September 29, 2013

Blasphemy: funny if it weren't so dangerous

Today is International Blasphemy Day, an event held on the anniversary of the 2005 publication in Denmark of those infamous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Blasphemy Day isn't aimed merely at Islam or Christianity, but at any and all religions and sects that include the concepts of blasphemy, apostasy, desecration, sacrilege, and so on. "Ideas don't need rights," says the slogan, "people do."

While I was raised by a Christian family, I never became too absorbed by religion, so no doubt I blaspheme regularly without even thinking about it. I've written plenty about religion on this blog, often blasphemously in someone's opinion, I'm sure. In July I wrote my preferred summary of my position:
The incredible height of a mountain, and the depth of geological time—to me, these are natural miracles, not supernatural ones.

In the same post, I also wrote briefly about blasphemy:
Plus, given the scope of this universe, and any others that may exist, why would any god or gods be so insecure as to require regulated tributes from us in order to be satisfied with their accomplishments?

If the consequences—imposed by humans against each other, of course—weren't so serious in some places, the idea of blasphemy would be quite funny. Even if there were a creator (or creators) of the universe, how could anything so insignificant a a person, or even the whole population of such a miniscule planet, possibly insult it?

We're talking about the universe here. (Sorry, should be properly blasphemous: the goddamned universe.) It's 13.7 billion years old, containing billions of galaxies, with billions of stars each. On that scale, anything happening here on Earth is entirely irrelevant.

As far as I'm concerned, there are no deities anyway. But if you believe there are, consider this: it's silly to think that a god or gods could be so emotionally fragile as to be affected by our thoughts and behaviors, and even sillier to believe that people could or should have any role in enforcing godly rules. Silliest yet is the idea that believers in a particular set of godly rules should enforce those rules on people who don't share the same belief.

Being a good person is worth doing for its own sake, and for the sake of our fellow creatures. Sometimes being good, or even simply being accurate, may require being blasphemous by someone else's standards. Today is a day to remember that.


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