“Everyone has the right to believe in anything they want. And everyone else has the right to find it fucking ridiculous.”
Personally, I can take or leave Ricky Gervais’ ‘comedy’ but his attitude to organised religion is definitely one I agree with (I also like the way he mocks the pretensions of self-important and smug actors – Google ‘Ricky Gervais mocks actors’ if you are bored). I’ve used a quote of his before – Quote of the Day #28 – but I thought I would share this quote in light of the alarming ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that religious sensibilities are more important than freedom of speech. I felt so strongly about this ruling that I wrote two posts – Return of a Victimless Crime and Return of a Victimless Crime Update. I made the basic point, one I have made on this blog umpteen times since January 2017, that blasphemy is simply not a crime in any recognisable sense. I would go further and suggest that any idea that needs protecting by draconian thoughtcrime laws is an extremely bad idea.
But, returning to Gervais’ quote above, is there anyone who wishes to argue with the view that religious ideas are inherently ridiculous? It is my firm belief that all religious, particularly the three Abrahamic monotheisms, are essentially the same. I have written three posts pointing out this entirely obvious and unoriginal idea…
But just for a laugh, let’s look again at some of the entirely sane and non-ridiculous beliefs espoused by the three ‘great’ monotheisms.
Much of the Jewish Bible – patronisingly called the Old Testament by Christians – is not systematically evil but plain weird. This is a document that includes talking animals, a man who can live in the stomach of a fish for several days without oxygen and a description of the Sun standing still without the Earth falling out of its orbit. The primitive, revenge-based morality includes advice on selling your daughter to a rapist, beating your slave and giving 200 foreskins to the king in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage (Samuel 18:27). It also includes details of a ‘worldwide’ flood that somehow escaped the notice of Chinese, Sumerian and Egyptian chroniclers.
Christians often try to get around the argument in the previous paragraph by saying that Jesus supersedes the Old Testament. Not only is this not true but the magic carpenter specifically stated that nothing in the law will change until the end of the world (Matthew 5:18). Despite its superficial Hellenistic veneer, Christianity is as primitive in its morality as Judaism. At the centre of Christian mythology is the insane idea that the hideous death suffered by Jesus is the central event of the past 13,800,000,000 years and that without accepting your personal responsibility for these events that happened long before your birth, then you are destined for an eternity of the most appalling torture in Hell. Mad, ridiculous stuff – made even more ridiculous by the assertion that Jesus is the only mammal in 160,000,000 years conceived by parthenogenesis.
Christians try to claim that the demented psychopath in the Old Testament loves you (John 3:16) but followers of Islam don’t even bother. The only way to get to Heaven is to submit (Islam literally means ‘submission’) to the mad rules in the Koran as delivered to illiterate desert bandit turned ‘prophet,’ Muhammad of Mecca. There is little of the magic carpenter’s emphasis on love and forgiven in the Koran. Having struggled through this strange book (it took me four months to read) the only theme I could discern was that you are headed for the Fire (capital F!) if you dare to break any of these rules. Like the Old Testament, the Koran advocates a primitive, revenge-based and strongly patriarchal morality. Women are explicitly only worth half a man in terms of testimony and inheritance in the Koran – so much for the hilarious oxymoron ‘Muslim feminist.’
Like Ricky Gervais, I find these beliefs ridiculous. And I will fight tooth-and-nail against religious fascists and identity politics racists who claim that their feelings are more important than my right to criticise primitive superstitions that have caused untold human misery over the past three thousand years.