I don’t suppose you have heard of Viktor Krasnov, have you? Viktor is Russian and he is likely to face prison because he said God does not exist. Following the Pussy Riot performance in 2013 attacking President Putin, blasphemy laws were tightened in Russia and Viktor could be facing a spell of porridge.
His actual words, in 2014, were these: “If I say that the collection of Jewish fairytales entitled the Bible is complete bullshit, that is that. At least for me, there is no God!” Not perfect English, I’ll grant you, but you get the gist.
There’s no God for me, either, and almost certainly not for anyone else, whether or not they believe. There is precious little evidence to suggest we are under the direction of a celestial dictator, although in a free country we permit those to hold different kinds of views and beliefs. These include belief in a supernatural creator. When people practise their religions, for so long as they in no way affect my life, I am happy to let them get on with it. I wouldn’t ban any of their religions, I wouldn’t want them persecuted and I wouldn’t blow them up. If they did started insisting I change my life and beliefs to suit them, or that some of them start murdering and torturing people in the name of their God, or even setting up their own religious schools to the exclusion of others in order to proselytise children, then I have a different point of view.
In our free country, though plainly not in Putin’s Russia and in many places around the world, we are free to offend and we have to accept we are free to be offended. If someone criticises and ridicules my atheism and secularist views, then fair enough. By the same token, if I criticise and ridicule religion, the devout need to accept that too. If I say “the bible is complete bullshit”, made up by people when no one knew what was going on, I am not far off what really happened, far nearer than religious theories.
Viktor was also sent for psychiatric testing to see if he was mentally capable of standing trial. Now it could be that there he suffers from other conditions too which we do not know about, but to come to an opinion based on reason and scientific evidence, or rather the lack of it, does not suggest an unsound mind, more an enquiring mind, someone who wants to seek out the truth, or a better version of it.
The poor man was reported to the authorities for “offending the sentiments of Orthodox believers”, poor loves. I don’t know about you, but I get offended about things all the time. ISIS murdering innocent people in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the Catholic church covering up instances of child abuse and rape, the general oppression of women in many religions and so on and so on. Viktor hasn’t beheaded anyone or attacked a young child or forbidden women from driving; he’s just said he doesn’t believe in God.
Less blasphemy, less people being offended, more debate, more freedom to believe in whatever you want to believe and freedom to not believe, too. If the world really is going mad, then religion is having a major influence in the madness, that’s for sure.