Pat Robertson wishes ill on others
July 15, 2003 11:32 AM   Subscribe

In launching his 21-day "prayer offensive" directed at the Supreme Court, Pat Robertson asks his viewers to help him pray for three justices' death. "One justice is 83-years-old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"
posted by mathowie (202 comments total)

 
I know, I know, another post that basically says "those wacky christians and their make believe ideas" that turns into a slugfest between atheists and christians isn't very interesting, but the latest quote from this person couldn't go unnoticed.

Why, pray tell, would anyone listen to someone like this? Someone that purports to be one with the lord and do good unto men that also happens to pray for the death of people he disagrees with? How could anyone remotely related to a church back this guy up?
posted by mathowie at 11:36 AM on July 15, 2003


I'm torn. I have all sorts of problems with this, but I don't see the death angle. Isn't he just saying that he wants god to make them think about leaving?

That said, it's really sick. And shameless. And he's missing the point of the legal ruling the first place. 4 states allowed sodomy for hetros, but not homos. That's illegal, so it was overturned.
posted by jragon at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2003


He doesn't want them to die, he just wants them to retire. I mean, it's not like they're gay.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2003


I'm not sure he was asking for prayers for the death of the Justices, but it goes without saying that Robertson is an idiot. And what's the deal with that picture? It looks like he has Bush's next nominee lodged up his ass.

The other important thing to remember is that at least one of the more conservative Justices, i.e., Rehnquist, is also quite likely to retire soon. Democrats might stomach replacing one conservative with another, but I find it unlikely that if multiple Justices retire before the end of this administation that the Democrats would tolerate two or three more Scalia-ites.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2003


well, it worked for homer simpson.
posted by crunchland at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2003


I just love that he calls it a "prayer offensive."

Because that's what it is-- offensive.
posted by keef at 11:41 AM on July 15, 2003


Oh, and we must also keep in mind that judicial nominees are rarely what we expect them to be. O'Conner, Kennedy, and for that matter, Souter, were all nominated by Republican Presidents. Earl Warren, of all Justices, was nominated by Eisenhower, the so-called Christian warrior.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:42 AM on July 15, 2003


Hi. I'm a christian, but am looking for a new freaking name for my beliefs so as to distance myself from those who didn't read the freaking book! Please note that Jesus spent ALL his time with the types of people that this guy is having issues with. And while he didn't agree with thier actions and way of life he tried to help them by LOVING them not being high and mighty and makeing laws against thier actions. He came to change the system from a system of laws to a system of grace.

Despite the fact that I don't approve of homosexual acts, I don't think that the government has ANY right to regulate them. I think that this decision by the supreme court was the correct one. Pat Robertson makes me what to run and hide.
posted by woil at 11:43 AM on July 15, 2003


Why is my cable bill subsidizing crap like the 700 club? There really needs to be an "opt-out" of the ideologues (be it religious or non-religious) option.
posted by skallas at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2003


I hear ya, woil. I think Jesus was insightful, inclusive, and inspiring. I think Mr. Robertson is just about the complete opposite.
posted by jragon at 11:47 AM on July 15, 2003


On the bright side, its a good thing prayer doesn't work. If it did every government would be a theocracy by proxy thanks to guys like Robertson.
posted by skallas at 11:49 AM on July 15, 2003


Maybe its just to hide his business links to LIberia while that is in the news.
Pat and his buddy Charles Taylor and lots of other places on the web.
posted by stuartmm at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2003


So can we start a prayer offensive for something large and possibly life-threatening to hit Mr. Robertson and prevent him from his prayer routine?

Or, y'know, we could pray for gayness.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2003


skallas -
Or perhaps it does work but there are an equal or greater number of people who actually have a clue who pray for things opposite these guys.
posted by woil at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2003


It looks like he's praying for a good bowel movement in that CNN picture.

Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence. They take pleasure in falsehood; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Psalm 62
posted by Frank Grimes at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2003


And he's missing the point of the legal ruling the first place. 4 states allowed sodomy for hetros, but not homos. That's illegal, so it was overturned.

jragon, I think you're missing the point of the ruling. The laws were overturned not on equal protection grounds (though O'Conner did write that the equal protection argument was stronger, and I believe she made her mind up on the basis of equal protection), they were overturned on privacy grounds. Even in states where sodomy laws applied equally to homo- and heterosexuals, those laws are now unconstitutional.

For me, this was the most surprising thing about the decision. Many people seem to have missed it, however, interpreting the ruling as a declaration of equal rights for homosexuals. In certain cases, homosexuals have been discriminated against with the rationale that the sodomy laws made them de facto criminals. Certain states used this as the rationale for forbidding adoption by homosexuals, for instance. In these cases, the recent ruling does go a long way towards enforcing equal rights. It is not nearly so general as most people seem to believe, however--there's much work to do, still.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2003


This proves in the USA: we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Don't see the problem other than his opinion. He may need a lesson in compassion or a follow up, God promotes. Notice people will allow their emotions to cloud their judgement.
Unanswered prayers can be a blessing in disguise.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2003


Sure, he doesn't directly mention that he's praying for their deaths. But note his reasons for retirement -- the focus is not on the joys of retirement, but instead on the threats they've had to their health.

I would think that he would pray that the stated justices would retire so that they could have time to enjoy God's beautiful earth, not because they're on the verge of death. The two are often linked, but I would think you'd want to concentrate on the positive.

Oh wait, this is Robertson. Isn't he one of those judgement-day hopefuls who wants armageddon right now to show what a nice little boy he's been?
posted by mikeh at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2003


I have my sincere doubts whether Pat Robertson actually even has any religious beliefs. He's a cynical power-hungry shitbag manipulating people for his own profit.

He's not praying for death, but he certainly seems to be rejoicing in their suffering, which is definitely non-Christian. But then again positing Robertson as an example of Christianity is like offering up OJ Simpson as a representation of all athletes.

On preview:

mathowie:I know, I know, another post that basically says "those wacky christians and their make believe ideas" that turns into a slugfest between atheists and christians isn't very interesting,

skallas:On the bright side, its a good thing prayer doesn't work.

Nice of you to respect Matt's wishes skallas. I think we're all aware that you detest religion. That's your prerogative. But there's an atheist and an anti-religious bigot.
posted by jonmc at 11:54 AM on July 15, 2003


Topical note: Did somebody mention Pat Robertson? Note that it's Christianity Today, just to pull the rug out from under anyone who'd jump all over a link to a left-wing publication. Do we really need to know any more about him than this?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:54 AM on July 15, 2003


insert "a difference between" after there.
posted by jonmc at 11:54 AM on July 15, 2003


Read the text of his request here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2003


I really hope Robertson isn't actually praying for their deaths. If he's just praying that those w/differing viewpoints from his own retire, well, that's not very different from what the rest of us are doing, is it?

woil, it sounds like you are a Christian with a heart, which is wonderful to hear. I hope other Christians like you will speak up and distance themselves from Robertson and those like him.
posted by widdershins at 11:59 AM on July 15, 2003


Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?

Yeah, but it's going to be a lot harder with folks like Pat Robertson putting "Must! Hold! On! Longer!" into their heads (albeit unintentionally, I'm sure).
posted by weston at 11:59 AM on July 15, 2003


Pat Robertson jumped the shark when he told me to put my hands on the screen.

USNews Op-Ed on Robertson's shady connections
posted by brownpau at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2003


Isn't he one of those judgement-day hopefuls who wants armageddon right now to show what a nice little boy he's been?

Yes he is. And the scary thing is, that this attitude is not rare among Christians.

I remember hearing that one of Reagan's Interior secretaries said that he didn't believe in saving the environment because Jesus was going to be coming back soon, and it'd all be moot.

<googles a bit>
Ah yes, James Watt was quoted as saying: "We don't have to protect the environment - the Second Coming is at hand. "
posted by bshort at 12:03 PM on July 15, 2003


I wonder how the gold mine offensive is going.
posted by the fire you left me at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2003


Pat Robertson asks his viewers to help him pray for three justices' death

With all of the obligatory "Robertson is a dipshit" stuff out of the way-- I just have to ask-- how in the world did you come up with this crazy-ass conclusion, mathowie?

I mean, really. He simply didn't do that. Can we just make stuff up now in public debate?
posted by footballrabi at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2003


bshort, that's great. Pity he didn't quote the rest of Yeats' The Second Coming. Is it just me or does it feel hideously apt these days?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2003


The framers of our Constitution never intended anything like this to take place in our land. Yet we seem to be helpless to do anything about it. Why? Because we are under the tyranny of a nonelected oligarchy. Just think, five unelected men and women who serve for life can change the moral fabric of our nation and take away the protections which our elected legislators have wisely put in place.

You know, arguements like this have been around since the Supreme Court was created. People from all sorts of beliefs, morals, ethics and ideologys have claimed that the Supreme Court is an Oligarchy that shouldn't exist.

But, i think Robertson is forgetting something extremely important. The Supreme Court can not enforce it's own rulings (ala Andrew Jackson). If Robertson really wanted to get his way, he should convince Bush, the States and local governments to not enforce the S.C.'s ruling.

It wouldn't fly in a million year but I would like to see him try.

And how the hell does allowing sodomy lead to incest and bigamy? I never though of bj's and a little back door action to lead to sleeping with your children and having a harem King Solomon style.
posted by Stynxno at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2003


He is certainly not the only one requesting that we pray for the Supreme Court.

I personally think that mandatory retirement for all Justices at a certain age would be more than appropriate.

I'm not about to argue the resident atheists about the efficacy of prayer-I've had too many answered. But God has the sense to answer prayers according to HIS mandates, not man's.

I am sorry that some of you are upset that some of us have different political viewpoints and cultural/religious beliefs. And if some of you don't believe in prayer it is rather hypocritical to complain about what a person is praying for.
Besides, if Robertson were praying for their deaths-which he wasn't- both God and his fellow christians would be quick to correct him.
posted by konolia at 12:13 PM on July 15, 2003


how in the world did you come up with this crazy-ass conclusion, mathowie?

You have to admit, it's odd that he mentioned the heart condition. Was he suggesting to his watchers that they give God a couple of hints about how to do the job?
posted by Pinwheel at 12:15 PM on July 15, 2003


> "We don't have to protect the environment - the Second Coming is at hand. "

And it'll all dissapear when the sun goes nova. Read the freaking book (bible) again. Jesus again and again talks of being a steward of your gifts -- the parable of the talents for example. Furthermore every century has believed that christ would return any day now, despite the fact that there are several key things that have to happen first that haven't happened yet. (The temple being built for example.)
posted by woil at 12:15 PM on July 15, 2003


If he's just praying that those w/differing viewpoints from his own retire, well, that's not very different from what the rest of us are doing, is it?

I agree. What is so bad about Robertson wanting Supreme Court Justices that will advance his politicial or social ideals? Isn't that what NOW, the ACLU and the NCAAP want as well? Of course, I suspect that the real point of this post was to ridicule Robertson and other Chrisitan fundamentalists for their religious views, which sadly, seems to be acceptable both on this site and elsewhere in society.
posted by Durwood at 12:16 PM on July 15, 2003


Yes he is. And the scary thing is, that this attitude is not rare among Christians.

Well, it depends on what you mean by that word...

I remember hearing that one of Reagan's Interior secretaries said that he didn't believe in saving the environment because Jesus was going to be coming back soon, and it'd all be moot...

Ah yes, James Watt was quoted as saying: "We don't have to protect the environment - the Second Coming is at hand. "


Reiterating woil's comment, sometimes you have to wonder who actually read the book. Nobody's supposed to know the day nor the hour, not even if you have the U.S. Intelligence services working for you*. Not to mention the parables about wise stewardship (no, the Lord might not be happy if he comes back and you've wrecked everything you were in charge of).

*Now, the Mossad, on the other hand...
posted by weston at 12:22 PM on July 15, 2003


What is so bad about Robertson wanting Supreme Court Justices that will advance his politicial or social ideals? Isn't that what NOW, the ACLU and the NCAAP want as well?

These people don't try to kill them with their bad thoughts, like some kind of oddly haired Darth Vader.

You know, outwardly.
posted by dong_resin at 12:23 PM on July 15, 2003


konolia,
I'm not about to argue the resident atheists about the efficacy of prayer-I've had too many answered.
Well, nobody really argued about prayer other than a couple of (known) atheist trolls. Your statement came across as rather trollish as well though. You lob out that your prayers have been answered then promptly stick your fingers in your ears while proclaiming that you're not starting an argument.
posted by substrate at 12:23 PM on July 15, 2003


And if some of you don't believe in prayer it is rather hypocritical to complain about what a person is praying for.

Aw, hell, konolia. It's not about the spiritual message--it's about the political message. I couldn't care less what he prays for before he goes to bed at night--but this has little to do with prayer. Every word out of Robertson's mouth is politically motivated. To think otherwise is very naive.
posted by jpoulos at 12:24 PM on July 15, 2003


how in the world did you come up with this crazy-ass conclusion, mathowie?

I had the same reaction as matt did and here is my reason: if he merely wanted the Justices to retire, he wouldn't have mentioned the cancer or the heart condition. Implying that someone might die from a non-age related health condition seems to me to be a tad suspicious.
posted by Stynxno at 12:25 PM on July 15, 2003


Oh, come on now. We're not bashing Christian fundamentalists as a group -- at least not in this thread. We're bashing Robertson for being a "cynical power-hungry shitbag manipulating people for his own profit." In my mind, this has less to do with religion than it has to do with the power of those with an audience, like Robertson, to do and say any damn thing they wish without repercussions. Even Christian fundamentalists have to have some modicum of skepticism, don't they?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2003


And if some of you don't believe in prayer it is rather hypocritical to complain about what a person is praying for.

Why? I don't believe in leprechauns, but if a well-funded, politically-connected bigot asked the leprechauns to whisper in Ruth Bader Ginsburg's ear that she's too feeble to continue, I'd find it equally contemptible.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2003


Oh wait, this is Robertson. Isn't he one of those judgement-day hopefuls who wants armageddon right now to show what a nice little boy he's been?

Notice something that most of these types have in common, age & old. It's like; I'm old, lived a full life and earth will end now that I'm old. Way to go, make the youth feel they will never accomplish what you did or more. If you believe in God then you know it is in his hands, relax.

Growing old is hard when you take in account all the changes one's life will go through. By finding humility through God it will make life's changes smoother every added year.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2003


You have to admit, it's odd that he mentioned the heart condition. Was he suggesting to his watchers that they give God a couple of hints about how to do the job?

I think he just wanted to be clear who he was talking about. I mean, a lot of other people would be happy to see Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas retire.

If he's just praying that those w/differing viewpoints from his own retire, well, that's not very different from what the rest of us are doing, is it?

On a certain level that's true. But I think the specificity of the request and to whom it's directed are what's catching people's attention. A generic statement along the lines of "Please help the Supreme Court to be wise and moral" would go unnoticed.
posted by pmurray63 at 12:27 PM on July 15, 2003


That picture is priceless. Wow, he's praying really, REALLY hard!

As the U.S.'s most promnient goofbal-mullah, Robertson and his organization make statements like this all the time. Here's a gem from a few weeks ago, suggesting that the bad weather that (some parts of) the U.S. has been having can be interpreted as "God's warning not to divide Israel."
posted by Ty Webb at 12:28 PM on July 15, 2003


"Implying that someone might die from a non-age related health condition seems to me to be a tad suspicious."

If one of them were to kick off, could we try ol' Pat for accessory to murder?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:29 PM on July 15, 2003


Isn't that what NOW, the ACLU and the NCAAP want as well?

People in those organizations aren't members of any church or other sort of group that has a history of being understanding, helpful, generous, and pious.

I suspect that the real point of this post was to ridicule Robertson and other Chrisitan fundamentalists for their religious views

Again, I tried to make that as clear as possible in my first comment that wasn't my intention, it's to ask how someone that is a prominent member of a church that calls themself religious and moral can openly wish for ill will on those he disagrees with. It just seems the most contradictory thing in the world, does it not?
posted by mathowie at 12:29 PM on July 15, 2003


Even Christian fundamentalists have to have some modicum of skepticism, don't they?

Skepticism is anathema to fundamentalists of any stripe. It's one of the first things their belief system has to suppress in the host if it has any hope of replicating.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2003


5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.


-- Matthew 6:6

In other words, Pat needs to check the manual again.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2003


Implying that someone might die from a non-age related health condition seems to me to be a tad suspicious

I gotcha, Stynxno. But flat out-saying (not simply "implying") that someone asked his followers to pray for the death of others-- when he didn't-- is a tad suspicious as well. Right? Somebody needs to call that for what it is.
posted by footballrabi at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2003


But there's an atheist and an anti-religious bigot.

It's bigoted to believe prayer doesn't work?

It would seem that atheism is almost by definition then, to be an anti-religious bigot. To believe that the religious are all deluding themselves is what atheism is all about. /derail

It just seems the most contradictory thing in the world, does it not?

Robertson does the exact opposite of Jesus' work. Does anyone really read what Jesus said and what he was about? I think if they did, they wouldn't continue sending social security checks in to fund this guy's $2000 suits.
posted by McBain at 12:37 PM on July 15, 2003


Wow. I looked at the photo, and if Pat prayed any harder, droplets of blood would begin to form on his forehead.
posted by alumshubby at 12:40 PM on July 15, 2003


If one of them were to kick off, could we try ol' Pat for accessory to murder?

Probably depends on who you think the primary suspect is.
posted by weston at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2003


It just seems the most contradictory thing in the world, does it not?

If he actually did it.
But he didn't.
Right?
posted by footballrabi at 12:44 PM on July 15, 2003


random pastuerized processed thought food products from betty quocker

hey - lets try and keep the agenda out of the fpp text, huh? as if we don't have enough lame pat robertson bashing threads every week anyway. the thread the other day based on a link to his crashed web server asserting that the devil was behind the outage was pathetic.

~~~

about that picture, i got one word for ya pat. PRUNES.

~~~

if pat robertson wants supreme court justices 'retired' i suggest he strap a bomb on his chest and do the job himself.

~~~

i saw jesus last night. you're all soooo wrong.

~~~

i have a far side t-shirt, the one where god pushes the "smite" button on his keyboard, while on his monitor he watches a man walk under a suspended piano.

~~~

idiot that he may be, methinks robertson was listing their various afflictions as support for his statement that they should retire, not as suggestions to god as to how they could be most easily snuffed. now this thread truly is getting embarrassing, even for a pagan heathen infidel - i can't even discern from the article where he may be "openly wish[ing] for ill will".
posted by quonsar at 12:57 PM on July 15, 2003


What is so bad about Robertson wanting Supreme Court Justices that will advance his politicial or social ideals? Isn't that what NOW, the ACLU and the NCAAP want as well?

> These people don't try to kill them with their bad thoughts, like some kind of oddly haired Darth Vader.

*snort*
posted by onlyconnect at 1:02 PM on July 15, 2003


if Pat prayed any harder, droplets of blood would begin to form on his forehead

indeed. the true blood of jesus. none of this transubstantiated crap the catholics make do with.
posted by quonsar at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2003


i can't even discern from the article where he may be "openly wish[ing] for ill will".

He does mention the Justices' physical ailments. What is the point of that? It seems that good Christians would pray for the health of ALL men, as opposed to hoping that the physical ailments of ones you don't like are influence enough to make one quit their profession, a profession the people in question are at the height of.
posted by McBain at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2003


You know, it occurs to me that Christianity is a lot like McDonalds in that the people you see on TV aren't much like the people actually involved in the organization.

When you turn on the TV, you see this lunatic with outrageous dyed hair and clown makeup, and this big fat squishy guy.

And then you've got the McDonald's ads...
posted by vraxoin at 1:10 PM on July 15, 2003


He does mention the Justices' physical ailments. What is the point of that?

check the sentence right before the one you cut and pasted.
posted by quonsar at 1:11 PM on July 15, 2003


>But there's an atheist and an anti-religious bigot.

Let's watch the namecalling, eh? I don't see how one can equate disbelief with bigotry, but I do understand the natural urge to attack the messenger. Its far easier to do so than face the fact that prayer doesn't work, cannot be proven, and is more or less a ridiculous concept to begin with. (someone knows better than and can control an all powerful and all knowing deity?)
posted by skallas at 1:14 PM on July 15, 2003


McBain,

I didn't read it as him praying for their deaths in public. I read it as him publicly wishing that they'd realize that their health is failing, their time is short and maybe they can find something more fulfilling to do with their remaining days.

I will make no bets what his inner voices sentiments were however.
posted by substrate at 1:15 PM on July 15, 2003


Pat Robertson may be right about one thing...
Sign of the Apocalypse #37: quonsar becomes the Voice of Reason at MeFi.

"openly wish[ing] for ill will"
IMO, If Robertson's actively supporting Charles Taylor in Liberia (and he is), ill will can be safely assumed in everything he does...

And now the good news...
Remembering that a large percentage of Americans are relatively soft Christians, currently casting their faith with the more fundy-types out of fear of terrorists and strange foreigners, and remembering that a large percentage of Americans are dumb enough to think that Pat Robertson is a leader in the Christian Community, he could be well on his way to seriously marginalizing not just himself but all of the Religious Right...

And that phrase "Prayer offensive" is just the most perfect piece of appropriate irony I've seen this year.
posted by wendell at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2003


is it just me, or does he look an awful lot like Yoda in that picture?
posted by mcsweetie at 1:21 PM on July 15, 2003


I'm with quonsar's last paragraph. If I were to say in some thread that I was in hopes that Scalia would retire because he'd had a heart attack (supposing he'd had one) I doubt anyone would have a problem with it. Pat Robertson is advancing his agenda by the means he believes in, as we all do. Sure, we have different agendas and different means, there's plenty of problematic stuff in his speech, and that picture lends itself to many a satirical comment - but there was no ill-wishing of those justices.
posted by orange swan at 1:22 PM on July 15, 2003


Ok, so I think we've now established that Robertson should be tarred and feathered for praying that several justices retire from the Supreme Court. I don't agree with those who say that Robertson was going to pray for their deaths. Compare his comments to this fun quote by Dr. Julianne Malveaux (posted on the Media Research Center site):

From To The Contrary, PBS, November 4, 1994:

USA Today Columnist/Pacifica Radio Talk Show Host Julianne Malveaux, on Justice Clarence Thomas: “You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that's how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person.”


I have to admit that I really had no idea who Dr. Malveaux is, but she describes herself on her website as "a leading-edge intellectual whose provocative, insight-filled observations are helping to shape public opinion in 21st century America."
posted by Durwood at 1:23 PM on July 15, 2003


I don't see how one can equate disbelief with bigotry, but I do understand the natural urge to attack the messenger. Its far easier to do so than face the fact that prayer doesn't work, cannot be proven, and is more or less a ridiculous concept to begin with. (someone knows better than and can control an all powerful and all knowing deity?)

Skallas, if you're appointing yourself the "messenger" of the "fact" that prayer doesn't work and is "a ridiculous concept" then you are indeed being disrespectful of the beliefs of others and Jonmc's comment was entirely justified.
posted by orange swan at 1:30 PM on July 15, 2003


I don't see how one can equate disbelief with bigotry,...

I don't. I equate the idea that one's dibelief makes them somehow superior to those who do believe with bigotry. and the condescending tone ( "I do understand the natural urge to attack the messenger.." yes, the lower beigs do behave curiously don't they professor skallas) of your comment tells me that you do consider yourself superior.
posted by jonmc at 1:31 PM on July 15, 2003


On the bright side, its a good thing prayer doesn't work. If it did every government would be a theocracy by proxy thanks to guys like Robertson.
posted by skallas at 11:49 AM PST on July 15


And how would you know? Do you have conclusive evidence. You say it with a sort of fundamentalist zeal, but then I think athiests can be just as zealous as theists, just look at Josef Stalin.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:31 PM on July 15, 2003


a leading-edge intellectual whose provocative, insight-filled observations are helping to shape public opinion in 21st century America

translation: talking head tabloidist.
posted by quonsar at 1:33 PM on July 15, 2003


I read it as him publicly wishing that they'd realize that their health is failing, their time is short and maybe they can find something more fulfilling to do with their remaining days.

That seems a decidedly un-Christian way to look at the idea that their health is failing. That's my point. It would seem to me that the more Christian way to look at it would be to pray for their health and also pray that they see the error of their ways.

But that gets away from my bigger problem is that I don't think Jesus would want laws that criminalize sodomy.
posted by McBain at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2003


I equate the idea that one's dibelief makes them somehow superior to those who do believe with bigotry.

Political correctness, populist-style. Secular history is a long process of trying to replace irrational belief with rational thought. There's no way to do this without being accused of acting "superior" by people clinging to those beliefs. Once upon a time it was "superior" to argue that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:41 PM on July 15, 2003


Once upon a time it was "superior" to argue that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

Sigh. And just to show that I'm not "superior", I have to admit that I wrote that the wrong way around :)
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:43 PM on July 15, 2003


yes, the lower beigs do behave curiously don't they professor skallas) of your comment tells me that you do consider yourself superior.

For someone who believes that the religious are deluding themselves, belief is quite a curious behavior. There is no way to put it without sounding condescending, and in the text of a message board one adds the tone they think they hear.
posted by McBain at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2003


Pat Robertson is advancing his agenda by the means he believes in, as we all do.

But he's a church guy. That's my point. We aren't church guys, we're regular folks that say awful things every now and then but I tend to expect more from people involved in church (and other sorts of higher callings like civil service).

I can sit here like Michael Savage and say that I wish someone got aids and died and although extreme, it's not a big deal if I say it. If the pope or ghandi said it, it'd make headlines, as did this latest thing. Crackpots say extreme things all the time but few of them are spokespersons for churches and their own religious universities.
posted by mathowie at 1:47 PM on July 15, 2003


...but then I think atheists can be just as zealous as theists, just look at Josef Stalin.

Fun trivia: Stalin started out as a theist, received a full scholarship to seminary, and studied for the priesthood. He was zealous in the other direction at one time in his life. I agree with you: the real battle is between reasonable, tolerant, people and zealots.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:48 PM on July 15, 2003


On the bright side, its a good thing prayer doesn't work.

Don't you mean, on the Bright side?
posted by eyebeam at 1:49 PM on July 15, 2003


I was also going by previous posts and coments. skallas has been pretty clear and quite vociferous on the religious question.

Just so I don't get cast as the defender of the faith here, I'm not a member of any organized religion, but as Ann Magnuson said "for some it's the bible, some it's bourbon, some it's the butthole surfers." I've been known to lean on all three. My point being, it's a rough world and most religious people that I know are just using religion as a way to get through the night (among other things), so who the hell are you or I or anybody to look down on that?
posted by jonmc at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2003


This thread reminds me why people who are full of shit hide behind religion-- because good, honest, decent people will defend them, because they really do believe, and can't understand that evil people will manipulate that trust for their own advancement and profit. What God really means to most religious people is all the goodness in the world, and when someone hides behind that, it is sometimes hard to separate who they really are from what they align themselves with.
posted by cell divide at 1:53 PM on July 15, 2003


You hit the nail on the head PST, and I believe there are reasonable people on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:57 PM on July 15, 2003


but I do understand the natural urge to attack the messenger. Its far easier to do so than face the fact that prayer doesn't work, cannot be proven, and is more or less a ridiculous concept to begin with. (someone knows better than and can control an all powerful and all knowing deity?)

skallas, nothing personal, but it looks to me like you haven't given the matter much investigation. Most of the Christians I'm aware of don't claim any particular batting average for "requests" made via prayer, and indeed, many of them don't even regard prayer as primarily an avenue for requests, much less the kind of control you described. "Prayer doesn't change God, it changes me" said C.S. Lewis.

Or you could take the way Parker Palmer describes it.. "In prayer and contemplation I seek immediate personal experience of that to which tradition can only testify....seeking a truth toward which others can point me but one I can finally only touch and taste for myself." It's where you go and look for the personal experience described by the traditions.

Claiming this "doesn't work" in a blanket way doesn't make sense -- it's like telling someone that they don't enjoy ice cream or aren't illuminated by reading Plato. And in fact, not everyone is illuminated by reading Plato or enjoys eating ice cream, but many are, and it's such a personal experience/decision that it's somewhat absurd to try to make some assertion about whether those experiences are valid.

This leaves aside research on the role of faith in healing, but I'm not inclined to get on that debate because the other half is more important. Prayer isn't simply asking God for a pony.
posted by weston at 2:01 PM on July 15, 2003


Prayer isn't simply asking God for a pony.

But that seems to be exactly what Robertson is doing. The more enlightened of the religious, as C.S. Lewis and Parker Palmer surely were, understand that prayer is more about meditating, contemplating yourself and your place in the world. I'm sure there are many theists who agree with your eloquent description.

On the other hand, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there asking for ponies as well.
posted by McBain at 2:09 PM on July 15, 2003


I can .... say that I wish someone got aids and died and although extreme, it's not a big deal if I say it. If the pope or ghandi said it, it'd make headlines, as did this latest thing. Crackpots say extreme things all the time but few of them are spokespersons for churches and their own religious universities.

Pat Robertson IS a crackpot. Religion has its share of them as does every other school of thought - feminism, environmentalism, you name it. And yes, it is more problematic when a representative of what might be a good, powerful movement says such a thing than when some isolated crank does. It reflects so badly on the entire movement, and when the person has a lot of influence, it can be so frightening.

Perhaps the solution for those on the outside of a movement is to differentiate the rotten apple from the tree and from the other sound apples on the tree. And the solution for those within a movement is both to work towards self-correction.

on preview: McBain, yes, there are lots of people asking for ponies. But there are also those with a much more sophisticated concept of prayer, and it really isn't fair to call prayer a "ridiculous concept" because of the way it's practised by Pat Robertson.
posted by orange swan at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2003


I can sit here like Michael Savage and say that I wish someone got aids and died and although extreme, it's not a big deal if I say it. If the pope or ghandi said it, it'd make headlines, as did this latest thing. Crackpots say extreme things all the time but few of them are spokespersons for churches and their own religious universities.

we're regular folks that say awful things every now

So is Pat Roberts, he is a preacher, he may have a Holly Spirit, he may be going to heaven But he is human and sins. If he said he was Jesus, then he would be saying his deity would not allow him to sin and his prayer is correct.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:17 PM on July 15, 2003


christianity: asking god for ponies since 1 A.D.
who ya gonna call?

the um, devil made me do this.
posted by quonsar at 2:17 PM on July 15, 2003


it really isn't fair to call prayer a "ridiculous concept"

I'm sure this was aimed at the "request for ponies" not at "meditation". I'd call the former ridiculous and rename the later from "prayer" to meditation.

It is undeniable that the word "prayer" is almost synonomous with "divine request" in most people's minds.
posted by McBain at 2:21 PM on July 15, 2003


Christians ask Christ for ponies.

Mefites ask Matt for ponies.

Some Christians get their wishes.

Some Mefites get their wishes.

I'm too afraid to continue down this path.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:22 PM on July 15, 2003


I'm too afraid to continue down this path.

Matt and God are both ranchers?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:27 PM on July 15, 2003


it is more problematic when a representative of what might be a good, powerful movement says such a thing than when some isolated crank does [emphasis added]

note that at this juncture it no longer matters whether robertson was actually "asking ... viewers to help him pray for three justices' death" or not. it's just assumed he did. this thread has just demonstrated for us all precisely how the u.s. government operates.
posted by quonsar at 2:30 PM on July 15, 2003


but then I think athiests can be just as zealous as theists, just look at Josef Stalin.

Hell yeah I'm zealous about fighting off a return to the Dark Ages. How that makes me similar to a psychotic genocidal dictator I'm not quite sure, but if you say so...

-bad "the 'a-' is for 'Anti-'" stone
posted by badstone at 2:32 PM on July 15, 2003


Pat Robertson or South Park's Cartman?
"[T]he minute you turn the [Constitution] into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society."
"Respect my authority."

posted by eddydamascene at 2:35 PM on July 15, 2003


McBain, prayer can mean requests, but it can also mean praise, confession, thanksgiving, and communion with God. I wouldn't be so quick to rename all of those things meditation or make assumptions about what prayer is in "most people's minds".

When Skallas made his "ridiculous concept" comment he perhaps did mean the request for ponies idea of prayer, but he should be aware that prayer is much more than that and be more specific as well as more respectful in his phrasing.

On preview - quonsar, when I said that I was referring to Mathowie's hypothetical speech about how he hoped someone would get AIDS and die and how he thought it was worse for a church representative to say that sort of thing. I'd already argued that Pat Robertson did not ill-wish anyone (in this link anyway) and so did not want to rehash that point again. I'd hope most of us are clear on that by now.
posted by orange swan at 2:41 PM on July 15, 2003


it's to ask how someone that is a prominent member of a church that calls themself religious and moral can openly wish for ill will on those he disagrees with.

I just don't think it's clear that Robertson is wishing ill on these people. He's praying that they retire. That's not bad. Retirement's good. I wish Pat Robertson would lead America in praying for my retirement.
posted by mikrophon at 2:44 PM on July 15, 2003


>Prayer isn't simply asking God for a pony.

I've watched the 700 club, that's exactly what's going on. As far the "meditation" argument goes, that's fine and dandy but divine intervention and prayer are linked in scripture and I think its fair for me to use that link.

jonmc's "gets them through the night so you cannot criticize them" argument is pretty flawed. First off, no topic is above criticism. Secondly, would you apply that logic to, say,addictive and dangerous drugs? It gets a lot of people through the night, yet can't I comment on how it might be wrong to engage in that behavoir? Or that a smarter path is to seek profession help?

Also, as far as the "true christian" argument goes. Well I certainly don't see it. Robertson is as true a Christian as any other. There's no exam. Considering what we end up calling Christianity has changed so many times since its inception it would be difficult to say who is true and who is not. You could say that the consensus between modern christians is x, but I'm sure 700 viewers would disagree with you and none of you have the tools to refute their arguments. For every line you quote they have another line, especially if they're armed with the old testament. Then it devolves into sophistry and theological nonsense. Not exactly a science now is it?

If there's a bigot in this situation I would think its Christians who don't accept other Christians. He's one of you. You may not like him or his methods but he's part of the very same "saved" group and benefits directly from being a Christian through supernatural forces. That is if you believe all that old time superstition. What's worse in a religion that promotes forgivenesss? Intolerance of other Christians or pushing modern ideas about Christianity? I would think it was the former. Hypocrisy? You guys are soaking in it.

Until there's a system that can tell false christians from realchristians, preferably though some kind of miracle, I don't think Christians should be attacking their own. For all you know he's the true christian and liberal christians are the ones perveting the church.

Of course the above is more sophistry, religion really is just whatever a group claims it is. Its always being changed by the hand of man because its most likely a man-made creation to begin with.
posted by skallas at 2:51 PM on July 15, 2003


I personally think that mandatory retirement for all Justices at a certain age would be more than appropriate.

cool. then Stevens goes home, Thomas stays.
and a mandatory retirement law will simply make Presidents nominate only 40-year-olds. you're a great judge? you're 60? forget about the SC, you'll go home in 10 years, politically you're not worth it -- you have an expiration date. the problem is not that justices are senile. is that they seem to vote along party lines (a late 2000 decision comes to mind) when they're supposed to be thinking about the Law and the Constitution

as always, FDR's court-packing plan comes to mind.

SCOTUS nomination/retirement mechanisms are probably better left alone
posted by matteo at 2:52 PM on July 15, 2003


I don't think Jesus would want laws that criminalize sodomy.

Yeah, but Paul would.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:59 PM on July 15, 2003


So I'm guessing I really was the only one who was instantly reminded of Oral Bill the Cat's money-raising campaign to "call home" Swaggart, Roberts and Robertson back in the day. It even came complete with ascension-to-heaven bar charts! Sigh.

I'm a dork. Dork dork dork! What's more, I'm an old dork.
posted by furiousthought at 3:02 PM on July 15, 2003


note that at this juncture it no longer matters whether robertson was actually "asking ... viewers to help him pray for three justices' death" or not. it's just assumed he did

Amazing, but true. Has it mattered since the fpp?
posted by footballrabi at 3:04 PM on July 15, 2003


The identity of the third justice was unclear
posted by thomcatspike at 3:08 PM on July 15, 2003


Goodness, Skallas, you really are good at stoking this discussion. I'm sure your last comment will generate many more, but since I'm pressed for time I'll only take on a section of what you said.

If there's a bigot in this situation I would think its
Christians who don't accept other Christians. He's one of you. You may not like him or his methods but he's part of the very same "saved" group and benefits directly from being a Christian through supernatural forces. That is if you believe all that old time superstition. What's worse in a religion that promotes forgivenesss? Intolerance of other Christians or pushing modern ideas about Christianity? I would think it was the former. Hypocrisy? You guys are soaking in it.


I do agree with you on the whole "real christian vs. fake christian" argument. A Christian is someone who professes belief in Christ and in Christ's teachings - whether he or she adheres to the teachings of Christ is really another matter, and of course, no one does perfectly.

But I would say that Christians have the same right to debate/disagree with/criticize each other's actions as those within any other organization. Forgiveness does not mean blind acceptance. Love does not mean blind acceptance. The new testament does provide guidelines on how to get along as a church and how to criticize one another - no group of people will ever be free from dissent. Christianity is not at all incompatible with rational thought or tolerance of a lack of consensus despite your insulting classification of it as "old time superstition".
posted by orange swan at 3:14 PM on July 15, 2003


they give God a couple of hints about how to do the job?
Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"

viewers to help him pray for three justices' death" or not. it's just assumed he did

Was going to ask earlier since a purple character was quoted to be gay by a person in Robertson's ministry but not Robertson if this article was accurate. But the discussion was not to argue God or Prayer, but should he say these things. Took it as a discussion of what if and this was just the starting point.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:16 PM on July 15, 2003


The new testament does provide guidelines on how to get along as a church and how to criticize one another - no group of people will ever be free from dissent..

Why they call these times the Church Age.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:21 PM on July 15, 2003


Robertson's request seems no more or less silly or offensive to me than someone asking Santa Claus to bring him a new justice for christmas. You people can believe whatever wacky crap you want to, just leave me the hell out of it.
posted by majcher at 3:55 PM on July 15, 2003


The prayer, while pretty friggin' offensive, isn't the real issue.

The issue with this is that, of course, this will probably inspire one of the more rabid of his flock to carry out "God's will" and remove one of the Justices by force.

Pat will just adopt that "who...me?" face and deny any and all complicity.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:30 PM on July 15, 2003


Dear God --

Hey what's up? Could you please see that Mr. Pat Rorbertson gets hit by a beer truck in the near future?

Thanks. I'll owe you one.
posted by birdherder at 4:41 PM on July 15, 2003


What you're all ignoring is that skallas happens to be right: praying for something does not make God give it to you.

I can't imagine a serious theologian who would argue this. It opens up a gigantic set of problems. For one thing, it's not consistent with the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent god.

But beyond that, it's just a stupid idea. Call him a bigot if you want, but by all indications he's right and you're wrong if you disagree.
posted by Hildago at 4:43 PM on July 15, 2003


There's a strange synchronicity to the universe.

I was back in Virginia just last week checking up on some of my tobacco industry holdings...doing one hell of a lot of driving from one corporate headquarters to the next....and decided to stop in Williamsburg at a convenient Loony Lube to get the new SUV serviced.

Whoa. So I'm standing there chatting with the manager when Pat Robertson hisself screeches halfway into one of the lube bays in a spankin' new (white) Mercedes, leaps out, and starts yelling about needing an oil change rightnow, chop chop, goddammit! Seems he's late for the 700 club and a special, emergency prayer session to beseech the Almighty for the teleportation of yellowcake uranium ore into Iraq, or some such.

Same intent facial expression as when praying on TV, same balled up hand on forehead. You know the look. Charismatic.

The manager, who wore a faded Metallica T-shirt underneath his regulation Loony Lube jacket, took his time. He spat brown tobacco chaw onto the marigolds bordering the waste oil pit, and didn't bat an eye.

"God oughtta be able to suck the dirt out your oil, Mr. Robertson."

So you get my point? Do the big auto manufacturers take these things into account when they tell you in the owners manual how frequently to service your car?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:48 PM on July 15, 2003


OK, who was the amateurish lazy newbie that dared link to a measly CNN article? He should be ... oh, hi Matt. Yeah, I see your point...
Anyway, let God judge people's prayers. As far as I got it, he's only praying for these three judges to retire or something.
posted by 111 at 4:51 PM on July 15, 2003


>But I would say that Christians have the same right to debate/disagree with/criticize each other's actions as those within any other organization.

Certainly, but you may still be hypocrites. That's for your deity to decide, in the end, if it exists. Which I seriously doubt.

Other than hypocrisy what bothers me is the apathy "liberal Christians" have towards the acts of their Christian brethren. Where is the liberal response to the huge Religious Right lobby? Where are the protests? The demand for more church and state seperation? It seems to be that as long as "god" is invoked many Christians regardless of their politics are placated.

I think many of you Christians who are taking easy stabs at Robertson could learn a thing or two from Rev. Barry W. Lynn, who runs the only religious group that is actually interested in removing politics from religion. Afterall, that's what the FPP is, a impotent way of using superstition to affect real life events. We can safely ignore it, but we cannot ignore the real religious groups who successfully lobby the federal government. Look at the chill at stem cell research, look at the various truly bigoted and unconstitutional RFRA laws. jonmc, there are your bigots. Go get em boy. There are still state RFRA laws that have not been shot down yet. And this is America.

Yes, the hypocrisy argument is shaky because it relies on interpretation, but the impotence and apathy of the non-fundies to control the fundies is as real as it gets. That's why this guy has a TV show and is in the news. He's doing this stuff in your name and as far as I can see there's no real outcry. Seems to me if you say Jesus enough, then no one will disagree with you. This is a religious problem and now because of big religious lobbies its a social problem.

No atheist cares what mumb-jumbo you do in your little tax-free havens, but you're encrouching on our territory as citizens of a secular nation by promoting the lie that is faith.

I find it personally insulting for these Christians to take a "holier than Robertson" view of themselves while dismissing the views of atheists. You teach kids and others that faith has value but faith gives you no protection from fundies or from the "wrong" kinds of Christianty. Faith is belief in things without any proof. Fundamentalism is the logical outcome of believing faith is a good thing.

Simply put, if you have faith - you're part of the problem.
posted by skallas at 5:06 PM on July 15, 2003


"God oughtta be able to suck the dirt out your oil, Mr. Robertson."
So you get my point? Do the big auto manufacturers take these things into account when they tell you in the owners manual how frequently to service your car?

Think f&m and me see eye to eye: God promotes.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:25 PM on July 15, 2003


"Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest justice?"

-- Henry II Pat Robertson
posted by eriko at 5:30 PM on July 15, 2003


well-written comments, cell divide. And, by the way, I'm now going to use the phrase "goofball-mullah" at every opportunity. Bwah!
posted by jengod at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2003


...[W]hat bothers me is the apathy "liberal Christians" have towards the acts of their Christian brethren. Where is the liberal response to the huge Religious Right lobby? Where are the protests? The demand for more church and state seperation?

Excellent point, skallas; liberal Christians should form a huge Religious Left lobby to counteract the huge Religious Right one. And then, once the liberal Christians have triumphed, they can completely dismantle their organized political influence! It's a fail-safe plan!
posted by eddydamascene at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2003


Until there's a system that can tell false christians from realchristians, preferably though some kind of miracle, I don't think Christians should be attacking their own. For all you know he's the true christian and liberal christians are the ones perveting the church.

Well, I'd say that there IS a system for telling real Christians from false Christians, for the most part. Scripture is replete with standards by which Christians will be measured. I think Galatians 5:19-23 is an excellent system:
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Pat Robertson's problem is that he claims to be a Christian, but refuses to put himself under the accountability of the Church. The task of the Church is to keep its people accountable to God's Word. Robertson is an ego-maniac whose consistently deplorable behavior blasphemes Christ. I'm ashamed to be lumped in with him because he also calls himself a Christian.
posted by marcusb at 6:02 PM on July 15, 2003


isn't it cool to use God as a hit-man to knock off your enemies?
posted by matteo at 6:12 PM on July 15, 2003


Whether or not he was praying for their deaths (he certainly seemed to be claiming some moral right to influence who gets to sit, being god's servant and all), I find it disturbing that fundamentalist christians feel the need to interfere in national affairs.

You're a christian? Fine! Don't engage in sodomy. But why feel the need to utilize a secular mechanism (national law) to implement a moral code which, by definition, is something you do by choice? It seems to defeat the purpose of religion, if all the religious laws are forced upon you by a secular authority. Immediately, you force non-christians to obey the christian moral code. These people still aren't christians. They're still going to hell, no matter what you let them do with their pink bits. So why even bother?
posted by Jimbob at 6:15 PM on July 15, 2003


skallas, what I don't get is why you're so offended by other peoples' ideas (yes, yes, Spanish Inquisition and all that really relevant stuff which somehow applies to some old lady going to daily mass). And if your arguments are sophistry, they barely qualify. If I start running around tomorrow saying I'm a Howard Dean supporter and we think taxes should be cut, affirmative action ended, welfare stopped up and the borders closed to any immigrant who ain't 100% white, am I still a Dean supporter? Do the other Dean supporters and Mr. Dean himself have to accept me as such because I claim affillitation?
posted by yerfatma at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2003


foldy, somehow the idea of you owning stock in tobacco companies is just too incredible to believe.

Pat Robertson is a huckster and always will be Christian or not.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:41 PM on July 15, 2003


I find it disturbing that fundamentalist christians feel the need to interfere in national affairs

Why? Do they have fewer rights to vote, voice their opinion, etc. than other citizens who are not?
posted by turbodog at 6:45 PM on July 15, 2003


I am really getting bored with this constant need to kick Pat Robertson and other conservatives. Is it really a shock that there are those of us who have differing political/philosophical/spiritual viewpoints?

I don't know Pat personally and I doubt any of you do either-besides there is only One who has the right to judge the hearts of any of us-and He doesn't post on Metafilter.
posted by konolia at 6:57 PM on July 15, 2003


Certainly, but you may still be hypocrites.

Um, yes, Christians may be hypocrites, as may any one of any set of beliefs. But I don't understand why you're hurling that particular accusation around.

I agree with you that moderates in any organization need to speak out against the extremists - this goes for any movement of any kind. I would LOVE to see some Republicans tell Ann Coulter to get her facts straight or shut up. Although, please be aware that constant battling with trolls can be counterproductive and negative tactics and it can be a lot more productive to concentrate on one's own worthwhile efforts. As we've discovered here on our own beloved Metafilter.

And of course there should be separation of church and state - which may be partly WHY you don't see liberal Christian groups battling Pat Robertson. Liberal Christians would be more likely to do political work within secular groups - and you don't WANT church groups in politics, period, right?

But I do have a problem with this statement:

Simply put, if you have faith - you're part of the problem.

which I take to mean that being a Christian is inherently wrong and by definition detrimental to our society. We're supposed to have freedom of religious belief here, remember? There are plenty of Christians who are NOTHING like Pat Robertson, who contribute a great deal to society through their charitable endeavours and responsible choices in their own lives. Faith in itself is not a crime, nor is it the only dimension to religion, nor does the word faith refer to a set of specific beliefs. Fundamentalism is NOT a logical outcome of faith. If you have faith in God's existence yet don't see the Bible as a literal and final revelation of God's word (and plenty of Christians don't) how are you a fundy?

I find it personally insulting for these Christians to take a "holier than Robertson" view of themselves while dismissing the views of atheists.

Isn't it possible that someone might think Robertson is generally horribly behaved while honestly disagreeing with your views on faith, prayer, the existence of God, etc.? Must it be Robertson vs. Skallas, with only the latter party as a possible choice?

No one in this thread has dismissed the view of atheists or insulted you in any way. From what I've seen those who defended Christianity were mostly just trying to point out the problems with your sweeping generalizations, and to react to your general tone of contempt for those who believe differently than you.

If you review my comments you'll notice that I haven't said I was a Christian. I am not at all sure where I stand on many of these matters. I don't see how any one can be sure, frankly. So, I am irked both by fundamentalists who want the world run according to their blueprint of God's will AND by atheists who equate belief in God with belief in Santa. I respect your lack of belief in God and consider that view a perfectly valid one. But I ask that you show the same sort of respect for the views of others and not make unfair generalizations about millions of people.
posted by orange swan at 7:00 PM on July 15, 2003


I don't know Pat personally and I doubt any of you do either-besides there is only One who has the right to judge the hearts of any of us-and He doesn't post on Metafilter.

that's His fault. new user signups haven't been closed for that long.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2003


>Fundamentalism is NOT a logical outcome of faith.

I certainly think it is. By accepting faith you're accepting what you're told with no rational tools to say otherwise. More faith = more literal belief. The end result, I'm afraid, really is religious fundamentalism.

>So, I am irked both by fundamentalists who want the world run according to their blueprint of God's will AND by atheists who equate belief in God with belief in Santa.

Wow. So religious people who actively try to change and enact legslation for their own benefit are just as bad as someone who demands proof for absurd claims regarding cosmology? To a non-theist gods are exactly like santa, except the santa gig gets revealed much earlier in life.
posted by skallas at 7:05 PM on July 15, 2003


Turbodog: They have every right, but it makes them confused, intolerant hypocrites. As I wrote above, the religious moral code they want to enforce on a national level would remove all choice about religion. Whatever your beliefs, they want you to obey their moral code. That's a whole different kettle of fish from imposing speed limits or regulating taxes. Removing people's choice to decide how they live their life goes against a central christian tenet. Keeping sodomy illegal ain't gonna fill any more spots in heaven.

Konolia: Sometimes it takes outside observers to identify the hypocrites in the temple.
posted by Jimbob at 7:08 PM on July 15, 2003


>Spanish Inquisition and all that really relevant stuff which somehow applies to some old lady going to daily mass

Don't trivialize the effect of the religious agenda, please. Women's right to choose, stem cell research, pro-religious legslation, government funding religion, etc are all funded by someone. That 'someone' is the rank and file.

> I'm a Howard Dean supporter and we think taxes should be cut, affirmative action ended,

This is a classic bad comparision. Dean is a politician with no supernatural powers. When you become a Christian you become part of a huge supernatural structure and system that affects you, or so the believers claim. If you take religion seriously you must contend with the possibility that Robertson is just as right as you are, or more of "true" Christian. There is no test and faith is the belief of things without proof, so when Robertson says he's a Christian it is not up to you or anyone to tell him otherwise. That's a private deal between him and his hypothetical god. These Christian Roberson bashers are taking quite a big gamble with the bashing of a fellow faith-based believer.

Now Dean is just a guy.

Dig?
posted by skallas at 7:10 PM on July 15, 2003


It doesn't matter whether you think Pat Robertson is urging this prayer offensive with the hope of incurring the justices' deaths or their retirements (because of their ailments). Either scenario is repulsive and inexcusable.
posted by harja at 7:11 PM on July 15, 2003


There was a program on PBS a few years ago which consisted of pirated satellite footage of public figures as they were waiting to be interviewed for various news programs. The whole point of the program was to show how these talking heads behave when they think no one is watching, and Pat Robertson was the most despicable one of the bunch. He was speaking to his assistant who was standing off camera, and he was going on about his disdain of homosexuals and how much he hated the anchor who was about to interview him and how he suspected the anchor was really a homosexual who was hell bent on making him look bad. I've honestly never seen such an ugly (and scary) display of paranoia from a seemingly benign public figure before or since.

5...4...3...2...1 We are joined by Reverand Pat Robertson.... Robertson: "Good to see you! ::cloying trademark smile::".

I wish I had a transcript of it, but I don't remember the name of the program or exactly when it aired.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:12 PM on July 15, 2003


By accepting faith you're accepting what you're told with no rational tools to say otherwise. More faith = more literal belief. The end result, I'm afraid, really is religious fundamentalism.

That's assuming that I decide to accept an entire body of beliefs as someone else presents them to me. But lots of people are "cafeteria Christians" (or Muslims or what have you) who pick and choose what they believe and practice, and leave the rest. As I said, there are plenty of people who believe in God and also think the Bible is figurative.

I did think of putting in that I am MORE annoyed (and worried) by the religious right and their political agenda than by those who would talk down to people who believe in God as though they are credulous children. Sorry I seemed to equate the two.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 PM on July 15, 2003


>But lots of people are "cafeteria Christians" (or Muslims or what have you) who pick and choose what they believe and practice, and leave the rest

Exactly, they arbitrarily drew the line because faith doesn't draw it for you. Robertson and his legion of followers drew it elsewhere. Faith allows that. Faith is the root of fundamentalism. I think religious belief is just a degree of fundamentalism. If it wasn't then all religious people would be deists.
posted by skallas at 7:29 PM on July 15, 2003


More faith = more literal belief. The end result, I'm afraid, really is religious fundamentalism.


Simply put, if you have faith - you're part of the problem.

Wondering where the "bigot" designation came from? Quite frankly I think that even secular enlightened humanists like yourself need an "other" to fear and loathe and hey religious folk provide a lotta broad targets for cheap shots and you get some leftie hipster credibilty in the bargain.

jonmc's "gets them through the night so you cannot criticize them" argument is pretty flawed. First off, no topic is above criticism.

I never said it was above criticism. I'm just saying that people use religion for peace of mind and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. For 4 years I lived in an apartment above an African-American "church lady" who played gospel music and cooked delicious smelling food on sundays and constantly had handicapped and downtrodden guests into her home. If her faith inspires her to do such things, is it really so bad? And before you ask, no, she never gave me any crap about the fact that I looked "disreputable" (shoulder length hair, 2 inch goatee, etc) and had loud parties with weird freinds, and that I lived out of wedlock with my girlfreind and a bisexual roomate. To the contrary, occasionally we'd share a beer on the porch together. She lived in a somewhat rundown area of a decaying city. Her faith seemed to help her. that's a good thing I think. Above all criticism? No. But what's to be gained by knocking her(or equating her with robertson and his ilk) and people like her (including several mefi freinds I could name) but a feeling of smug superiority? Or to put it bluntly, whats it to you?

I don't care that your an atheist. The woman I love and have lived with for 8 years is an atheist. It seems to bother you an awful lot that everyone else isn't. That's what makes me call you bigoted.
posted by jonmc at 7:35 PM on July 15, 2003


God listens to Pat Robertson. (scroll to the bottom--the section called "Gloria In Excelcis Deo")

(Well, I can't say that God actually listened, but that storm was bearing straight down on Virginia Beach and then it wasn't...)
posted by eilatan at 7:38 PM on July 15, 2003


God has the sense to answer prayers according to HIS mandates, not man's.

LOL Then, um, he's not really answering them, is he?
posted by rushmc at 7:39 PM on July 15, 2003


My point being, it's a rough world and most religious people that I know are just using religion as a way to get through the night (among other things), so who the hell are you or I or anybody to look down on that?

Using anything just as a "way to get through the night" is reprehensible and begs to be "looked down on."
posted by rushmc at 7:41 PM on July 15, 2003


Well, gee, rushmc, not everybodys been to Iron John camp, like yourself. Come on, all I was saying is people use their faith as comfort and who are any of us to take that away.

Hell, a lotta people use atheism as an excuse to act like sociopathic, selfish pricks, since hey, you get to greate your own morality, what's to stop you from creating one that serves your own interests only?
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on July 15, 2003


Devils Slide-- that show you saw was Bryan Springer's documentary "Spin," currently available in full at illegal-art.org. Enjoy.
posted by LimePi at 7:53 PM on July 15, 2003


If her faith inspires her to do such things, is it really so bad?

So you're totally down with KKK dogma so long as they hold a carwash now and again and fund a scholarship for promising white boys?

The belief must be judged separately from the actions. Or do you not think it possible that some people do the right thing for the wrong reasons?

Come on, all I was saying is people use their faith as comfort and who are any of us to take that away.

Removing a lie = promoting the truth. I can only wish that everyone would feel that as a mandate in their lives.
posted by rushmc at 7:58 PM on July 15, 2003


I think religious belief is just a degree of fundamentalism.

Uh, I think you must be using the word "fundamentalism" to mean something other than what I mean. It has, in fact, a very specific meaning - I just hauled out the dictionary:

fundamentalism: 1 a) A movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching; b) the beliefs of this movement; c) adherence to such beliefs. 2) A movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles.

So, if we have our hypothetical liberal Christian who believes in God but thinks the Bible language is figurative and say, doesn't believe there's anything wrong with being homosexual (and in fact is homosexual himself), and reserves the right to reject some principles that other Christians embrace, how is this person a "fundamentalist"?
posted by orange swan at 8:00 PM on July 15, 2003


So you're totally down with KKK dogma so long as they hold a carwash now and again and fund a scholarship for promising white boys?

That may quite possibly be the most insulting mini-godwin in history.
posted by jonmc at 8:01 PM on July 15, 2003


Glad you're back, jonmc. I didn't think I could handle deconstructing any more ridiculous and insulting rhetoric. Now I don't have to. Night all.
posted by orange swan at 8:04 PM on July 15, 2003


>The woman I love and have lived with for 8 years is an atheist. It seems to bother you an awful lot that everyone else isn't. That's what makes me call you bigoted.

That was good.
posted by brownpau at 8:08 PM on July 15, 2003


LimePi, you rock! Thank you :)
posted by Devils Slide at 8:09 PM on July 15, 2003


So you're totally down with KKK dogma so long as they hold a carwash now and again and fund a scholarship for promising white boys?

That may quite possibly be the most insulting mini-godwin in history.


How do you figure? I'm trying to suss out the logical ramifications of your assertion that good things done for bad reasons somehow justify the bad reasons. That makes no sense to me.
posted by rushmc at 8:13 PM on July 15, 2003


first of all: religion=badreason is a fallacious and bigoted assumption. Just because it's not your reason does not make it a bad reason.

two, the mini godwin is that introducing the "KKK dogma" line into it is a cheap bit of rhetoric designed to inflame passions and make reasonable debate impossible.
posted by jonmc at 8:21 PM on July 15, 2003


Devils Slide - I wish I had a transcript of it, but I don't remember the name of the program or exactly when it aired.

The program was called Spin and there's a partial transcript here. - the bit with Robertson and Larry King is about a third of the way down in the second column.

Konolia - I don't know Pat personally and I doubt any of you do either-besides there is only One who has the right to judge the hearts of any of us-and He doesn't post on Metafilter.

Well since we're having blanket statements on both sides of this debate, I'll have to go with Skallas on this one.
posted by jamespake at 8:39 PM on July 15, 2003


I call on the Lord Almighty to strike this server dead!

*waits*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:42 PM on July 15, 2003


It's takes as much dogma and belief to believe in nothing. You are still believing.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:47 PM on July 15, 2003


I don't know Pat personally and I doubt any of you do either-besides there is only One who has the right to judge the hearts of any of us-and He doesn't post on Metafilter.

Sure I do.
posted by Hildago at 8:48 PM on July 15, 2003


It's takes as much dogma and belief to believe in nothing. You are still believing.

Maybe if you believe in nothing. But it doesn't take a lot of faith to believe that things happen for reasons that have been or are being explained. If something makes logical sense it doesn't take a leap of faith. If something cannot by definition be questioned or even discussed with authority, it requires tremendous faith -- in fact, nothing but faith will do.
posted by Hildago at 8:51 PM on July 15, 2003


The fact that any human being trusts their own senses takes a certain level of faith. We simply cannot operate without it.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:59 PM on July 15, 2003


The Faith -- capital F -- that it takes to believe in a deity, and the "faith" it takes to believe in the evidence your senses provide you are ontologically distinct.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:09 PM on July 15, 2003


Y'know, stav, sometimes I thank God for Unanswered Prayers.
posted by graventy at 9:11 PM on July 15, 2003


Your senses provide you with easy ways to check their validity, unlike deities. See a fire, feel heat? Stick your hand in and see whether you feel pain. Instant feedback.

Just because senses don't have 100% fidelity 100% of the time doesn't mean they aren't a reliable way of getting information about the world. Calling this "faith" is preposterous - it is belief based upon an a lifetime's worth of evidence, not a trust in something that cannot be proven.
posted by beth at 9:17 PM on July 15, 2003


I am really getting bored with this constant need to kick Pat Robertson and other conservatives. Is it really a shock that there are those of us who have differing political/philosophical/spiritual viewpoints?

We do not want to kick Pat Robertson because he is conservative, we want to kick him because he is completely and totally insane.
posted by bargle at 9:18 PM on July 15, 2003


there is only One who has the right to judge the hearts of any of us

Uh-huh. Let's confine ourselves to judging words and deeds then. And by that measure, Pat Robertson is a minion of Satan.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:39 PM on July 15, 2003


>That may quite possibly be the most insulting mini-godwin in history.

Answer the question then. rushmc is asking a simple question do the ends justify the means. I don't think jonmc really understands the difference between a reasoned argument and appealing to emotion. This is probably why he resorts to name calling and simple "arguments" like "getting you throught the night" etc. As you can see the atheists in this thread aren't about "think of the children."

> The fact that any human being trusts their own senses takes a certain level of faith.

If you equate that with religious faith then you're a solipsist. Pretty simple.

>So, if we have our hypothetical liberal Christian who believes in God but thinks the Bible language is figurative

Again, reread my post about arbitrarily drawing the line. Why not see the existance of god as figurtive? As a means for an ancient culture to come to terms with its environment? In fact this is how many atheists see the bible and other religious texts, but of course the person who believes in god, afterlife, creationism, etc has drawn the line *way* past that and is now actively believing an ancient myth which has no proof to support it.

I think you have to admit that the arbitrary line is drawn somewhere, thus you and Robertson are on the exact same playing field and depending on who you ask *he* might he better and more accurate christian.

I'm surprised it doesn't bother you that people pick and choose beliefs like shopping at the supermarket. Where's the grounding? Where's the proof? Oh that's right, its faith-based. You are lumped in with Robertson until you become a deist, an agnostic, or an atheist. Until then you believe myth because you choose to for your own reasons. Its not convincing, its not provable, and to the non-theist its ridiculous. Just like Robertson's beliefs are to you. Is it so hard to understand that all theists seem crazy to a non-theist? When you're removed from the ridiculous religious system you can see the forest from the trees.

Also, like I wrote above I really don't care what you believe in per se, but when your faith buddies are trying change society to fit their crazy version of morality and the rank and file are not only footing the bill but breeding little theist clones then it affects me and now its my problem.
posted by skallas at 10:07 PM on July 15, 2003



posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:14 PM on July 15, 2003


Also, I'm not picking on jonmc, but I think he's little else but a troll. I've found him insulting me on other websites, which is pretty bizarre and his inability to answer simple questions regarding his outlandish posts are pure trollish behavoir.

jonmc, your participation is welcome but I think you really need to layoff the personal stuff and cool off. Thanks.

And yes, its just a website.
posted by skallas at 10:18 PM on July 15, 2003


"...I've found him insulting me on other websites..."

Let's not go overboard here. He was responding on another Mefi user's blog, in a post about Metafilter, in which your name was mentioned. It's not like he spray-painted "skallas is a cock-knocker" on a subway car.

At least he better not have, 'cause that's my gig.

:P
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:37 PM on July 15, 2003


>He was responding on another Mefi user's blog, in a post about Metafilter,

And that make it right because??? I mean if you can't keep it on the site or in email then you have a problem. The lesson is learned: don't respond to trolls. Got it.
posted by skallas at 10:47 PM on July 15, 2003


It's takes as much dogma and belief to believe in nothing. You are still believing.

That assumes that belief in something other than nothing is the "natural" state of being. It assumes religion is the "natural" state, and a-theists have to make some kind of effort to belive "he" doesn't exist; to somehow actively ignore the existence of god. Not true at all. It's really quite easy to wipe religion out of one's life.
posted by Jimbob at 10:57 PM on July 15, 2003


"...And that make it right because???"

Because it's only a website?

For all I know, you are twelve. For all you know, I'm a ninety-seven-year-old Jewish grandmother.

At the end of the day, if we three passed each other on the street I wouldn't know you, you wouldn't know me, and jon wouldn't know either of us because he'd be drunk.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:13 PM on July 15, 2003


>Because it's only a website?

Seems to me you should keep it on said site.

>For all you know, I'm a ninety-seven-year-old Jewish grandmother.

Can you bake me some soofganiot?
posted by skallas at 11:19 PM on July 15, 2003


I just want to say I agree with everything skallas has written. (Well I'm out of this last bit of course.)

But he is also worked up and needs to pound a fifth of Kamchatka forthwith. Okay, if not Kamchatka, Ron Rico Dark Rum.

See isn't that better?

I think people abhor outspokenness more than they have actual feelings on the complexities those with imaginations skewed towards the complex seem to timelessly point out. Skallas is merely challenging conventional thought.

The more I go on. The more I believe life is just one long argument. I don't like it at all. But what is one to do?
posted by crasspastor at 11:39 PM on July 15, 2003


It's takes as much dogma and belief to believe in nothing. You are still believing.

To quote the great philosopher Gershwin:

I've got music,
I've got rythim,
I've got my gal,
Who could ask for anything more?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:54 PM on July 15, 2003


It's takes as much dogma and belief to believe in nothing. You are still believing.

Absolutely false. This is like saying my lack of belief in unicorns or leprechans is based on faith. I've never experienced anything supernatural in my life so I don't see any reason to create a belief in them. This is not faith.
posted by McBain at 11:58 PM on July 15, 2003


first of all: religion=badreason is a fallacious and bigoted assumption. Just because it's not your reason does not make it a bad reason.

You're dodging the logic. He's saying "let's suppose that religion is a fiction, and let's also suppose that lies=bad". Now if those lies happen to lead to good things, does that make the lies good things?

The analogy comes from "KKK = obviously bad" "KKK adopts a highway, starts a scholarship, etc" Does that lead to "KKK=good"?
posted by McBain at 12:03 AM on July 16, 2003


It's probably a bit late to come into this thread, but what the heck. Here's an article from Wired about prayer.
posted by seanyboy at 2:37 AM on July 16, 2003


from seanyboy's link: their method of prayer was not an appeal to a higher power. Rather than ask God for help, the healers were directed to send positive healing energy, to direct an intention for health and well-being to the subject. The point was to test the ability of a person to affect another remotely, in a one-to-one relationship.

Which isn't prayer as being discussed here. Fascinating article though.
posted by walrus at 3:14 AM on July 16, 2003


call me naive but this sums it up for me.
posted by johnnyboy at 4:51 AM on July 16, 2003


first of all: religion=badreason is a fallacious and bigoted assumption. Just because it's not your reason does not make it a bad reason.

I would counter that it is a bad reason quite apart from my views on the matter, and that your denial of that doesn't change anything. You can insist that condemning religion begs the question of its validity all you want, but that's circular reasoning that could equally be applied to anything else. That's the thing about truth: unlike make-believe, it doesn't alter itself on the fly to suit whim and fancy. It is not "fallacious" because it can be logically demonstrated, and it is not "bigoted" because bigotry requires a blind, irrational bias against something, and my issues with religion are anything but. One should certainly be tolerant of other people's right to choose to believe whatsoever they choose; that does not, however, mean that one must turn a blind eye to the foolishness of many choices. In fact, I think it increases our responsibility to be skeptical and to note the bogus.

The KKK question was obviously a rhetorical one (since I never imagined that you would sincerely answer "yes"), an analogy to put into high relief the point that you are so determined to ignore, that motive matters. But clearly you don't wish to discuss that question, as you've ignored two opportunities to do so now.
posted by rushmc at 5:10 AM on July 16, 2003


Upon reading further, what McBain said.
posted by rushmc at 5:17 AM on July 16, 2003


Just because senses don't have 100% fidelity 100% of the time doesn't mean they aren't a reliable way of getting information about the world.

Also, the scientific method specifically takes the limitations of the senses into account and actively seeks ways to overcome these limitations, through the development of instrumentation more sensitive than our senses (microphones, radio telescopes, electron scanning microscopes), as well as other sorts of tools entirely (logic, mathematics). By contrast, religion's approach to dealing with that which is beyond our immediate appreciation is to a) speculate wildly, making up stories to fill in the gaps, and b) deny (and punish) everything that doesn't serve its purposes.
posted by rushmc at 5:24 AM on July 16, 2003


Also, I'm not picking on jonmc, but I think he's little else but a troll.....jonmc, your participation is welcome

Well, it would break my fat old heart if you disapproved, sire. As far as that statement on davidmsc's blog went, a freind had just been in an imbroglio, and I was unruffling feathers. I amazed you give a shit about my opinion of you.

Not to mention, you can sum up my entire participation here as trolling? Then you obviously havent been paying attention, but hey, assume what you want.

As far as this thread goes, I'm sorry I got involved. Someone once told me that arguing about religion is pointless, since nobody's mind is ever changed on either side. NTM, matt specifically said he didn't want this turning into another religion-bad/religion-good shouting match but that's what it became, thanks mostly to your little condescending snark.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2003


making up stories to fill in the gaps

rushmc, no-one doubts that religion consists of "stories to fill in the gaps". That doesn't preclude one of the stories accidentally being true, and the interesting thing about using empirical observation to strengthen or weaken ones theory (which is essentially the scientific process) is that one can never actually get rid of the gaps, just reduce them in size. This is because empirical measurement depends on taking discrete samples of what could very well be continuous data. So there will always be a place where science can't go and proclaim truth, whether or not truth actually exists. Of course one can use logic and maths to further ones speculation, but these tools exist already behind the perceptual barrier, so it's a sort of intellectual onanism. Whether any one theory has merit, in a place where an infinitude may survive, is essentially moot. I don't think we can discount the possibility that an incorrect theory about the god of the gaps can accidentally have positive outcomes in people's lives though. But we're clearly in purple unicorn territory here, and the mileage of any merits would vary from person to person. I'm not sure now whether I'm agreeing or disagreeing with you, but I wanted to make the observation that science is not qualified to pronounce on the veracity or otherwise of faith claims. The best we can do is to take Ockham's razor and ignore the whole bagatelle.
posted by walrus at 5:53 AM on July 16, 2003


I'd like to point this out:

There is a belief in Islam that the more mankind learns about the world through science, reason, logic and thought, the more mankind will demonstrate the existence of God.

So, here's the question: you have all this data (or lack of data) about the universe and now it is time to draw a conclusion. And there are a thousand conclusions you can draw. So, which conclusion do you believe is correct?

and on preview: Walrus - good point.
posted by Stynxno at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2003


no-one doubts that religion consists of "stories to fill in the gaps". That doesn't preclude one of the stories accidentally being true

So this is the basis for all religious thought and practice on the planet...creating a stream of fictions and hoping that one will accidentally hit upon the truth? Pardon me if I'm not impressed with that approach. Even if one did manage to somehow win the truth lottery with this scattershot approach, how would one ever know?

With regard to your other points, science admits that it doesn't know everything, whereas religion insists that it does. The former strikes me as a far more realistic—and humble—attitude.

As for Matt's original question, which was why anyone would listen to a hateful crank like Robertson or back him up while he taints their own religious practices by association, it seems to me that human beings are predisposed to take sides, to define people in "us vs. them" terms. If religious people could simply deal with the ideas, then they could dismiss these nutters as easily as the rest of us do, but too often they make it into a personal thing and feel that an attack upon him is an attack on them, based on the (usually small) amount of overlap in their shared beliefs, and since they feel attacked, their priority is to defend, and condemning the original sin (and sinner) gets lost in the process (as jonmc has usefully demonstrated in this thread).
posted by rushmc at 6:27 AM on July 16, 2003


Please, rushmc, I condemned Robertsons actions in my first comment here, I do not see an attack on idiots like him as a condemnation of all religion. Now quit pounding away at me like a dead horse, please.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 AM on July 16, 2003


I'm not trying to introduce a versus between the topics of science and religion: I'm simply pointing out where they're mutually exclusive. Otherwise, I suspect that we substantially agree.
posted by walrus at 6:45 AM on July 16, 2003


I do not see an attack on idiots like him as a condemnation of all religion

That's certainly a fair statement. Yet you immediately started accusing others of doing just that. Perhaps you should have stated your views in those terms initially, rather than introducing the notion of anti-religious bigotry into the thread, which you now so object to. I'm sorry that you feel like I'm "pounding away at you," but once you make a public statement, it's fair game for rebuttal, surely?
posted by rushmc at 6:56 AM on July 16, 2003


I'm surprised it doesn't bother you that people pick and choose beliefs like shopping at the supermarket. Where's the grounding? Where's the proof? Oh that's right, its faith-based. You are lumped in with Robertson until you become a deist, an agnostic, or an atheist.

Everyone picks and chooses beliefs according to what makes sense to them. The other alternative is to accept everything you're told. So no, I don't have a problem with the picking and choosing system.

I'm not about to call anyone "crazy" for believing in God. Where is MY proof that God doesn't exist? Yes, I know that there can be no evidence of something's non-existence, as we saw with Saddam's WMD dilemma. But the fact remains that if I can't prove that someone is wrong, I had better refrain from treating them with contempt or telling them what to teach their children. I would hope they would not be absolutely dogmatic about it - but then I'd hope that for you and your kids too.

Fine, Robertson and a compassionate, moderate, liberal religious person came from the same system. There are plenty of shithead atheists out there too. It proves nothing about the beliefs the person subscribes to and it's unfair to lump the same people together and blame the belief system.

As for the effect religious people have had on our world, yes, of course lots of horrible things have been done in the name of religion. But there have been good things too. Such wholesale condemnation of religious people as being "your problem" is incredibly unfair - there are lots of religious people who accomplish great things.

When you're removed from the ridiculous religious system you can see the forest from the trees.

Again, this is condescending and disrespectful. You are assuming that your viewpoint is the only valid one, that all religious people are lost and in a muddle and only you and other atheists can really see things clearly.

So, I'm dropping out of this discussion now. I've enjoyed your intelligent, challenging arguments but your contemptuous attitude towards others who have chosen to believe differently are really uncalled for and are undermining the discussion.
posted by orange swan at 7:00 AM on July 16, 2003


So this is the basis for all religious thought and practice on the planet...creating a stream of fictions and hoping that one will accidentally hit upon the truth?

It just struck me: how is this process different to that with which we determine social structures and conventions?
posted by walrus at 7:45 AM on July 16, 2003


>Yes, I know that there can be no evidence of something's non-existence, as we saw with Saddam's WMD dilemma.

No, that's not at all how it works. As the believer you're making an outrageous claim regarding an undetectable thing (for lack of a better word). The burden of proof is upon you. Obviously, to an atheist that's an important point and if these supernatural things were provable then it would no longer be religion it would be a science, but of course that's no the case.


>Again, this is condescending and disrespectful. You are assuming that your viewpoint is the only valid one,

Not necessarily. The point I'm making, and I believe it is a very valid point is: someone outside of a system like religion sees it very differently than those inside and I would also go as far as saying outsiders can be a lot more objective then the insiders because they have no need to be "respectful" of others crazy beliefs, the same way you criticize Robertson. Nor is the outsider's judgement clouded by emotional issues like tradition, fear of there not being an afterlife, no man in the sky watching you, no one to answer your prayers, etc.

>no-one doubts that religion consists of "stories to fill in the gaps". That doesn't preclude one of the stories accidentally being true

The powerball approach to theology! I love it!
posted by skallas at 8:28 AM on July 16, 2003


There is a difference between saying "God exists" and "I believe God exists". One is attempting to state a fact, and one is an opinion.

There is a difference between saying "God does not exist" and "I don't believe in God". One is attempting to state a fact, and one is an opinion.

The existence of God is a matter of opinion, not fact. Therefore, saying that anyone's opinion is wrong is logically false. (by definition of a matter of opinion)

Get it?
posted by jsonic at 8:42 AM on July 16, 2003


Skallas is merely challenging conventional thought.

It depends what you mean by that. On MetaFilter he is merely reciting the conventional thought. A large segment of the population in general is athiest as well, I don't think he deserves any hero points for championing and opposing viewpoint against he monolithic status quo, but is there an award for most all-time comments in the same thread (cult threads notwithstanding)?
posted by insomnyuk at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2003


Everyone picks and chooses beliefs according to what makes sense to them.

But according to what criteria? Unless you think that God put absolute awareness and understanding of his existence into people's minds (and not into those of others?), then you are acknowleging that flawed, fallible, and often ignorant people bear the responsibility for establishing their worldview and "beliefs." This is contrary to (most) organized religions, which claim the right to dictate revealed truth to you, and deny your right to question or to pick-and-choose (and threaten with the most dire, permanent, and unavoidable of consequences should one "guess wrong").

The existence of God is a matter of opinion, not fact.

No, the existence (or non-existence) of God, like the existence of anything is a fact. One's opinion about that fact, since it cannot be empirically determined, is, er, opinion.
posted by rushmc at 9:01 AM on July 16, 2003


No, the existence (or non-existence) of God, like the existence of anything is a fact.

When talking of existence there are two states, proven or unknown.

Currently the existence of God cannot be proven. It is therefore unknown, and thus, a matter of opinion.
posted by jsonic at 9:12 AM on July 16, 2003


You are confusing awareness of a situation with the situation itself. It's not so much "if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, will it make a sound," but "if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, is there a tree?"

My opinion (had I one) that there are no Earth-like planets orbiting other stars would be a valid opinion, since we have as yet no data to determine its accuracy or falsehood. But regardless of my opinion, and regardless of whether I was correct or incorrect, there would either be or not be Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Their existence does not depend upon me, nor upon my mental constructs.
posted by rushmc at 9:38 AM on July 16, 2003


Currently the existence of God cannot be proven. It is therefore unknown, and thus, a matter of opinion.

currently there is no evidence for god, so it is a matter only of conjecture. Opinion defines one's beliefs regarding matters which do or at least may not have absolute truth, as in, whether chocolate is delicious or abortion is wrong. We may disagree also over whether certain things are opinion or if there is ultimately an answer that we just haven't gotten to yet, but scientists don't study these things to determine the answer (although they may very well study things which will have bearing on our opinions or which will reveal why we hold them - some kind of chocolate lovers gene could surface, eg).

The case of God is meant to be one which has an actual, final answer - not one of those things which may be true for me, not for you, etc. People who believe in god still think non-believers live in a universe ruled by god; we just don't know it.

So in this case there is supposedly a final answer which theoretically we could all be convinced of, at least to the same degree we can all be convinced of other things which do or do not exist, like apples, bicycles, leprechuans and Thor, which is to say, nearly everyone accepts those things which do exist (apples and bicycles), and only a small percentage insist on the existence of those which don't (leprechauns and Thor), since it's harder to wish away things for which there is evidence than to imagine evidence for things which have none.

You can hypothesize something, but to simply have an opinion regarding existence based on no evidence is not the standard use of opinion.
posted by mdn at 10:17 AM on July 16, 2003


"Can you bake me some soofganiot?"

Bake it? I can't even spell it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:17 AM on July 16, 2003


Rushmc, I agree that our opinion* of unknown things has no effect on whether they actually exist or not. But until we know, it is incorrect to make factual claims about whether they exist or not. And, by corollary, it is incorrect to state as fact that someone's opinion* on the unknown matter is wrong.

* Using Merriam-Webster's definition of opinion:
1 a : a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter
2 a : belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge

posted by jsonic at 10:48 AM on July 16, 2003


Hey Matt, we need another shipment of dead horses here. We've beat the stuffings out of the last batch.

(last thump) Rushmc, if you don't have the sense to differentiate between an older black lady who lives out her faith by acts of kindness, and anything the KKK does, then it doesn't bode well for my taking anything else you say seriously. I don't think you want truth, I think you just want to win an argument.
posted by konolia at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2003


And, by corollary, it is incorrect to state as fact that someone's opinion* on the unknown matter is wrong.

* Using Merriam-Webster's definition of opinion:
1 a : a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter


A judgment or appraisal is based on some sort of determining process. An "opinion" with nothing to support it is no better than a guess. Therefore, it is quite possible to question or condemn the process by which someone arrives at a conclusion, while allowing for the possibility (however remote) that their guess might prove lucky. Again, it is possible to be right for the wrong reasons (you may choose your lottery numbers because they are birthdays of family members, but that is certainly not the reason they are drawn if they do, in fact, come up; it would be ridiculous to claim that it was wrong, or somehow insensitive, to criticize your number-selection strategy because it was an equally valid "opinion").

Rushmc, if you don't have the sense to differentiate between an older black lady who lives out her faith by acts of kindness, and anything the KKK does, then it doesn't bode well for my taking anything else you say seriously.

You are missing the point. I am not equating the two sets of people, or their actions, but the relationship between their motives and their actions. As described, both are producing good results based upon arguably faulty motives, and in that sense, they are analogous.
posted by rushmc at 11:48 AM on July 16, 2003


it is quite possible to question or condemn the process by which someone arrives at a conclusion, while allowing for the possibility (however remote) that their guess might prove lucky

I'd agree with this portion (minus the condemn part). It is totally logical to disagree with and question someone else's position on a topic with an unknown answer. You can even argue that their position is really really improbable. However, if you state as fact that their position is wrong, then you are making a claim that is not supported by current knowledge. This is true for either side of the topic.
posted by jsonic at 12:43 PM on July 16, 2003


Devils Slide:

The program you mention is "Spin", by Brian Springer, you can download it (500 megs in hi-res, but it is worth the download) from the Illegal Art website.
posted by samelborp at 1:17 PM on July 16, 2003


God both exists and does not exist. You know, like Schroedinger's Cat. With direct observation, the quiff has yet to pop. Now, where'd my keys to that damn box go?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2003


You are missing the point. I am not equating the two sets of people, or their actions, but the relationship between their motives and their actions. As described, both are producing good results based upon arguably faulty motives, and in that sense, they are analogous.

Let's see...lady does charitable things out of love, expressing the character of a loving God, versus "charitable" acts done by a racist hate group in order to look more "respectable."

If that is analogous, I have a pancake on my head.
posted by konolia at 3:04 PM on July 16, 2003


Please take it off, you look ridiculous.
posted by rushmc at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2003


I believe God is an effect created when the advanced, reasoning parts of our brain rationalizes the fear and anxiety of the primitive parts of our brain. I believe it's an attempt to explain the universe by anthropomorphizing it. Thank you, and good night.
posted by Hildago at 4:43 PM on July 16, 2003


This concludes our broadcast day. Everyone take a nap!!
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on July 16, 2003



posted by quonsar at 10:32 PM on July 16, 2003



Pat Robertson demonstrates the newly legalized art of ass lovin' on his television program, the 700 Club.

So many jokes about the picture and I can't believe none of you saw the obvious one. Shame. SHAAAAME.
posted by Skwirl at 4:47 AM on July 17, 2003


That picture instantly made me think of this.
posted by NortonDC at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2003


When talking of existence there are two states, proven or unknown.

You're right, of course. Although you did leave out the third state: disproven. (For example, does an integer which is greater than 3 and less than 2 exist?) And then all of the gray area sub-states, like "likely, unlikely, and absurdly unlikely." Perhaps you should google for kinds of logical fallacies, one of which is "false dichotomy."
posted by callmejay at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2003


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