Why we should have ceremonies with religious speeches

A benediction speech during graduation at Midwestern State University. It’s the best argument for encouraging religious performances in public events that I’ve come across in a while.

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I figure that if you have a zealous religious performance along these lines, anyone with some sanity remaining will be embarrassed or repulsed by such a display. It will reinforce any inclinations they have to keep some distance between religion and things that actually matter.

And if you have a generic performance approaching “ceremonial deism,” well, the result will mostly be thoroughly boring and conventional. Again, people with some inclination toward independent thought will not be impressed, and they will tend to think that there is not much content behind a lot of religious speech.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02494141255401096538 uzza

    Holy SHit! How about some mercy on the fucken audience?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    At my College she'd be getting things thrown @ her after about 15 seconds of that……

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08479185626243926907 Hesiodos

    This speech was hysterical and its content uncalled for in a public nonsectarian benediction in that it was full of emotional repentance appeals and charismatic hype. However, I wonder if, at the end, she merely hyperventilated from stage fright and the hyped up style and content and passed out from the above? If so it may be more an artifact of her humanity rather than a specific psychopathology. Someone worked up about greenhouse gases might do the same.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    It looks as if someone had slipped LSD into her drink……

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14015927918429281819 matthew.roberts

    Jesus! If this was a British college the lecturers would have dragged her off as soon as she opened her mouth, let alone her fellow students. Of course we sometimes have isolated semi-evangelical religious nutters in large organisations, but at best they're looked upon with a kindly indulgence and more often as wierdos that belong in an institution. It is shocking to a Brit to see 'woo' like this treated with apparent respect at a college/university.

    But, but, but… as the poster suggests it may be better to let it's inherent ridiculousness see the light of day rather than supress it. The latter may only encourage the loonies and lead to accusations of a secular conspiracy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11389651479904502758 DM

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!

    see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:

    jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE….

    ________________

    blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html

    ETA: follow-up
    blaghag.com/2010/04/quick-clarification-about-boobquake.html

    see how we take a term and convert in into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION – THAT
    OF LIBERATION – not just merely harmless expression…

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!
    ____________

    FOR THE *HEADLESS IDIOT* called m.shermer

    skeptic.com/Merchant2/graphics/audio_video/av558_lg.jpg

    this is your *FINAL WARNING*

    ____________________________________
    the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…

    they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

    KABOOM…

    Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker…

    ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

    Randi:

    When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist

    _________________________________

    Visit for the BOOBQUAKE

    badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t;=15921&p;=343431#p343431

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11389651479904502758 DM

    THE BOOBQUAKE – 911!

    hey, atheists don't even BELIEVE IN BOOBIES!!!

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!

    see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:

    jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE….
    ________________

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html

    ETA: follow-up

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/quick-clarification-about-boobquake.html

    see how we take a term and convert in into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION – THAT
    OF LIBERATION – not just merely harmless expression…

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!
    ____________

    the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…

    they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

    KABOOM…

    Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker…

    http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

    Randi:

    When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist

    _________________________________

    Visit for the BOOBQUAKE

    http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22932

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Well, I found this young woman’s performance heart wrenching.

    The video has been uploaded to YouTube only a few months ago, and has been watched a whooping 350 thousand times since then. The event itself appears to have taken place back in 1998. I found the title of the video kind of mean-spirited, for it does not look like that the purpose of that young woman was to convert the audience.

    Now I do not wish, neither am I able, to judge her. But I would like to offer two possible interpretations of what’s happening.

    First, it is possible that this young woman is here suffering from some kind of psychological instability. Many young people, indeed many fine and idealistic young people, pass through periods in their lives where their overheated minds produce behavior which is out of the norm, perhaps as the result of unresolved inner conflicts. Indeed at minute 1:16 of the video, this young woman appears to be whispering to herself “shut up”. And in any case some of the things she says, including the much derided “Forgive us Lord for worshipping the intellectual mind” has more sense than it may at first appear, but no matter.

    There is a second more charitable interpretation. Most mystics throughout history have described their experience of relating with God as both ecstatic and terrifying. Terrifying, not because their experience of God has any ugly or threatening elements, but because of the realization of a beauty and splendor so great to be overwhelming to the point of intolerable. Indeed I interpret the sometimes absurdly self-depreciating language one finds in religious texts not as Nietzsche saw it, namely as the expression of a sickly slavish attitude, but rather as an intent to express the magnificence of God in relation to us, as well as how far we have to go.

    As it happens, my wife has a friend who at an advanced age decided to study theology, and who recently told me that her master’s thesis was about Islam’s so-called “holy fools”. There are such “holy fools” in most religions; for example the much photographed Saint Basil cathedral in Moscow is dedicated to one. It may appear that the existence of such religious “fools” or such “foolish” behavior make theism less tenable, but think of it: The claims of theism are so extraordinary and the implications of the existence of God are so momentous, that any theist who is consequent with her beliefs cannot but act in ways that will strike us, the bean counters, as foolish. But if God exists then the most foolish of all are those theists who, like me, believe in God and live more or less exactly as they would live if they didn't.

    Of course there are also the religious fools simpliciter, there is no denying that. And they are easy to spot: they grandstand and engender only annoyance. A few days ago I downloaded and listened to a speech with the interesting title “How can a God of love send anyone to hell?”. Well the speech was so full of nonsense (in the literal sense of the word), the inflection of the speaker’s voice so faux-impassioned, the whole argument so hair raising bad, that I actually found it funny to listen to it. But then I thought that had I listened to this speech when I was a young man I might very well have been moved to atheism just as a reaction to its stupidity. And then I found out that the speaker is a certain “Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.” president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (claimed to be one of the largest seminaries in the world), and whom Time has called a “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.” The whole experience made me understand better the New Atheism phenomenon, and why atheists claim that religion stupefies peoples’ minds.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11389651479904502758 DM

    let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
    of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
    any human objectives…

    this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*

    THE BOOBQUAKE – 911!

    hey, atheists don't even BELIEVE IN BOOBIES!!!

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!

    see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:

    jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE….

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html

    http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/quick-clarification-about-boobquake.html

    see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION – THAT
    OF LIBERATION – not just merely harmless expression…

    they thought BOOBIES had no effect… WRONG!

    Visit for the BOOBQUAKE:

    http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

    how about I believe in WHATEVER I want and you little fuckers have nothing to say!


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