This was originally posted on a horrible site called Myspace. When Myspace underwent a redesign in Fall 2010, hundreds of insightful reader comments that had been left over the years were lost. I have since deleted my account there.
Viewers on YouTube ask me, "Why do you feel the need to bash Christianity? Why not just let people believe what they want? If you don't believe in God, why do you talk about him so much?" I understand these questions; looking at it from the opposing perspective, making dozens of religious satire videos may seem like a strange pursuit. It's not because of some church-related trauma; actually, I was raised in a secular household and allowed to make my own choices. (I think I decided to not believe in God around age eight.) Instead, I'm trying to embolden atheists, agnostics, and "apatheists" to stand up against what I consider a cancer in the United States: the willful, collective ignorance of Evangelical Christianity, which is weakening the nation intellectually and bringing it closer to the Dark Ages, instead of forward into the future. And I'm trying to do it through comedy.
First of all, I do not "bash" a specific group of people, but rather, a set of beliefs that people may choose to have or not have. Just as I could become a born-again Christian tomorrow, so could a born-again Christian let go of their faith tomorrow. It's not the same as ridiculing someone for their race, disability, or anything else they can't change; that's an entirely false analogy. Also, I pick on Christianity because it's the religion that personally affects me the most, and it's the one I know the most about. I'll let someone else bash the other religions if they're motivated to do so.
Fully acknowledging that not all Christians believe the same things, certain beliefs are worthy of ridicule, in my opinion. These are:
1. The idea that whatever force or entity responsible for the creation and order in the universe (if there ever were one) is a conscious being that watches over us earthly humans today, and can interact with our consciousness in a way that measurably, unambiguously affects the real world. This is a huge leap supported by nothing that has ever happened in reality. Biblical accounts of miracles, or other dubiously witnessed events or personal testimonials, are not evidence of anything; we have video cameras now. Show me a video of a person praying for her shotgun-victim brother and his brain tissue spontaneously growing back, and we'll talk. Show me a form of prayer that can reliably, repeatably do anything outside of one's own mind, and we'll talk.
2. The idea that after we die, our souls persist and are judged according to what we believed when we were alive, those beliefs then determining the eternal fate of our souls. This claim is beyond baseless; it's rife with problems of logic and morality, given the large numbers of people on earth who don't subscribe to the Christian faith. This tenet of Christianity (and some other religions) has been used as an instrument of fear and coercion for millennia.
3. Most ridiculous to me is the idea that because of what the beginning of the Bible says, the scientific method must be fatally flawed -- that evolution could not have happened on earth, despite 150 years of unsuccessful attempts to discredit evolutionary theory. This topic has been dealt with in many places, including other blog posts of mine.
4. Other beliefs (shared by some Christians) worthy of ridicule include: Adam and Eve having been real people who ate a fruit that caused the fall of an otherwise perfect world; the Flood and Noah's Ark; the idea that the Bible's predictions of events that appear later in the same book are evidence of anything "miraculous" or "prophetic"; that humans have a soul that dogs and dolphins and chimpanzees absolutely do not have somehow, even in a more primitive form; and that the Creator's plan includes a final apocalyptic event, at which time all nonbelievers will be swept into a lake of fire while Christians ascend to Heaven.
If that were all, I probably wouldn't ridicule these beliefs openly. But they are part of a larger organized system that keeps millions of people in a perpetual state of intentional ignorance. The popularity of "intelligent design" is the most obvious example. It kills me that so many people -- we're talking about something like half of the United States! -- doubt that evolution ever actually occurred, just because it's a difficult concept for them to understand, even though their information on the topic may have come from their church, their home-schooling parents, and/or Christian websites, all of which have obvious and blatant biases. So, science education in public schools must then change and include religiously motivated "alternatives"? As a science enthusiast, I am appalled that this was (and still is) promoted, and seriously considered, by some. I fear for our culture's ability to advance and thrive when a great many of us lack the intellectual tools to distinguish science from magical thinking.
Whenever "God did it" becomes an answer, it's the tragic death of an intellectual pursuit. If a religious way of thinking becomes legislated and affects everyone (see: stem cell research, abortion, gay marriage), it is catastrophic.
But the willful ignorance also manifests in subtler ways. Christians believe that God has a plan for us, and that everything happens for a reason (i.e., things don't occur randomly or in a manner indifferent to humans, collectively or individually). In my opinion, this paralyzes a person's ability to navigate the world rationally and with a clear vision of reality. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through life fulfilling or not fulfilling a "cosmic plan" depending upon how righteous my own actions were. And while prayer may have some value in terms of contemplating the self and one's own life, or in some cases, self-healing, it is a colossal waste of time when it is believed prayer will affect the real, physical course of events beyond one's own mind and body. ("Please pray for the return of Baby Jennifer.") The time spent engaging in this kind of prayer costs the world an incalculable amount of productivity, every day.
There's no doubt that we can learn from Christianity; the New Testament sermons of (the character) Jesus are cornerstones of early Western thought. But "love thy neighbor" isn't what I have a problem with. It's all of that other stuff that doesn't quite work in a post-Enlightenment era of reason and discovery. If all Christians chose to practice in solemn privacy, and their faith impacted no one outside their personal sphere of inner influence, I'm sure I never would have made these videos. But that's not how it is.
I also probably wouldn't make videos if they weren't being watched. But they are, and as someone who's been trying to attract creative recognition for decades, I find this highly motivating. So, although my inspiration comes from a deeper place, the primary reason why I create videos is to make people laugh -- not at other people per se, but at beliefs that I would very much like to see disappear. As of this writing there are 8,684 YouTube subscribers who want me to continue. Can you blame me for trying to help make the future a little brighter, while getting people to laugh along the way?
I touch on some of the above concepts in my satire videos. Some links:
People should believe whatever they want:
"People's Religion Should Be Respected!"
Prayer is a reliable and effective way to affect the external world:
"Who I'm Praying For Today"
"Proving The Power Of Prayer"
Our soul is judged after we die:
"An Atheist Meets God"
"The Lord Will Not Be Mocked!"
Evolution could not have happened:
"People Are Not Animals!"
"Science Is Wrong ... Only God Knows The Truth"
I.D. is a legitimate alternative to evolution:
"Intelligent Design Really Is Being Expelled!"
God has a plan for us:
"God Knows Absolutely Everything"