Granted, it was probably wrong on some levels, but it was also undeniably fun. Trolling Fox (cough) News online message boards back when they actually permitted comments filled in micro work-gaps and left me at times literally spitting my coffee over the computer screen as I choked in fits of laughter. The political forums were fun-filled battlefields where Liberals with screen names like Teabaggin4Jesus chastised Right-wing nutcases so filled with hate, conspiracy, atrocious punctuation, non-existent grammar and truly awful spelling that they were the eventual cause the entire fabulous circus was shut down earlier this year. Those were fun pages for my disqus moniker who racked up some 20,000 comments over 5 years, but it was inside Fox’s religion articles where I played like some merciless two-hundred kilo Augustus Gloop let loose in the Wonka factory. Here in one neat locale, lurking under headlines like “Pope lights Christmas tree and cites abortion, gay marriage as threats to peace” were to be found scores of some of the hardest core religious zealots in the United States, free for me to engage at will. And god only knows (excuse the pun) I did.
On these pages I fine-tuned a small library of cynical, oftentimes corrosive jibes like, “Well, aren’t you just a waste of 2 billion years of organic evolution,” and perfected derisive mockery in rebuttals like, “I could eat a bowl of Alphabet Soup and shit a better argument than that.” I would coldly, perhaps even callously inform those with whom I disagreed (which were the vast majority) that I’d willingly try being nicer if they “just tried being smarter.” “Does dumb come naturally to you, or is it something you have to work at daily?” was a cherished indignity I threw out more times than I care to say, and I’d take every opportunity afforded me to use their very own bible against these Fox-watching religious sycophants. “Lonely? Need a companion? Rape any hot virgin and get a wife!” (Deuteronomy, 22: 28-29), or my personal favourite to stunt the religious bigots I found at every turn, “God HATES Shrimp” (Leviticus 11: 9-12). I would, could, and indeed did herd entire message boards into full-blown, hours-long debates about talking donkeys (Numbers 22:30), the merits of selling your wife into prostitution (Judges 14:20), or the finer details of raping your daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). To those who identified themselves as females I would never answer directly, instead replying to their crazed ALL CAPITAL slanderous diatribes with this little biblical gem, “I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet!” (Timothy 2:12). But this quick-fingered Augustus Gloop also had a philosophical side and to confuse matters I’d just as easily and quickly present logical moral dilemmas like, “Do you seriously believe your god will judge someone for loving someone of the same sex, but will not judge you for hating someone you’ve never met?”
These message boards had it all, and it was whilst playing inside them where I calibrated and tweaked the greatest argumentative brainfuck in an atheists tool belt: pointing out to theists that they were already rabid atheists themselves.
Here’s how that thought train goes. A god, much like a toaster, is a human invention. Much unlike a god a toaster is however somewhat useful. A toaster toasts, can double as a cigarette lighter of last resort, or at times even function quite nicely as a makeshift hand heater on cold winter mornings. A god on the other hand does nothing, has never done anything, and will never do anything. Poseidon has not been responsible for the slightest ripple over the surface of the oceans, not a single lightning bolt can be attributed to Thor, or a lone thunder clap to Jupiter. Berstuk has never led a traveller astray and Osiris has never ushered a soul into the afterlife. Odin has not guided an army to victory, Toyo-Uke-Bime has not interfered in a single harvest, and Faunus has not assisted in the impregnation of a solitary cow in the entire history of animal husbandry. Krishna has never picked up a flute, Minerva has never smiled on a merchant, Pilumnus has not had a hand in the growth of a single strong child, and Veles, the Slavic god of musicians, wealth and trickery has never hidden a single set of car keys. Now, for quite obvious reasons, none of these causal events ever occurred because neither Poseidon, Thor, Jupiter, Berstuk, Osiris, Odin, Toyo-Uke-Bime, Faunus, Krishna, Minerva, Pilumnus, Veles, or any of the thousands of other mystical beings ever existed outside the imaginings of the human mind. That is a statement of fact to which even the most ardent of theists will vigorously defend. That is to say with one blazing exception; their particular god does exist. All the others they will argue are self-evidently make believe and should be dismissed out of hand as the preposterous inventions of rather childish, windblown, leather-skinned, seminomadic goat herders looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise wretched lives.
Rope, meet neck.
By dashing tens of thousands of gods to the obscurity of human invention a theist is unintentionally identifying themselves as an atheist. In all reality it’s much, much worse than that. These ardent god-denying folk are in fact singling themselves out as militant capital “A” Atheists just as determined and headstrong as me… all except for the minor detail that I take it one sky fairy further. It is a sentiment nowhere better articulated in recent times than by the historian, Stephen Roberts, when he said:
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
From my experience playing in the adult sandpit that was Fox (cough) News message boards, cavorting across noisy restaurant tables, or even fooling around at my front door with bedazzled Jehovah Witnesses this simple statement infuriates theists beyond comprehension. It drives them quite literally nuts, and for a very good reason. There is no living way to present a working counterargument to it. These thirty-five words near-perfectly frame the transiency of belief, the fragility of skylarking invisible beings, and the sheer and utter lunacy of fanciful dogmatic Theories of Everything. Demonstrating to an impassioned theist that they are, like me, already an atheist – a militant atheist, no less – is to find pleasure in the absurdity of 21st Century religious foolishness.
And with that, may the sauce be with you all.