Today is International Blasphemy Day (of course there are a Facebook page and group). The event is held on the anniversary of the 2005 publication in Denmark of those infamous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Subversive cartoonist Robert Crumb is coincidentally in on the action this year too, with his illustrated version of the Book of Genesis.
Blasphemy Day isn't aimed merely at Islam or Christianity, but at all and any religions and sects that include the concepts of blasphemy, apostasy, desecration, sacrilege, and the like. "Ideas don't need rights," goes the tagline, "people do."
While my grandfather was a church musician, and my parents had me baptized and took me to services for a short while as a youngster, I've never been religious, so no doubt I blaspheme regularly without even thinking about it. I've written plenty about religion on this blog in the past few years, often blasphemously in someone's opinion, I'm sure. In 2007 I wrote my preferred summary of my attitude:
The beauty of a globular cluster or a diatom, the jagged height of a mountain or the depth of geological time—to me, these are natural miracles, not supernatural ones.
In that same post, I also wrote tangentially about blasphemy:
...given the scope of this universe, and any others that might exist, why would any god or gods be so insecure as to require regulated tributes from us in order to be satisifed with their accomplishments?
If the consequences—imposed by humans against each other, by the way—weren't so serious in so many places, the idea of blasphemy would be very funny. Even if there were a creator (or creators) of the Universe, how could anything so insignificant as a person, or even the whole population of a miniscule planet, possibly insult it?
We're talking about the frickin' Universe here. (Sorry, should be properly blasphemous: the goddamned Universe.) You know, 13.7 billion years old? Billions of galaxies, with billions of stars each? That one? Anything happening here on Earth is, on that scale, entirely irrelevant.
To my mind, there are no deities anyway. But if you believe there are, please consider this: it's silly to think that a god or gods could be emotionally fragile enough to be affected by our thoughts and behaviours, and even sillier to believe that people could or should have any role in enforcing godly rules. Silliest yet is that believers in a particular set of godly rules should enforce those rules on people who don't share the same belief.
Being a good person is worth doing for its own sake, and for the sake of our fellow creatures. Sometimes being good, or even simply being accurate, may require being blasphemous by someone else's standards. Today is a day to remember that.