“Ridenda Religio” : the mantra expresses the raison d’être, the reason, the purpose for the existence of this blog. Ridicule is a powerful weapon but has always been a two-edged sword. “Collateral damage” is another way of expressing the undesired effects of scorn, of making something – or worse, someone – a laughing stock. A weapon, therefore, to be handled with care. The red line that must not be crossed, to avoid the potential backlash of excessive ridicule, can be described only in terms of bad taste. Examples abound. A classic is the 1970 movie “MASH”, which inspired the popular, sanitized TV series of the same name (but with asterisks : “M*A*S*H”). The film’s portrayal of the pathetic, naîve, comical Catholic chaplain and of the pious Protestant doctor praying on his knees like a kid beside his bunk, and especially the satirical scene blasphemously recreating da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper, demonstrate the limits which ridicule ignores at its own risk.
The majority of mankind believes in God and billions practise some form of religion. Degrees of conviction and commitment vary, but religious people are more often than not believers not for intellectual, logical or theological reasons but for traditional, tribal, transcendent reasons. Their belief is part of the heritage, the education, they have received. Many of them never ask themselves why they believe; they never question their faith. They are not interested in, and consider unnecessary, theological arguments about God’s existence; for them God is a given, necessary to make sense of the world, of their life and of their death. And although they may not understand much of what their religion teaches them, they accept its beliefs, obey its rules (more or less) and participate in its rituals. They feel offended if not insulted when atheists make fun of their faith and religious practice. For non-believers to call their beliefs silly is to suggest, convinced believers feel, that they themselves are stupid. This is the second, sharper edge of the sword, the cause of the collateral damage.
Such believers should not be the atheist’s primary target. This blog is intended for believers who have already begun to feel uncomfortable with and to question their Church’s doctrine, who have jettisoned some or much of it, but cling to the core beliefs : God, the soul and the after-life. These Believers on the Brink can be led to see that even these rock foundations of their faith crumble under objective scrutiny. To help them realize how credulous they have been, some of us former believers find it effective to share with them our personal discovery of the lack of evidence for what we used to believe, and show them just how ridiculous we have found religious doctrines and practices to be. We laugh at our own credulity and get them to laugh at theirs. We want them to see how ridiculous religion really is. Which is why I keep repeating :