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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Blasphemy Site 'Playing Texas Hold 'Em With Eternity'
By Monisha Bansal Staff Writer

( - More than a month after atheists launched a campaign encouraging young people to blaspheme God in an online video clip, more than 800 people have done so, and a conservative analyst said the "boneheads" behind the initiative could only be pitied.

Fighting against what he calls "the mental torture that is religion," atheist filmmaker Brian Flemming created the website, asking teens to commit "the ultimate sin" in return for a copy of his movie, "The God Who Wasn't There."

The "ultimate sin," in his view, is denying the Holy Spirit, based on the biblical injunction, "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin" (Mark 3:29).

The site asks people to videotape themselves saying "I deny the Holy Spirit" and to post the videos on YouTube.

As of Friday, more than 875 submissions had been recorded.

"Give it your own personal touches," posters are urged. "Possibly add extra blasphemy or maybe even a background story as to why you feel the way you do." The site also suggests recording "your video in a church or outside of a church."

"These kids apparently think this is some kind of cute stunt," Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America, told Cybercast News Service.

"But to me, it's akin to dousing yourself with gasoline and running around screaming 'there is no God' while waving a sparkler."

"They're playing Texas Hold 'Em with eternity and are holding a lousy hand," Barber added. "You can only pity the attention-starved boneheads behind this wickedness."

He said of the young people making the video clips "the phrase 'methinks thou doth protest too much' comes to mind."

"By going to such lengths to deny God's existence, they implicitly acknowledge him, while arrogantly rebelling against his authority.

"Scripture tells us that the reality of God's existence is written on the heart of every man, woman and child," Barber added.

"Man's rebellion against the Creator is no new thing," he said. "It's a time-honored tradition among those who prefer to view the world through the prism of moral relativism."

Meanwhile, as a direct response to the blasphemy initiative a counter website called has been created and some Christian teens have been uploading clips to YouTube under the heading "Praise the Lord Challenge."

Peter Casarella, associate professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America, questioned the motives of the website. "It seems extremely manipulative," he said.

Casarella also questioned the premise of the site, saying its interpretation of the biblical reference was off.

"Blaspheming the Spirit is a sin, that's not up for grabs ... but they certainly can be forgiven," he told Cybercast News Service.

"Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit means taking the name of the Spirit in vain," Casarella added. "The Spirit is one who witnesses to the truth in the name of Christ within the gospels. A sin against the Spirit is clearly a sin against God."

But simply saying the words would not in itself ensure eternal damnation.

"The gospels in general - dealing in this case with blaspheming, but in general - look at the whole of the life, and individual acts are judged in the context of the whole of a life," Casarella said.

Flemming did not respond to requests for comment for this article. In a recent interview with Fox News, he said "if parents are going to terrorize their children with religious indoctrination, I think it's important to reach those kids and let them know that there is nothing to be afraid of."

He said the site "exposes the crock that is Christian doctrine and thus relieves the suffering of innocent children."

"Religious tyranny really has a hold on young people and they really are innocent victims," Flemming said, describing the gospel message of Jesus' death, resurrection, ascension and the notion of heaven and hell "psychological torture."

New mollusk species found in Philippines
The Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines - A French-led marine expedition team believes it has discovered thousands of new species of mollusks and crustaceans around a Philippine island, officials and scientists said Monday.

Some 80 scientists, technicians, students and volunteers from 19 countries surveyed the waters around Panglao island, 390 miles southeast of Manila from 2004-05.

"Numerous species were observed and photographed alive, many for the first time, and it is estimated that 150-250 of the crustaceans and 1,500-2,500 of the mollusks are new species," said a statement from the expedition team, which was led by Philippe Bouchet of the French National Museum of Natural History.

"However, it requires a thorough comparison with all previously named species to ascertain if a novel species is indeed new to science," it added. "This is a slow and tedious process."

On Monday, the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project turned over to the Philippine National Museum more than a hundred holotypes or representative specimen of the rare finds, officials said.

The expedition team said its survey revealed over 1,200 species of decapod crustaceans — a group that includes crayfish, crabs, lobsters and shrimps — and some 6,000 species of mollusks.

A very rare seashell of the Slit shell family (scientific name: Bayerotrochus philpoppei) which was discovered by Belgian Guido Poppe in early 2006 off Balut Island in southern Philippines is displayed at the National Museum in Manila, Philippines Monday Feb.5, 2007 at the turn-over ceremony of newly-discovered marine species in the waters off Panglao Island in Bohol province in central Philippines. More than 1,200 species of decapod crustaceans and some 6,000 species of mollusks were discovered by the Panglao 2005-2006 Expedition team headed by Dr. Philippe Bouchet of the French National Museum of Natural History. Only 10 specimens are known around the world as claimed by Belgian Guido Poppe who discovered the rare find and has a price tag of US $10,000 dollars. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)