Hmm, blasphemy. The dictionary says “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God”.
Which god? Do the Greek gods count — or the Norse gods? How about Ganesha? (There are about one billion Hindus. That’s a lot of people to piss off if you diss the elephant. And there must be at least four Odinists left, most probably in a black metal band in Norway.) What about Satanists — is there any logical way to show at the same time the requisite extrareligious reverence for both Sathanas the Ruler Dark and Supreme, and Jesus Who Treads the Naughty Black Goat Under His Glittering Heels?
Come to think of it, how do you simultaneously revere one and not-lack-reverence for the other when you consider Jesus, the Only True God, and Allah, the Only True God? (And Larry the Sandwichboardoperator, the Only True God, New Jersey?)
What about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? What about this nifty god Dramaurge that I just invented? What about Melkor, Torak, Takhisis, Usires Aedon and the god in Dogma? (I sense a great tool for silencing bothersome critics here… “Three stars? A blasphemy!“)
Or does the god have to be distant, unformed, miracle-abstinent, lonely, at least a century old, and vaguely Judeo-Christian to be worthy of blasphemy?
Apparently this does not work so that each venerates only his or her own god and atheists cavort around pissing on everything; that would be nice, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for some people. But do Muslims show reverence for Zeus and Odin? And how much reverence is enough — Muslims apparently think Jesus was a prophet, but does that help any when they add that he surely wasn’t the son of God; that sounds mightily like something a Christian would take as blasphemy, but surely there’s nothing more a Muslim can say without blaspheming against his own god. (“There is no god but Allah, and we are not prepared to discuss any examples of that right now.”)
Well, there’s the intriguing idea that the best way to avoid blasphemy is to shut up shut up about every alien god, which is fine if you just have no metaphorical genitalia whatsoever. Also, the idea of setting something as Not To Be Spoken Of has always, and will always, turned out to be shooting oneself in the foot, and having the blind led by the frothing mad over a cliff into a bottomless pit. (I may have mangled a phrase there; sorry.) I’ve been reading Finkelstein and Silberman’s the Bible Unearthed, a book about what archaeology tells of the historicity of the Old Testament (mostly, “it’s bollocks!”), over the last few days, and it’s powerful, clarifying, immensely satisfying reading — but, unless one engages in spectacular theological contortions, fatal blasphemy against the Jewish religion.
It’s always fun when something is, in addition to a victimless crime, also a crime where the victim cannot be reached for a comment as he is clearly an imaginary creature… and no-one is allowed to say that! (In fact, saying that some god is imaginary would probably be blasphemy too; a nice bind.)
Blasphemy makes no more sense than would suing the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe because they have hurt Nessie’s feelings. (To say nothing of the Mongolian Death Worm, the poor offended creature.)
And if one removes God from the formulation and says that it’s forbidden and a bad thing to criticize group A’s widely held identity-forming belief; well, bollocks then, can’t say a word about neo-Nazis and anti-vaccinationists anymore. Wouldn’t want to offend the despicable little fucks.
And as for insulting supposed God(s), that’s easy. The Jewish, Christian and Muslim gods don’t exist, and if they did, they would be horrible monsters and makers of miserable worlds that no sane person could worship except out of despair and fear. If you supposed this world has a designer, or even an originator, it would be not merely incompetent, but actually sadistic and hostile, and in its callous disregard, re: noma, tsunamis and Hell, worse than any human villain that has ever lived. (Also, nothing is sacred is what I honestly believe, and if that’s not blasphemy I don’t know what is.)
And I think this instance of “yo momma don’t exist, and if she did she’d be so ugly the sight would kill everybody!” is enough for today.
And you know I couldn’t end this on anything else than this, now could I?
Edit: Suppose it will be a very interesting thread over at Pharyngula. And can’t link elsewhere without noting that Cuttlefish has again shown that the less words you use, the better you get the message across.