Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Highlights (or "Lowlights") from the "Atheism" Episode of Family Guy

I said I'd watch it, and I did. So here are, in my opinion, the highlights from the "controversial" episode:

1. Brian the dog argued against God's existence using this argument:
a) God is an old man with a beard.
b) The Hubble space telescope can see everything in the universe.
c) The Hubble space telescope didn't see an old man with a beard.
d) Therefore God doesn't exist.

2. After Brian refuses to become a Christian, Meg tells the local news station, which reports on Brian's "heresy." The town of Quahog refuses to sell booze to Brian and continually heckle him with cruelty and thrown garbage. This isn't even remotely funny. I mean, nobody I know freaks out when someone says they're an atheist. I mean, they might respectfully disagree, but even here in the Bible belt this attempt at humorous hyperbole is stretching things a bit.

3. After Brian feigns faith in God, Meg takes him to a book burning (since that's what Christians are always doing) and declares: "Come on, Brian; we have to destroy everything that's harmful to God!" What books do they burn? Origin of the Species, Stephen Hawkings' A Brief History of Time (personally one of my favorite books; I never felt my faith in God to be harmed by it, but whatever), and (this was a funny one, I admit) Logic for First Graders.

4. Meg's faith is easily shaken when Brian uses the problem of pain on her. At first, Brian points out (in his own colorful way) that if there were a God, why would he put her on this earth at make her so unattractive.
Meg: "I'm... made in His image."
Brian: "Really? Would he have given you a smoking hot mom like Lois only to have you grow up looking like Peter?"
Meg: "Well..."
Brian: "And what kind of God would put you in a house where nobody even respects or cares enough about you to even give you a damn mumps shot!?"
Meg: "Oh no...You're right, Brian."

Wow. She caved quite easily. I would have said, "Yes, God might have put me here and made me unattractive and given me a family that doesn't care." That's not so hard to imagine, is it?

Anyway, I'm not so sure we ought to look to shows like this for our philosophical outlook (actually, I'm certain of it), but I'm always fascinated by how our culture thinks it can get away with characterizing people who are believers. The straw men were to be expected, especially considering that you can't have humor without exaggeration, I'm just sad that it was so easy to anticipate. I thought that maybe - just maybe they'd throw an actual good argument or zinger in there to get me thinking, but alas we'll just have to wait. Apparently, the problem of pain is still the clearest and most simplistic weapon in the atheistic arsenal. Turns out, there really is nothing new under the sun.

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