Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins made an appearance as the devil on the long-running U.S. animated show "The Simpsons."
Dawkins shows up in Ned Flanders' nightmare in the form of a giant horned devil, stirring a cauldron of people in a fiery underworld. "I'm making Catholic Saint stew!" Dawkins says in the nightmare.
Flanders is Homer Simpson's devoutly religious neighbor. In the latest segment, Flanders has a nightmare about going to hell after he loses his patience with Homer and punches him. He encounters several "warning" signs on his way to hell, such as "Brief Nudity" and "Non-Jesus-y Beards," before reaching a large cavern nicknamed "Hell's Kitchen" where the devil – Dawkins – resides.
"Down here we worship famous atheist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion," a devil-version of Homer says, laughing manically.
Dawkins has also appeared on "South Park," another U.S. animated show, but his appearance in the 24th season of "The Simpsons" shows that his name alone is being recognized in pop culture.
The Friendly Atheist blog described his short segment on the animated show as "anti-climatic," but noted that it's still "a mark of high achievement in popular culture to be lampooned on the show."
Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, has built his career on trying to disprove religion and its place in society. In a recent interview he called himself a "cultural Christian," but clarified that that is not tied to any religious beliefs about the world.
"To tie that to belief about the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the nature of life, etcetera, is clearly ridiculous, and I don't think that the advantages of getting together once a week and singing together or something like that - insofar as that has community-building advantages, it most certainly does not need to go with fundamental beliefs about the cosmos," the atheist author explained in an interview last week.