(It’s) Nothing Like a Good Parody

Tonight, while reading Confessions of a Former Conservative, I ran across a blog called The Emotions of hdn666.  This blog is apparently a young Christian’s attempt to parody liberals, atheists, and apparently anyone else who isn’t just like him.  I’ve read a few posts and I have to say that I’m giggling a little bit.  What can I say, I love a good parody.

Except, I’m not laughing because it’s a good parody.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to imagine what a worse parody would look like.  The author of this site has created such strawman arguments and caricatures of real liberals, atheists, and just abut everybody else that they bear almost (and I’m being fairly generous by adding the “almost”) no resemblance to real live people.  To give you an example of what I mean, let us take a look at one of his posts, Atheism is Truth.

See, the Bible is full of holes. Evolution, well science, is truth. It is absolute.

This statement is somewhat accurate to many atheists’ views.  Hell, it’s somewhat accurate to my views, and I’m not even an atheist.  The problem is, the author doesn’t understand what atheists and others (like me) mean when we say something like this.  This becomes clear as his straw-man representation of atheists’ views continues.

People who believe the Bible are stupid morons.

I’ve known a few atheists who have said this very thing.  To the best of my knowledge, none of them were above the age of majority.  They acted their age in many ways, including calling other people stupid morons.  Interestingly enough, there were a number of adult atheists around that found these immature atheists as annoying as we theists did.

Adult atheists do find it hard to understand why someone would believe the Bible (especially “literally”).  However, this is not the same as thinking that such people are stupid morons.  Atheists are perfectly capable of understanding that people can be intelligent and rational while still holding views that they (the atheists) don’t “get.”

They are believing stories that have come down the line from person to person and have changed very little or none since their first telling.

I don’t fully get this statement.  The atheists I know actually challenge the idea that Biblical texts have been passed down unchanged over the centuries.  (And indeed, there are manuscripts that differ.  It’s why certain passages are carefully footnoted in translations like the NRSV to indicate that said passage was not found in “earlier manuscripts.”)  So I’m not entirely sure why the author through that bit in.

I can speculate, however.  I suspect that the author behind the parody is the one who believes that these stories have never changed.  In other words, this is one of those cases where the author interrupts the narrator to come out and say “isn’t this totally stupid?”  In my opinion, it disrupts the parody.

Of course, I’ll also note that the unchanging nature of “Biblical truth” is one of the points championed by conservative Christians.  In fact, it’s often used as proof of Biblical truth’s “superiority” over science, as the latter “is constantly changing.”

What they author and most other conservative Christians fail to understand is that science’s ability to change based on new evidence is a strength rather than a weakness.  A method of inquiry which can accept new data and revise its premises to accommodate the new data as necessary allows us to enrich, enhance, and even correct our understanding of reality.  It allows us to engage in an honest search for truth rather than insisting we already know it and pray to God we’re right.

Compare this to conservative Christianity, which seems to maintain that if one little thing changes, the entire religion will shatter into a million shards.  This strikes me as a weak faith, a house of cards that will topple when enough new data which cannot easily be bent to support the presupposed and unquestionable beliefs of the religion accumulates.  I would think that the parody’s author would do well to learn the strength in flexible systems of understanding.

Christians are believing in a God that they have never seen from people that they have never met.

This needs an “objectively” inserted in it.  Atheists are perfectly willing to accept that Christians and other theists of experienced something that they interpret to be God or some sort of Divine presence.  However, they argue that Christians and other theists cannot objectively demonstrate that their interpretation of their experiences are true.

As a theist, I have no problem admitting that the atheists are right about that.  I also think that any theist who is being honest would be hard pressed to disagree with that position.

But see, I’m an intelligent Atheist. I get my facts from real sources. You get your information from a book and I…well, actually I get mine from books too. Huh…well now I’m stumped.

Actually, atheists get their facts from several sources.  Among them are personal experience, their own ability to reason, the experiences and reasoning of others, and yes, even books.  Lots of books.

The thing is, atheists don’t have to take any particular book (or set of books) as 100% factual.  What’s more, they don’t have to take a particular narrow interpretation of what a given book means and accept it 100% at face value.  They can critically examine the books they get their facts from.  They can cross-check those facts from the claims made in other books as well as their own personal observations and reasoning.  In the end, the atheist has quite an arsenal for gathering, examining, and refining the facts at their disposal.

The fact that our strawman atheist is stumped reveals his nature as a strawman.

Well, I know for a fact that the earth is millions and millions of years old! Trying to say otherwise is idiotic. What proof is there? Scientists say so. And we all know that scientists never lie.

Laying aside the ludicrous question of whether or not scientists ever lie, let’s consider that our author (and his strawman atheist by extension) don’t understand how science works here.  We know for a fact that the earth is millions of years old because everything we know about numerous and diverse fields of scientific inquiry point to that fact.  If the earth isn’t millions of years old, just about everything we know about how the world works is completely wrong.  And considering the amount of time we’ve spent verifying, challenging, and reaffirming what we know about the way the world works is right, that’s a pretty hard sell.

After all, they are all-knowing, right?

I know of no scientist who claims to be all-knowing.  In fact, I’m pretty sure most of them admit that there’s a lot they still don’t know.  If they knew everything, they wouldn’t have a job to do anymore.  Our author is just making wild accusations.

Bible believers are taking someone else’s word for what they believe and I…well actually, I’m doing the same thing.

And again, here’s where the author doesn’t get it.  Yes, we take scientists’ word on certain things.  But we don’t actually have to.  Assuming I had an infinite amount of time and resources at my disposal, I could go get a degree in microbiology and rerun all the experiments that every single microbiologist has ever done to confirm or further explain the mechanisms of evolution.  I could then do the same for biochemistry, the various geological sciences, and every other field of scientific inquiry.  Those scientists have even helped me out if I want to do this by recording their experiments, the procedures and materials they used, their results, and their conclusions.

I’m not going to do all that, even though I could.  I simply don’t have the time.  But here’s the thing:  scientists double-check other scientists’ work all the time.  It’s actually an important part of the scientific method.

So I’m not just “taking other people’s word for it.”  I’m taking the word of people who showed how they came to their conclusions, “showed their work,” and had other people double-check, verify, and build upon that work.

In the end, an attempt to parody something that one does not understand will fail miserably.  Apparently, the author of The Emotions of hdn666 has yet to learn that lesson.

6 thoughts on “(It’s) Nothing Like a Good Parody”

  1. In my experience, many people- especially those with some sort of societal privilege- don’t understand “the other side” well enough to be able to write good parodies of it. So, the “parodies” are only funny to people hold similar insular views about what the “other side” is supposedly like.

    Although, I once read a Christian mock liberals by writing a “day in the life of a liberal”- in this story, the liberal began his day with a breakfast of seaweed. Which, I thought was funny, because I actually do like seaweed. Although, not for breakfast. LOL.

  2. You raise a good point, Fannie. And the bit about the seaweed cracks me up. Of course, I may need to tell my friend Marisa that she should give up seaweed since it’s apparently a “liberal” thing.

  3. fannie, I think I might have read that one. Does it end with the strawberal getting killed by an intruder because he doesn’t sleep with a gun?

    I’ve yet to see any funny fundamentalist humor. Someday, I’m going to try to figure out if this is just because they and I are too culturally different for me to appreciate it, or if they’re just not funny. I’m leaning toward the latter.

  4. hm. I commented on that blog, though I don’t know if my advice will be welcome. I like parody when it’s done well, but inept parody makes me sad and slightly queasy.

    I think what bothers me most is not just that he doesn’t understand the positions he’s parodying, but that he seems to believe that he understands them well enough that we might mistake him for an Actual Liberal if he doesn’t keep putting in asides and “slip-ups,” e.g., “Why is abortion so great to us Democrats and Liberals? Because it is the innocent killing of human life, er, excuse me, it’s a woman’s choice.”

    He reminds me of the guy in Midsummer Night’s Dream who was so concerned that the ladies would be frightened by his mad acting skillz as the lion in “Pyramus and Thisbe” that he took it upon himself to explain mid-roar that he was not really a lion and No Actual Lovers Will Be Devoured In This Production. Only Snug the Joiner’s impulse was one of kindness.

  5. Thanks, Evie. I read ndh’s response to you and found it very telling. His intention isn’t so much comedy as mockery and triumphalism. I find those strange qualities in a self-proclaimed follower of a religion whose founder preached love and compassion even for one’s enemies and warned against thinking too highly of oneself. But that’s just me.

  6. oh dear. I wrote back and then saw his flounce post, oh well. I know it almost never helps, but I’m a bit too inclined to be a meddler because I wish someone had put a hand on my shoulder back in the early days of my Internet usage and said, “Honey, no.

    Is he a professing Christian? I didn’t catch that from the Stupid Liberals site. I do sometimes wish more Christians would read the Gospels all the way through.

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