Oh God, YouTube Devil

Somewhere in the heavens, George Burns is watching YouTube and wagging his eyebrows with glee. If you haven’t noticed, the vid share site is recently chock-a-block with blasphemy challenges, Scientology diatribes, and Kirk Cameron proving the existence of God (not to mention the end of his career). Even Burns, the spryest of diety stand-ins, would have trouble defending the existence of the Supreme Being on so many YouTube vids at once. Welcome to Crusades 2.0.

The latest existential tete-a-tete made public comes courtesy of BBC reporter John Sweeney, who lost his temper during the filming of a BBC documentary called “Scientology and Me” and shouted at Scientology representative Tommy Davis. The video of his outburst has already received 378,000 views on YouTube (above, turn down your volume).

Sweeney wrote about the incident, arguing that he’d been “shouted at, spied on, had my hotel invaded at midnight, denounced as a “bigot” by star Scientologists and been chased round the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers. Back in Britain strangers have called on my neighbours, my mother-in-law’s house and someone spied on my wedding and fled the moment he was challenged.”

But the cloak and dagger overtones of Sweeney’s experience pales in comparison to last week’s patently absurd installment of Nightline’s “Nightline Face-Off,” billed as the first network-news debate about the existence of God. (Though the debate really happened later, on YouTube.)

Representing the Supreme Being: Evangelical minister Ray Comfort — he’s the guy in this video explaining why bananas prove God’s existence — and actor Kirk Cameron, whom you may remember as Mike Seaver on 123 episodes of the sitcom Growing Pains. Representing the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or, y’know, whatever: Two representatives of the Rational Response Squad, a group best known for its involvement with the Blasphemy Challenge, which invites you to post YouTube clips denying the Holy Spirit.

Cameron: “The existence of God can be proven 100 percent, absolutely without the use of faith.” If you’re excited at this premise, check out videos 1, 2a, 2b, and 3. I’m particularly a fan of the duck photos. And the Coke can.

Want more religious vids? YouTube is full of them. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Kevin Smith protesting his own movie, Dogma. Smith: “We were working on our signs because we wanted to blend in. One of them said ‘Dogma is dog shit’ and the other one said ‘To Hell with Dogma.'”
  2. Ted Haggard admits to lying about buying meth from a gay prostitute. According to an epistle sent to New Life Church leaders, their former pastor has finished his rehabilitation and is now rested, healed, no longer gay and working towards a degree in psychology.
  3. Mr. Deity. On the sixth day, around close of business, the deity decided which evils are allowed in the world. Off limits: Harming people with your thoughts. Fair play: Hard winters, childhood cancer, and baby torture.
  4. The Trouble with Atheism. A channel 4 BBC special, this doc includes interviews with Richard Dawkins and Oxford chemistry professor Peter Atkins. Somebody should do a companion piece called ‘The Trouble with the British’ starring Hugh Grant, John Sweeney, and no toothpaste whatsoever.
  5. The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins: “I am a scientist, and I believe there is a profound contradiction between science and religious belief. There is no well-demonstrated reason to believe in God and I think the idea of a divine creator belittles the elegant reality of the universe.”

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