Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Episode 54 In Defense of Blasphemy

On September 30th 2005 a Danish newspaper released cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Many blamed the cartoonists for the deadly protests that soon spread throughout the Muslim world. Tom Flynn joins us on the show to explain his decision to re-print the cartoons in Free Inquiry Magazine. He also explains the purpose behind International Blasphemy Day 2009 and Center For Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression. Also on the show: Ed Brayton, author of the Dispatches From the Culture Wars blog, interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali about her outspoken criticism of Islam and passionate defense of free speech and women’s rights.

To download this or any previous Reasonable Doubts episodes click here. Find the episode you want and right click the "play now" link and select "save target as..."

Jeremy Beahan and Ed Brayton will be speaking at a Blasphemy Day event at Grand Valley State University on October 1st 2009. The event will feature local comedians and presentations about blasphemy and free expression. The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more details.


Jephalopod said...

If I may pick nits --

The title of Darwin's first book on evolution is "On the Origin of Species," NOT "Origin of THE species." Calling it by the latter title actually means something slightly different and, I think, perpetuates the misunderstanding that evolution is primarily about where humans (THE species) came from, rather than a theory of all biology.

Thanks for the show, it's great.

danielg said...

1. Ray Comfort was actually taken out of context on the whole Banana thing - it was EDITED by critics to say what is now commonly thought of as his 'argument.'

2. Hitler, Darwin, and Eugenics
If you think that they are not historically related, you are fooling yourself. Seriously. See:
Darwin Understood the Social Application of his Theory
Atheist Atrocities

3. Free books and complaining - you should not complain about people who want to offer an alternate approach to your darwinian religion? You laud critiques of Christianity, yet you hate to see your own origin myths challenged. Hypocrites.

4. Evidence for natural selection is not evidence of evolution. Stop talking like neophytes.

5. Regarding blasphemy laws, Christians are against such things, it's only the Islamic crazies that support this nonsense.

But let me say that hate speech laws are the secular equivalent of blasphemy laws. Call homosexuals dysfunctional? Preach that it is a sin? Bigotry that should not be allowed.

Your contention that blasphemy laws have no victims should be applied to blanket condemnations of sexual immorality, be it promiscuity, adultery, or homosexuality. Otherwise, you're also trying to restrict free speech.

Hate Crimes Laws - needed reform or threat to free speech?
Hate speech laws and blasphemy laws - twin evils

MommaHeathen said...


1. Darwinism isn't a "religion."

2. The video may be edited in some sources, but if you go to the originating source and watch what they offer, it's still the same idiocy.

3. Our origin isn't a "myth." In fact, evolution is scientifically proven.

4. Evidence of natural selection IS proof of evolution. On that I won't sway. Species had to breed and 'improve' according to their surroundings.

5. Of course blasphemy laws have victims. And not only in Islam. Blasphemy itself, however, has not a single victim.

6. I have one more point than you do. So nyah. :-P

cleanwillie said...

also @ danielg (not surprisingly):

1. Here is the original context presented by creationists you are referring to, and to me it really doesn't make much of a difference (about 20 seconds in the clip):


So comfort isn't arguing that the banana is "conclusive proof of God's existence", but is making the much more reasonable and serious claim (to creationists apparently) that the complex design elements of a coke can are analogous to the "complex design elements of the banana, in order to demonstrate that thoughtful design by a designer is required for both examples".

So they admit that Comfort is saying that the banana was specifically designed by God to fit in the hand of a human + all the silliness that follows.. Isn't this exactly why we've been laughing at Comfort all this time?

This is all I have time for now, since I have stuff to do outside the internet.. But don't worry danielg, I'm sure someone will pick up where I left off.

Aught3 said...


1. I've seen the whole banana thing in it's entirety, Ray makes more of an ass of himself in the full version.

2. Eugenics could be called social Spencerism but it is certainly not something Darwin supported.

3. Agreed. I don't care about Ray's criticism, it's so bad that anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see through it.

4. Natural selection is part of evolution. Add to natural selection evidence for mutation (check) and evidence for heritability (check) and it's checkmate for evolution.

5. Good, Christians should be against blasphemy laws as they blaspheme constantly against Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Glad there is one point of agreement here.

Nicholas said...

Great show, gentlemen.

I have successfully avoided hearing Kirk Cameron's voice since Growing Pains went off the air...until this podcast. Now I have the undying urge to kidney punch him over and over again.

But all in all, I enjoyed the show.

Brad Kalmanson said...

Blasphemy by Gamma Ray


Here I sit again and think about the world we know
the same old thing, where do we come from and where do we go
Sometimes I worry just too much, sometimes I just don't care
and if you're with me on this point, put your hands high in the air
Let me hear you say Yeah!

Sometimes I'm happy as can be and sometimes feel so low
and what is good and what is bad, I sometimes just don't know
The world is the most crazy place that we could have been
It seems the meaning of our life is going down in sin

So let me live and let me be
your eyes are blind
but I can see

God is an illusion and there ain't no paradise
and there is no underworld below
Out there is no Heaven and there ain't no Antichrist
Welcome to the real World
and the show!

So let me take you down my dear to places you don't know
a land that you have not been to and normally don't go
I have all your pleasure toys, the fortune and the fame
so when you come with me my friend
you'll never be the same

So just say yeah, and come with me
don't be so blind, it's time to see

God is an illusion and there ain't no paradise
and there is no underworld below
Out there is no Heaven and there ain't no Antichrist
Welcome to the real World
and the show!

Don't be afraid now of the faces in the night
and let your body take control
We're going down into the beam of the neon lights
and I will purify your soul

Standing on a razor's edge, lost in space and time
All around the silence falls, prepared to draw the line
A shot, a cry, a flash of light, a bullet hits the wall
Not yet prepared, the fight for life is not yet lost at all

So come with me and let me be the one to lead you home
Like Diamonds we'll be shining bright before we turn to stone

God is an illusion and there ain't no paradise
and there is no underworld below
Out there is no Heaven and there ain't no Antichrist
Welcome to the real World
and the show!

Welcome to the show,
This is the real world
This is the real world
Welcome to the show
Yeah yeah yeah!

Lausten North said...

I'm skeptical of Tom Flynn's statement that we are headed toward a world where people in the West will defend people in Islamic nations who say that statements against women's rights are statements against the religious order and thus the statements should be repressed. Did I even hear that right? Where is he getting that?

Jeremy said...

The reaction by some on the left to Salman Rusdie's Satanic Verses and the Dutch parliament turning against Ayaan Hirsi Ali are two examples of the top of my head.

And then there's the multi-cultural defenders of female circumcision.

Several nations allow there to be essentially two classes of citizens. Some living under liberal democracys and others in the same nation that are ("voluntarily" yeah right)subject to thier own communities enforcement of sharia law.

If you put this in the context of the UN Human Rights Council on religious defamation, then it amounts to political support of suppressing descent.

For more info on this listen to our episode with Austin Dacey.

cleanwillie said...

Jeremy, who exactly are these "multi-cultural defenders of female circumcision"? I mean I have never even heard of anyone who would think female circumcision is not a disgusting and totally unacceptable tradition. Except of course the people doing it.

Anonymous said...

You can get the PDF of the Comfort/Cameron introduction to the Origin at assets.livingwaters.com/pdf/OriginofSpecies.pdf

(found at HuffPo, don't know where they got it) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/22/kirk-camerons-origin-of-s_n_294349.html

Unknown said...

Actually, the Creation movie has already found a U.S. distributor and it's being released in U.S. theaters this December: http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/09/24/creation-movie-finds-u-s-distributor/ I can't wait for it!

Anonymous said...

It was disappointing to see this podcast, along with two other podcasts I regularly listen to regurgitate the hype around the film "Creation". For this I will only copy and paste the argument that I sent to Freethought Radio.

"...on the subject of the new movie "Creation". The way you chose to frame this topic is quite misguided. The idea that the film cannot get an American distributor because American distributors don't want to risk retaliation from the religious right is a transparent exaggeration of the truth. As an independent filmmaker and someone who keeps up to date with the latest news surrounding the film world, I can tell you that it is difficult for ANY movie to get distribution right now.

Pulitzer prize winning film critic, self-proclaimed Darwin fanatic, and my personal hero Roger Ebert (In my life I have been lucky enough to see debate new age Buddhist pseudo-creationists at the University of Colorado, Boulder) wrote a recent blog article on the current "crisis" in the independent film world. Writing from the Toronto International Film Festival he wrote, "Toronto is traditionally a lively marketplace for the purchase of film rights for new non-studio product: Indies, docs, foreign films. This year Harvey Weinstein paid $1 million for "A Single Man," and that was that. One sale, one movie, one million -- probably as little as Harvey has paid for a movie in some time." In the blog entry he lists "Creation" along with many other pictures that were unable to find distributors, you can read it here:


Plus concerning the films quality, I have not heard too much oversees praise or hype for the film. The film was produced by BBC Films who produced "The Other Boleyn Girl", another historical drama that was frankly nothing to write home about. The director, Jon Amiel, who directed the British TV mini-series "The Singing Detective" has not really directed anything worthwhile since then. And the current reviews of the film that I could find range from tepid to poor. You can read them at the link provided below:


As the filmmakers say the film does not really deal with religion or the theory of evolution. If I may recommend a film that does actually deal with evolution, science and religion, that I believe can actually improve scientific understanding in this country, it is "The Fifteen Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism" by Aron Ra. It is not really a traditional feature film but a series of seventeen YouTube videos arranged in a playlist, spans over two-hours in length and can be viewed as a feature film. The creator, Aron Ra, a student of paleontology at Texas A&M University delivers his explanations of the fifteen falsehoods and his rebuttals at a rapid fire pace but maintains to keep his explanations clear and intelligible. And he has woven together a tableau of pictures, text and found footage (most of the footage coming from popular culture) to supplement words and choreographs them all so elegantly and humorously that to remove one bit would disrupt the rhythm of the entire viewing experience. You can watch the movie here:


May I recommend that Aron Ra may make a good guest on a future program."

Skepticallity spread the same rumor though they did mention that because of the economy business for
indie films has been slow.

Unknown said...

"In the blog entry he lists "Creation" along with many other pictures that were unable to find distributors, you can read it here"

But as I just posted, the movie HAS found a U.S. distributor and Creation is being released in U.S. theaters this December: http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/09/24/creation-movie-finds-u-s-distributor/

mabell said...

I was going to post a snarky response to Kirk Cameron's "Origins" intro by suggesting someone offer free Bibles with their own 50-page rant. However, K-rina on YouTube beat me too it. She does a fine job with "Origin of Stupidity".

Check it out here: