Someone once asked me to take the Blasphemy Challenge and prove the conviction for my new found atheism. To his shock, I flat out refused.
“Come on, what do you have to lose?” He jostled.
“Absolutely nothing,” I replied snarkily, adding, “But that’s sort of the point now, isn’t it?”
A confused look ensued.
Not that I’d waste the time spelling it out for someone like that, but I did feel I ought to give my reasons as, perhaps, a way of compelling others not to make the mistake of doing so.
First off, taking the Blasphemy Challenge gives religion face-time it doesn’t deserve. Believers will inevitably use the gimmick to their advantage, creating an equally absurd challenge, like, “Praise the Lord Challenge” and then turn it into a contest only to declare they win due to the sheer numbers of idiots who gladly took the challenge to counter a stupid challenge to counter their original position to the opposition of proposed challenge.
Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have all publicly taken the test, and passed with flying colors. Well, good for them, I suppose. But I personally would not take it. I would simply refuse, or else, and probably better, give a vacant stare and reply, “Whatever could you mean?”
The whole idea behind the Blasphemy Challenge is poorly reasoned, and here’s why. It’s a bad idea for the same reason it would be entirely stupid of me to ask anyone to deny the existence of Santa Clause, or better still, swear against the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It is asking someone else to do something ridiculously stupid on your behalf just to gain brownie points, or look cool, be rebellious, or whatever. All it amounts to, however, is denying things which (obviously) do not exist. I don’t know about you, but I am not in the habit of denying all the things which don’t exist. It’s a waste of my time. It’s puerile. It’s nonsensical.
Likewise, I see no reason to get de-baptized either. The entire ritual to counteract an obviously spurious ritual seems doubly nonsensical to me. It’s literally inventing a new ritual to counter act an already admittedly contrived ritual–but isn’t that in itself just as contrived? What, are we going to do next, start having de-prayer ceremonies to counter-act the imaginary effects of prayer? Should we face West when we do it just to spite all those who like to face East? I don’t know about you, but I personally find the whole concept rather stupid.
It exhibits a stunted mentality, a inability to reason beyond the limits of, well, the same faith-based reasoning these people are so proud of saying nay to. It is sort of like those thirty year olds who still go out partying, and feel like it somehow makes them young and hip if they call “shot-gun” on the way to the car. Come on dude, your thirty. If your only chance of hooking up with a chick is at a bar, then so be it, but just blurting out “shot-gun” makes me feel sorry that I’m driving, because I’ll be the one stuck in the front seat with a moronic teenager trapped in an adult’s body.
So, no thanks, but I’m not going to take the Blasphemy Challenge, not only because it’s unnecessary from a logical standpoint, but mainly because it is just as moronic as I described above.
Maybe some people find some sense of personal satisfaction in the triumph over their past religious upbringing, but I never resented my Christianity–I just had very specific problems with very specific areas–and mainly with the fact that none of it held up well to scrutiny. But I dealt with that and moved on. Taking the Blasphemy Challenge would merely give undue face-time to a religious concept that I no longer believe in, and it would come at the expense of my own foolishness–it’s a votive done in vain. Indeed, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is completely imaginary… but if you’re too dense to catch the irony of why it would be just as silly as to openly, with sincerity, make a public show of denying such a thing, then you probably wouldn’t get why doing the same for God is any different.
Of course, in retrospect, there is one motive for taking the Blasphemy Challenge I have not mentioned, and that motive is vengeance. If your past faith was horribly traumatic and stinting, and you just want to rip it to shreds, then by all means… have at it. I’m not saying a person doesn’t have the right to make such declarations–I just want them to know that in so doing they play the role of the fool–they look ridiculous in the process–and that’s the wrong sort of message we should be sending to the opposite team. Instead, we should just politely smile and then, just as quickly as it took us to forget what the question was, change the topic to something more relevant.