Jesus, Resurrection, Humour and Appropriateness

Jesus, Resurrection, Humour and Appropriateness April 11, 2020

I posted this on my Facebook page (H/T to Rick Humeny who pasted it on the ATP Facebook page) :

I genuinely think this is not only funny but packs a theological punch. I have often before posted on the incoherence of atonement and the ridiculousness of the resurrection account. However, being my private Facebook, and having a number of various “friends” there, I received a couple of comments that pushed back.

The most critical comment did make me think a little:

I’d have thought being nailed to a cross wasn’t such a walk in the park. Would you post stuff like this about Mohammed?

I have written and even given public university talks on Islam and violence, but I have admittedly refrained from publicly ridiculing Muhammad or Islam. I do criticise Islam, but more on a theological and intellectual level. So why do I feel I can ridicule Jesus and the idea of resurrection (and atonement)? It’s also funny how people to the right of centre always argue for freedom of speech but then really whinge about it when it is speech that they don’t like.

but would you make fun of their faith like Charlie Hebdo?

Probably not because I don’t want to die right now. The theology of Islam deserves ridicule, in my humble opinion, but I am not risky enough to give it. I take the piss out of mates because I know they won’t kill me. I take the piss out of ideas that are not sustainable. I am not taking the piss out of Christians, per see, but out of the idea here of Jesus’ resurrection. This idea is not sustainable or justifiable or explicable. I really don’t have time for a god who appears to be sitting back whilst the whole of humanity is in lockdown and people are dying left, right and centre. Now THAT is taking the piss. My goodwill evaporates.

Being nailed to a cross for an omniGod really can’t be much by definitions of classical theism.

but 9 million people die every year of hunger, why is this the catalyst?

Catalyst? Not sure what he means here, but 9 million people starve each year in a world that God designed and created and over which he has ultimate power, no? With divine foreknowledge, he knew that this would come about before designing and creating this very World. He knew all the counterfactuals of all the different worlds that he could create and he created this one in the full knowledge that this would happen. Who’s to blame? He has the audacity to claim that we are all sinners and to destroy all of humanity bar eight for being so sinful, and then sacrifice himself to himself to sit on his own right hand for eternity in heaven in order to pay for all the sins of humanity. That he designed and created. Except, we are still sinning so this didn’t even work.

sounds like you’re angry with a God you don’t believe in. The only other alternative is that you’re angry with a faith that doesn’t affect you.

I’m angry that people still believe in this whole network of absolutely nonsensical beliefs. They could put the time and effort to things that would make the world tangibly a better place.

Ridicule is an interesting thing, especially when concerning people who adhere to the beliefs of the thing you are ridiculing. I could quite easily ridicule the people who believe these things for believing such nonsense, but I am all too aware of the psychology and causality involved in belief and try to steer away from such ridicule.

However, ideas are ripe for the picking. I would proffer that such people would have no problem with ridiculing, say, left-wing political ideas and even left-wing adherents of those ideas. What’s the difference here between taking the Mickey out of political targets and religious targets? I don’t think you can meaningfully differentiate the two.

Furthermore, if I was to claim that I adhered to a religion, really properly and meaningfully (for me), that had as its main belief system that our god was a pansexual pink blancmange who decreed that its adherents should wear pink tutus every other day whilst riding blow-up unicorns, on pain of eternal hell, would I not be ripe for the picking in terms of pisstake? Just because your religion seems more serious doesn’t mean that it is, to me. And if you could be fine with ridiculing me and my beliefs, then what is wrong with me ridiculing yours? Why are your belief systems inoculated from such humour?

This gets pretty much into the territory that comedian Rowan Atkinson has so often spoken about, going back to 2004, after a second reading of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill that included potential restrictions on having religion a target of comedy:

“To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom.

“The freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas – even if they are sincerely held beliefs – is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.

“A law which attempts to say you can criticise and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed.”

Being able to ridicule the biggest ideas is one of the core tenets of a free society. As soon as we start shutting down such thing, we advance down the line to places we don’t want our society to be.

In this way, it could be levelled at me that such humour is inflammatory and will upset Christians; therefore, I am being insensitive to Christians’ feelings. We have issues here of where we draw the line. as mentioned, I could make that claim for the political left, for example, and demand it should not be the target of comedy for fear of upsetting me.

And this is the whole theatre of political correctness and offence, the right to not be offended and the right to offend. It all gets rather politically sensitive.

Suffice to say that, in my eyes, religion should not get special exemption from ridicule, and if, by extension, believers in those ideas are so offended, so be it. In a perfect world (we wouldn’t have religion, eh!) we would be able to safely ridicule Muhammad and Islam, but, alas, this is not the case. Would I go out of my way to offend Muslims? No. Would I go out of my way to ridicule Islam? Quite possibly. If this then upsets Muslims (or Christians, or…), then they need to wonder why  they are bothering to be incarnations of earthly offence when their god can supposedly submit me to eternal torment.

 


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