Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day

September 30, 2011

Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day! There are thousands of ways to commemorate this day—almost as many as there are prophets who have claimed the title of messenger from the gods.

But if you’re not involved in other IBRD activities, the simplest way recommends itself: just state there is no god. A straightforward denial of the divine is at the heart of blasphemy. Moreover, making this assertion is a useful reminder that until recently in human history such an assertion could get you killed almost anywhere on the planet. In some areas, it still has this effect.

Atheists are sometimes accused of taking delight in the shock or outrage they can elicit from believers. I can’t speak for everyone, but the reverse is true for me and many others. We long for the day when a denial of god produces nothing more than a shrug—when the gods have ceased to have any relevance.

Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. One reason mere assertions of disbelief can still cause surprise and shock, at least in the United States and some other religiously intoxicated countries, is that many believers think that atheists are as rare as snowflakes in July (outside of Buffalo). We need to disabuse the religious of this mistaken belief. We want to lessen the shock they experience when someone points out the obvious and asserts there is no superbeing in the sky or existing somehow as an undetectable spirit—when they hear the emperor has no clothes.

So don’t deny god just to be true to your own beliefs— do it for them.