January 2, 2010

Ireland's Blasphemy Law

As many of you know, Ireland passed an extremely severe anti-blasphemy law. Atheist Ireland published a list of 25 blasphemous quotes to challenge the law. In the comments below the list, many people have chimed in with their own examples of blasphemy. Several comments have attacked the add-ons due to their language. I tried to reply, but the site was overloaded, so I decided to post my reply here.
For those who are concerned about the language being used in these comments, I thought I'd share my take on it.

There are generally four levels of blasphemy.

The first is the puerile: "Fsck God and the brain who came up with him." It fits the basic definition of blasphemy and while those who actually think are more offended by the language, simple people can and will be deeply offended by this simple statement.

The second is the deconstruction: "The Christian God cannot exist because it is internally inconsistent. Omnipresence and omnipotence contradict each other at various points." This also fits the basic definition of blasphemy as it directly attacks the belief. Fewer people are deeply offended by the deconstructions, but it does lead to extremely bad theology to try to weasel around the blocks as provided.

The third is artistic. You see many examples in the comments above from the likes of Tim Minchin, George Carlin, Tom Lehrer, and more. The Danish cartoons are prime examples of works of art being deeply offensive to a religion, so much that there are fatwas outstanding and even an attempted attack within the last twenty-four hours.

The last is reality. Reality itself is blasphemous to many religions and leads to all sorts of hand-waving and rigmarole. Evolution has mountains of empirical evidence showing that it really happens, but because the conclusions one must inevitably draw from it, many people of faith attack it as a religion in itself because those conclusions are blasphemous against their religion. Condom use is deeply blasphemous to the RCC because it allows sex without reproduction, and so they attack its use in Africa where they are trying to use condoms to restrict the spread of an AIDS epidemic. A direct translation of God's name (depending on who you talk to, Elohim, Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.) from Hebrew is offensive to many Orthodox Jews who use "Adonai" as a fill-in. Referring to Mohammad's marriage to a 9-year-old as pedophilia is deeply offensive to Muslims. The theory of gravity deeply offends die-hard Pastafarians.

I can understand being offended by a puerile comment. I can even understand being offended by a deconstruction or a piece of art. But when reality offends, there is no hope for your point of view.

Sincerely,
Michael Russell
Dallas, Texas


Update: Got it posted as reply #496.

2 comments:

Dimitri said...

Hey Michael!

I enjoyed your reply a lot! Indeed, if reality is offending, there is no hope whatsoever for that belief!

jyoti said...

As many of you know, Ireland passed an extremely severe anti-blasphemy law. Atheist Ireland published a list of 25 blasphemous quotes to challenge the law.

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