I recently came across this article in Newsweek (January 8, 2007, Jerry Adler) – here’s an excerpt,
‘Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too.’
With that five-second submission to YouTube, a 24-year-old who uses the name “menotsimple” has either condemned herself to an eternity of punishment in the afterlife or struck a courageous blow against superstition. She’s one of more than 400 mostly young people who have joined a campaign by the Web site BlasphemyChallenge.com to stake their souls against the existence of God. That, of course, is the ultimate no-win wager, as the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal calculated?it can’t be settled until you’re dead, and if you lose, you go to hell.
I went and visited the site and discovered that the “blasphemy challenge” offers an incentive for those who would do what Lindy did. Guess what the incentive is? People who take up the challenge and follow the instructions (which include the requirement to explicitly say, “I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit” in their video) will receive a free copy of “The God Who Wasn’t There”.
Here’s what I don’t understand. First, there are actually people willing to risk an eternity in hell for a video that basically promotes there is no God and mocks Christianity? C’mon there’s gotta be a bigger payoff than that! But then I get thinking of the Lindy’s and the Michael Lawson’s who are meeting the challenge for their free video. What has happened in their lives to give them such a bad taste for God and such a willingness to rush into the opportunity to “blaspheme”?
Second, this viral vitriol against Christianity and God is getting ridiculous (getting? it’s beyond that)! Does belief in Jesus Christ really pose that much of a threat to those who choose not to believe? Ah, but perhaps it does…perhaps its the fear that one’s “freedom” might be infringed or trodded upon if this religious monstrosity is allowed to flourish. Forget the fact that most significant historic accomplishments were done by believers, forget the fact that almost every school of higher learning was founded by believers, forget the fact that nearly every major hospital, orphanage, or some sort of social care organization was begun by believers. Oh but faith must be stopped because our “freedoms” and “intelligence” and “progress” will suffer… hogwash!
Jesus spoke of himself when he said,
…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36, NIV)
Freedom from what? Freedom from sin, from slavery to sin – that propensity to place self above everything else (even God) and constant dissatisfaction in life. What the proponents of blasphemychallenge.com don’t seem to realize is that the very subject of good vs. evil predicates some universal absolute standard of measure from which conscience is formed. The very presence of our present day imperfect (because of sin) civil law and order, government, and “justice” finds it’s roots in the perfect justice and order of God.
Now am I saying the unbeliever is incapable of good, or is incapable of placing others before themselves? No. The corollary is also true – Christians and believers aren’t perfect either and sadly we too do things contrary to the teaching of the one we follow. However – the very fact that the good is recognized in the non-believer and the bad is recognized in the believer is significant in any discussion on the existence of God. Truly, if God really didn’t exist then why are atheists so concerned? Why the battle? Does it really matter then if there is good or evil? If the Christian is hypocritical or the non-believer a saint?
And finally, the question that keeps my head shaking through the whole thought process is the question I’d ask those posting their “blasphemy” on YouTube. “What if you are wrong?” Let’s reverse things for a moment. I’m a Christian. I believe that I have been saved from death (hell) and saved to life (here and later in heaven) by my faith in the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the grave – a work that dealt with my sin (which separated me from God). I believe that Christ now works in and through my life and He has a unique purpose for me in this world. My life is richer because of my faith in Him. My love is fuller because of Him. My joy is more complete because of my faith in Him. My hope is more sure because of my faith in Him. With that said, if you were to ask me, “What if you are wrong?” My reply would be simply, “then I haven’t lost anything…” Can the “YouTube blasphemers” say that with the same degree of certainty?
For your interest I have a blog against the blasphemy challenge here.
Thanks for sharing your blog address here Frank. I visited your site – it’s good seeing that there is someone doing something proactive to address the blasphemy challenge. I especially appreciated all the various links you provide to other sources for study. Great work! Keep it up!
I think you’re missing the point; it’s not blasphemy if you don’t believe. It’s no different than you criticizing religions you don’t believe in (which I’m sure you’ve done; c’mon, Thor, Vishnu, all of that stuff is crazy, right?). And again, you miss the point when you profess surprise that there are “actually people willing to risk an eternity in hell” – that’s just another form of Pascal’s wager.
You’re still thinking too much from a Christian-centric point of view (which, admittedly, may be hard for you to break out of). But atheists aren’t “Anti-Christians” – we’re disbelievers in all religions, and by focusing too much on our professed disbelief in one of the thousands of them that just so happens to be the one you believe in, you are missing the point. Is it no less blasphemy when I display a picture of Muhammed, or when I allow a woman to wear clothing that leaves her face uncovered? Applying your argument, why should I risk going to hell over these things? Most of the everyday things you do go against the teachings of at least several dozen religions – so why are you risking going to hell? Oh, maybe is it because you think that Christianity is the only true one, and the others are false? Please do understand our actions if we simply happen to think that one more religion is false than you do.
Am I really missing the point Cyde? You’re right, from the perspective of the unbeliever it’s not blasphemy. I’m not contradicting that – but the point is that it is a label they’ve chosen for this site to make that point exactly. I’m not criticizing other religions here I’m merely drawing attention to this website that is criticizing the Christian belief in hell and asking some questions out of a wonder for why someone would go to such lengths to make their point.
Do I believe that some other religions are crazy? Sure do – c’mon worshipping a cow? But if someone chooses to worship (or not worship anything) that’s their choice – it doesn’t mean I’m going to be silent about how crazy I think that is (just as I’d expect that others won’t be silent about how crazy they think I am for believing what I do…)
As for my “surprise” that there are people risking hell I’m not sure how that is “missing the point”? Again, my surprise has led to ask what has happened to these individuals who are posting on this site that is singling out the Christian faith to cause them to act in this way? Yes, at is base form, atheism is disbelief in a “god” period. I’m not disputing that but, you’ve got to agree that for the most part, the public demonstration of atheism tends to speak more against the Christian faith than any other faith. Care to point me to a similar site risking the wrath of the Islam faith by doing something similar? Again you say I’m missing the point…
I fail to see how that relates to what this blog post is about? I’m merely addressing how some atheists ARE focusing on the faith that I have AND the reality that when atheists do get public about their “religion” they tend to have more to say against Christianity than the many other religions/faiths they could speak against.
As for applying my argument to other religions – sure other religions have varying requirements for “escaping” their version of “hell”. But Christianity is the only religion/faith that basically says it’s impossible for anyone to “earn” their way to paradise/heaven. It is the only religion/faith in which the possibility of getting to heaven is by the actions of the God who wants us with Him. Actions that are incomprehensible when you think that God didn’t have to do what He did (die on a cross, subject to all the humility man heaped on Him).
Yes, I do believe Christianity is the only true faith and the others are false. Jesus Christ himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the father except through me”. If I believe the words of Christ then there is no room for me to believe otherwise.
I do understand that atheists think Christianity is false along with all other faith systems that believe in a god. The purpose of my article though, is to simply draw attention to the choice by some to be so vocal about their disbelief in Christianity and choosing such a dramatic statement. The thing about hell and heaven is that no-one will really know the truth of until after we die. From the perspective of those participating in this challenge they may not think they are risking much, from my perspective of course I think they are risking far too much. Pascal’s wager simply illustrates that there’s nothing to lose by believing in Christ and you’re wrong but there’s everything to lose if you don’t believe in Christ and you’re wrong. Those who are posting those videos are putting the Pascal wager to the ultimate test – results that won’t be known until it’s too late (or not…depending on your belief system).
By the way, thanks for commenting.