading for my car when I heard voices coming from my back yard. That was strange, so I went around back to see what it was. And you’ll never believe what I saw.”
“So don’t keep us in suspenders, what was it?”
“It was a leprechaun. And he was talking to the Easter Bunny. Not exactly talking, they seemed to be arguing, but they were using some language I couldn’t understand. Loud, though, that’s why I heard them all the way around the front of the house.”
Some sniggering, but Bob down at the end of the table rises to the bait. “Easter Bunny, huh? How do you know it was the Easter Bunny and not just a regular rabbit?”
Norm shoots the questioner a reproachful look. “Because he was 6 feet tall and wearing a polka-dot vest. And talking! OK? And while I was just standing there goggling, the leprechaun reaches behind his ear and pulls out a big gold coin and just throws it at the bunny, like he’s really mad or something.”
“Oh, do go on!”
“Well, I kind of slid into the shadows, hoping they wouldn’t see me, and just then the flying saucer shows up.”
“Flying saucer, eh? We’ll probably get lots of coverage of that on the news tonight, then?”
“No, probably not, because it was only about the size of my hand when it appeared. I didn’t even see it coming, it just settled down on the lawn out of the sky. And then it suddenly just grew, right before my eyes. Got about as big as my garage. And then …”“Yeah, then a little green man came out, right?”
“Will you please shut up and let me tell it? I was there, and you weren’t! Yes, he was little and had those big almond-shaped eyes you always see in the movies, but he wasn’t green, more grayish. And only 3 fingers on each hand. And he didn’t say anything but he kept waving his arm at the other 2, trying to get them on board the saucer.”
“And did they go?”
“The leprechaun did. Right away. Just scooted in past the space alien. But the bunny didn’t look like he wanted to, and you could tell that the little green man, I mean gray man, was getting irritated, because he waved harder and stamped his foot. Finally the Easter Bunny hopped on up the ramp and got on. Had to duck a bit to get through the doorway.”
“Norm, if you think …”
“Will you wait a minute? Then the opening in the side of the ship just closed up, the saucer shrank back down to about hand size again and took off straight up, faster than I’ve ever seen anything move. It was out of sight in about 10 seconds. So that’s what happened and why I’m late.”
And everybody else just looks at each other and then busts out laughing. Norm is miffed. “I’m telling you, that’s exactly what happened!”
“Norm, my friend, we are just simple everyday working guys. Our drug of choice is beer. What on Earth have you been smoking?”
“Nothing! Nothing at all! Haven’t had a drop to drink, either. I’m stone-cold sober.”
“Been doing a little experimental cooking with mushrooms, then, have you?”
“No! I’m telling you that’s exactly what happened. God’s honest truth. Would I lie to you?”
A round of nods and a chorus of “Oh, yeah!”s, and Norm gets really pissed and stomps off.
= = = = = = T H E E N D = = = = = =
OK, be honest, now. You would’ve made sport of Norm, too, wouldn’t you? What an incredible crock! He’s practically begging for scorn and ridicule.
And if, in the coming days and months, Norm stuck to his guns and continued to insist that his account was true, despite lack of any evidence whatsoever, you’d eventually fear that your buddy had suffered some kind of psychotic break and start urging him to seek professional help.
But at least Norm had the advantage of claiming first-hand, personal, eyewitness experience. And, no matter how far-fetched his tale, it didn’t contain any outright impossibilities. How much crazier do you have to be to solemnly subscribe to the even more incredible BS from the Bible, all of which (supposedly) happened 2,000 years ago and is attested to only by 4 pseudonymous authors, otherwise unknown to history, who didn’t even live thru the events they wrote about?
And you religionists wonder why we jeer, scoff, roll our eyes, and poke fun at you. Put yourselves in our position, and imagine the self-restraint we have to use to hold it down to only that. The only reason we take you at all seriously is because you wield political power and have historically shown that you’re perfectly willing to barbecue people like us for pointing out your idiocies, so you’re not merely pathetically funny, you’re irrationally dangerous.
People who don’t want you to laugh at their beliefs
shouldn’t believe such funny things.