Offensive or Humorous and True?

A long time ago I used this clip in a post (not on this blog) that asked believers to rate the amount of offense they felt when watching three different short videos- one was a fairly inflammatory piece by Hitchens, one was a clip by Dawkins and the last video was this one. According to the poll and comments I received on that article, this clip came out the ‘winner’, even though if I’d been asked beforehand, I would have thought it the least offensive of the three.

When I asked the religious believers why they found this clip so offensive, they had a hard time responding. Many of them didn’t really know. They just felt offended while watching it. Some did say that they thought it was a disrespectful way of replying.

Meanwhile, I thought Harris made a humorous observation. Even the man he’s debating started to laugh. I also think he made a strong point. Only with religion can we get away with using babble that sounds impressive but has very little real substance to it.

So I hope you give the clip a watch and tell me what you think.

Did you like the clip? Do you agree with Harris?

And if you’re a religious person, do you find the clip offensive? Why or why not?

As always, thanks for reading.

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13 Comments

  1. I am a Hitchens fan because he was truly a man of letters and had an incredible sense of humor and an appreciation for the absurd. Hitchens witnessed the violence and insanity of religion, particularly in his own life as his mother committed suicide in Athens, Greece, after she joined a cult. Hitchens was 22 years old. I don’t think Hitchens was inflammatory–I think he saw the moral rot of religion, its base and dehumanizing impact on entire societies and reacted with a passion for truth. Religion never deserves “respect”. It deserves scathing criticism; particularly when religious insanity pushes to codify into public policy ideologies of hatred towards homosexuals, women, non-believers, etc., and indoctrinates children with the grotesque lie that they are born “defective” so they need a personal relationship with a virgin carpenter in a loincloth who will fry their faces extra-crispy if they don’t love him back…Where’s the “civility” in that? Mockery and satire are wonderful ways to approach religion but they are only one set of arrows in a very broad quiver.

    I also like Harris. I thought that what Harris said about the Eucharist at Notre Dame University was far more “offensive”, incisive and funny. Harris has his moments: “The problem with religion, because it’s been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en masse what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.”

    • I’m a Hitchens fan as well. I love watching him debate.

      The original clip I picked for Hitchens wasn’t one I personally found offensive. I chose three clips, each one for what I thought would be their offensiveness to a believer. I was just surprised when this clip was viewed by the religious who used to read that blog, and chosen as the more offensive one.

      I think both Hitchens and Harris make well-reasoned arguments and both (I feel) point out the inherent dangers of faith.

      Hitchens will be missed.

  2. I love Harris, not only because he remains stoic throughout the entirety of a debate, but because he often counters with well developed but funny arguments. He is a master at illustrating absurd arguments. My favorite debate was Harris/Shermer vs. Chopra/and a lady I can’t remember. He was all over Chopra.

      • I think I saw that too. His claims that morality is a scientific question as outlined in “The Moral Landscape.” I’d recommend his latest work on free will, if you haven’t read it already. He outlines the different claims between determinism, libertarianism and compatibalism, and even goes on to describe his debate with Dennett on the subject. It’s refreshing because he’s not afraid to follow where the evidence leads him.

        And speaking of answering detractors… I’m reading your post “It’s beautiful Therefore God.” Too bad that woman deleted your comment. It’s strange… they act like expressing your thoughts publicly doesn’t invite criticism. Why doesn’t she just make her blog private if she doesn’t want people to judge what she says?

        • I haven’t read his newest work, but I definitely intend to.

          I’m not sure why she deleted the comment. I didn’t say anything ultra offensive. I told her I liked her pictures but disagreed with her view that because something is beautiful, it means god did it.

          That was it.

          I agree. If people put their opinions out there for public consumption, they shouldn’t act offended or surprised when someone comes along and disagrees.

  3. I read Rabbi David Wolpe’s book “Why Be Jewish” when I was still a theist. The title is a little bit misleading I think because it’s really about why a Jew should be religious. Even then, I could see his arguments were lacking. He’s not a bad guy but his argument for god is silly.

    Do I think Harris is being disrespectful? No, not really. For one thing, he’s onto something and secondly, he’s dealing with someone who can handle a humorous jab. I’ve grown to really like Harris. I’m working on my 4th book of his and I appreciate much of what he has to say. He was however, an acquired taste. Now knowing which two clips you also posted, I can’t say why your readers may have find this one the most offensive.

    • Hi Dena. Thanks for a great comment.

      I can’t remember what I chose for the other clips. I think the Hitchens one was this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqpcX5B74pw

      While I don’t find either video offensive, if I’d had to bet, I would have thought the Hitchens video would be more offensive to most Christians.

      “I read Rabbi David Wolpe’s book “Why Be Jewish” when I was still a theist.”

      Just out of curiosity, what changed your mind about there being a god?

      • I can’t pinpoint anything specifically that led me to the conclusion that god does not exist. The inter- workings of the brain are so complex that even if I thought I could, I might be wrong.

        I can say that The Trial of God, Spinoza and Richard Dawkins were influential. But it was a process that occurred over a couple years and involved a lot of reading both of religious and science texts.

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