Tim Tebow (Getty Images )
Count me as a guy seriously bummed about Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos' ignominious exit from this year's NFL playoffs, but not for any football reason (although my opinion of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shares a lot in common with how I view the pus-like fluid that accumulates in the chaffing fat rolls of hippopotamuses).
No, I love Tebow and want him to succeed because he is one of those big, bold, brash, larger-than-life public figures who demonstrates so perfectly the utter vapidity and silliness of religion.
Now obviously to a certain set of church-, synagogue- and mosque-attending individuals, I have already lost this argument. Religion is the one topic where you can have 100 percent of the evidence on your side yet lose the debate every time. Thus you walk around in life with a turtle in your hand saying, "Hey, guys, check out my turtle." And people look at it and say, "Nope, that's definitely a miter saw."
However, Tebow's massive cultural significance as a carrier of superstition's torch awakens a hope in me that for every child from an evangelical family who views him as the torch-bearer, there are many more who are secretly embarrassed that the best proof of their faith comes in the form of Hail Mary passes that defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They look at Tebow, a privileged white male who views his First World success as an entitlement bestowed upon him by a magic man in the sky, and say, "Ah, wait, um, while Christians just as devout starve in Somalia or get their hands cut off in the Congo or remain grounded in an endless cycle of poverty in this country's urban ghettos and failing rural communities, the ever-useless answer that 'God works in mysterious ways' somehow leads people to conclude that Jesus spared this one guy from an abortion so he could lead the Broncos to an 8-8 regular-season record?"
"And maybe," these kids will continue, "if it's so clearly idiotic that God would care about football, where's the burden of proof for any of this? And isn't it a massive logical fallacy to think that I can't be a decent, kind, loving person without pretending to see a miter saw when that's so clearly a turtle?"
That's why I'll still have Tebow Fever next season!
Because he's making converts, just not the kind he thinks. Because the miter saw has been collapsing under its own asininity for all of human history, and it's always the true believers who help it along, who inadvertently reveal not only how boldly preposterous it all is but then highlight the miter saw's darkest elements: how it's just prejudice by another name, how it remains frighteningly hostile to any science that questions its foundational fairy tales, how it demands of its adherents servility, ignorance and a willingness to eschew intellectual curiosity, how the all-purpose answer "God did it" is almost an insult to being alive and capable of asking questions about the unknown nature of reality humming on the quantum level in all its mystery.
Also, that sack of fat roll-pus Tom Brady got back to the Super Bowl. There's your proof of a God-less universe.
REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR STEPHEN MARKLEY IS THE AUTHOR OF "PUBLISH THIS BOOK." REDEYECHICAGO.COM/MARKLEY