And The Winner For “Worst Satirical Presentation Of An Atheist” Goes To…

I’ve never known an atheist
I hope to never meet one
But I can tell you anyway
The best way to defeat one!

The weapon known as “satire” is
The critic’s sharpest tool…
It wounds the target grievously
And paints them as the fool.

Behold, my friends, the atheist,
In all his Godless glory—
(But since I’ve never talked to one,
Instead… you get this story)

Oh. My. Dog. (actually, my dog is asleep on the couch beside me right now, and probably would ask not to be associated with any of this.)

Ok, I’ve seen a lot of very bad atheist strawmen (that is, presentations of atheists in the form of strawmen, as opposed to strawmen presented by atheists…which, tell the truth, I have seen more than a handful of), but I think I might just have found a genuine candidate for The Worst Yet.

Sometimes, a bit of satire says it best…

Protip–when you have to tell people it is satire, you are doing it wrong. Oh, trust me, I’ve had people take my own satire as genuine (scroll down, some commenters love it as if it is straightforward–and actually, this was not the example I was looking for, although it was for the same verse)when it clearly is satire… But damn. When I write satire, I have the decency to suffer from imposter’s syndrome. Bo Wagner apparently thinks he does satire well.

In this “satire”, Bo Wagner assumes the voice of a typical atheist–or rather, an atypical atheist who leaves his atheism for… well, he never actually says, which isn’t even the worst of it.

“I wanted to keep believing, I really did. But faith just became so hard for me. Every time I turned around the ‘science’ was changing. First the universe was 20 million years old, then a billion, then four billion, then 16 billion, and now 20 billion. It finally dawned on me that people just threw figures around without any evidence. That hurt me; I really did have lots of faith in my favorite scientists, my ‘gods,’ I guess you would call them.”

My favorite Adlai Stevenson quote goes something like “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” One of my tag categories on this blog is “blasphemy”–at one point, the difference between “blasphemy” and “religion” was that the blasphemy category took the bible (and occasionally, religious speakers) at their word, rather than trying to translate what they said into something coherent. Bo Wagner cannot take atheists at their word, cannot take scientists at their word, but must invent fictions to assign to them. Sixteen billion? Twenty billion? Yes, whoever wrote those estimates is a lying sack of shit… oh, that’s right, it’s Bo Wagner.

“I worshiped very hard. I suppose I was really just trying to convince myself,” he said. “I always attended lectures on atheism, even when I would rather have been on the lake fishing. I gave my offerings (donations to liberal causes) regularly. I even prayed.”

When queried about whom he would have to pray to, O’ Hare got a bit sheepish.

“To me,” he whispered. He then explained that, since he had believed there was no God, then that made him (and any other human) the final authority, and thus, a god himself.

“I have to admit, it is a bit awkward at first, but after a while you just learn to refer to yourself in the second person as you pray. After a while, you can really get into it.”

Statistically, it is likely that Bo Wagner knows some atheists. Clearly, he has never spoken with them, or perhaps they have (utterly understandably) never revealed their atheism to him. His view of atheists is a bit strange. As well as his view of “prayer” (which if he checks a dictionary rather than a bible, is something that atheists actually can do). Also, I have never. Ever. Ever. Anywhere. Seen any atheist ever… claim self-worship. This is an odd thing, and clearly not something ever witnessed by … Bo Wagner.

But hey, he’s not a satirist. He’s a pastor, with a doctorate in theology (I only checked because my question was, is he misrepresenting atheists, or theists?).

Most importantly–have you seen a worse representation of what an atheist is, in the name of satire? Links, please, if you have them! (fair warning–I think the software will put you in moderation with a link or two, especially if it’s your first post. I’ll look at them and approve them, just be patient. Oh… you might have to be *really* patient, if the blizzard knocks out my power.)


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    This is why I will never have a “sense of humor” about atheism. I’ve had enough of being figuratively spit upon by theists for not groveling before their savage superstitions.

  2. samgardner says

    How does this guy have a doctorate in theology without understanding even the basics of what rejecting the concept of a deity actually means?

    If scientists were pulling age-of-the-universe numbers from nowhere without evidence, that doesn’t mean I suddenly accept a deity.

    If atheists were inconsistent, and telling their kids “Mom is in a better place” (and he really has no understanding of how nauseating that phrase can be to an atheist if he really thinks we tell our kids that.)

    The idea that atheists worship themselves isn’t an exaggeration of atheism — it’s just wrong, so misses completely as a joke.

  3. culuriel says

    I suppose the fact that the age of the earth has held steady at about 4.5 billion years since 1956, and that dating has yet to find anything older, means nothing to this guy.

  4. badgersdaughter says

    I can’t be the only one who thinks “nyaaah, you are just as stupid and deluded as we are” is not any kind of convincing argument.

  5. sailor1031 says

    He told you it was ‘satire’. Didn’t you believe him? Are you really thinking Bo Wagner’s column was actually serious? I think the cuttle-knickers are wadding for nothing here.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    Satire of what, then? Of the way some Christians think of atheists? That’s the only way it makes any sense as satire, and it frankly doesn’t work as that. If we could wrap Twain or Swift in copper wire, our energy problems would be solved.

  7. John Horstman says

    @sailor1031 #6: Yes, he did say it was satire, and apparently neither you nor he knows what that word means. “Satire” doesn’t mean, “I’m not serious,” it’s a specific voice/persona that exaggerates the positions of a person or organization or philosophy and/or takes them to their logical extremes and/or juxtaposes them with unexpected-but-related ideas or positions to expose the underlying absurdity of the actual positions taken by the person/group/ideology in question.

    If, for example, one believed that there is clear evidence that the universe was designed, satire of an atheist might show the atheist denying the same kind* of evidence that proves that the universe was designed with respect to the claim that my phone was designed by an intelligent agent. Because we know that my phone is designed, the denial of the same type of evidence for the design of the universe by an intelligent agent would thus be exposed as absurd. Part of the problem is that for satire to work well, one usually has to actually be right/correct – there needs to be an underlying absurdity that one can expose via exaggeration. My example would fail becasue there is no good evidence that the universe was designed, but the point is to give an example of what a satirical atheist caricature might look like. Indeed, we can have such flat-Earth atheists in fictional worlds where gods are real, though those are generally not satirical caricatures of actual atheists (or not successful ones) because in fictional worlds where gods actually exist, there is typically evidence of it, unlike in reality.

    *And it has to be the same kind of evidence for the satire to work, since treating different kinds of evidence (or “evidence”) differently is not absurd, but reasonable.

  8. John Horstman says

    I should amend the above to say that satire also doesn’t mean, “I’m writing in the voice of someone who holds a position with which I disagree,” which also might be what Wagner meant.

  9. Jackson says

    @7 and @8

    I think it actually does work as satire, but only if the target of the satire is religious belief. When he takes typical attributes of religious belief and applies them to atheists we can clearly see how ridiculous they sound.

  10. Die Anyway says

    I broke the cardinal rule and… read the comments. For once it was worth it. The first page of comments were all from atheists, polite for the most part, but uniformly pointing out that Bo missed the mark if his intent was to satyrize atheism. That, in fact, it was more of a satire of Christianity.

  11. dvizard says

    The first page of comments were all from atheists, polite for the most part, but uniformly pointing out that Bo missed the mark if his intent was to satyrize atheism. That, in fact, it was more of a satire of Christianity.

    I think it’s actually quite brilliant satire of Christianity. Unintentional, perhaps.

  12. zackoz says

    In similar vein:

    An atheist’s like a purple cow
    I hope I never see one
    But this I tell you anyhow
    I’d rather see than be one.

    [apols to the originator!]

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    But, but – scientists, space scientists, just admitted they (probably) made a big-bang boo-boo!

    A bible-believin’ preacher would NEVER do that! How can we trust anything they say now?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *