How Not To Blaspheme

Here’s a perfect example of how not to participate in the Blasphemy Challenge:

That was David Mills, author of Atheist Universe. Picking up dog shit with Bible pages.

(And is that a little girl laughing in the background?! What is up with that? Why is she being told to take part in this, even if she is offscreen? If the roles were reversed and a little girl laughed as a Christian picked up dog shit with a Biology textbook, we’d claim that was mental child abuse.)

Here’s another video where a Bible is burned.

And all Christians who saw these videos saw the error of their ways and became atheists…

No. Of course they didn’t. They became upset and angry. I did as well. And I’m not the only atheist who was offended by Mills, either.

Bligbi, however, is defending Mills and videos similar to his:

Burning, destroying and otherwise “disrespecting” a symbol is a longtime tool of rebellion. People burn flags. They blow up statues. They destroy all manner of things from the mythological “bra burning” of the sixties to the burning of effigies of despised political leaders today.

And when it comes to the Bible, there is probably no greater symbol of terrorism, brutality and subjugation on the planet. Why should it be spared from destruction by those who see it this way? I think the various reasons fall apart under closer inspection.

Why should it be spared? It should be spared because it’s a book that has some very important stories about how to live life. It provides the background to much of human history (good and bad) in the past couple millennia. That alone gives it reason to be kept around. To be sure, I’m not mad at the act of burning. I’m mad because this was just plain offensive and didn’t make an effective statement.

Remember Michael Richards’ racist rant from a couple months ago? A lot of comedians were asked what they thought about it. One of the most frequent responses was that while they’re not defending him, Richards’ biggest crime was that he simply wasn’t funny. His job was to make jokes, and he strayed from that entirely.

That might be a weak analogy, but it’s what I’m trying to get at. The point the guys in the videos want to make (I presume) is that they don’t live their lives based on what the Bible says. The book has done a lot of harm. And they want nothing to do with it.

Those points are ignored completely. They end up looking like ignorant jerks who are just trying to be provocative.

If you want to make a point, ask yourself who your audience is. I’m not sure what atheists could get out of watching that video. I definitely don’t know what they expected Christians to think. Christians were riled up about the Blasphemy Challenge in itself partly because younger people were making articulate statements about why they were not religious. They were young, they were finally coming out about their atheism, they were denying beliefs they were raised with and that many people hold sacred, and they were exposing a side of atheism a lot of people had never seen before.

I doubt Christians were watching the Mills video thinking, “Wow… what rebellion!”

No. They probably spread the video around to other Christians with a message that says, “Look at how intolerant and disrespectful these atheists are. They all talk about logic and reason, but they won’t even open the book in the first place.” And while Mills doesn’t represent all atheists, we’re too often judged by the extremists in our midsts.

There are *so many* reasons to criticize the Bible. There are definitely more creative ways to do it than burning it or comparing it to dog shit. The mistake with Mills is that he made a symbolic gesture that completely evaded the whole point of the Blasphemy Challenge, which is to publicly admit you’re an atheist and explain why that is (While saying the catchphrase, “I deny the holy spirit”).

Back to Bligbi for a moment. She also had this to say:

[Those who oppose the video say] “If I show how nice and respectful I am, someday they’ll treat me nicely and respect me despite our differences”. But, the fact of the matter is that “someday” will never come because the point of this particular mind game is to create a situation where the oppressed group is too ashamed to act in a manner that will ensure that that “someday” arrives.

For example, Martin Luther King Jr was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama in April of 1963 for protesting segregation…

Please tell me David Mills was not just compared to Martin Luther King, Jr…



[tags]atheist, atheism, Blasphemy Challenge, David Mills, Atheist Universe, Bible, Christian, Christianity, Bligbi, rebellion. flag burning, Michael Richards, racism, I deny the holy spirit, Martin Luther King Jr., Birmingham, Alabama[/tags]

  • Mitch

    The best case I’ve seen for a supreme being is a book by Gerald Schroeder. If you truly want to understand why so many people believe in a God then his 3 books, “Hidden Face of God” (best case mentioned above), “Genesis and the Big Bang” and “The Science of God” do an amazing job of putting into words why. More and more scientists are turning to faith because of discoveries made in science that can’t be explained and I believe science will in fact be used to prove (one day) His existence. God uses science to create. Science and religion should not be kept seperate when they work so well together.
    These books in no way make an argument for or against Jesus being the Son of God. That will still have to be a personal choice but after reading the evidence brought forward in these books it’s hard to say that a supreme being isn’t orchestrating the universe.

  • Elise

    I am an Athiest, but am somewhat perplexed by this site. You talk about the Athiest movement, as if you trying to spread your belief, much like a religion sends missionaries to countries to promote their faith. The core beleif of an Athiest is that we beleive in no God or religion, so why are you acting in the same way as a religion does?

    It is fair that we have our own beliefs, but what is with this need to make everyone else agree wwith them? I would not particually appreciate someone of the Catholic faith trying to convert me into catholisism, and I am sure that Catholics feel the same about Atheism.

    What is the problem with allowing them to have their beliefs and us to have ours?

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Elise,
    I don’t understand how you have gotten the impression that this site is about “spreading our beliefs.” I don’t personally know any atheist who has any interest in “converting” others to atheism. If there is an “atheist movement” it’s a very loose and diverse one, and it seems mainly interested in protecting the rights of people who don’t want religion forced upon them in the form of public policy or bigoted mistreatment. Some, like myself were basically born to a secular/scientific world view, but many others went through very difficult struggles to free themselves from their early religious indoctrination. Not many of them would in a clear conscience do such a thing to others.

    There are a few outspoken authors whom others characterize as “evangelical” in their views, but whether that is fair is a matter of debate. There are a few rude and crude jerks, such as the guy in the video at the top of the page, but every group has some of those.

    If you have seen specific examples of an atheist aggressively trying to force, manipulate, browbeat or somehow without invitation to convert believers to non-belief, I would be very interested in hearing about it because I strongly oppose such tactics and behavior.

    Stick around and I think you will see that the majority of people here are primarily interested in improving communication between believers and non-believers, and in improving the overall quality of life of atheists and society in general.