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© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

Q: What’s so funny?

There’s a candy-apple chapter I’ve kept out of my reach until I finished my liver-on-a-bed-of-kale chapters. Oh they’re not bad, but they weren’t as much fun as some others — too complicated, too “important,” too full of stuff I HAD to include.

Now they’re done, and it’s time for dessert.

Part III is “Great Works of Atheism,” which could have been deadly. So instead of going in strictly historical order, I created a few chapters around themes. “Lost, Secret, Censored, and Forbidden Works” I’ve already finished, and “Deep Thoughts, Big Thinkers,” which handles most of the important warhorses. The 21st century to date gets its own chapter. But in the midst of all that is my favorite piece of candy: Chapter 12, “Laughing in Disbelief: Challenging the Divine with Humor.”

A lot of the most brilliant expressions of disbelief and challenges to religion have been satirical. I’ve written before about the connection between humor and thinking. I’ve always been fascinated by that. As soon as I finish laughing myself to tears over a line of Minchin or the picture at the top of this post, I start trying to figure out why it’s hysterical, and why the next line or the next parody photo isn’t.

The chapter includes Twain and Carlin, parody religions (FSM, Landover, Bokononism), music (like Tim Minchin), film (Life of Brian, The Invention of Lying), TV (Simpsons, South Park), web (Mr. Deity, Jesus and Mo), and more (The Onion). I’m never going to get to everything — even leaving out some of my own favorites — but lemme ask:

Q: What are some of your favorite examples of humor aimed at religion or atheism?

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This was written on Tuesday, 25. September 2012 at 14:28 and was filed under The Dummies Diary. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Stephen Colbert / The Colbert Report

    Comment: rajawa – 27. September 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  2. That Mitchell and Webb Show:
    atheist watermelon,
    good Samaritan parable,
    Big Talk answers the God question,
    angry vicar,
    and so on.

    Also second Tim Minchin, SMBC, Jesus and Mo.

    Comment: TimMills – 28. September 2012 @ 1:51 am

  3. Humor is an area where I’ve found atheists often have very different tastes than even “wishy-washy” non-believers who think religion is mostly sweetness and light. The latter are offended at the most amazingly light-hearted things. But hey, lots of people still like to laugh.

    One of my favorite humor sources are the little animations on youtube by “nonstampcollector,” especially the one called “What Would Jesus Not Do.”

    I’d like to post a number of hilarious images here, but I guess that’s not possible.
    One image that made me think of you, Dale, is the one from a collection which imagines the grocery checkout aisle if the U.S. were taken over by fundamentalist Christians. It’s a “Parenting” magazine cover where the big bold print teaser headlines over a photo of a bright-eyed baby are “top half or bottom half, which would you choose?” and “abraham, dad of the year” and “babies are innocent, but has yours already committed his first sin?” and at the bottom, “PLUS: Are your children honoring you enough?”

    Comment: Brad – 30. September 2012 @ 7:31 am

  4. OMG,, so to speak.

    I can’t resist recommending “Tide for Mormons” on youtube!

    47% Stronger!

    But we mustn’t make fun of Mormons / Mitt. Of course.

    BTW, I know I’ve heard a couple of funny jokes by atheists about atheists, but can’t remember them at the moment…

    Comment: Brad – 30. September 2012 @ 10:06 am

  5. Two words are all I need…
    “Don’t Panic”

    Comment: blotzphoto – 30. September 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  6. Oh, my. I love what you’ve listed, so many of my favories – can I think of anything you missed?

    Webcomic – Tree Lobsters. XKCD gets in some good digs occasionally. The Atheist Pig. Any cartoons from Don Addis.

    Book – Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Anything from Douglas Adams.

    YouTube – “Big Butter Jesus”, “Why don’t bees go to heaven”, and Voltaire’s “Death Death Devil Devil Evil Evil songs”

    Standup Comedy – “Cake or Death” from Eddie Izzard, of course. And there’s also some great stuff from Rowan Atkinson.

    Music – Tom Lehrer, “The Vatican Rag”. And “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs” from Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

    Movies. Religulous, of course. My husband says Steve Martin’s “Leap of Faith” is good.

    TV – a couple of moments I love: River Tam correcting the preacher’s bible on “Firefly”. And Sally Brown chewing out Linus about how he cheated her out of Trick-or-Treat with his Great Pumpkin nonsense. That never gets old.

    Merchandise – tons of this, especially from Evolvefish, and the Teach the Controversy T-shirts

    De-motivators – just google “athest humor” on image search, and tons of these will turn up.

    And the “Fundies Say the Darndest Things” website. We don’t even need to make fun of that stuff, it makes fun of itself.

    And while you’re doing Pastafarians, don’t forget that we have TWO holy books now, The Gospel of the FSM, and the Loose Canon. (The Loose Canon is available as a free download online) And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk8EANdpAj0&feature=my_liked_videos&list=LLBOn9CwLdKE7WnyQscv19bA

    Comment: ubi dubium – 30. September 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  7. ” Anything from Douglas Adams” indeed, but especially the Electric Monk.

    Comment: Hamilton Jacobi – 02. October 2012 @ 11:22 pm

  8. Webcomics: My favorites include some that have already been mentioned (XKCD, SMBC, Atheist Pig), plus God Comics, Abstruse Goose, Scenes from a Multiverse, Abby and Norma, and the sadly defunct Calamities of Nature.

    Books: anything by Terry Pratchett, but especially Small Gods.

    Movies: The only one that comes to mind is the scene in Time Bandits when the boy asks, “But why does there have to be evil in the first place?” and God answers, “I never remember the answer to that one – it has something to do with free will.”

    Comment: DrBob – 04. October 2012 @ 9:37 pm

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