Blasphemy and Free speech

Uploaded by anubis2814 on 14.11.2009

Just recently we had a discussion at our local center for inquiry discussing their involvement
in blasphemy day. I thought the day was another internet holiday like talk like a pirate day
that was just fun. It turns out that the Center for inquiry a national organization designed
to promote science and free thought participated in the event and even had games on their site
to try and be as blasphemous as possible. Fortunately our center did not participate,
other than a discussion on blasphemy in general, but because of the head organizations actions,
we received a scathing review in the paper and were blacklisted by the catholic church.
Now don't be confused, I love blasphemy, as an atheist, I do it all the time. However
had I as a a devout Christian had my views attacked by someone in very harsh and pointless
ways, I would have clung to my religion believing myself as being persecuted for god making
the bible even more true to me. It was the open honest and civil debates and discussions
that lead to my deconversion. Most of us are not taught reason and logic, recitation and
memorization of arguments to defend the cause as well as confirmation bias to everything
proving god are the religious version of critical thinking and scientific inquiry. In church
people convert to Jesus in moments of emotion, they will come up to the alter in tears and
beg for their sins believing themselves to be worthless because a song or the experiences
made them feel spiritual. This does not happen when it comes to atheism unless you just happen
to be really angry at god. Atheism requires years of learning how to think about the world
around you and having each one of your multi-faceted errors shot down, as well as the time to accept
that that part of your belief was an error. No one converts to atheism overnight, it is
a long process that requires open honest discussion, education and understanding. This is why the
center for inquiry should stay religion neutral as we have had Jews, quakers, unitarians,
and sometimes conflicted and curious Christians come to our center to hear our discussions.
If we insult and attack them directly they will never come back, but if we are open to
thinking and discussion they may come back or be eager to gain new knowledge. Vilification
works in religion because it is based on emotion and prejudice just like fox news and the republican
party. They rely on blind faith and the us vs them mentality. Science, skepticism and
atheism requires thought, reason and education if done right and therefore vilification and
insulting doesn't really work. Throughout history blasphemy meant questioning what the
church said or believing or saying something contrary to the bible. Back in those days
blasphemy pretty much meant free speech, as free speech gives you the right to offend
others with what you think and to be offended by what others think. Free speech works like
natural selection, where memes compete and fight, and only the more beneficial memes
survive. In nations where the is no free speech, artificial selection prevents memes from spreading
and they become stagnant and weak but strongly held and believed. This is beneficial in a
dictatorship because complacency is the meme that is selected for and any non-complacent
meme carrier is killed. The current definition of blasphemy however
has changed over time, and that is now perceived to mean blatantly insulting and offensive,
mostly because a lot of christians can't deal with free speech and do not understand just
how it protects their rights to think what they want. Therefore they vilify blasphemy
as persecution. However many atheists and non-believers have no interest in educating
and instead wish to make themselves feel better than others by heckling and insulting people
who think differently than they do. Sadly this creates the stereotype of the angry and
militant atheist, further allowing them to vilify us. Jefferson said, Ridicule is the
only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before
reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is
the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. Many atheists
hinge their ridicule on this and other quotes and for people like ray comfort and kent hovid,
who are willfully ignorant and spreading lies because of it, bring on the ridicule. However
most people are reasonable and just confused about the world around them and cling to beliefs
for emotional reasons. Spreading atheism requires spreading the ability to reason instead or
how to blindly cling with emotion. Blasphemy should be used as a scalpel to accurately
attack a certain aspect of a belief as a wake up call, instead of the buckshot approach
used by a lot of atheists. If blasphemy just meant contradicting free speech, or had just
been called free speech day, I would have been all for center for inquiry participating
in the day, almost all discoveries up until the last century were made in spite of religion
and scientific dogma. Blasphemy mixed with an equal amount of humility leads to enlightenment.
Blasphemy by itself lead to blind arrogance while humility by itself leads to mindless
pacifism, or even violence if your religion tell you that killing someone is being humble
before god. Only when these two are in balance will true understanding come about.