Just kidding, this article is about blasphemy. Oh wait, I wasn’t kidding after all! Onward….
Ideas. Think about that word for a minute. Contemplate what an idea really is. Ideas aren’t things. Ideas aren’t objects. Ideas are not things you can physically use. Ideas are abstract functions of brains, and that’s it. All an idea amounts to is synapses firing in the brain in a particular pattern. Ideas don’t physically exist.
You can’t see ideas, you can’t check out someone else’s ideas, and you damned sure can’t restrict ideas. There isn’t a security system in the world that can keep a “contraband” idea out of someplace. All you have to do is just think one up.
So although ideas are completely non-tangible and incapable of any physical function, they also happen to be the very thing that informs our actions. We don’t consciously do anything without first having an idea.
So we have to have ideas, otherwise we don’t do “human stuff” like converse, plan, dream, strategize, and enjoy life. And like everything that we need to sustain life, there is a downside. The downside is stupid ideas.
You wouldn’t think stupid ideas would gain much traction. If someone proposes a stupid idea, they are usually confronted with lots of other people with not stupid ideas. The stupid idea person then sheepishly admits it was a stupid idea and everyone else moves on.
This procedure has become more formalized, more equitable, and provides more opportunity to test an idea against peers in a process we call “science.” People with good ideas get their ideas checked and confirmed. People with stupid ideas have their ideas checked and rejected. Sheepish admission of having a stupid idea isn’t even required.
The cool thing about this process is even stupid sounding ideas, if they are checked and found valid, become good ideas. Can you imagine being the first person to propose “black holes?” Lol! Laughable! Only….. well, turns out there are black holes.
See, what we think are stupid ideas can become good ideas by good, scientific processes. Stupid ideas remain stupid ideas by failing this process. But sometimes stupid ideas persist. How is this, you ask? Quite simply, they avoid either the formal or informal process of checking.
Informally, a stupid idea can persist if enough people think that it sounds plausible. Without a formal system to check our everyday ideas, this is a common vehicle for stupid ideas to linger on, and even gain momentum. When groups of people have the same stupid idea, good ideas seem like the outcast. But a stupid idea can only last so long before it faces a challenge. So proponents of stupid ideas must rely on another mechanism to protect the stupidity: Censorship.
With censorship eliminating the challenges to stupid ideas, they thrive. And of course, religious ideas censor good ideas under the censorship method known as blasphemy. Blasphemy is the “security gate” that keeps good ideas out, unable to provide a defense of itself.
Blasphemy is the set of informal or formal rules that protect stupid ideas from challenge. These stupid ideas can not survive an onslaught of good ideas. But by propagating the stupid idea of blasphemy along side the main stupid idea of religion, this mass of stupid ideas remains unchallenged in normal discourse. The stupid idea people never have to answer the challenges to their stupid idea.
Obviously, there are a such thing as formal blasphemy laws. A few lingering blasphemy laws are on the books in various states, but the last person to actually be jailed for blasphemy in the US was way back in 1838. Informally, however, blasphemy is still very much protected.
Challenging religion, more than any other idea, is considered rude. Socially unacceptable. Invasive. When someone says “that’s my faith”, it’s meant to be the end of the conversation. The end to intellectually challenging the stupid idea. Challenging this stupid idea is seen as an attack on the person, even if it is made clear that this isn’t the case. People get deeply offended by challenging their stupid idea, and other people allow them to be offended.
By merely asking questions to explore a single stupid idea, the questioner becomes an attacker. Attacking them with nothing physical. With nothing tangible. With nothing that can cause harm. Yet society accepts the anger as if they were being attacked with physical means of harm. This is ridiculous. It’s a stupid idea.
Spreading atheism isn’t about spreading an idea. Hell, atheism doesn’t have any ideas. Spreading atheism is spreading good inquiry into ideas that seem stupid. Atheism is making people with ideas show that they’re good ideas, or expose them as stupid ideas. Atheism is putting religious ideas on the same playing field as any other idea. There’s hundreds of religions out there. Most of them have to be wrong. Blasphemy keeps those stupid ideas around. Atheism makes stupid ideas accountable.
That’s why Atheism is correct.
The Spartan Atheist