The second was for "The Atheist Delusion." I had just finished reading Sam Harris's "Letter to a Christian Nation" and thought I'd explore that area. On a message-board discussion somewhere, I saw a creationist calling a normal person "deluded" and concluding the comment with "checkmate!" The irony was so maddening to me, I worked it into the video.
After the Contagious Festival was discontinued, I put "The Atheist Delusion" on YouTube, where I had posted a couple of music videos. People liked my comedy a lot better, though. So I made a few more, using the same character, and started to build an audience. Now I'm kind of stuck with the character, but it looks like I kind of have a niche. And "checkmate!" has become my catch phrase.
Along with your videos the comments are quite funny too. From outraged Christians to outraged atheists a lot of people don't seem to get it. Why do so many people take what you are doing at face value?
It's "Poe's Law" -- you can't make a parody of something that's already ridiculous without people believing that it's real. Plus, my technique is to take things that some Christians might actually say, but expose the ridiculousness of the statements merely by juxtaposing them or providing a certain context. So I'm not really exaggerating the other side's claims all that much, at least on some of my videos. It's more subtle than most satires.
Why do you think there has been such an extraordinary growth in Christian fundamentalism in the USA?
I see it as a positive feedback loop. America has been getting dumber, less rigorous intellectually with a diminishing emphasis on critical thinking and debate. Meanwhile, as things get more decadent and socially liberal, those who are inclined against such trends want to push back harder. It's all about people wanting simple, quick, easy answers to the biggest questions. Americans today want to be spoon-fed. They don't want to bother thinking for themselves, so increasingly they just believe what they're told -- in church every Sunday. It's the mentality of, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."
What do you think is the scariest thing about these people?
Home-schooling and the loss of grounding in science. Even in public schools it's scary. Science and technology are our future. Without that foundation in our young people, without getting young people excited about science and innovation, the U.S. cannot continue to be competitive as a nation on the world stage in this century.