Thursday, 25 March 2010

How to disprove the existence of God in just 4 minutes

It took Richard Dawkins hundreds of pages to disprove the existence of God. But that's small fry compared with the following video, which takes just 4 minutes and 16 seconds to execute a complete refutation of the existence of God. Watch it if you dare. If it destroys your faith, don't say I didn't warn you...

53 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how many people could sit through the whole video and come out saying they enjoyed it. However, it is a pretty harsh charge to compare the praise of others to the work of someone purposefully trying to deny the existence of God. But it is in the name of humor so I guess that is ok?

Arni Zachariassen said...

But it is in the name of humor so I guess that is ok?

Yes.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Anon, obviously I'm only kidding. But on the other hand, I can seriously say that my most trying crises of faith (the kind of radical, traumatic doubt that shakes you to your core) have often occurred during church services.

Ben Myers said...

Oh, and thanks to Arni for putting me on to this video!

X-Cathedra said...

What an atheist factory

Lindsay Cullen said...

At the risk of further upsetting Anon, I'd have to say that I find this video to be less a proof of the non-existence of God and more a proof of the existence of non-moral evil...

emerson said...

I think this cries for some guesswork as to what famous theologians would say in response.

Jim West already suggested what Zwingli would have said.

How about James Cone?

"This is a self-evident case for liberation, to which you rich white people will never understand until you give up all your possessions and purchase the soundtrack!"

Tommy Gregory said...

For the first time I find myself disappointed with this website. I suppose the comments about would be acceptable if the people in the video were trying to perform in a secular setting. From the tone displayed in the comments above, I'd wager the authors are a relatively prosperous white man. Your comments are barely appropriate for a sophomore in an American high school. The people in the video could hardly afford their 'nice' clothes. At least their audience was respectful. Everyone in that audience knew the singers and dancers were not professional quality, but they politely clapped. I'm sure the Spirit was less restrained than them.

Tommy Gregory said...

Forgive my grammar. I've had a stroke.

Anonymous said...

Ben,
I agree with you that on a (blessedly) few occasions I have felt my faith confronted at a church service. I found the video compelling in a strange kind of way - maybe I'll book in for my annual psych test!

Jason Goroncy said...

Ben. As someone who recently acquired two broken ribs, watching this is nothing less than manslaughter. I'm not sure I have enough whiskey in the house to compensate for the pain caused by laughter. This is cruel. Thanks.

kim fabricius said...

I don't know - it strikes me as a powerful theologia crucis!

Fat said...

Destroy my faith - au contraire;

Ben - that video brings home the love and acceptance we, the imperfect, find in Jesus Christ - that we are seen as praiseworthy no matter how our talents and gifts fade into insignificance in the light of the father's love.

How could you not be moved to tears by the mending of broken hearts.

But, come the judgement, that Camera Operator may only just make it - as if through fire.

Bibliomike said...

I agree with Tommy, above. Why are you holding these folks up for ridicule (presumably, given your blog post title)? At the risk of being unnecessarily harsh myself, this is the kind of thing that makes "people in the pews" suspicious of self-labeled "theologians." We are not the audience for this song -- God is. (As God is the audience of all our worship.)

Chris Donato said...

If nothing else (and I appreciate the humor), let it be said again: "God is the audience of all our worship." And again, "God is the audience of all our worship." And again, "God is the audience of all our worship." And again, "God is the audience of all our worship." And again…ad nauseum.

Kierkegaard got this one right: God is the witness.

Mike McVey said...

I was expecting something like Benny Hinn.

I find your comments pretty offensive. This is the first time I have found your blog disappointing.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emerson said...

Tommy Gregory,

Last night before I fell asleep I found myself chuckling, saying to the Lord," You know, if those people were sincere...their worship is a far more pleasing aroma to you than the most aesthetic voice of the most voluptuous singer."

I'm not trying to be mean or rude at all. Sometimes we need to just make fun of ourselves, even of our theology. James Cone is no exception.

Blessings,

Marc

emerson said...

Hey Tommy,

I meant not offense. If these people were sincere in their worship, they are a far more pleasant aroma to the Lord than a thousand arrogant voices of voluptuous women. After all, God chooses the things that are not as though they were. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

I meant no offense.

Blessings,
Emerson

Jason Goroncy said...

Some of you people really need to get some more prunes in your diet :-)

N Good said...

I'm not even sure what to say. Is this love? Not the video, but your post, is this love?

kim fabricius said...

Sincerity? The good thing about sincerity is that it is free from deceit - but that does not make it free from self-deceit. Hence the wicked irony of Polonius' "To thine own self be true ..." There are a variety of gifts. Unless this was just an off day, these sincere folk need someone in the church to tell them that singing and dancing is not theirs (vaudeville maybe).

Ben did not mean to be offensive or malicious, and I trust that those of us who laughed - that our laughter was not that of Hobbes but Beckett, i.e., that in laughing at others we were finally laughing at ourselves, because one way or another we have all been there too. (When I preach a ridiculous sermon, my congegation is too courteous - usually - to laugh out loud on the spot, but I am grateful [grrr] when my wife erupts when we get home.) That's why we all laugh - don't we? - when someone falls on a banana skin. And this "praise song and dance" was defintely a banana skin.

Anonymous said...

They're poor singers. Good job mocking them for a laugh. Well done, Ben.

Do you happen to write about divine love or Christian charity? I'd like another good laugh.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks Kim — that's exactly why I find it so funny: it reminds me of all the sincere yet silly things we do in church.

Anyway, I'm sorry for offending so many of you! But it also makes me wonder why we tend to be so solemn about anything that's done within the four walls of the church — as though our own religious sincerity were beyond laughter. I've been in many worship services where something silly or ridiculous occurs, and no one dares to laugh. Do we really have to regard our own worship in such a solemn light? Does even God take our worship as seriously as we do? (I mean that as an honest question, not as an attack on anyone who feels offended!)

kim fabricius said...

"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly."
--Chesterton

(I wonder if the Chaplinesque worship in Revelation 4:10 can be attributed to banana skins in heaven.)

Julia said...

This video - and the wide range of comments - raises a myriad of questions regarding aesthetic taste. I am of two minds on this. On the one hand, I think it appropriate that we are turned off by blinding sincerity and what one might call schmaltz. Perhaps it is inappropriate worship, for exactly the reasons mentioned above (there is much to be said for learning to take yourself lightly). And on the other hand, thanks to Bourdieu, it's popular to talk about the demographics of taste, and we rich white folks are generally the ones staring down our noses at something so dripping with sentiment, whether within the four walls of a church or not. What does that say about aesthetics? Shouldn't we at least experiment with thinking otherwise? Isn't there something refreshingly un-self-conscious about bad schmaltz?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Julia, there is something refreshingly un-self-conscious about bad schmaltz. The people in the video are achingly sincere. Trouble is, we are the ones doing the aching.

jobertil said...

Kierkegaard: Humor is the incognito of the religious.

Chris Donato said...

Ben asked: " Does even God take our worship as seriously as we do?"

To my mind, this is the wrong question. Of course he does (ask Nahab and Abidu)! But let us be careful not to assume seriousness is the antithesis of humor. Laughter and solemnity often go hand in hand (cue: "Send in the Clowns").

Maybe the better question is when critiquing worship: Does this episode ("praise song and dance") portray worshipers hiding from God rather than an allowing him to find them? Is it pseudo-worship because it has devolved into vicious narcissism? Or is it theocentric, an opening up of the worshipers to the love of God in Christ by his Spirit?

Sincerity does not guarantee the witness of God. We all know this.

crookedfingers said...

I found the video painful to worship, but the Lord makes all our worship acceptable to our heavenly Father-the Lord looks on our hearts-we all fail miserably in our worship of the Lord-praise the Lord for His infinite love and grace displayed in the Cross of Christ-peace

Student said...

While I'll admit I wanted to laugh as if this were funny TV, had to stop myself. These people are sincere and giving their all. As a musician, the imperfection of tone a d movement distracts me. Yet as said above they are worshipping God.

They may lack worldly talent. The may have a kind of disability and thier church is giving them a venue. Imagine making Internet parody of Special or Senior Olympics.

I've laughed at poor karoke but thats not what this is.

As a musician who's performed less than great on an off day I can only say the people in the video are shining testament to human adoration for Creator God.

Julia said...

Chris Donato says:
"Does this episode ("praise song and dance") portray worshipers hiding from God rather than an allowing him to find them? Is it pseudo-worship because it has devolved into vicious narcissism?"
I think these are exactly the right questions. For me, the question that always follows is this: are there certain aesthetic sensibilities that foster receptivity? Or conversely, are there types of music and performance that promote idolatry?

Tony said...

Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but ONLY SUCH AS IT IS GOOD FOR BUILDING UP, as fits the occasion, that it may givegrace to those who hear."

Mocking someone who is praising God because they are tone deaf... how does this fit in with Paul's command?

I'm all for a little humor... but when Christians blow their witness by acting like the world (Simon Cowell, why would you want to be like him) it makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

Actually This video strengthens my faith because I know the lord loves these people even though some of us think they can not carry a tune. (maybe they can't maybe they can). They are praising God maybe the only way they know how and I know this is a sweet smell to the lord.
It does not take human intelligence to get to heaven. God Bless these worshipers in Jesus mighty name amen. - from a believer

Ben Myers said...

Incidentally, anyone who comments on the singing proves that they haven't actually watched the video! Believe me, folks: once you've watched the whole thing, you'll hardly be thinking about the quality of the singing...

Paul Tyson said...

Very interesting video. I think it makes us cringe not because it is black and unprofessional (though we may have racist and elitist prejudices that are titillated by this video) but because so much white middleclass “worship” is really profoundly of this nature, and particularly so when it is professionally slick. Here we see them (black unprofessionals) mimicking and parodying us. The joke is deeply on us. This video confronts us because it unmasks OUR corporate “worship”. The sentimental and affective performance dynamic – as “worship” – is all too nauseatingly familiar. The genre of the feel good song and dance worship ‘item’ is saturated with what Charles Taylor calls the culture of authenticity and our conditioned narcissistic consumer reflexes as formed by what Adorno calls the now globally powerful mass culture industry. “Worship” in this cultural/emotional/ethical context is something that is far more jarringly obscene regarding the hallowedness of the name of God than, by comparison, the wholesome atheism which arises from those who understand modern religion entirely as a by-product of facile cultural conditioning.

And yet… along with the prophetic call to repentance this video entails, there is also a strange dynamic of hope released here. Viewing this video, I saw both the profanity of our natural efforts at worship under the conditions of our cultural and economic context, as well as something “despised and considered as naught” being – purely by the work of the Spirit and by faith – a true alter of worship to God. One cannot ignore defamations of the glory of God – this is very serious and we are idolaters and blasphemers in church to our great peril – and yet one cannot avoid being idolaters and blasphemers, so every attempt at worship ‘we’ make will fail without grace. Indeed, Coakley is right, it is only the Spirit praying, loving, acting, and worshipping through us that is worship in spirit and in truth. So sophisticated, culturally critical and theologically informed self knowledge is no better than self delusion when it comes to offering right worship, and neither is an excuse not to worship, and every act of worship we attempt must be an act of faith that can only find its fulfilment in a miracle.

On another very interesting point, the influence of black sensuality and emotional freedom has profoundly shaped modern Western music, dance, belief, culture and religion over the 20th century and into the present. (Yet the deep Christian spirituality born in oppression and suffering, and the profound eschatological vision of black Christianity has not reached us in the same way.) A return to ‘low’ worship – worship with feeling, without education (dogmatic rigour), which is sensual and tactile, which is open to the Spirit (who blows where ‘He’ will, regardless of orders of service, authority structures, theology and human ability and training) – is a profoundly interesting development that has accompanied the influence of black American culture on the West.

It’s a very interesting video Ben, thanks for putting it up and opening up its content in the context of atheism.

Tommy Gregory said...

It is amazing how many don't 'get it.'

The issue is not that “Tommy Gregory is offended.”

We are not viewing a skit or a cartoon. Posting the video on this blog was a deliberate, juvenile act of exposing three poor Christians to 'public ridicule.'

What would all you say if you were magically transported to the next service those individuals conducted? You would comprise the majority of the audience. Perhaps the poor blacks would sit on one side -- you (you know who you are) would be on the other.

Would you dare mock and analyze?

It is clear most of the people who have responded to this post have spent virtually no time among poor black Christians. In the southern United States, worship services just like (in terms of quality, refinement, and passion) the one posted occur literally thousands of times every Sunday. In my youth I thought it was hilarious!

I wrote because I thought you needed a reality check. I failed.

I encourage each of you to seek a couple of mature Christians who are from the less well educated class. Show them the video. Ask them to read the comments on this blog. Wait one week. Then ask them what they think. You will be a better person.

Do you dare?

Paul Tyson said...

Dear Tommy – without any racial or class prejudice, and without any interest in matters of technical presentation, this video painfully demonstrates what Hauerwas calls “sentimental shit” in our broader church worship culture. My own (white middle class, yet small and aged) church has worse technical presentation and more sentimental drivel in it than this video, and I don’t find it funny in any manner (though I greatly prefer its sheer banality as a “worship experience” to Hill Song). I love the people in my church, and I need their grace, and I hope they love me and accept my grace, but that love does not excuse the defamation of God our worship facilitates. If Hill Song had been used to make the same point it would have been harder to call it for what it is because the greater sophistication gives those of us offended by this sort of worship the impression that they are maliciously and wilfully simply ‘playing’ their audience and themselves. But where race, class and technical facility are far more empathetic, the striking realities underlying this scenario, embedded in strong, strong “authenticity”, are very hard to avoid. We can be authentically wrong, and authentically seeking to worship God, and if our own authenticity is all that we think matters, then we are worshipping ourselves. This, I believe, is the core of the idolatry of our times, and it is a very serious matter, no matter how ‘genuine’ we are, no matter what skills in presentation we do or do not have.

Ken said...

@Paul, your points are insightful and well-made. I definitely agree with many of your observations on the nature of our worship. At the same time, I have to fundamentally agree with Tommy. If Ben's point was to raise the issues you have raised, than he should have made that more explicit in his post. As it stands, the tone of the post and its title holds up these PARTICULAR people to ridicule and that, I think, is wrong. Given a different title and a different post, Ben could still have used the video. The problem isn't posting the video nor is the problem Ben's critique per se. The problem is the clear ridicule that Ben's words (unintentionally?) incite.

Sandra said...

Ken, you read the tone and title of the post as ridicule, I read it as funny. I cant understand why many of you are so offended. Ben's comment, purely meant as fun/humour, as I read it, also happened to be timely and quite literally true. Only a couple of weeks back, the celebrated atheist Richard Dawkins was travelling around Australia promoting his last book. I attended two of his talks, and I can honestly say that this "singing"/"dancing" trio can do more damage to faith than Dawkins. Hopefully these sincere folk who have the courage to perform will also have the courage to listen to some honest comments.

I'm only hoping that Ben wouldnt hold back his humorous posts in the future because he might offend people. Some of us can do with a good laugh. Perhaps I ought to add that I'm NOT white!

Ken said...

@Sandra... I enjoy a good laugh and the performance itself is funny. I share your hope and agree with kim that the people in the video need a dose of reality. I just don't think that Ben's comments about it are funny. His comments, unintentionally I'm fairly sure, come off as judgmental and mean, and clearly I'm not the only one who thought so. I'm not personally offended by it, though. I merely believe there could have been better ways to frame the video than holding it up, however sarcastically perhaps, as a refutation of the existence of God, especially on a blog.

Paul Tyson said...

Yes Sandra, the context of Ben putting this post up is the atheist convention here in Australia (and Ben had some input into that I believe) and the Dawkins tour Down Under. In that context, I think Ben’s framing of this video as a refutation of the existence of God is, actually, funny and warm, and shows good grace and humility towards our atheist interlocutors. I find it hard to believe in God too in most church services I attend (I usually spend all week recovering my faith, only to have it smashed before my eyes on Sunday once again…. sigh. Not that what recovery I can muster is any better than what I get dished back to me on Sunday! We are just such hopeless Christians.) So there is humour here, yet this is not to say that there is not a profoundly disturbing and serious edge to the notion that hum drum ordinary Christianity (let us leave race and class out of it for the moment) under the normal conditions of Western modernity is a far more devastating ‘argument’ against the reality of God than anything someone like Dawkins can come up with. I’m reading David F Well’s “The courage to be Protestant” at present, and it is a devastating critique of American Evangelical Christianity (now exported monopolistically to the Antipodes) pointing out that Evangelicals have made a near total capitulation to the entertainment orientated, sentimental, therapeutic, individualistic consumerism of popular secular culture, and lost the gospel in the process. This is a very serious matter, and we need to get over being ‘precious’ about offending the ‘sincere’ efforts of ordinary (as well as successful and dynamically magnetic) Christians, and call Toxic Shit by its proper name. To bring race and class back into it again, it strikes me as a remarkably colour blind and class unaware thing of Ben to post this particular video, for it obviously never occurred to him to think of this type of phenomena as a symptom of black and poor Christianity. As you are not white and found this funny, I think it is not that hard to receive what Ben has done here in the spirit in which it was delivered. This is not about holding up particular people for mockery, but it is about holding up our own worship for mockery, and this, I believe, is what is offensive in what Ben has done. But the more offense we get on this front, the better. Lord have mercy on us, but do not just ‘forgive’ us and leave us complacently satisfied in this torrid pathetic state!

wrshpfire said...

As a young worship theologian, musician and black male. I am saddened... Throughout history, the Church has been the leader in creativity and the world has lagged to keep up with our quality... It is here that I must say, "God really does care about the quality of our hearts AND our creative ventures".

I understand not having the best... Believe me... I came from having little, went to school on mostly scholarship, because I worked hard at my academics... Gained a B.A. in Worship Leadership and Drama... (So I know a thing or two about worship, music, theatre and dancing...) I'm half way through my masters program, working at a church that doesn't pay me and living in a host home... I barely have money to put gas in my car to get to the church or even to school, but in all my time not having much, I am driven to be a better person, Christian, musician, dancer, educator and creator... I practice and I get critiqued before I try to put forth a performance of anything! I have studied my instruments and proved myself worthy... And yet I'm still disgusted with even my own quality!

We should WANT to give God our best! It's NOT okay to allow people to continue in ignorance... If I were in the congregation, I probably would have approached them afterward, saying, "Hi. I am all for you doing what you love and offering it to God, but your quality is a little off... I would love to help you sing clearly and sing in a way that is healthier for you and I would love to help you choreograph something and work with you." This is not because I'm better, but because I feel that God should get the best of what we have and if I can help you give Him something better than what you just gave, I'm all for it! And if someone comes along that's better than me, I hope that I would accept their criticism and learn from them!

We are supposed to be a BODY and how healthy is a body if the arms can do something to help hurting legs and doesn't. These people need to be made aware and we need to help them... Don't critique without bringing solution. Don't be offended by critique either...

We think it's the world's job to critique who could be the best singers and dancer... It's not... It is our job to discern the talents of people so they, in their proper area, can serve God with all they have and feel good about it...

It angers me that the "best musicians, dancers, actors, painters" aren't Christians in the Church... We should all strive to be better than we are if we can help it...

On the topic of worship... Worship is more than music, but music is a part of it... If we think that we can equate their worship with music, then we are very wrong... I cannot judge their hearts, but this is not corporate worship... This is a worship performance... Nothing wrong with worship performance, but we cannot critique it like we can corporate worship... Corporate worship is a work of the people as a whole, not the job of performers on stage... Because this is worship performance, we have to critique it at a higher standard... At least that's my take on it.

In Christ,
Frank

Anonymous said...

I've learnt a lot by reading, especially, Paul's comments on this. I must admit I was transfixed by the dancer on this video - I didn't laugh, but smiled inside, if you can imagine what I mean. Worship to me is Matthew 5:23-24 and also great chunks of Job - showing up in church each week is as much about fellowship with other believers (as hopeless Christians) as it is about praising our awesome God. Great post Ben.

Ken said...

...the context of Ben putting this post up is the atheist convention here in Australia (and Ben had some input into that I believe) and the Dawkins tour Down Under.

Again, things he could have mentioned! This is not the context of the blog entry, which exists in cyberspace. Paul, I'm afraid that you are seeing this issue on the basis of insider information, which few people coming to this blog entry will have unless they read through the comments. Point is... Ben did a poor job framing this one. You've done a much better one.

Kate said...

WOW.
Creative and inspiring....video. Brought a smile to my face.
I wish we had this opportunity in my Church.
Then again....I'd be too scared cuz I'd be afraid of.......the hard knock on my ego from other's opinions.
That makes me sad.
Boy....if only we could become like little children.....

Fat said...

"I wish we had this opportunity in my Church."

That's a telling comment Kate.

Anonymous said...

I watched it 1-1/2 time just to make sure. But, nope... my faith is still intact.

All depends on how you look at things. Sort of like this article: Is Your Bladder Proof of God's Existence?

Some say "no way" --- others ...

Tonio said...

It's not the singing, it's not the people singing, it's not the context of the singing... It is bits and pieces of the song itself that are so objectionable theologically... to ask to be led to a "safe place" hardly speaks of what it means to be a Christian today... If this is the kind of music and song that we sing in our church services, then we are losing our way...

emerson said...

Hey Tommy,

I meant not offense. If these people were sincere in their worship, they are a far more pleasant aroma to the Lord than a thousand arrogant voices of voluptuous women. After all, God chooses the things that are not as though they were. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

I meant no offense.

Blessings,
Emerson

Fat said...

"I wish we had this opportunity in my Church."

That's a telling comment Kate.

Lindsay Cullen said...

At the risk of further upsetting Anon, I'd have to say that I find this video to be less a proof of the non-existence of God and more a proof of the existence of non-moral evil...

X-Cathedra said...

What an atheist factory

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