I came across the “Rational Response Squad” a few months ago and dismissed them as a bunch of web-savvy teenagers hooked on the controversial power of atheism; however, they’ve just made national news on an NBC broadcast because of their “Blasphemy Challenge”. If you send them a video of yourself denying God, they’ll send you a free DVD of “The God Who Wasn’t There”, which is a documentary about the ahistorical Jesus Christ.
I’m fascinated that they’ve been able to capture so much media attention and be taken seriously; envious in fact. And there is something very disturbing about watching the videos – there is an inherent act of violent opposition, to society at least if not to spirituality in general, about flat out denying God. Furthermore, they are intimidatingly smart, crafty at writing, and have a lot of views I agree with.
However, I found the ‘blasphemy’ project revolting for several reasons. First, denying a transcendental, immaterial, metaphysical reality takes just as much faith (fundamentalist skepticism) as believing in one. Both positions begin with nothing, and end up with complete certainty. As such, denying God is meaningless, and is more of a public statement against organized religion than anything else.
More dangerously, the idea takes the general public (who’ve probably never spent much time thinking about philosophy, theology, great spiritual writings or traditions, the efficacy of prayer, or the power of faith) and get them to dismiss, along with God, any kind of spirituality as being just silly, non-rational rubbish. This is the triumph of rationalism, about 150 years after rationalism (in the form of modernism) became obsolete under more advanced forms of Postmodern thought.
Worst of all, denying God generates EVEN MORE hatred, misunderstanding, and conflict in a religious arena already rife with bloodshed – it does nothing to prove, solve, convert, amend – it only attacks and provokes. What’s the point? Accepting “the Challenge” without any study, meditation or mindfulness is just as worthless as blindly accepting Jesus Christ as savior – only instead of eternity in heaven, you’ll receive a free DVD.
However… I could be wrong. Perhaps I’m too thoughtful, sensitive and caring. I believe that the angry, fundamentalists Christians are a threat, and I’m pretty sure logic or reason won’t work on them. Perhaps the outspoken, angry Rational Responders are enough of a rallying point to get everybody else motivated.