That’s sacrilege, that is: A short conversation at the Atheist Ireland information table

AI Info TableThis is an actual conversation with a man at the atheist Ireland information table in Dublin on Saturday.

Man taps finger aggressively on cover picture of Christopher Hitchens book ‘God is not Great’.

Man: That’s sacrilege, that is.

Me: What is sacrilege?

Man: That. God is not Great.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Are you a Muslim?

Man: (surprised) No. I’m a Catholic.

Me: Well, Christopher Hitchens used that phrase as a play on the Islamic saying ‘God is Great.’ You know, ‘Allahu Akbar’? It’s a reference to the Islamic God.

Man: Oh. (pause) Okay.

Me: So that’s okay then?

Man: Yes. That’s okay.

Me: Why is that okay? Muslims worship the same God as Catholics and Jews do. How is it both sacrilege and okay to say that the same God is not Great?

Man looks puzzled, then walks away.

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  1. I guess my answer to “That’s sacrilege, that is.” would not be as helpful.
    It would just be, “So?”

  2. Of note: we’re not sure it’s the same god. It surely isn’t the same concept (but close enough, I’ll grant).

  3. Did he say ‘sar..crilege’ ? David Norris drew attention to this Catholic pronunciation and I smile every time.

  4. Haha, I wish I could have been there for that.

    How old was he and what part of the country was he from (not that it really matters: just curious)?

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