A Catholic’s Take on the Blasphemy Challenge

Fr. Robert J. Carr’s article is good for several laughs.

One of the first cases I ever experienced of this phenomenon [people believing they're outside God's mercy], and this as a layperson, is the case of a man who several decades earlier used magic to put a curse on a then supervisor. The following day, his boss died of a heart attack. It is mostly likely that this was a coincidence. Those Catholics involved in deliverance ministry who are versed in the aspects of the occult inform me that curses of this type are very hard to complete.

I’m going to go with, “Yes, it was a coincidence.”

Then, Carr goes into another example of people who do something “incredibly stupid” at an early age and then feel doomed forever after.

The Blasphemy Challenge.

This mission, which is based on a misinterpretation of the Mark 3:29, has claimed hundreds of adherents who do this incredibly stupid act in response for a DVD of the video “The God Who Was Not There.”

While I don’t have numbers, I would guess most people who made Blasphemy Challenge videos did not do it for the DVD. In fact, many submitters didn’t even go through the short “paperwork” process to get the DVD. They wanted to make a video because they were proud to be atheists, and they didn’t want to hide it anymore.

The problem is that the process which claims to promote atheism among our youth, actually does not, it promotes the demonic. Further, a true atheist would never condemn his soul to Hell. Why? Because to condemn one’s soul to Hell is to acknowledge that Hell exists and a true atheist would never do that.

Or maybe atheists are trying to make a point that there is no evidence of souls existing, and thus, no point in believing we have them. So you could do whatever you want to “it” and it would make no difference.

You could even try selling it on eBay…

Then Carr takes the issue to a whole other level (emphasis mine).

This brings up a practical question. Would you hire someone who took the Blasphemy Challenge? Here is why I ask.

The key to the Blasphemy Challenge is that someone commits the act and receives a DVD of the movie, “The God Who Was Not There.” Now if you buy the video, it costs less than $25.00. However, buying one gets you condemned as a chicken by the Rational Response Squad. So essentially you are selling your soul and the right to not be called chicken for $25.00. Don’t ask me what is rational about this. It does not make any sense to me. Granted the soul may be worthless in the eyes of the blasphemer, but is not so in the eyes of others. So, would you hire someone whose concept of finances is so bad that they would actually sell their soul for less than $25.00? Now we would say that we would never sell our soul, that means that the value we put on one is priceless. When someone offers something that has a value of priceless for $25.00, is that the kind of person whom you would want working for your company, if you believe in adding value to your product?

Let’s break that last part down for a second.

However, buying one gets you condemned as a chicken by the Rational Response Squad.

I promise you that neither the RRS nor the movie’s director Brian Flemming will call you a chicken if you buy the movie.

So essentially you are selling your soul and the right to not be called chicken for $25.00. Don’t ask me what is rational about this.

No one’s selling a soul. No one’s being called chicken. And I am also wondering what’s rational about this…

Granted the soul may be worthless in the eyes of the blasphemer…

The soul is not “worthless.” The soul is just not there. Putting a price tag on it is a moot point.

When someone offers something that has a value of priceless for $25.00, is that the kind of person whom you would want working for your company, if you believe in adding value to your product?

Not only would that be illegal (at a public company), but it brings up another question: Would you want to hire someone to write articles for your website who does not check his sources, makes up false assertions, and didn’t even bother talking to the RRS or Brian Flemming before writing the article?

What really scares me about this Blasphemy Challenge is the case of the person who decides that if he is going to Hell for all eternity, or will cease to exist, why not go bring that result now and then attempts suicide.

Well, I doubt the Blasphemy Challenge participants believe in Hell. And yes, we will cease to exist, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find meaning in the one life we do have.

And buddy, proofread your article. “Attempts” should not have an “s.”

Ok, that last thing was just me being petty.

So is the next thing.

Carr makes comments at the end about how the movie isn’t even worth $25.00 (he says it’s worthless). I wonder, though, if he’s even bothered to see it. He refers to it in the article as “The God Who Was Not There.”

“Was Not”? It’s “Wasn’t.” Had he seen the movie, maybe he would’ve at least gotten the title right.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Robert J. Carr, God, Blasphemy Challenge, Rational Response Squad, Brian Flemming, Catholic, The God Who Wasn’t There, Hell, eBay[/tags]

  • Miko

    If I recall, I did once see an ad for the Blasphemy Challenge that said something at the end like “Or, if you’re a chicken you can click here to buy the DVD.” Perhaps that’s what Carr is referring to.

  • Darryl

    The key to the Blasphemy Challenge is that someone commits the act and receives a DVD of the movie, “The God Who Was Not There.” Now if you buy the video, it costs less than $25.00. However, buying one gets you condemned as a chicken by the Rational Response Squad. So essentially you are selling your soul and the right to not be called chicken for $25.00. Don’t ask me what is rational about this. It does not make any sense to me. Granted the soul may be worthless in the eyes of the blasphemer, but is not so in the eyes of others. So, would you hire someone whose concept of finances is so bad that they would actually sell their soul for less than $25.00? Now we would say that we would never sell our soul, that means that the value we put on one is priceless. When someone offers something that has a value of priceless for $25.00, is that the kind of person whom you would want working for your company, if you believe in adding value to your product?

    This kind of reasoning is illustrative of how the Catholics developed their theology. It makes some semblance of sense if you’re already deluded.

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  • Crystal

    I do wonder why they had to concentrate so hard on the “blasphemy” part. If it wasn’t to deliberately offend people, but to promote atheism and get atheists to come out of the closet, why couldn’t they just have called it “the positive atheist challenge” or “the proud atheist challenge”? People on the fence already know what’s wrong with religion. What they want to know is how atheism is better………

  • Maria

    I do wonder why they had to concentrate so hard on the “blasphemy” part. If it wasn’t to deliberately offend people, but to promote atheism and get atheists to come out of the closet, why couldn’t they just have called it “the positive atheist challenge” or “the proud atheist challenge”? People on the fence already know what’s wrong with religion. What they want to know is how atheism is better………

    I’ve heard a lot of people ask this question Crystal…….I was kinda wondering about it myself……..? Could someone fill me in?

  • Miko

    If it wasn’t to deliberately offend people

    Why would ‘blasphemy’ offend anyone? Unless, of course, they were setting out to be offended no matter what, in which case what you call it doesn’t matter.

    People on the fence already know what’s wrong with religion. What they want to know is how atheism is better………

    It’s better because it’s not religion. If were were equating them with numbers, we can think of atheism as 0 and religion as -1 (rescale however you want). Atheism is better than religion not because atheism is especially good in any way but simply because it’s not bad, in the same way that not having credit card debt is better than having credit card debt. People are free to come up with a whole set of good beliefs. I have them. You have them. We all have them. But atheism is not one of them: it’s just the rejection of a bad belief.

  • Karen

    I’ve heard a lot of people ask this question Crystal…….I was kinda wondering about it myself……..? Could someone fill me in?

    It goes back to filmmaker Brian Flemming’s education in a religious private school in Southern California. The school teachers and principal taught him that “blaspheming the holy spirit” was the one “unpardonable” sin, and (like many of us raised fundy) he worried and obsessed over this his whole childhood, scared that he would “accidentally” blaspheme the holy spirit and thus be rejected by god forever.

    (Yes, it sounds dumb, but when you’re a kid scared by threats of hell, the devil and his demons, etc. it really is frightening.)

    So in his movie, The God Who Wasn’t There, Flemming revisits that school and confronts the principal. At the end, he goes to the school chapel – site of those childhood terrors – and puts himself on camera deliberately “blaspheming the holy spirit” as a way of declaring his rejection of superstition. And he finishes the film with the line, “And I’m not scared anymore.”

    It’s pretty powerful, and I think they built the challenge around that so people could have the same liberating experience shown in the film.

  • Maria

    It goes back to filmmaker Brian Flemming’s education in a religious private school in Southern California. The school teachers and principal taught him that “blaspheming the holy spirit” was the one “unpardonable” sin, and (like many of us raised fundy) he worried and obsessed over this his whole childhood, scared that he would “accidentally” blaspheme the holy spirit and thus be rejected by god forever.

    (Yes, it sounds dumb, but when you’re a kid scared by threats of hell, the devil and his demons, etc. it really is frightening.)

    So in his movie, The God Who Wasn’t There, Flemming revisits that school and confronts the principal. At the end, he goes to the school chapel – site of those childhood terrors – and puts himself on camera deliberately “blaspheming the holy spirit” as a way of declaring his rejection of superstition. And he finishes the film with the line, “And I’m not scared anymore.”

    It’s pretty powerful, and I think they built the challenge around that so people could have the same liberating experience shown in the film.

    Okay, that makes total sense. Sorry, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine people dealing with stuff like this sometimes b/c I didn’t have to (thank goodness). I hope he and all the other people are able to heal from it…….gosh, that’s horrible……….

  • Carnife

    On a side note, it should in fact be “attempts”. or rather, it could easily. The sentence reads “the person who decides … and then attempts suicide.” The stuff in the middle is an elaborate and poorly worded explanation of the individual’s line of thought, rather than a description of the activities of the person.

    Bob thinks to himself, “I should bring this all to an end.” He then attempts suicide.
    Bob thinks to himself. “I should bring this all to an end and attempt suicide.”

    I think it’s the former that the author was going for.

    either way though, the fellow clearly doesn’t quite “get” either the blasphemy challenge or atheism as a whole, and that is sad, if altogether too common.

  • Polly

    I applied the BC to myself and followed my thinking process:

    #1)I don’t believe in a god, gods or the supernatural because there is no evidence of any of it (so far so good)

    #2)If REAL, bona fide evidence is provided, I’d convert immediately to your religion. (It’d have to be something pretty powerful.) My mind is open.

    #3)Now, I think I’ll do something that completely eliminates any possibility of me ever being able to change my mind if it turns out I’m wrong.

    I’m either so completely sure that I’m right, that this is a negligible risk (more likely scenario) or I’m not as open-minded as I thought, i.e. I’m not even considering the possibility that I may be wrong, anymore.

    Of course, I’m risking eternal damnation anyway by simply not believing while being mortal. And, there are a host of other gods that I’m pising off, too! I sure as heck am not going to run around trying to appease them all “just in case.” :)
    But, to go out of my way to burn a bridge behind me seems contrary to freethinking. I wouldn’t do that with a really questionable scientific hypothesis, saying to myself: “I will never ask this question again.”

    Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    I promise you that neither the RRS nor the movie’s director Brian Flemming will call you a chicken if you buy the movie.

    I can go with this. However, if you disagree with the RRS’ strategy in any way, even if you’re rational about it, they’ll just stop talking to you. I’d be honored to get an e-mail from Sapient or Flemming today calling me a “chicken.” I feel so unloved… :)

    People on the fence already know what’s wrong with religion. What they want to know is how atheism is better………

    Good point. The IDEAL of atheism is, in fact, much better. The problem comes when we put it into practice. I’ve seen too many of ‘our ranks’ act no more civil than, and sometimes much worse than, the theists we oppose. I got so sick of it I changed my personal designation to ‘nontheist.’

    Or maybe atheists are trying to make a point that there is no evidence of souls existing, and thus, no point in believing we have them.

    I don’t believe in God, but I don’t think the Blasphemy Challenge is at all a good response to theism. It’s very sad that anyone, especially the “Friendly Atheist,” would try to defend it.

    So in his movie, The God Who Wasn’t There, Flemming revisits that school and confronts the principal.

    To anyone who owns the DVD of The God Who Wasn’t There, I suggest you go back and look at this particular segment again. I think just about every person who viewed it missed something VERY significant in that interview.

    And buddy, proofread your article. “Attempts” should not have an “s.”

    Ok, that last thing was just me being petty.

    It sure was “being petty.” But hey, don’t worry about it. That would be the norm in the atheist community today, and if just about everyone else is doing it, it’s okay. Right?

  • Miko

    I don’t believe in God, but I don’t think the Blasphemy Challenge is at all a good response to theism. It’s very sad that anyone, especially the “Friendly Atheist,” would try to defend it.

    Saying that it shouldn’t be defended without giving a reason why isn’t a very good persuasive technique. If you aren’t defending it, you’re basically just stating that atheists shouldn’t state the fact that they’re atheists. That’s a much harder view to defend, IMO.

    I think just about every person who viewed it missed something VERY significant in that interview.

    What?

    It sure was “being petty.” But hey, don’t worry about it. That would be the norm in the atheist community today, and if just about everyone else is doing it, it’s okay. Right?

    And of course using the fact that one person corrected one other person’s spelling in order to insult an entire group of people is the opposite of petty. :roll:

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    #3)Now, I think I’ll do something that completely eliminates any possibility of me ever being able to change my mind if it turns out I’m wrong.

    If it’s cute, if it’s novel, is it really necessary?

  • Darryl
    People on the fence already know what’s wrong with religion. What they want to know is how atheism is better………

    Good point. The IDEAL of atheism is, in fact, much better. The problem comes when we put it into practice. I’ve seen too many of ‘our ranks’ act no more civil than, and sometimes much worse than, the theists we oppose. I got so sick of it I changed my personal designation to ‘nontheist.’

    Being an atheist does not really say much about character. I imagine there are many reasons for why one is or becomes an atheist. I know people that were raised as atheists and have never given religion much thought except perhaps to puzzle over it or laugh at its practitioners. Some atheists, I will assume, are rather touchy about things religious or spiritual only because they have been somewhat obsessed with the problem of religion and their own struggles with their family, friends, communities, co-workers, etc. on account of it. Anger and frustration can turn into bitterness and spite, ridicule and snobbery.

    On the other hand, the atheist might simply be an a-hole.

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    If you aren’t defending it, you’re basically just stating that atheists shouldn’t state the fact that they’re atheists.

    And you’d be very correct, IF the Blasphemy Challenge represented the one and only way that atheists could communicate to the world that they were atheists. Is this what you’re saying?

    What?

    Precisely.

    And of course using the fact that one person corrected one other person’s spelling in order to insult an entire group of people is the opposite of petty.

    This remark is very much to my point that there is a wholesale abandonment of civility taking place within our community. I rest my case here.

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Being an atheist does not really say much about character.

    Very true. No argument here.

    On the other hand, the atheist might simply be an a-hole.

    If all who are nonbelievers finds themselves comfortable with being a-holes, that’s fine, but what of the atheist activist’s need to make some positive impact on the problems we face with theism? Do we get anywhere acting like a-holes? All I’ve seen so far are a lot of theists pointing their fingers and saying “We’re right! They are jerks! Come to our worldview, ’cause Jesus isn’t a jerk!” How many fence-sitters have we pushed over to the other side because of negative attitudes?

  • Miko

    And you’d be very correct, IF the Blasphemy Challenge represented the one and only way that atheists could communicate to the world that they were atheists. Is this what you’re saying?

    I’d be correct if I were saying that it was a way that atheists could communicate. And I was and am saying this. ‘Only’ need not and does not enter into it.

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Explain what you’re saying, Miko. You said:

    If you aren’t defending it [the Challenge], you’re basically just stating that atheists shouldn’t state the fact that they’re atheists.

    It needs to be understood that what you’re implying is that the Blasphemy Challenge is the only option atheists have for making their presence known in the world community. It simply isn’t so. Take me, for instance. How did people know for six months that I was calling myself an atheist? I never accepted the Blasphemy Challenge, and I had to purchase my copy of The God Who Wasn’t There (thus making me a chicken). By your statement, you’re saying that I would have remained “in the closet” just because I didn’t defend the Challenge, and you’re saying that I would have suggested to all other atheists that they do the same. No evidence exists for any of this.

    The only other way I can make this clear to you is by experiment: let anyone on this thread identify themselves to me as an atheist, without also saying that they deny something that never existed in the first place. Now, wait for me to say, “You really shouldn’t state the fact that you’re an atheist.” It won’t happen.

    Saying “He who is not with the Blasphemy Challenge is against atheism” wins the award for Irrational Assertion of the Year. Funny thing, too; it sounds a lot like the Bible’s Luke 11:23…

  • Darryl

    Patrick, you’re not understanding the nuance of some of these posts. You seem upset and you’re ranting a bit.

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Patrick, you’re not understanding the nuance of some of these posts. You seem upset and you’re ranting a bit.

    I’d really appreciate it if you could explain 1) what it is I’m “not understanding” and 2) how I’m “ranting.” As far as being upset, I won’t disagree there. You would be too if you saw what I’m seeing.

  • Ash

    Patrick Craig – hi!

    from what i’ve understood of these posts…

    I’d be correct if I were saying that it was a way that atheists could communicate. And I was and am saying this. ‘Only’ need not and does not enter into it.

    here Miko says that this is just one way, not necessarily ‘the’ way, and certainly not the ‘only’ way. and yes, given that it is one way of declaring oneself publicly as an atheist, which appears to be an issue for some, especially those surrounded by relgious mania and/or family, it is valid. it does not mean anyone should or has to do it, but just that it exists as an option which some appear to be grateful for. i wouldn’t, but i have no issue with those who do (except maybe the extremists, such as poo poo boy)

    Saying that it shouldn’t be defended without giving a reason why isn’t a very good persuasive technique. If you aren’t defending it, you’re basically just stating that atheists shouldn’t state the fact that they’re atheists.

    the second line of reasoning follows from the first, i.e., if you lambast the blasphemy challenge, please provide reasons, or it can appear that you are just criticising atheists using this option to make public their views.

    i think Darryl’s accusations of ranting probably stem from the fact that Miko appeared to give you answers (it’s how it read to me) but that you seem to have misread/misinterpreted them, and made the same points over.

    hope i paraphrased people right, hope i helped clear something up for you…and be aware that whilst people disagree with you in a civil manner, they’re probably not trying to upset you.

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Hi Ash,

    Thank you for trying to clarify things here. If reasons for not defending the Challenge are what everyone needs, here they are: 1) the Challenge is highly uncivil in nature; 2) it has generated little more than large amounts of needless animosity – we should be discussing our differences, not yelling at each other about them; 3) the Bible verse on which the Challenge is based appears to have been taken completely out of context – if we don’t appreciate theists doing this, how can it be okay for us?

    For the record, I support atheists speaking out about their worldview. What I don’t agree with is the method many of them are using to express themselves. If we hope to accomplish the acceptance of nonbelief, we won’t get there emphasizing extreme emotion over reason. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Ash

    fairy ’nuff, i’d have to agree with you on some of those points…although others seem to be on the basis that atheists should present a united front, and although this would arguably be useful, i’m not sure it’s necessarily a good thing. unified standards tend to dissolve into dogma. there will be extremists, radicals and militants in any ‘group’, it comes with the human territory – as long as the atheist versions aren’t inciting or perpetrating violence, abuse or oppression, i’m happy for them to get on with it.

    this was undoubtably a stunt, and as such very possibly in poor taste, but like the suffragettes, the black panthers etc., it raises the atheist profile. now the hard work of making that profile a positive one is up to the rest of us by “discussing our differences, not yelling at each other about them”

    good principle that i often fail at!

  • http://rationalnontheist.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    It’s certainly a point to ponder, the potential danger of all of us uniting under the banner of reason. But, if it’s allowable that we have militants and extremists, then why do we have such a problem with theist militants and extremists?

    I guess what you said about atheists “inciting or perpetrating violence, abuse or oppression” is what’s really bothering me at this point. How far will the RRS go to implement “the end of Christianity?” Time will tell, I suppose…


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