The Raving Theist

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Miraculous

January 4, 2006 | 62 Comments

Miraculously, my computer froze at about 1 a.m. so I was prevented from posting the following until now:

Atheistic Satire Ruined by “Miner” Miracle

Tallmansville, West Virginia, January 4, 2006
Special to The Raving Atheist

A hilarious atheistic satire highlighting the futility of prayer had to be scrapped late Tuesday night when twelve West Virginia miners miraculously failed to suffocate to death as expected.

The Raving Atheist reports that the announcement of the miners’ rescue came just as he had completed a highly entertaining news parody mocking President Bush for declaring that “Americans all across our country were praying for the miners” and suggesting that the men might be rescued in good condition.

“It was heart-breaking,” said TRA. “Up to the minute of their rescue it looked completely hopeless — but the next thing you know one of the wives is saying “Miracles happen in West Virginia and today we got one” and all the godidiots are singing “How Great Thou Art.”

TRA said the discovery of twelve corpses would have been particularly funny to those who read his original piece, which was going to predict a “miracle” similar to the one credited for the survival of nine men from a flooded mine in Quecreek, Pennsylvania in 2002. “The idea was that because of the suicide of Bob Long — the engineer who actually saved the first set of miners with global positioning technology but was then shunned by them for getting a cut of their Disney deal — God would be forced to respond to the prayers of the latest victims completely on His own,” he said. “And then I was going to launch into this whole thing about how Bush’s offer of federal help was unnecessary and insulting to God because all we have to do is look up at the sky and beg.”

TRA took solace in the fact that one dead body was found, but said it wasn’t enough to save the parody. “Maybe if five or six of them had died, I could have done a bit about how the survivors’ families were gloating about the selective ‘miracle’ that spared only the rigtheous,” he said. “But it wasn’t to be.”

“Nearly a whole hour wasted,” TRA said. “Is there no God?”

I regularly receive e-mails from people telling me that my site has only strengthened their faith in God by showing them what misanthropic, mean-spirited, self-aggrandizing bastards atheists are. I went ahead and posted this anyway, despite the unfortunate turn of events — in part because I think it might be a good thing if people saw the fruits of a certain kind of atheist mindset, in part because it might spur me into doing some sort of penance for the rest of the year, and in part because I hated the idea of nearly a whole hour having gone to waste. Which side of the atheist/theist debate do you think this post helps most, and, if it’s your own, why are you complaining?

Comments

62 Responses to “Miraculous”

  1. June
    January 4th, 2006 @ 9:45 am

    It has to be more complicated than that. Actually, the miners survived for a while, as evidenced by their building a barrier against CO gas. But when God saw how brave they were, he decided to reward them with eternal life rather than survive as brain-dead vegetables — though one miner apparently was not quite ready for Heaven, so he was allowed to continue his miserable earthly existence, which made his family exstatic, except that he is in critical condition and his possible death may cause untold additional pain. God Is Great!

  2. coyote1284
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:04 am

    This reminds me of the “miracle” of planes with busted landing gear landing safely. Was it quick, decisive action of the competant pilot that saved the passengers? No, it was the hand of God!

  3. Suelzle
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:10 am

    So you wanted those miners to die?

  4. The Raving Atheist
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:19 am

    Suelzle,

    No. When I wrote the parody post, I thought they had all been rescued — I was just pretending that I had written a post anticiipating their deaths which was spoiled by their rescue. As it turned out, the actual parody I wrote was spolied by their deaths.

  5. Rob
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:43 am

    Do I believe in God? Can’t answer, I’m afraid. I’m not being flippant, but I don’t understand the question. What is it that I am supposed to believe or not believe in? Are you asking whether I believe there is something not in the universe (or the universes, if there are (maybe infinitely) many of them), and that somehow stands above them? I’ve never heard of any reason for believing that. Something else? What? There are many concepts of spirituality, among them, various notions of divinity developed in the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religions. Within these the concepts vary greatly. St. Augustine and others, for example, argued that one should not take seriously the Biblical account of God as an exaggerated human, and other Biblical accounts, because they were crafted so as to make the intended message intelligible to humans — and on such grounds, he argued, organized religion ought to accept persuasive conclusions of science, a conception that Galileo appealed to (in vain) when he faced Papal censure.

    Anyway, without clarification of a kind I have never seen, I don’t know whether I believe or don’t believe in whatever a questioner has in mind.

    I don’t see how one can “believe in organized religion.” What does it mean to believe in an organization? One can join it, support it, oppose it, accept its doctrines or reject them. There are many kinds of organized religion. People associate themselves with some of them, or not, for all sorts of reasons, maybe belief in some of their doctrines.

    Who wrote the Bible? Current scholarship, to my knowledge, assumes that the material that constitutes the Old Testament was put together from various oral and folk traditions (many of them going far back) in the Hellenistic period. That was one of several currents, of which the collection that formed the New Testament was another. Biblical archaeology was developed early in this century in an effort to substantiate the authenticity of the Biblical account. It’s by now generally recognized in Biblical scholarship that it has done the opposite. The Bible is not a historical text, and has only vague resemblances to what took place, as far as can be reconstructed. For example, whether Israel ever existed is not clear; if so, it was probably a small kingdom somewhere in the hills, apparently virtually unknown to the Egyptians. That’s my understanding, from casual reading; I haven’t followed recent work closely.

    Importance, relevance, historical-social impact? These are enormous questions. I can’t try to address them at this level of generality; it requires at least an article, better a book or many books.

    Elements of the Christian fundamentalist right are one of the strongest components of “support for Israel” — support in an odd sense, because they presumably want to see it destroyed in a cosmic battle at Armageddon, after which all the proper souls will ascend to heaven — or so I understand, again, not from close reading. They have provided enormous economic aid, again of a dubious sort. One of their goals seems to be to rebuild the Temple, which means destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which presumably means war with the Arab world — one of the goals, perhaps, in fulfilling the prophecy of Armageddon. So they strongly support Israeli power and expansionism, and help fund it and lobby for it; but they also support actions that are very harmful and objectionable to most of its population — as do Jewish fundamentalist groups, mostly rooted in the US, which, after all, is one of the most extreme religious fundamentalist societies in the world.

  6. Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    Only 1 W. Va. miner found alive

    In a heartbreaking reversal, mining officials said Wednesday that 11 of the 12 trapped coal miners i

  7. The Atheologist
    January 4th, 2006 @ 11:00 am

    The blame for this tragedy should not be placed on the coal mine owner or the miners themselves but on those people who didn’t pray hard enough. Next time, those Americans who as our great President declared, “all across our country were praying for the miners” need to pray much, much harder. Oh, and those Atheists didn’t help much either.

  8. Jeff
    January 4th, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

    Obviously they were praying to the wrong GOD! Repent sinners and give your heart to the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

    Only by embracing his noodley appendage can the lost be saved!
    Spaghetti Monster IS LORD and KING!

    You stupid Atheists, it takes more faith NOT to believe Spaghetti Monster is LORD!

  9. Crosius
    January 4th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    The Atheologist has nailed it.
    Look at the numbers!
    There are no miner deaths in countries without athiests, so athiesm diluting the power of prayer is to blame.

    Just like the way Tinkerbell dies when you watch Peter Pan in a room with people who don’t clap.

  10. Gabriel Sanchez
    January 4th, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    Actually, I’m quite baffled how anyone’s faith in God could be strengthed by this website unless, of course, people are in mass default to, “I’ll believe what the mental midgets don’t.”

    The problem with this blog (and perhaps most blogs run by atheists) is the self-aggrandizing tone of the entire “project”. There is nothing amusing here beyond what the entire run of Beavis & Butt-Head hadn’t touched upon long ago. I’m not sure how many times a website can make false constructions of “godiditiots” to mock relentlessly before people realize the joke just isn’t all that funny anymore. Of course, what do I know? I’m just desperately waiting for the Rapture so I can cackle myself into a coma over your eventual damnation.

    As far as the miners parody goes, it is in poor taste and would have been in poor taste even if a majority of them had lived. Beyond measures of taste (something I doubt an atheist could grasp), there’s the even more fundamental issue that it’s not terribly witty or original. Again, perhaps such standards aren’t the concern of those who have brushed aside all standards.

  11. severalspecies
    January 4th, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

    Gabriel,

    At least RA has backed up his supposed “false constructions” with actual events, while you have failed to back up yours: “Beyond measures of taste (something I doubt an atheist could grasp)” I believe RA has fully grasped his own tastelessness, ans has done it well.

  12. Dada Saves
    January 4th, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

    Gabriel, it sounds like you got a little head-start on that coma you’re planning.

    Also, “There is nothing amusing here beyond what the entire run of Beavis & Butt-Head …”

    I wish!

  13. WTF
    January 4th, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

    Bad move, Gabriel! A large part of Hell is for those who applaud the suffering of others.

  14. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    I think that posts like this, even though considered mean-spiritied by many, are helpful to the atheist point of view.

    Maybe, if hammered home often enough, some people will begin to realize that:

    god’s answers to prayers are purely random … just what you’d expect if there was no god.

  15. Jeff
    January 4th, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    Gabriel said: “I’m just desperately waiting for the Rapture so I can cackle myself into a coma over your eventual damnation.”

    There is that loving Christian spirit we all know and have come to expect! Are these the standards of love you speak of Christian? Oh, please teach us more!

  16. Alpha Male
    January 4th, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

    This is something interesting from CNN:

    Hatfield’s announcement sent Anna Casto, who lost her cousin, into a tirade.

    “No, he strictly told us they was alive,” Casto said. “Three hours later he come back and said they wasn’t.”

    “We want to know why, and how people can get by with this,” she said.

    Casto said the tragedy has shaken the faith of some in the community. “We have got some of us … saying… that we don’t even know if there is a Lord anymore,” she said. “We had a miracle, and it was taken away from us.”

    John Casto was at the church when the false report arrived and later, the terrible news. After the first report, “they were praising God,” he said. And after the second “they were cursing.”

  17. Tom
    January 4th, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

    If you’ve seen the video, you’ve seen how quickly that “they’re alive” rumor spread. Everyone was skeptical though until, like a sign from God, the church bells rangs.

    Church bells, of course, mean they’re alive.

  18. Smokey
    January 4th, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    It’s obvious the Carbon Monoxide god was stronger than the Chrstian god. The April Fools god also came early this year. :))

  19. RazorsKiss.net
    January 4th, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

    Scornful Skeptic Award #6

    This is not only in bad taste – incredibly bad taste – but irredeemably caustic.
    Take a few looks at it.

    A hilarious atheistic satire highlighting the futility of prayer had to be scrapped late Tuesday night when twelve West Virginia miners miracul…

  20. RazorsKiss.net
    January 4th, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

    Scornful Skeptic #6

    This is not only in bad taste – incredibly bad taste – but irredeemably caustic.

    Take a few looks at it…

  21. RazorsKiss.net
    January 4th, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

    Scornful Skeptic #6

    This is not only in bad taste – incredibly bad taste – but irredeemably caustic.

    Take a few looks at it…

  22. Gabriel Sanchez
    January 4th, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

    Apparently, nobody online can catch obvious sarcasm; especially when that sarcasm amounts to constructing the false image atheists paint of Christians all of the time. Ho-hum…

    Also, I’m baffled how “embracing tastelessness” offsets my criticism that atheists have no taste (and could not possibly have taste). My statement may have been assertive, yes, but it shouldn’t have been lost so quickly in the murky pond that passes for critical thought on here. For atheism to be coherent, it has to rely on a dogmatic belief in metaphysical naturalism, i.e., that the universe is a closed system. As such, the universe itself has no externally imposed meaning nor “intelligent designed” facets; it is a nihilistic universe devoid of purpose, meaning, or transcendent values. “Standards” are thus off the table for any atheist who wants to–at the very, very least–be coherent.

  23. severalspecies
    January 4th, 2006 @ 7:41 pm

    Gabriel,

    So what if the universe has no externally imposed meaning. Internally imposed meanings can be had, that are just as viable as your externally imposed meaning. More so, since the internally imposed meanings can be based on reality, not on fantasy of a myth.

  24. Jeff Guinn
    January 4th, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

    Gabriel:

    Perhaps you should consider the implications of Divine Command morality.

  25. severalspecies
    January 4th, 2006 @ 8:08 pm

    To Jeff,

    That was/is a great post for Gabriel to sink his teeth into. It also helped me out a lot too. I often have trouble putting my ideas into words.

  26. godarefake
    January 4th, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

    The vast majority of theists I have met have no ability to understand the value of dark humor, so your post, I think, can only appeal (and thus benefit) the occasional atheist who see value in dark humor…

    Your post brings back some “fond” memories I have of 9/11, just after the second tower collapsed. I decided to bring some levity to that dark day by suggesting an office betting pool that, for fifty bucks, allowed participants to attempt a guess at the final death toll. Let me just say, my humor at that time only found a limited audience.

    To suggest levity at time of disaster is generally met with abhorrance. I personally find the feigning of some connection to the disaster, when you have none, to be completely disengenuous and in far worse taste than any dark humor expressed.

  27. Gabriel Sanchez
    January 4th, 2006 @ 9:36 pm

    The post on Divine Command Theory is hardly applicable to this discussion. Setting aside the fact it relies on a highly generalized construction of what might be deemed (though perhaps not exist in fact) “religious ethics”, I can more specifically assert that I don’t subscribe to it in the narrow, crude, and wholly unconvincing way the author of that post presents it. I suppose if someone does follow Divine Command Theory in such a way, they can deal with the criticisms contained therein; I have no stake in the matter.

    The remarks on internal v. externally imposed meaning ignore the fact that while we might say the internal has positive reality, it is wholeheartedly nihilistic. On what basis is my internal meaning anymore laudable/damnable than your internally imposed meaning? On what grounds do you differentiate between, say, art and trash? Tyranny and legitimacy? How about basic right from wrong?

    Also, from the mindset of an atheist, my morality (even if it were Divine Command) would still be internal despite my belief that it’s origins are external; on what basis can you really criticise it? Because you don’t like it?

  28. Gabriel Sanchez
    January 4th, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

    godarefake,

    Perhaps theists (and non-theists) do not see the value in dark humor because there is no value in it. Your remarks assume that there is some opaque value in it that the theist is either incapable of or generally fails to pick up on; however, you present no explanation for why this is so.

    Also, there is nothing in my words that can even mildly be construed as “feiging” that I have “a connection” to the tragedy. It’s both absurd and immature to somehow hold that I would have to be directly connected to a tragedy in order to defend the dignity of the lives lost or criticise those who would belittle them. The fact you have presented nothing even approaching a case for how anything I have written can be inferred to make such a connect demonstrates not merely the shallowness of your intellect, but the extent to which your thinking on this matter is deprived of much more than the capacity to attack my remarks ad hominem.

  29. RazorsKiss
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

    Gabriel, please tell me you have a blog. (and contact me to let me know where it is!)

    Excellent, man.

    However… RA.? I can’t tell you how much that post disgusts me. It is morally repugnant.

  30. EclecticGuru
    January 4th, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

    It is a typical theist argument to claim that their “morality” is superior because any other morality wouldn’t make them feel as good about their lives.

    But it doesn’t explain why their PARTICULAR morality is the one that should be believed in. There are many “externally imposed” possibilities. Maybe the “creator” of morality is pleased by tastelessness.

    You fucking idiot.

  31. godsarefake
    January 5th, 2006 @ 1:35 am

    Gabriel,

    While I agree that my comment was vague, it wasn’t intended as a thesis of any kind, just a point of view in response to the article to which these comments are attached. However, I do commend you on your hubris to assume my post were in some way inspired by something you posted instead.

    I was curious, however, about your understanding of humor. I was always told that humor was subjective, and the value of a joke is really defined by those that hear it. I was unaware that there was some definitive way that let’s us all know what is funny and what is not. You must really post more on this topic because I am afraid I may have been laughing at things all my life without first verifying whether or not they qualified as humor.

    I especially admired the way you read between the lines of my post and got to the root of all my personal problems. It clearly defined you as a person of refined and sophisticated talent. You know, your words inspire me to be a better person. Oh, and thanks again for catching that typo of mine. Sorry about that. Me and my clumsy, chubby little fingers. They just have trouble catching all the letters of a word sometimes.

    However, I wasn’t quite sure what you meant by the term “ad hominem?” Is that a Greek or Latin term? I am sorry, but I only speak English, but I guess that’s another one of my short comings. Sorry again.

  32. Mookie
    January 5th, 2006 @ 3:23 am

    Gabriel,

    I don’t believe I’ve seen you post in the comments section before. Welcome to The Raving Atheist, a blog dedicated to insulting and belittling theistic beliefs. I can see you are well ensconced in your religion. That’s good, because it means most of what is discussed here will be beyond your understanding. I know that it is really the meme that drives you to deny reality the way you do, but TRA sees the person holding the meme as responsible. In either case, you will be ridiculed and cajoled for your irrational beliefs, so that thick layer of ignorance will keep you well protected from valid criticism. I hope you stay a while, even if it is only to serve as a verbal punching bag. If you really want to get something out of it, though, you’re going to have to think – really hard. It won’t be easy, nor particularly appealing at times, but it is certainly worth it. Waking up and shedding the old ignorance can be a very exciting experience, if you choose undergo the liberating exercise.

  33. Lily
    January 5th, 2006 @ 8:52 am

    Mookie: How often must we show you that there is little that can be considered thinking on this blog, much less serious thought? You are so cute, when you are preposterous.

    Gabriel, welcome and good luck. There have been some serious intellectual Christian heavyweights on this blog in recent months (Mort Coyle and Steve G spring to mind– I won’t mention myself in the same breath). I can’t speak for them (and I haven’t seen either in a while) but I know that my skull has started to fracture from banging up against the incredible, stone wall of middle school “thinking” and vulgarity that passes for serious thought here. Having said that, there are some really interesting, intelligent atheists here but, if this is your first thread, you haven’t met them yet.

  34. SteveG
    January 5th, 2006 @ 10:11 am

    I personally find the feigning of some connection to the disaster, when you have none, to be completely disingenuous and in far worse taste than any dark humor expressed.

    I can see how someone of the uber race of atheists would think we are feigning a connection because they lack one themselves (due to being so far superior to the rest of us mere homo sapiens sapiens).

    But since most of us need nothing more than the common connection of being human in order to empathize with those who’ve been through a horrific tragedy, or to imagine what it must mean to be a family member who has just lost someone they deeply care for, I’ll suggest that there is nothing feigned about the connection.

    Your idiotic suggestion for an office pool shows just how little regard you have for the very real pain that those people are experiencing, and that you very well could experience yourself some day.

    I am also bitterly disappointed that TRA is in the same category and is all too eager to use anything and everything as a tool for bludgeoning believers. Hooray for you TRA, you’ve scored another ‘point’! Aren’t you proud?

    The more time I spend here and in the forums, the more I find this….

    I regularly receive e-mails from people telling me that my site has only strengthened their faith in God by showing them what misanthropic, mean-spirited, self-aggrandizing bastards atheists are.

    …to be true.

    Oh, and I am not complaining about it, just pointing it out.

  35. Thorngod
    January 5th, 2006 @ 11:10 am

    “Bring Me the Head of Gabriel Sanchez” – a posthumous film by Sam Peckinpaw, in which a hundred atheistic bounty hunters are shot down two and three at a time by the god-fearing Sanchez. The story ends with Sanchez riding off into the dirty sunset, while his attackers, baffled by his supernatural imperviousness to both insult and reason, dust themselves off and await the next victim to wander onto the R.A. range. … Godsarefake, I really liked your “humor” comment. As some Frenchman once said, There’s no accounting for taste.

  36. benjamin
    January 5th, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    This was a tragic accident, and I feel deeply for those who were relieved to hear their family member or friend was alive only to have that relief replaced with sorrow a few hours later. At the same time, I can admit that as an atheist it is slightly amusing to see people’s prayers go unanswered. In this case, that amusement is outweighed by my empathy for the family and friends of the miners. If one can abandon emotion and be rational about the matter, either God had good reason to ignore all the prayers for the miners’ lives, or there is no God. Certainly, theists will believe the former, and if this incident moved them any closer to believing the latter, then poking fun at their sorrow and tribulations will not win them over as joyful members of the atheist community. I guess TRA wrote this piece to entertain himself and those atheists who can overlook empathy to find amusement in the situation, or else to create controversy. Still, to be seriously offended by it you would have to be overly sensitive to issues of prayer and the existence of god, or else have an actual connection to the tragedy.

  37. hermesten
    January 5th, 2006 @ 11:35 am

    “…as far as the miners parody goes, it is in poor taste…”

    Oh well, sometimes things that are good for you just don’t taste good.

    Lily: “How often must we show you that there is little that can be considered thinking on this blog, much less serious thought?”

    Can you say “broken record?” Of course, it is very comforting to believe that you’re “serious” and “thoughtful” and those who disagree with you aren’t. Sort of proud of yourself? But I just don’t see how anyone who spends as much time as you do, on a site you consider woefully lacking in serious thought, can be taken seriously.

  38. jahrta
    January 5th, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

    I personally found this story to hit closer to the “meat ‘n potatoes” of the issue this thread touched upon.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10718763/

    …and yet they still live their lives as if some magical sky-daddy is looking out for them.

    *sigh*

  39. Jody Tresidder
    January 5th, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

    To Gabriel On His Problem With Dark Humor,

    The secret of living, if I may be so bold, is defamiliarisation.
    That is: experiencing things in a new way, adding your freshest perceptions to the old, checking your assumptions against evidence, refusing – where possible – to accept the stale. (Most of us are doing this anyway if we’re not actually in a coma: the trick is recognising the process and pursuing it).

    Dark Humor – which we can all decide to find offensive at different times depending on personal circumstances – has intrinisic value. It can shock you into an unbidden perception. It can provide temporary relief from emotional agony. It can nudge you out of a pompous rut. It can even appal you when you thought you couldn’t possibly be further appalled (and thus usefully show how arbitrarily we select our own apparent stone-carved limitations).

    I didn’t find godsarefake’s 9/11 betting pool especially rib-tickling (though definitely not beyond the pale!). Then again, I wouldn’t assume godsarefake would have laughed – for example -at what stray thought I found comforting and funny at my beloved big sister’s funeral.

    Hope this helps.

  40. Lily
    January 5th, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    Hermesten, you are having a cow. Take it easy. I didn’t lump you in among the middle schoolers, did I?

    Why do I hang around here? It is the fascination with the scene of a bad accident impulse. That and (you aren’t gonna like this)that I use some of the more egregious posts here as fodder for a high school Sunday School class I help teach. Once they see how really seriously ignorant so many of you are, they are much more interested in getting prepared to enter the fray by learning as much as they can about hermeneutics, theology, etc. That is as good as it gets for any teacher.

  41. "Q" the Enchanter
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    “You are so cute, when you are preposterous.”

    That is a funny put-down. (No comment on whether it was apt in this instance.)

    As to Gabriel’s remark that “atheists have no taste (and could not possibly have taste)”: Quite to the contrary, taste is all we’ve got.

  42. "Q" the Enchanter
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    “You are so cute, when you are preposterous.”

    That is a funny put-down. (No comment on whether it was apt in this instance.)

    As to Gabriel’s remark that “atheists have no taste (and could not possibly have taste)”: Quite to the contrary, taste is all we’ve got.

  43. "Q" the Enchanter
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    “You are so cute, when you are preposterous.”

    That is a funny put-down. (No comment on whether it was apt in this instance.)

    As to Gabriel’s remark that “atheists have no taste (and could not possibly have taste)”: Quite to the contrary, taste is all we’ve got.

  44. "Q" the Enchanter
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    “You are so cute, when you are preposterous.”

    That is a funny put-down. (No comment on whether it was apt in this instance.)

    As to Gabriel’s remark that “atheists have no taste (and could not possibly have taste)”: Quite to the contrary, taste is all we’ve got.

  45. Tony
    January 5th, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

    I was unaware that there was some definitive way that let’s us all know what is funny and what is not. You must really post more on this topic because I am afraid I may have been laughing at things all my life without first verifying whether or not they qualified as humor.

    Actually, godsarefake, there is a difinitive way of determining what is funny and what is not. It’s called “the golden rule” and it was described by Rabbi Hillel in the first century: “What you find repugnant, do not do to others”. I don’t know if there is some “atheist morality guide” out there that can help you, but one thing you can do is to ask yourself the following question:

    “Had a family member died in the mine accident, would I still consider this funny?”

    If the answer is no, it isn’t funny. There is a lot of slapstick comedy that I consider funny. One of my favorites is The Pink Panther (with Peter Sellers). In those kinds of shows and movies, I know that professional stuntmen are performing the falls down the stairs and whatnot.

    On the other hand, America’s Funniest Home Videos is not funny at all. There are real people getting hit in the nuts with golf balls, falling down stairs, falling off of trampolines, etc. These are not professionals, and the implication is, these are real people getting hurt. What a hoot. [/sarcasm]

    So watching a professional fall down – funny. Watching your neighbor fall down – not funny. Making a joke about your grandmother’s foibles – funny. Making a joke about people dying on 9/11 – not funny.

    Ask yourself… “If this had happened to me or a family member, would I consider it funny?” If the answer is no, it’s not funny.

    Of course, you are welcome to find death and suffering humorous if you like, but that simply would brand you as a horrid human being to the majority of the population.

    Hope I helped.

  46. Jody Tresidder
    January 5th, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    Well, that’s pretty funny Tony.

    That is, for a satire showing an earnest martian trying to explain the concept “human sense of humor” to his little green martian friends!

  47. Thorngod
    January 5th, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

    LILY- Just how selective are you in your fodder choices? Very, I’ll bet! Very!
    TONY- Was that serious? If blind Betty actually burned her fingers trying to read a waffle iron, I’d be very sorry for her. But the incongruity of it would still be funny as hell (which is almost as funny as heaven).

  48. Lily
    January 5th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    Thorngod: Let me put it to you this way; neither Choobus nor Ghoulslime have made the cut…

    I don’t think we have “met” before. You made wonderful sense in your answer to Tony and that always sticks in my memory. While I have quite a bit of sympathy with his position, you are right- incongruity is one of the important categories of humor.

    I do find people falling down funny. Not because I am cruel, Tony, but because it is so easy to imagine it being me with all the attendant embarassment …

    Now getting hit in the … er … pom poms with a golf ball? I am starting to crack up just typing the words. But that may be a defensive woman thing… In other words, humor has many different aspects but most of them, it seems to me, help us cope with our very real and sometimes painful human condition.

  49. Tony
    January 5th, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

    Lily, I guess I must be one of those humorless Christians everyone talks about. :)

  50. godsarefake
    January 5th, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

    Tony (and Gabriel, RazorsKiss, and various and sundry other people highly repulsed by the humor that generated this discussion):

    Ah, I get it then. So if I am to tailor your Golden Rule you mentioned from this Rabbi friend of yours to this situation, I am not to laugh at things that I personally find repugnant or may find repugnant if presented to me by others? If so, then I am confused. What if on one hand I find some of this story repugnant (e.g. the fact that God failed to save those poor people and they needed to die for us to have this charming discussion) but on the other hand I found some of this situation very ironic and amusing and not repugnant at all (e.g. TRA, in an attempt to express his atheist point of view, was seemingly thwarted by a perverse “Act of God”). How does your Golden Rule apply in this situation? How is this irony found in TRA’s situation, independent of the West Virginia tragedy itself, so repugnant to you? Are you able to divorce the two events – the tragedy and TRA’s ironic situation — from one another? Furthermore, are you unable to laugh and mourn at the same event?

  51. hermesten
    January 5th, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

    Well Lily, what can I say? If you’re using the “egregious” quotes to teach your students, they’re being cheated. This is sort of like assigning easy homework problems and saving the hard ones for the final exam. I found this very amusing in college, after listening to my roomates who bragged all semester about their easy assignments fail the department wide final.

    If your point is ridicule, I guess they’re getting what “they paid for,” even if it doesn’t seem very “Christian.” If the point is to teach them to think then I suspect that if any of them ever have to take the final they’ll be in for a shock. Personally, when I want to get better, at anything, I go up against the best. Ultimately, the easy targets may be fun for awhile, but they stunt your growth.

    On the bright side, I’m happy to see that you have left some room for humor in your life, and lack the smug self-satification of our self-appointed humor arbiters like Tony and Gabriel.

  52. lily
    January 5th, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

    Hermesten:
    You are in a bad mood today! They have to start with pablum before I throw steak at them. C’mon, it isn’t like we’ve been at this more than a few weeks.

    And even though it is a temptation, ridicule is not the point either. Most of these young folk have never been challenged in any serious way, living as we do in a red state in the Bible belt. Most of them will be off to college next year. I want them to be able to recognize the kinds of arguments that get made and understand why they believe what they believe (if they do). If any one of them does lose his faith, at least he will do so honestly and not because he hadn’t a clue how to answer, or even think about, the kinds of arguments that get made.

  53. Gen. JC Christian, patriot
    January 5th, 2006 @ 11:59 pm

    I prayed and prayed, and when that didn’t seem to be working, I followed Lot’s lead and invited all my town’s visitors to rape my daughters. I’m very dissapointed in the results.

  54. The Raving Atheist
    January 6th, 2006 @ 12:06 am

    Empathy

    The chief criticism of my post about the West Virginia mining tragedy seems to be that it demonstrated a lack of empathy. But if empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and judge how he or she might feel, I think it’s my cr…

  55. I think that would be funny
    January 6th, 2006 @ 8:32 am

    I bet that if your mom got gang raped by 4 dudes with AIDS, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea and genital warts that I would think that it was funnier than you would.

  56. Kate
    January 6th, 2006 @ 10:51 am

    Depends on how ugly the guys were.

  57. Viole
    January 6th, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    Wow, General, that was really generous of you, and I’m sorry god didn’t respond. I must request, however, that you don’t continue to follow Lot’s example, and refrain from sleeping with you daughters.

  58. hermesten
    January 6th, 2006 @ 11:55 am

    Lily, I don’t think you have to worry much about them finding any intellectual challenges in today’s colleges. Controversy isn’t “revenue enhancing.”

  59. MBains
    January 6th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    For atheism to be coherent, it has to rely on a dogmatic belief in metaphysical naturalism, i.e., that the universe is a closed system.

    Proving you’re a philosophical ignoramus is why you get made fun of here Gabriel.

    Atheism is quite coherent. Atheists don’t believe in gods. Other than that, it’s the fluff of individuals and not atheism. You might notice certain believers believing different beliefs from yours as well. They are still believers. No?

    Gen JC Christian: I’m very dissapointed in the results.

    Yes. I imagine it might be so. I’m sure the holy 3 some letting you down in this instance of absentia will not prohibit your futures endeavors into holiness General Sir!

    Here’s to a cultural battle cry theists and atheists can agree on together:

    Happy War on Ignorance! Hoo Rah!!

  60. Dada Saves
    January 6th, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

    “There have been some serious intellectual Christian heavyweights on this blog in recent months .”

    Are you crazy?

    “Mort Coyle and Steve G spring to mind”

    Why yes, I see that you are.

  61. Paul
    January 7th, 2006 @ 11:57 am

    With the exception of puns (which some would not call humor at all), *99.9%* of all humor involves someone getting a raw deal, being the butt of the joke, etc. Arguing that something isn’t funny because it makes fun of someone else’s discomfort is only based on whose ox is getting gored.

    As Mel Brooks says, “Tragedy is if I cut my little finger. Humor is if you fall into an open sewer and die.”

  62. The Raving Atheist
    January 15th, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

    Shafted

    My treatment of the Sago miners’ plight last week was received with accusations of insensitivity. But at last I resisted dedicating an obituary cartoon to the tragedy — no decent person would do that, right? Guess again. In the first one, even the m…

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