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International Blasphemy Day

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The SkepDec
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2009, 16:42:45 PM »

Blasphemy day was a blast!

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cyghost
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« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2009, 22:53:05 PM »

Hmm, my most recent message in this thread has disappeared. Huh?

'Luthon64
If it is not too much trouble and you have the time and inclination, I'd be glad if you could re-up you input on this.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2009, 08:26:41 AM »

If memory serves, she argued in response to Tweefo's post that blasphemy may be an excessively harsh means of getting contra-religious ideas across. She said that merely considering the methods of science should be a mild but powerful persuasive tool (a velvet hammer, so to speak). Yet its surprisingly ineffective in making any impression on many theists. Therein lies the value of token days like I.B.D.

(But I prolly cocked it up, so I'll remove this post if 'Luthon re-posts).

Mintaka
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Slowpoke
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« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2009, 08:41:41 AM »

Does the word "blasphemy" not imply the existence of a supreme being? As such a thing does not exist, I can not blaspheme even if I tried.

I shall reserve my scorn for the deluded people who do have "faith." I shall not moderate my language in "respect" for their beliefs as I refuse to respect ignorance and, very often, naked malice.

Let's start a list of people and faiths/cultures we refuse to respect. The first one could be:

I shall not respect people and cultures who circumsise litte girls.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2009, 09:09:02 AM »

Does the word "blasphemy" not imply the existence of a supreme being? As such a thing does not exist, I can not blaspheme even if I tried.

The Oxford Concise defines blasphemy as profane or sacrilegious talk about God or sacred things.

So, as long as something (real or make-believe) is considered sacred by one or more individuals, it can potentially be blasphemed. Wink It seems that blasphemy has the effect of causing offence in those who feel duty-bound to defend and revere the sacred item being blasphemed. People take offence on behalf of the sacred item. Nice.

Of course, the implications of your blasphemy will obviously depend on wether God exists or not. Shocked  Grin

Let's start a list of people and faiths/cultures we refuse to respect. The first one could be:

I don't have much sympathy with those who willingly fool themselves into accommodating unsupported notions. Damn - that's a lot of people!

Mintaka
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Slowpoke
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« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2009, 09:52:45 AM »

I see what you mean, Mintaka. Ah ... the implications!

Unfortunately I do not have many reference materials at home, so I resorted to Wikipedia. Apparently "(b)lasphemy is the use of reference to one or more gods in a manner considered objectionable by a religious authority. It may include using sacred names as stress expletives without intention to pray or speak of sacred matters ..."

Saying "Jesus" is blasphemy (as there are christians around who may take offence), but saying "Wotan" is not as all his followers have died? Hilarious! I will promptly take offence if somebody "blasphemes" Christopher Hitchens as I have just decided to afford him "sacred" status.
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Peter Grant
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« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2009, 11:19:59 AM »

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Mefiante
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« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2009, 11:34:42 AM »

… I shall from now on call him/it a #$%@& piece of #$%@$ but not here because somebody might take offence - at the swearing.
Well, that’s your choice, of course, but my argument was rather more that a “Blasphemy Day” has some intrinsic consciousness-raising value, independent of any blasphemy that may be committed on that day – see below.



If memory serves, she argued in response to Tweefo's post that blasphemy may be an excessively harsh means of getting contra-religious ideas across. She said that merely considering the methods of science should be a mild but powerful persuasive tool (a velvet hammer, so to speak). Yet its surprisingly ineffective in making any impression on many theists. Therein lies the value of token days like I.B.D.
No need to remove your post.  It’s a perfectly decent summary of what I put forward – see below.



If it is not too much trouble and you have the time and inclination, I'd be glad if you could re-up you input on this.
Fortunately, I had saved a draft copy, but there were a few minor changes which I have reconstructed to the best of my ailing recollection Roll Eyes, so here goes:

What approach could possibly be “softer” than that taken by science in the last 150 or so years?  Science said – and continues to say – “Here is what impartial assessments of the facts strongly suggest, unencumbered by any preconceived mystical notions.  But you need not take my word for it because you can in fact verify it for yourself.  By all means, please have a good look.”  And the invitation was and is rudely rebuffed on no good grounds other than it is contrary to pre-existent schema.

Two central problems in this issue are that (a) people simply do not, as a general rule, allow themselves to be convinced by reason and evidence in cases where belief is driven principally by emotion; instead, urgent necessity of some kind is usually the turning point because they have been indoctrinated from the earliest age and have thus vested much of their mental, social and emotional lives in these beliefs, and (b) in the particular case of religion, there is a pervasive expectation that its dogmas and doctrines be exempted from more usual rules of evidence and proof, and any suggestion to the contrary is automatically viewed as innately hostile.

It is high time that it be made abundantly clear that religious beliefs deserve no special evidentiary considerations, that they be held up to the same rigours and standards as most other things people believe.  If anything, atheists have bent over too far backwards in accommodating the impostures and expectations of more vocal fringe and fundamentalist believers.  Equally, approachable and reasonable believers have hardly voiced any criticism of their more radical kindred, providing them with tacit approval-by-silence.  In the end, this cannot in any conceivable way be a gentle message, given the situation’s background.  To the religious believer, it is a deeply unsettling message that their beliefs require evidence (the real kind, not what they consider as “evidence”), and that they give shelter to more way-out variants, but once it has been spread sufficiently, people will, out of necessity, become more circumspect about their religious pronouncements. 

Then there is the more subtle question as to where one should draw the line between what constitutes “acceptable unreasonableness” and “unacceptable unreasonableness.”  Just as important is the question of who decides this and by what criteria.  Should we not, as sceptics, strive to root out unreason wherever it occurs?  Again, a sudden, life-changing encounter may be just the impetus that is needed to get people to reflect on some of their most basic tenets, and in this sense setting aside one of 365 days as an “International Blasphemy Day” has value by mere virtue of it being so named, even if not one person actually blasphemes on that  day.  After all, what is one small faction of vocal atheists compared to near enough 40,000 flavours of Christianity, or several thousand mainstream flavours of religion?

So I ask again:  What approach could possibly be “softer” than that taken by science in the last 150 or so years?

'Luthon64
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cyghost
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« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2009, 13:00:28 PM »

Thank you everyone.  Smiley
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