A blog post I read recently inspired me to write this post. The post had a ‘Saturday Silly‘ joke that I didn’t find very funny. It played on the old prejudice that atheists are servants of Satan.
Basically, the joke starts off with an elderly lady who stands on her porch and yells ‘Praise the lord!’. Next door is a mean old atheist who would yell back, ‘There ain’t no Lord!’.
One day, the elderly religious lady runs into financial troubles and so she prays to her god for assistance – she wants her supernatural deity to send her some groceries. The next day, she goes out to her front porch and there is a big bag of groceries. So of course, the woman screams, ‘Praise the Lord!’
Then the mean atheist jumps from behind a bush and yells back, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”
The woman jumps up and down and replies, ‘PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. Praise the Lord!”
It’s unclear whether the atheist in this joke is actually Satan or merely the servant of Satan. Either way, I don’t see the humor in the joke.
I do notice when people (primarily in wealthy countries) praise their god for things real people are doing, such as providing food baskets etc. Meanwhile, humanities shortsightedness is on display, when millions of other people in poor countries die of starvation every year. Are they praising the lord also? Why is this god only giving food baskets to people in wealthier countries? Why do these food baskets only appear when real people provide it? Why not just pop out of thin air? Surely, an all-powerful god would be able to easily provide food to everyone.
But the pervasive myth that atheists believe in, and even serve, religions supernatural boogeymen is annoying and clearly an attempt to demonize an entire segment of the population. In fact, even if atheists are only being depicted as servants of Satan in this ‘joke’, the servants of the devil are usually depicted as demons. You could honestly say this joke attempts to demonize atheists both literally and figuratively.
Theists, it isn’t an either/or proposition. If an atheist doesn’t believe in your god, that doesn’t automatically mean they believe in, serve or worship your gods arch-nemesis.
Personally, I think (in this case) that both the Christian God and his arch-enemy are both ancient, nonsensical mythology. Satan has as little evidence to back up his supposed existence as god. I lack belief in both. Worshiping something I don’t believe in is an absurd notion.
While the original writer of the blog that included this joke may not have intentionally been out to demonize anyone or cause harm in any way, I find the joke in poor taste. It’s a joke that feeds into the popular atheist myth that atheists worship Satan or are servants of an ancient evil – it’s also an idea that some religious people take very seriously – not in a joking manner at all.