An atheist sermon

Jerry DeWitt is a former Pentecostal minister turned heathen, a graduate of Dennett and LaScola’s “Clergy Project,” and now director of the organization “Recovering From Religion“.  You may remember the moving profile of him in the New York Times Magazine last August: “From Bible-belt pastor to atheist leader.” (Read it if you haven’t.)

This rousing two-minute atheist “sermon,” delivered at Reason at the Rock (the annual meeting of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers), shows that DeWitt retains his preaching skills, and, despite his tribulations, has a great sense of humor.

h/t: Gregory

25 Comments

  1. Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Darwin!

    b&

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      True.

      With enough Hitchens, you can’t avoid Darwin.

  2. Donald L. Anderson
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Delicious!

    I haven’t been to church in 50 years but this rings true.

    That is how the sermons went.

    Is his a mistake? Only 2 min? Agin Religion?

    How can that be?

    • gbjames
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      You can find more Jerry DeWitt on YouTube. I do love me some Jerry DeWitt!

  3. rodgerma
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Awesomely correct and entertaining!

  4. Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Fantastic.

    Maybe he should try getting into the standup comedy circuit.

  5. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Here is a photo of Jerry DeWitt in Austin, Texas, with a couple of his godless heathen friends, taken in front of a painting of the devil in-carne asada.

  6. Mark Joseph
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Darwin!

  7. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Darwin? Sounds like an in joke. Explanation, please.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      It is a joke, it’s a satirical attempt at what an evangelical atheist sermon might sound like, provided people could stop laughing long enough, of course. :)

    • gbjames
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      “Can I get an ‘Amen'” is a standard line in a certain tradition of fundie preaching.

      • JohnnieCanuck
        Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Clearly I have been deprived in the diversity of my religious experience.

        It didn’t make sense that he would ask if he could get a Darwin Award.

        Everything before that was so funny, my eyes were leaking.

    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Substitute “Amen!” for “Darwin!” and the truth will set you free.

  8. jose
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Whoa American sermons are awesome, it’s like he’s singing. Our priests are rather boring, they just mumble and mutter, and thank monkey they don’t just recite the mass in Latin anymore.

    • Posted November 18, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      As you might expect, there’s a huge variety.

      That sing-song style is poplar with certain types of fundamentalists. If I’m not mistraken, it first gained popularity with the tent revival movement. Many Black Baptist preachers also have a similar style; it should come as no surprise that Dr. King delivered his speeches in the same style as Rev. King preached his sermons.

      But we also have our boring droners, too. Lots of ‘em. It’s rare for me to do a gig at a church and not have to struggle to stay awake for the sermon. Most of the ones where I succeed, it’s because the preacher is seriously talking about some particularly insane bit of the Bible as if it actually happened, and I’m amazed at the spectacle.

      b&

      • jose
        Posted November 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        i>”Most of the ones where I succeed, it’s because the preacher is seriously talking about some particularly insane bit of the Bible as if it actually happened, and I’m amazed at the spectacle.”
        :D

  9. phosphoros99
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Now there’s a confused fellow.

    It has never been documented that prescriptive information could be derived from physics and chemistry but he has come to believe that it was.

    On the other hand the only source of prescriptive information we have ever experienced is from an intelligence (a mind)
    and he has stopped believing this.

    Alas, It takes all kinds…….

    • gbjames
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Not confused at all. I gather from your comment that you think god lends us moral guidance. But in fact there are examples of “prescriptive information” (by which I assume you mean “moral rules”) found among all kinds of social animals on this little rock of a planet. They wouldn’t be social animals without rules of how to behave in the presence of other critters like them.

      Your assertion is simply false. And I’d request that you provide evidence that there is a god up there (which you term “a mind”) at all. In the absence of such evidence the case is clear. You don’t need such an entity to find “prescriptive information”. We humans create it perfectly well on our own.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted November 18, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        I think phosphoros99 is referring to David Abel’s creationist ID notion of Prescriptive Information:

        Is life physicochemically unique? No. Is life unique? Yes. Life manifests innumerable formalisms that cannot be generated or explained by physicodynamics alone. Life pursues thousands of biofunctional goals, not the least of which is staying alive. Neither physicodynamics, nor evolution, pursue goals. Life is largely directed by linear digital programming and by the Prescriptive Information (PI) instantiated particularly into physicodynamically indeterminate nucleotide sequencing. Epigenomic controls only compound the sophistication of these formalisms. Life employs representationalism through the use of symbol systems. Life manifests autonomy, homeostasis far from equilibrium in the harshest of environments, positive and negative feedback mechanisms, prevention and correction of its own errors, and organization of its components into Sustained Functional Systems (SFS). Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization (not to be confused with mere self-ordering), integration of circuits, computational success, and the pursuit of functionality. All of these characteristics of life are formal, not physical

        PZ Myers had some fun with that twaddle here:- More bad science in the literature

    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand the only source of prescriptive information we have ever experienced is from an intelligence…”

      I agree. Bob Dylan was the shit!
      ;)

  10. papalinton
    Posted November 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I’ll give you two Darwins.
    DARWIN! DARWIN!

  11. Posted November 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I had the pleasure of hearing DeWitt give a fantastic talk here at LSU last year. Great guy.

    • Posted November 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      In Louisiana – sorry, sometimes I’m too USA-focused for this website’s vast readership…

      We’ve had several superb speakers give talks at the student atheist/agnostic/freethinkers group at Louisiana State Univ, including DeWitt. Large turnouts, too. Gives me a little (LITTLE) hope for this lost state.

  12. Posted November 18, 2012 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    ‘Can I get a Darwin!’ Oh, that did make me chuckle. :-)

  13. marksolock
    Posted November 18, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)


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