ReligionScience

YouTubin’

Last week, I wrote about the Rational Response Squad’s Blasphemy Challenge, a call for nonbelievers to upload videos of themselves denying the existance of the Holy Spirit on YouTube. (Reader Thad posted his response here. If you’ve also done a video, please post it in the comments below!) I’ve been toying with the idea of filming a YouTube video just as an experiment in e-marketing, so I figured this was a great opportunity. I stayed home from work yesterday to finish recovering from my sniffles, so I whipped out the digital camera and began the blasphemy. You can see the result here. Give me a high rating to combat all the angry fundies who are giving me 0 stars!

I find it really interesting that some people are complaining that this campaign is somehow insulting. For starters, declaring that I do not believe your god is not something I do for you, it is something I do for me. As a secondary effect, by uploading it to YouTube it also becomes something I do for atheists who feel alone in a world of theists.

Of course, the content of many of the videos includes more than simply a declaration of nonbelief — they also include the reasons for that nonbelief, or mocking of religion, or other tidbits of, well, preachiness. Is this unfair, or insulting? I don’t think so, and here’s why: the Christian religion is based in part on the idea that anyone who does not adhere to that religion will burn in Hell for an eternity. The rest of the world is expected to be tolerant of this belief, to accept it as a quaint and personal notion, and not as an insult to our own philosophy of life and death. I am prepared to do that, but in return I expect the same leeway by being allowed to state that such an idea is silly without being accused of hostility or intolerance. We are using words to convey our feelings — not our fists, not our guns, not our bombs. That’s more than we can say for many religious folks.

Shortly after uploading my video, I received this message from “ChallengeBlasphemy” (sensitive readers, turn away!):

ChallengeBlasphemy wrote:

> would you deny a black dick up your ass?

At this point I’d like to edit my statement. We are using words to convey our feelings — not our fists, not our guns, not our bombs, and not threats of sexual violence. That’s more than we can say for many religious folks.

PZ has a great post on the Blasphemy Challenge in which he quotes Richard Dawkins, who received a letter from William Dembski criticizing the campaign (which Dawkins had nothing to do with):

I had not given the Blasphemy Challenge any thought until you called it to my attention. Now that you have done so, I do not seem to feel strongly one way or the other. As that admirable bumper sticker has it, Blasphemy is a Victimless Crime. So, am I going to send in my own film clip denying the Holy Ghost? No, that is not what Oxford professors do, they write books instead. Do I find it offensive that so many young people are sending in their film clips? No. I hadn’t listened to any of them before you raised the matter. I have now done so, and I must say I find them more charming than offensive. They mostly seem rather nice young people, and they are doing their bit, in their own lively and entertaining way, to raise consciousness and set an example to their peers. I am especially pleased to note how young they are, for organized atheists have, until recently, been noticeably and discouragingly grey-headed. I think we may be witnessing the beginnings of a shift in the tectonic plates of our Zeitgeist. I am delighted to see so many young Americans taking part, in a way that suits their age group better than mine or yours.

Beautiful.

Speaking of PZ, as many of you surely noticed, he just barely beat out our beloved Bad Astronomer in the 2006 WebLog Awards, meaning that he was under no obligation to pose in the upcoming 2008 Skepdude calendar. However, the guy has guts (just no spinal cord): he’s agreed to pose anyway, much to the delight/horror of skeptics everywhere! I’m super excited, and I’m already dreaming up all the different ways to make good use of a squid. You’re not so bad after all, PZ.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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71 Comments

  1. Great video! I did mine few days ago. It's a very good idea. I've talked about it in some mailing list and newsgroups but they are all italian, so maybe it's time to do it in other languages too.

    I'm working on it.

  2. Hmm. Not to contradict someone as, err, devout as ChallengeBlasphemy, but isn't sodomy another Xtian taboo? Or is that only when it involves two dudes? If I'm not mistaken, soon-to-be former Sen. Santorum had a few words about that…

  3. I'm can't speak for everyone else, but I think the posting of this video is just going to cause another deluge of marrige proposals for Rebecca. I am, at this very moment, resisting the urge to send in some question to The Skeptics Guide just to include one.

    We'll see how long I hold out.

  4. I think it was a comment on this blog a few weeks ago that sounded a chord with me. Talking about the "ultra-darwinist, arch-athiest Richard Dawkins" and someone pointed out that if that was the most awful athiest people could find then atheism is in pretty healthy shape.

    And oh how the marraige proposals will continue to flood in. I wonder how long until the new bloggers here get their fan-mail-wedding-offers. Or Evan on the podcast, he's so nice he *must* get a few each week.

  5. For some reason, YouTube wants me to punch it in the face, because it keeps screwing with my comment there, so I'll make it here instead:

    Hehe, very nice! I didn't plan on making one, but if I did, I would be claiming you ripped me off, I too was going to deny a bunch of other goofy things as well(though Allah, Krishna, and Zeus were high on the list). And 20 bonus points for the related links after the video, which mostly consisted of Metalocalypse clips. BRUTAL!

  6. Just posted my own blasphemy challenge as a Video Response to Rebecca's, which means she has to approve it before it goes up. D'oh.

    But it basically just consists of edited together personal photos and images taken from Wiki, since I don't have a camera capable of doing both video and sound here. I'll post a direct link once it's squared away.

    Somehow, though, I doubt I'll get any marriage proposals. Oh well.

  7. I work sooooooooo much better,if you untie my hands Rebbecca

    Your blasphemy is uncommitted if you don't

    practice what you preach.Do you work during Christmas,

    and refuse present to demonstrate your faith,in your

    beliefs?

    If not your a hypocrite like all others,who plug

    and play with God!

    If your so abused and irritated with our society's 80%Judea

    Christan Idealism,why don't you just move to Iraq,Iran or Europe,

    where I'm sure your opinion(s)would be welcomed by loving arms

    Merry Christmas M.Dmon

  8. Oh my gawd. He's back and still as non-sensical as ever.

    Suddenly A-theist (without religion) means that you must be the opposite of religion. That you have to allow the other side to define you.

    And yes, Rebecca is hot….. errr hawt. (hmm…. i've seemed to have used the "aw" sound in place of "o" twice in one post…. its a christmass miracle)

  9. Mikal Dmon:

    1)How do you know that none of us DO live in Europe, the Middle East, or anywhere OTHER than the US? It's not like those places don't have teh intrawebs.

    2)Rebecca might be more likely to untie you if you change the manner in which you post. Or spell her name properly.

    3)We do practice what we preach. We don't preach anything religious, and therefore do not PRACTICE anything religious.

    4)Ha! Like the side of the Christmas holiday that has to do with giving and getting presents has ANYTHING to do with faith or beliefs!

    5)Merry Christmas to you, as well! To us it's just a day on the calendar. I don't believe that the myth of Groundhog's Day is true, but it doesn't stop me from 'celebrating' it or calling it by its name. Cheers!

  10. "And yes, Rebecca is hot"

    Now I know this is a crack society,but can we at least

    have one conversation without alluding to some form of lust

    I don't need you adding words for me miller,

    my critical thinking is Hot ,fair and balanced..

    but I'll never get credit here

    Take care M.Dmon

    PS Yes opposites does meant live on your own pole

  11. Damn, somehow a whole post in response to Mikal Dmon disappeared when I tried to submit it, presumably having been eaten up by the Spirit of the Interweb. As I don't feel like re-typing it all, I'll just pretend I owned him again. Would it be so hard to believe? :-P

  12. Well, I posted my response too, here:

    – my first, quite unsuccessful video (the sound and pic don't match, what a discrace to my nerdiness. oh well).

    In any case, Rebecca, you don't sound like you do in the Skeptic's Universe podcast, but you do look like your avatar (with some skin on, granted). I did expect something a bit more sassy from you, but oh well, blasphemy is blasphemy no matter how you do it ;)

    It was a great blasphemous response nonetheless. Note that you got high ratings after your request – skeptics everywhere support the cause against ignorants who post idiotic comments. I wonder if these that answered even read their beloved bible. Bah, who cares.

    We'll all meet in hell, have a nice barbecue and roast some steaks. Yay.

    Happy Pagan Holidays!

    ~missmoo

  13. "Oh my gawd. He’s back and still as non-sensical as ever."

    "He" has a name Miller,1)I never left here 2)Why are you starting

    crap I followed a simple pattern and came to a logical conclusion.

    Perhaps your math is backward because my post was crystal clear..

    Yet regardless my logic,I don't see your name enter in my question..

    and running your mouth doesn't constitute critical thinking

  14. Expatria: FYI, typing his name trips the modbot.

    Also, I got an email saying someone did a video response, but when I went to that menu item there was nothing there to approve. Not really sure what happened there.

    Thanks so much to all of you pushing the ratings up. The video stats are currently:

    #39 – Most Viewed (Today) – Science & Technology – All

    #36 – Most Viewed (Today) – Science & Technology – English

    #78 – Top Rated (Today) – All

    #1 – Top Rated (Today) – Science & Technology – All

    #1 – Top Rated (Today) – Science & Technology – English

    #21 – Most Discussed (Today) – Science & Technology – All

    #21 – Most Discussed (Today) – Science & Technology – English

    #3 – Top Favorites (Today) – Science & Technology – All

    #2 – Top Favorites (Today) – Science & Technology – English

    #19 – Most Linked (Today) – Science & Technology – All

    #82 – Most Linked (This Week) – Science & Technology – All

    Which is kind of cool. It appears to be today's highest rating blasphemy response, which is thanks to all of you.

    missmoo, thanks for the kind words. I'll try to be snarkier on my next video attempt! Also, I just watched your video, GREAT JOB!

  15. Rebecca:

    Thanks for the tip about the bot. As a certain skeptical deceased late-night host used to say, "I did not know that. That is weird wild stuff!"

    That email about a video response was PROBABLY for mine. YouTube seems to pretty much hate me. I've never gotten a comment to post on a friend's video because YouTube directs me through an endless loop of 'Your Email Address is not confirmed!' regardless of how often I confirm it. So it could be related to that. I'll try posting it on its own or something…

    slashnull:

    Thanks! :) I'm sure no REASONABLE person would have a come back, but who ever said we were dealing with a reasonable person?

  16. Is that what you call owned Expatria

    Your living in fantasies

    "It doesn't matter what her name is!"

    However I see no purpose entertaining you

    drunk on hater-aide.

    And twisting my words to make a point to find

    a reason to talk to me isn't amusing either.again

    my point is clear.

  17. Ad hominem? What a surprise!

    Well, let's try a little tu quoque/ ad hominem hybrid:

    I would say that I am positive you aren't this bold OR obtuse in person, but quite frankly I'm not so sure about the latter count.

    With that, I'm out as far as He whose name gets me mod-botted is concerned. I won't waste any further comment space on him on this post!

  18. In the UK 'bold' means brave and noble (and is also a washing machine powder). In Ireland 'bold' means naughty and is most often used in reference to children. In html people use strong tags instead of bold. I have no idea what 'bold' means in crazy-land but I'm sure Expatria is brave, noble, naughty and not italic.

    (Bonus points for me, I used an Ad Hominem attack!)

  19. "on him on this post"

    You prove my point exactly like a I'm a master clairvoyant

    This or any other post shouldn't be about me.But since it always is

    could be why you get booted

    Maybe Something You all should think about

    when you post on the topic

  20. I'll go through this with you peice by peice, then I will listen to you whine again as you do constantly.

    You Wrote: “And yes, Rebecca is hot”

    Now I know this is a crack society,but can we at least

    have one conversation without alluding to some form of lust

    No. I like women. I'm sorry but I do. I like them in nude calanders and talking about anti-religious, anti-woo-woo and anti-quack topics. You don't like this? Fine. IGNORE IT.

    You Wrote: I don’t need you adding words for me miller,

    my critical thinking is Hot ,fair and balanced..

    but I’ll never get credit here

    UMMMMMM what? What words did I add? Oh I know! None!

    You Wrote: PS Yes opposites does meant live on your own pole

    Uhhhh…. again. What the crap are you trying to say? Clarify.

    You Wrote: “Oh my gawd. He’s back and still as non-sensical as ever.”

    “He” has a name Miller.

    I don't care, I adressed you as He, I have no reason to use your name. I was not talking to you just making a general statement about how utterly nutty you are. Though unlike yourself, I am not angry that you respond. You however, are sad and teary eyed whenever Rebecca does not talk to you. I personaly find that very creepy.

    You Wrote: 1)I never left here 2)Why are you starting

    crap I followed a simple pattern and came to a logical conclusion.

    Perhaps your math is backward because my post was crystal clear..

    Yet regardless my logic,I don’t see your name enter in my question..

    Again, here you are being creepy.

    But I will also show you AGAIN where your "logic" is nuty. You assume that A-THIEST mean that we are the opposite of religion, and must blaspheme constantly in order to prove that to you.

    You Wrote: If not your a hypocrite like all others,who plug

    and play with God!

    YOU ARE WRONG! WRONGGITY WRONG WRONG.

    You Wrote: and running your mouth doesn’t constitute critical thinking

    HAHAHAHAHHAAAA! Please point out where I have lapsed in critical thinking.

    Have fun writing back. Or not.

  21. Of course you don't give a damn Mikal. You're the type of guy who sits in a room honestly trying to recieve images in your mind from a man in another room. It's nutty. You are a nutty man. Yes it's personal but hey, with you I think we're good enough buddies to take those personal jabs. Feel free to make funny of me for my deep founded beleif in the scientific process.

  22. LOL you're funny(did I use it right)

    "You don’t like this? Fine. IGNORE IT."

    It's hard to ignore when it's constant conversation

    I like women as well, however our test simply varies.

    "Suddenly A-theist (without religion) means that you must

    be the opposite of religion. That you have to allow the other

    side to define you."

    1)You assume I wont to talk with you

    2)Actually that's not correct at all I conclude that the

    practice of no religion is a religion within itself,if it is

    what you believe

    but get it right! I don't wont talk to you

    so although you assume my post means your rebeccs' an opposite

    of religion,I would say that's incorrect misuse of my mouth Miller

    Religion is based on belief

    I could go on my friend,but It will only reveal I "own you"

    besides you're just running your mouth.

    Take care M.Dmon

  23. What? I know english must not be your first language…. HOWEVER.

    "I don't wont talk to you"

    "so although you assume my post means your rebeccs’ an opposite

    of religion,I would say that’s incorrect misuse of my mouth Miller

    Religion is based on belief"

    I can't respond to comments that are written with a U-boat Enigma Machine. Just for the sake of understanding please review your comments… Can I offer the suggestion of using Microsoft Word to write your posts? It has a grammer function to help.

    I realy am not being mean on this one, you need help with your English.

  24. Finally! Just got my video up at YouTube…seemed to take forever.

    It looks a little different there than it did on my PC as far as stretching out images or the amount of black space around them, but no matter.

    Watch away! Hope you all enjoy it :)

  25. "Actually that’s not correct at all I conclude that the

    practice of no religion is a religion within itself,if it is

    what you believe"

    Religion attempts to awnser the greater questions that people may have. It adresses supernatural causes for the origin and purports a moral standard. None of these are adressed in being an athiest. Your premise is wrong. You either do not understand religion or don't under stand athiesm. (WHICH AGAIN MEANS WITHOUT RELIGION) It has no set standard of worship.

    The only reason you may think athiesm is a religion is because from time to time athiests band together in order to defend their rights from a religion.

    Under your reasoning then, there is no way to not have a religion, which is…. stupid? I'll go with stupid.

  26. Ok, it's not just me right?

    He is both creepy and a jerk right?

    (look mikal I was honestly trying to help there and you return it with utter bile. We are done here now, you actualy sunk below, and disgusted me, and im a bottom feeding asshole who enjoys argument. I congratulate you.)

  27. Religion attempts to answer the greater questions that people may have.

    God you're so freaking stupid(you said it first) it really annoyers me!

    "Religion attempts to answer the greater questions that

    people may have"

    If people decide the grater questions to choice what the

    religion or belief the choice not to believe in anything,is also

    a belief or a religion that has no grater questions

    2nd grade stuff here

    You babble I'm done with you goodbye

  28. Good youtube Expatria, you are indeed bold!

    And NR, you are not alone, I really just can't parse a lot of the unmentionable's posts. It's somewhat difficult to have a good discourse when you simply can't understand what someone is trying to say. Ah well. Maybe we should all reflect on the image of a naked PZ with his particulars hidden by a squid's dangly bits. Or maybe we shouldn't.

  29. So now that your dogs have stop barking rebecca,

    I was wondering if you had any thoughts, on the

    questions I asked you?

    I can better respect your confession,if you honor daily your

    words;offer to work during religious holidays to demonstrate

    your commitment in your belief

    The tradition of exchanging gifts,started when three

    wise-men delivered to Christ presents at his arrival.

    Do you now intend to refuse any gifts on Christmas

    (Like Christians do on Halloween)as show of your faith,

    to denounce any Holiday Spirit?

    Or did you really just wont to say:Look at me,

    I made a video

    Forgive me If I sound like a jerk(don't mean to),but

    I've seen allot of hypocrisies floating around in cyberspace,

    and you didn't sound very convincing either.

    Practice what you preach my lady

    It's easy to say the words,harder to live by them

    Merry Christmas M.Dmon

  30. The best description I have heard of the current Christian claim that things like this are attacks on Christianity came from one of the hosts of The Atheist Experience pod cast, he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "If someone is hitting you over the head with a whiffle bat, and you stop them, YOU'RE NOT ATTACKING THEM."

  31. Mikal, don't worry, you don't sound like a jerk. You sound like an idiot, which is why I haven't bothered responding to you. I could point out that relaxing at home with my family on Christmas Day is not in the least bit hypocritical; I could suggest you invest in a dictionary; I could hint that hypocrisy would be worshiping Jesus Christ on Christmas when I'm an atheist the rest of the year; or I could point out that Christmas traditions have as much to do with ancient pagan myths and Coca-cola as they do with Jesus. But all these things would be lost on you, and I have no need or desire to spend any more of my time on you. You're just not that important to me, which is why this will most likely be the only response from me you'll ever get. Sorry.

  32. I ask an honest questions,but you resort to name calling

    as replies,very mature Rebeca.

    Of course you can remove elements form Christmas,

    but you still can't take Christ out of Christmas,can you?

    whether you add a tree or not,we are still celebrating

    the birth of Christ,which the majority of our society embraces..

    get mad if you wont to,but don't hate me cause I'm beautiful!

    Christ has as much to do with Christmas as he does

    with the New Testament.Relaxing home on Monday is not Christmas,

    and you know the difference.If you had faith in your beliefs rebecca,

    you would easily/willing accept denouncing it entirely.

    by the abrasive ways you answer, I assume you don't

    stand by your words…

    But more importantly,If your the moderator,who will police the police?

    How can you expect others to behave civilized,when your calling your

    critical thinkers/guest idiots.Who's to say that your not inappropriate?

    That's what I annoys me about Atheist the most,you pick and chose

    what ever morals or ethics seems good to you,but devoted

    spiritualist seeks a higher enlightenment.That doesn't involve

    your genus

    Take care M.Dmon

  33. Hello Galphanore

    I don't see these things attacks on Christianity

    Because anyone will say anything especially on camera.

    In my opinion Atheist are lazy people who wont apply decent

    values and teachings.But are yet entitled to have a beliefs,

    here in America

    Where people bleed and die for "One Nation Under God"

    Some say "I'm an idiot"but,Telling people you don't believe in

    god is not wrong, (you may quote me)bitchin that others

    shouldn't value their beliefs because others don't,

    To me is just plain stupid

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

  34. Why is it that someone will always pop up with the quote that "atheism is a religion, just like christianity"?

    With religion being "the belief in a deity" as a simple definition, how is not believing in a deity a belief? The very expression "not believing" already says that it's without belief.

    It shows a deep-seated habit of assuming everyone else is a believer just like you if you're incapable of understanding how anyone could not believe in god.

    It's not that I believe there is no god. It's that I don't even think about it. I've heard about god, mostly because the fundies remind me about it endlessly, but I just ignore it. Just like I ignore the crazies who tell me there's pixies in their garden, or aliens under their bed. Not giving it a second thought is not the same as believing the opposite to be true.

    Apparently, many religious people seem unable to grasp that difference. That lack of importance.

  35. I have to take issue with one part of your video, Rebecca. In it, you denied the existence of homeopathy, which is totally wrong. Homeopathy certainly does exist! It doesn't work, but it exists.

    What you might have said instead is that you deny the Homeopathic Law of Similars or something like that.

    Best Regards,

    Your Friendly Neighbourhood Pedant

  36. Good morning everyone

    "Why is it that someone will always pop up

    with the quote that “atheism is a religion, just like christianity”?"

    "With religion being “the belief in a deity as a simple definition,

    how is not believing in a deity a belief?”

    Honest questions without the use of body slams

    interest me exxtrach,please allow me to explain..

    (and thank you)

    Everyone can choose their own religions,beliefs and practice,

    however(as you know)there are thousands to chose from,that

    follow many separate doctrines/rules/commandment…

    There are also pantheismscientology,unitarians who view everything

    is all-encompassing.The universe, or nature,and God are equivalent..

    This would mean my friend,not everyone sees God the same,or even consider God at all..

    To me I've learned to religions is not based on the God you proclaim,

    but by the God you serve.Call me "an idiot" (moderator does)but I believe it's not the words you say (on/off film) but the doctrines you follow that reveals your path of enlightenment.

    We can abuse words,but often we remain true to our

    soles and with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

    Take care M.Dmon

  37. We are infants in our science and evolution. Amazing times are ahead of us. Some people have seen things. I have no way to prove what I can hardly understand myslef, but there is a human spirit. There is an existance after this life. It is not the corrupted version put out by humans(religion) in order to control other humans. There are others thousands of years ahead in evolution and tech. advancements. Believe me I know I sound like a cooky wacko, but thats fine. I know the truth that I know and that truly is all that matters. Sometimes science needs a leap of faith as our friends working with the future of science tell us (quantum physics). It does not make things false when people know or have experienced things that current science cannot explain. Some very smart scientifly minded people are going to look as silly as the world is flat people hundreds of years ago, but thats ok.

  38. I do undersand sometimes the anger that is expressed at the notion of the holy spirit and religion and god when you consider all the death and destruction that has come out of it. The problem though is that in doing this we put blaim on our actions onto something that is indeed a creation of man. Religions are based on beliefs. The religion itself is man made. We then take these differences and use them as excuses to kill and destroy each other. Blaming religion instead of man will never fix the problems of man.

  39. Taking a leap of faith is the one thing science can absolutely positively never do. It goes against everything science is all about.

    It would be like grading a students exam before they've even written anything down. It just doesn't work that way. It simply can't work that way, or all the work some of the smartest people to ever walk this planet have done over the course of centuries, millenia even, is all flushed down the drain in one fell swoop.

  40. shedmyskin,

    I'm curious how you 'know' the things you claim to know. I agree with your premise that we need to keep an open mind, but only to an extend. There is, after all, the well-known dictum that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.' We cannot dismiss anything people may say or suggest out of hand; we can only ask for some kind of proof, a testable hypothesis, or some way of being sure that a particular claim is the most likely and parsimonious reason for whatever phenomena are taking place.

    I doubt very much that most quantum physicists would consider what they do a 'leap of faith.' After all, the only reason that quantum mechanics is a viable discipline is that its theories and inferences, based on observations, obtain predictable results in the laboratory. If it were just based on 'testimony' or some sort of outside 'truth,' quantum physics would be discarded. And, as always, our not knowing EVERYTHING about the world in no way means that any SPECIFIC thing is particularly likely to be the answer. We may not know much about anything 'after death,' other than what we can observe. But that does not mean that, due to our inability to find out more, an 'afterlife' is the only answer that will ever fit.

    I'm likely wasting my breath, which is fine I suppose, but we skeptics are not just mean debunking types. We would love for something weird, paranormal, or whatever to exist, in general. We just can't accept those things without better proof than what we've been given to this point.

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