Not exactly blown away...

>> Wednesday, July 22, 2009

EDIT - AUGUST 25th, 2009: After a month, I think this post has drawn all the intelligent comments from real people it's likely to. Unfortunately, the word "blown" seems to be drawing spambots and deleting their posts is boring me, so I'm closing comments on it. Sorry. I'm sure I'll write about religion again, and you can comment there.

Here's the original post if you still want to read it:

Nathan brought this to my attention: a USA Today piece describing an alleged trend of atheist "de-baptism" ceremonies in which atheists who have been baptized have their baptism "blown away" with a hairdryer. (Thanks, Nathan!) Y'know, people--I'm talking to my fellow atheists, here, and agnostics, so this may not apply to you, Dear Reader--people, this is the kind of thing that makes us look and sound stupid, the reason some people insist atheism (or agnosticism) is a "religion". Engaging in a ritual to demonstrate how little you need rituals isn't enlightened, it's just pathetic. Please stop. You're embarrassing us.

A related piece by USA Today's religion writer, Cathy Lynn Grossman, blathers:

The de-baptizing trendlet, zipping around among atheist gatherings and college campuses, supposedly offers people a jokey way--if you see thumbing your nose at major world religions' rites as funny--to blow away the waters of their original baptism and renounce their childhood faith.

--which is worth mentioning just because, yes, thumbing your nose at major world religions' rites is pretty funny, and not just to us eternally-damned heathens. More than a few religious humorists have gotten mileage out of Communion and Confessional jokes, and not just on a sectarian basis (e.g. Catholic jokes about Catholicism or Baptist jokes about Baptists are frequently funnier and more pointed, and Judaism has been fodder for Jewish comedians for millennia). But never mind that, your former church isn't going to have a fit over your renunciation of your childhood bath or remove you from the rolls. Indeed, most likely they will reply, if at all, with one of those annoyingly condescending "hope you wise up and embrace Jesus" messages, only the condescension will be entirely earned for a change--I mean, why do you even care if your old church thinks you're baptized, anyway? They're wrong about nearly everything else in general, right? So who cares if they're wrong about one piddling detail like whether or not they think you're going to Heaven? You're not, so there it is.

(I have much the same views, actually, about the furor over the Mormons hobby of baptizing dead Jewish people. Let 'em have their dumb fun; sure, I can see where it's insulting, but they think they're helping, and anyway we're talking about people who believe God left them a message on invisible golden plates in a language that could only be translated once and by sticking your face into a hat with a magic rock inside it. No, seriously.)

The worst types of atheists are the angry ones--and I don't mean the strident or vocal ones. Putting a Flying Spaghetti Monster icon or "Darwin Fish" on your bumper is one thing (or ought to be--Thomas Lessl's claims give one pause), as is buying ads for the sides of buses. And keep the books and blogs coming. There's no reason an atheist ought to be silent or passive or shy. No, the "angry ones" I'm talking about are the atheists who are motivated by some profound anger at a God they don't believe in, who evince obvious feelings of having been betrayed by a church or sect as if that's a piece for or against a deity either way. They're the worst kind not because of their obnoxious behavior--which doesn't make them easy to love, by the way--but because their attitude and behavior betrays a fundamental belief that most atheists and agnostics claim to share: that their position is one arrived at through sensible faculties and reason rather than emotionalism or blind adherence to (or rebellion against) tradition.

As one of the folks quoted in the main USA Today article says, "leave the ceremonies to the religious." Can I have an "Amen," brothers and sisters?


Leanright,  Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 1:32:00 PM EDT  

It's refreshing to know that you aren't one of those obnoxious athiests.

vince Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 2:24:00 PM EDT  

Personally, I'm always for reducing the number of obnoxious people, regardless of religious persuasion or lack thereof, or political stripe, etc. I just don't like obnoxious people, period.

As far as the de-baptising ceremony, I think it's kind of silly (and would have said so when I was an atheist), but if someone feels they need a public symbol of their belief system, makes them happy and hurts no one, then they're welcome to it.

Nathan Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 5:46:00 PM EDT  


You're using the (currently) broken link to me. Please add the "www." prefix (dammit).

Eric Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 6:44:00 PM EDT  

Sorry, Nathan. Fixed in the article and sidebar.

Leanright,  Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 1:38:00 AM EDT  

Geez guys...GET IT RIGHT!

(sorry...had to vent)

ntsc Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 10:33:00 AM EDT  

There apparently is a Jewish religious de-baptising ceremony. I don't know if it is a general ritual or made up on the spot by a Rabbi to deal with a specific problem at Bellvue Hospital where a Jewish woman was baptized against her will.

Leanright,  Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 11:47:00 AM EDT  

Is there anyway to have foreskin re-attached?

Eric Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 2:05:00 PM EDT  

Is there anyway to have foreskin re-attached?

Staples, duct tape, paperclips, thumbtacks....

Leanright,  Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 2:42:00 PM EDT  

You forgot Hot Glue Gun.

Jim Wright Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 6:15:00 PM EDT  

Super glue, after all it was originally designed as surgical adhesive.

Yeah, I'm with you on this one, Eric. I don't believe, I've never believed. I don't give a crap if you do or not as long as you leave me alone. I've been asked many times, "Why do you hate God?" I don't hate him, I don't believe in him. "Exactly, why do you hate him?" Argh. Where's the cluebat?

On the other hand, I don't understand militant atheists either. It's hard for me to be that passionate about something I don't believe in. It seems to me that for militant atheists, their atheism is a religion of sorts.

I find fundamentalists obnoxious no matter which way their fundamentalism runs.

救援部 Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 1:38:00 AM EDT  


Eric Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 10:40:00 AM EDT, the machine I'm on right now can't read the character set you used, and it's probably in a language I can't read, so I'm going to pretend that you're a "you" and that your comment was relevant and not just random spam offering me porn and hookers.

With all due respect, I don't see why atheists and agnostics should remain silent about their beliefs. Granted, differing beliefs may seem "disrespectful" to those in the entrenched majority, but I don't see where it's any more disrespectful for an atheist to openly discuss his views than it is for a believer to go around openly discussing his own. If there were a social agreement that religion is never discussed nor alluded to on bumper stickers and jewelry, that might be one thing, but there isn't and there won't be. As long as it's socially copacetic for athletes to credit God for winning the Super Bowl, I think we're entitled to announce our unbelief whenever the matter comes up (or even if it doesn't).

Still, thank you for your compliment regarding my elegant writing style, rapier wit, dashing good looks and irresistable personal magnetism. I would (obviously!) not go so far as agreeing that I am "evidence that God exists and is awesome!" but I do take the sentiment in the spirit it was apparently intended.

メル友 Friday, August 14, 2009 at 12:37:00 AM EDT  


Eric Friday, August 14, 2009 at 9:15:00 AM EDT, the notion that "secular humanism" is itself a religion and that abstaining from "co-teaching" Christianity in schools is somehow tantamount to government establishment of a religion ("secular humanism") is ridiculous. It doesn't even merit serious consideration. If, as by your logic, teaching no religion is equivalent to teaching a religion, I suppose the only remedy is for public schools to teach all religions, living or dead, no matter how absurd. I guess that's one way to extend high school to age 21... or 52....

素人 Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 1:10:00 AM EDT  


Eric Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 9:25:00 AM EDT  

While I sympathize,, the problem of evil is one of atheism's weakest arguments, though it is an effective rebuttal to the existence of the Christian God as He's understood by most non-heretical versions of the faith (i.e. the problem of evil challenges the assertion that a deity exists that is benevolent and omniscient and omnipotent, though it allows for a deity that is evil, apathetic, impotent, ignorant, etc.).

セレブラブ Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 12:45:00 AM EDT  


Eric Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:11:00 AM EDT  

Okay, the spammers are boring me now. From here on out, delete, delete, delete.

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