The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
– David, Psalm 53:1
Newsweek‘s Beliefwatch column this week discusses a new YouTube trend: self-damnation (there’s got to be some Latin word for that, but I don’t know it). In what is at the very least pure foolishness, the website blasphemychallenge.com is encouraging those who are pretty convinced of their atheism (along with the young and unwise) to post videos of themselves in which they attempt to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, in essence playing “chicken” with God.
I don’t really understand what their point is. So you choose not to believe in God? Fine. It is, as they say, a free country. But, why the challenge? Do the two individuals behind the challenge think they can turn their fantasies into reality by getting enough people to agree with them? Or, are they looking to subconsciously ease their fears by the “safety in numbers” theory?
Throughout history, many individuals have erroneously believed that they could change reality; the Roman rulers, for example, attempted to do so by edict. Today, we think we do it with opinion polls. Reality, as someone said, is perception. Those of us not foolish enough to fall for that postmodern hoohaw know better. As the Beliefwatch column states, this blasphemy challenge “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.”
One of the guys behind this operates his own site, RationalResponders.com; however, whether there is anything rational behind it is open to debate; certainly this challenge raises questions. And, of course, we have David’s analysis, in the opening quote. Now, I know that there are those who have chosen not to believe in a god of any kind, based on their honest analysis. These people, as with rational believers, can still carry on honest discussions of the issues. I am not sure if any of these people behind the “challenge” fall in that category. Rather, I suspect that most of them are to atheism what people like Robert Tilton and Jerry Falwell are to Christianity: they are fringe-dwellers, and can not speak for the population at large.
The real issue here, of course, is this:
“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”
– Jesus, Matthew 18:5-7
Jesus was no fool; those behind these websites appear to be. I dare not think about what kind of a hell they are creating for themselves. But what of the hundreds of teenagers who have jumped on this bandwagon? Have they indeed sinned the Big One? I guess that’s not for us to judge. If, of course, they still care about eternity in the years to come, then I would say that speaks for itself and is proof that they are still “savable.” If they don’t care, then only God knows.
But, a rational (which rules out many well-intentioned ministries) Christian response is probably in order. I’ll have to think about that…