Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This atheist walks into a bar...

I received an email recently from a friend that I know from grade school days. We are back in touch thanks to Facebook (go figure). In the intervening years he apparently found Jesus in a big way. Regardless, he's a really nice guy and, despite all the g-o-d talk, I'm glad we're back in touch.

At some point during the reacquaintance process I was added to his email distribution list. I haven't asked to be removed, and his emails are infrequent enough that I probably won't. The occasional copy of "Footsteps" (written entirely in Papyrus with 50 animated angel gifs, of course) dropped into my inbox is within tolerance. His last email went something like this:

An atheist was walking through the woods.
‘What majestic trees!
What powerful rivers!
What beautiful animals!’
 He said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river,he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him.
At that instant the Atheist cried out,
‘Oh my God!’

Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky.
‘You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?’
The atheist looked directly into the light, ‘It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?’

‘Very well,’ said the voice.
 The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke:
‘Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.’

Now this isn't the first time I've seen this email, and I did get a chuckle out of it the first time. I mean, really, anthropomorphism in humor is funny. I don't care who you are. But this time I thought a little about what it was communicating. I don't think I read into this joke what the author intended. The atheist comes away looking pretty good in my estimation. First, god goes out of his way to say, "Look, Dumbass. Here I am," stopping time, bright light, everything but the burning bush. Over the top? Yes. But when presented with observable evidence, the atheist immediately acknowledges the existence of an all-powerful creator. Why wouldn't she? This is, after all, exactly what atheists ask for. I don't know a single atheist that says there is no amount of evidence that would change his mind. It is the wild, unverifiable claims that we reject.

So the atheist sucks it up, but she also does something smart. In asking for the bear to be made a christian, one would assume that the bear would be bound at the very least by the 'big ten'. One of them has something to do with killing, I believe. Instead, the newly whelped-again bear prays and prepares to enjoy what will undoubtedly be an unsatisfying meal (we atheists are notoriously stringy). And the big man is just going to watch. Creepy. Apparently, this is Abraham's god, the one Dawkins calls, "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." This is not gentle Jesus, meek and mild.

So the moral of this story is that it doesn't matter if you believe in god, it's the groveling that's important. That explains so much.

Be Well



mishupishu said...

Spot on with that analysis there. It's not really important to think about the purpose of the religion as long as it's abundantly clear how foolish it is to disregard the religion.

Shawn Michel de Montaigne said...

I've always enjoyed this joke. Had a good laugh once again after reading it.

I suppose outlining morality by way of a joke doesn't really work, though it may highlight contradictions within the belief system in question. I'm reminded of another religious joke:

You know Rushdie, the publisher of The Satanic Verses, the tome that had all the Muslims crying for his head? He's just come out with another book: The Buddha: A Big, Fat Fuck.