by Denyse O'Leary
"Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too."
As Newsweek continues the story,
Jan. 8, 2006 issue - With that five-second submission to YouTube, a 24-year-old who uses the name "menotsimple" has either condemned herself to an eternity of punishment in the afterlife or struck a courageous blow against superstition. She's one of more than 400 mostly young people who have joined a campaign by the Web site BlasphemyChallenge.com to stake their souls against the existence of God.
The brainchild of filmmaker Brian Flemming, who directed the antireligion documentary The God Who Wasn't There and of atheist Web site RationalResponders.com 's cofounder Brian Sapient, the YouTube blasphemy challenge was a brilliant marketing device aimed and advertised directly at youth.
That is, it focused attention on the new militant atheism among a younger market segment that is most unlikely to buy and read books by Richard Dawkins , who provided the campaign with some help, or by Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris either.
As Jerry Adler's Newsweek article admits, most theologians do not interpret blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as simply making a statement of that type, so most of the kids are probably doing it for a lark, but their atheist elders are deadly serious. Atheists don't tend to have many children, so they must recruit.
Indeed, blogger Frank asks,
You want us to leave you alone. Fine. But why must you insult our spiritual background doing it? Couldn't you guys have made a video that said, "I'm a proud and open atheist" without bringing in the Holy Spirit or our Bible into it? You guys specifically chose Christianity. Why couldn't *YOU* guys leave *US* alone?
Well now, that is an interesting question. Part of the answer, as we shall see, is sheer spite at the unexpected robustness of spirituality. But a look at the social landscape might suggest other answers as well.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007).
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