Archive for the “Fuzzy Thinking” Category

Examples of fuzzy thinking, illogic, absurdity, etc.

Jesus weptBelieving in their supposedly omnipotent, infinite, omniscient, yet benevolent creator-deity has tied followers of the Abrahamic religious tradition in logical knots for centuries. It’s difficult to look out at a world full of needless suffering and wanton evil and decide it was all designed, built, and is currently presided over by an almighty being who also disapproves of evil.

It’s a conundrum that led to any number of theodicies, or rationales intended to reconcile this logical conflict. All of them, however, fail the test of logic — even the vaunted and oft-spoken-of “free will” theodicy. Despite the utter failure of all known theodicies, Abrahamic believers nonetheless doggedly continue trying to justify believing in the illogic of a supposedly benevolent, omnipotent deity whose creation is rife with needless suffering and tons of unnecessary evil.

I just heard about a sterling example of the laughable extremes they’ll go to in order to rationalize this brazenly illogical concept. As Mediaite reports, Houston megapastor Joel Osteen recently came up with something so ridiculous, that it defies description, and is as sadly pathetic as it is hilarious (Archive.Is cached article):

During his televised sermon today, Osteen seemed to reference the storm that devastated huge swaths of Texas and Louisiana. And the way the preacher told it, hurricanes like Harvey are just God’s way of saying you can take a great and life-altering tragedy.

Bringing up a biblical story involving Jesus and his apostles sailing across a lake during a hurricane-like storm, Osteen said that Jesus didn’t wake up during the squall because he knew they could handle it. “If they were all going to die, he would have gotten up without them having to wake him up,” he exclaimed.…

“The reason it may seem like God is not waking up is not because he’s ignoring you, not because he’s uninterested, it’s because he knows you can handle it,” he stated.

Osteen added, “Take it as a compliment.”

The people of Houston, and other places, should “take it as a compliment” that a hurricane flooded their homes and businesses, and even killed some people — the death toll is up to about 60 as I type this (cached)? Seriously!? How the fuck did Osteen even say something that ludicrous with a straight face?

The irony here is that what Osteen said makes perfect sense, given the premises posed by the Abrahamic religious tradition. It follows naturally from the position that there is a creator-deity who’s all-powerful, all-knowing, yet who chooses (for unknown reasons) to allow horrific things to happen to people. It’s an unavoidable conclusion … given all of that. If the idiocy of such a statement doesn’t wake Abrahamic believers up to the obvious absurdity of their beliefs, then I guess nothing will.

P.S. That’s the second time in just a few days that a Texan dealing with Hurricane Harvey has said something so asinine as to force me to tag a post “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” What in hell is wrong with the Lone Star State, anyway (aside from the tragedy of the hurricane)?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Girl praying / StockSnap, via PixabayAll over the world, people want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Houston and caused lots of damage elsewhere around the Gulf of Mexico. And support is streaming in. But too often — as one would expect of the affected region, given that it’s all part of America’s Bible Belt — solutions keep veering back to religion. I already blogged about how Texas’ secretary of the state turned away help from the province of Quebec, asking for prayers instead. But as Real Clear Politics and other outlets report, our Groper-in-Chief also declared today a day of prayer for Harvey’s victims (Archive.Is cached article):

The president announced Friday that this upcoming Sunday would be a national day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“I just authorized and signed a proclamation for prayer,” the president said. “And we’re going to have, on Sunday, a prayer Sunday… So I think it’s going to be something to see and to witness. Will be — it’s been a long time, and our country deserves it, frankly.”

It’s time for a little truth, here. Prayers aren’t going to do a fucking thing for anyone, because they’re useless. What Harvey’s victims need — and deserve — is meaningful, tangible help. For the most part, that means they don’t need “things”; monetary donations are actually the best way to help (except if you happen to be nearby, and can either deliver needed items directly to agencies you know can take them, or physically help by providing shelter or with cleanup and rebuilding). Here are some options:

There are other options, too, so look around, and avoid obvious scams. Here are a few pages that list bona fide options:

Note that I don’t advocate donating to the American Red Cross; they have a track record of collecting a ton of money, but not spending it where donors intended, or worse, not even being certain where it’s going (cached). That history goes back a very long way, and in spite of scandals that followed from their responses to Superstorm Sandy (cached), the Haiti earthquake (cached), Hurricane Katrina (cached), and even the 9/11 attacks (cached), the Red Cross has refused to change their ways. I’m not the only one saying this about the Red Cross, either (cached).

But even if giving to the Red Cross doesn’t trouble you, please know they’ve already set donation records and have all the money they can use. The charities I’ve listed above aren’t so donation-rich, meaning your donations there will have a much greater effect on their operations.

Photo credit: StockSnap, via Pixabay.

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Flag-of-QuebecHurricane Harvey has devastated the coast of Texas, and particularly the city and environs of Houston, which was flooded. People around the country, and the world, have provided all kinds of assistance. One would think the government of Texas welcomes such aid from anyone willing to provide it.

But, incredibly, they don’t.

As CBC News reports, Texas refused aid from the province of Quebec, and wants only their prayers instead (Archive.Is cached article):

Quebec is offering to help Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and is at the ready for when officials there say they need it, says Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre.

St-Pierre says she spoke with Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos Tuesday early afternoon, offering to send equipment and crews to help restore power and to provide blankets, beds, pillows and hygienic products.…

Pablos declined the aid for now, instead asking for “prayers from the people of Quebec,” the minister said. “He was very touched by the fact we called him.”

Now, I get that Texans are proud, viewing themselves as independent and resilient … but in the face of a disaster like this, help is help, and (I would think) they wouldn’t turn their noses up at it. When we in New England and the northeast were assailed by Hurricane Irene, the Snowtoberocapalypse, and Superstorm Sandy, utility crews from Hydro-Québec helped us rebuild … and we appreciated it. Pablos should have swallowed his Texan pride, said, “Thanks, send what you can!” and left it at that.

But no. Instead of tangible assistance, he wants prayers instead. Yes, prayers … that won’t accomplish a single fucking thing. I’m going to have to tag this one you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

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Harvey Geostationary VIS-IR 2017You’ve got to hand it to Christianists. They sure as hell are consistent. They can always be counted on to use natural disasters to propound their dour metaphysics and bludgeon everyone else with them. Once Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, you just knew they’d declare that Harvey was God’s retribution for some outrage. Right Wing Watch reports on three such incidents so far.

The first militant Christianist on this list, is activist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire (Archive.Is cached article):

While Religious Right leaders have been oddly reticent about declaring that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment for America’s sin, far-right activist Dave Daubenmire is not shy about proclaiming just that, asserting on his “Pass The Salt Live” webcast yesterday that the storm is divine punishment on Houston for abortion and for recently having a lesbian mayor.

“Houston, we got a problem here,” Daubenmire said. “Could some of the problems be the result of the judgment of God coming your way because of the slaughter of unborn children? You had a lesbian mayor who wanted to look at the prayers of pastors in their churches. It’s debaucherous.”

Militant Christianist broadcaster Rick Wiles soon concurred with “the Coach” (cached):

End Times radio host Rick Wiles used his “TruNews” broadcast yesterday to declare that the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston’s “affinity for the sexual perversion movement.”

“This is a proud city that, in recent years, has boasted of its allegiance, its dedication, its devotion to the homosexual/lesbian agenda,” he said.

Wiles asserted that Houston is under God’s judgment because it formerly had a mayor who is a lesbian, currently has “a pro-homosexual mayor,” has persecuted Christian pastors in the city and is among “the top-tier, most gay-friendly cities in America.”

And they were followed by yet another Christianist pastor (cached):

Extremist anti-LGBTQ pastor Kevin Swanson is joining other radical Religious Right activists in declaring that Hurricane Harvey is God’s judgment on Houston and other cities that refuse to repent for their embrace of “sexual perversion.”

“Jesus sends the message home, unless Americans repent, unless Houston repents, unless New Orleans repents, they will all likewise perish,” Swanson said on his radio program today. “That is the message that the Lord Jesus Christ is sending home right now to America.”

Yes, these three are true spokesmen for “the Religion of Love,” are they not? I can’t think of more stellar examples of what Christianism stands for. Can you?

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Followers of Indian religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh throw stones at security forces during clashes after the controversial guru was convicted of rape in Panchkula, Aug. 25, 2017. Getty photo, via CBS NewsA lot of people in the US, where I live, have a lot of preconceptions about India. Many of them view that country through the lens of some of its most famous figures … in particular, Mahatma Gandhi. There’s no doubt that Gandhi left his mark on the world; he instigated India’s independence from British rule, and in the process showed that civil disobedience and non-violent resistance could change history. A lot of Americans, therefore, tend to view India as a land of pacifists.

It’d be nice if the world’s second-largest country by population were actually a collection of pacifists, but that’s not so. I don’t say that to denigrate India. I only say that, because that’s just how humanity is: Pacifism, in the long run, is the exception rather than the rule — by far! An example of how things really are in India made itself evident, as CBS News reports, just a few days ago, with catastrophic consequences (Archive.Is cached article):

At least 30 people were killed and more than 200 injured in violence in the two Indian states of Haryana and Punjab after a court convicted a spiritual guru of rape, incensing his loyal followers to riot.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted Friday of raping two women 15 years ago, but an estimated 100,000 of his followers had already gathered in the town of Panchkula, in Haryana, ahead of the verdict.

The violence left at least 30 people dead and more than 200 others wounded, Haryana state government officials told CBS News.…

When the guilty verdict was announced, the gathered members of Singh’s sect clashed with police and paramilitary forces, set several buildings and part of a gas station on fire and attacked television news crews. Several government offices were also reportedly vandalized by followers of the so-called “godman.”

This “guru” is extremely popular, and influential, in spite of the charges against him or (now) his conviction:

In a show of strength, the guru, who heads the powerful Dera Sacha Sauda sect, arrived to court in Panchkula on Friday in a 200-car cavalcade. He has featured in a number of self-produced movies where he has played the lead character, of a messiah.

India is home to many gurus like Singh, some of whom amass followings in the millions, and who become incredibly wealthy in the process.

I suppose these “gurus” might be a rough equivalent of American megapastors or televangelists … perhaps. Maybe. At any rate, it’s sickening to see this kind of religious loyalty turn into mayhem and death. Americans’ visions of India as a paradise of deep, abiding spirituality clearly is unjustified. As I’ve said many, many, many, many times … all metaphysics is liable to lead to extremes. All of them! No matter what kind. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Many people erroneously think religious extremism comes only from the Abrahamic religions of Islam and Christianity. It’s true those two do lead to a lot of militancy and violence … but that doesn’t mean other religious milieus, such as the dharmic faiths that saturate India, don’t lead to extremes, either.

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'One Nation, Under God: Remember, if you don't believe in God, you're not a REAL American. Keep prayer and God in school, where they belong!' / Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: University of GeorgiaIn case you haven’t heard, militant Christianism is alive and well in the US of A. Yes, even in the 21st century, a strangely medieval form of Christofascism is doing just fine, thank you — even though its sanctimoniously-enraged adherents insist, repeatedly (despite the facts), that Christianity is being wiped out and all Christians in the US are in dire peril of being slaughtered at any moment.

Or something like that. I think. Yeah, I know it sounds extreme, but they certainly believe all that. And they believe it fervently … so how could it possibly not be true?

Naturally, these folk focus on the future. Yes, they focus on the future they sincerely — but delusionally — fear (and lie about), the one in which Christianity no longer exists, because of vicious, evil “secular progressives” in concert with their (supposed) friends the radical Islamists; and they focus on the future they earnestly desire, one in which Christianity is alive and well, and their form of it is worshipped uniformly by everyone in the world (after first being made into the national religion of the US).

In order to bring about the latter future, the one they would love to bring about, they work hard at getting their Christianism into schools, assuring (they think) that the next generation will worship their Jesus the way they demand he be worshipped by everyone. It’s a game they’ve played for decades, and have persisted with, in spite of setbacks like Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington S.D. v. Schempp (1963). Little things like the rule of law don’t matter to American Christianists; they work for Jesus, you see, so they need not worry about such petty concerns.

This explains why the good Christianist folk of the good Christianist state of Arkansas passed a good Christianist law ensuring the good Christianist public-school students all see a good Christianist slogan* constantly. KARK-TV in Little Rock explains their good Christianist impulse (Archive.Is cached article):

The official motto of the U.S. written across our money and monuments could soon appear on the walls of Arkansas public schools.

A new law [cached] states elementary and secondary schools shall display a framed picture or poster of “In God We Trust” above an American flag in their libraries and classrooms.

The article includes a quote by a good Arkansas Christianist affirming the good Christianists’ desperate need for this law:

“It should be there,” said Sharon Sumpter from Mulberry. “We need to turn more back to our religion, our roots and why our country was founded.”

“If you take ‘In God We Trust’ out, I mean that’s basically telling them God’s dead, you know?,” said Doug Wilburn from North Little Rock.

This insane piece of drivel practically screams “illogic.” To be clear, Ms Sumpter: No, not seeing “In God We Trust” constantly does not — in fact — tell us that your God is dead. It just fucking doesn’t — and that you think it does, constitutes proof of your religionistic derangement.

The article goes on to explain the mechanism by which the good Christianists who wrote and passed this good Christianist law hope to make it legal:

Taxpayers won’t be fronting the bill for the new displays.

Act 911 states they either have to be donated from a private organization or purchased with funds made available through voluntary contributions to the local school boards or the Building Authority Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Oh, and it’s not only schools that must display “In God We Trust” all over the place:

The law also requires the motto to appear in any public building that’s maintained or operated by state funds.

Whew! That was close! I was afraid, for a moment there, that only public-school kids in the good Christianist state of Arkansas would constantly be confronted by that good Christianist slogan*; I can be comforted knowing that any good Christianist in Arkansas who spends time in any state-funded building will be comforted by the constant sight of a good Christianist slogan*.

I sure am glad I don’t live in Arkansas. But if I did, it wouldn’t matter. I do not trust in the Christianists’ God — or any other, for that matter — nor will I ever do so, no matter how many times I’m told I must. I just won’t. And there’s absolutely nothing that American Christianists can do about it.

Nor can they change the fact that there are non-Christianists in the world … yes, even in their own precious and holy “Christian nation.” Waaah wah waah, little babies. Waah wah!

* I say “In God We Trust” is a “Christianist” slogan, because — well! — that’s exactly what it is! It was first put on US coins during the Civil War due to a religious impulse. It was later added to paper currency as the Cold War heated up, at the instigation of the Knights of Columbus.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Austin Cline/About.Com, aka ThoughtCo; Original: University of Georgia.

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crying-babyPardon me, Dear Reader, for yet another largely off-topic post. A lot needs to be said right now — and I’m going to say it.

First of all, let’s clear the air over what happened at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA. The rally hadn’t even formally begun before it became violent and police broke it up. Shortly after that, an angry white supremacist from Ohio drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19 others (Archive.Is cached article). The driver reportedly had longstanding Nazi sympathies (cached). In other words, he was a card-carrying member of the “alt right” which had assembled in what is, basically, Thomas Jefferson’s hometown, to bluster and fume about the impending removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a city park (cached).

Shortly after, on Saturday, the Groper-in-Chief made some comments condemning the violence at that rally, which had mostly been planned for him, but he added (twice!) an additional “on many sides,” entirely on his own (cached). In other words, he was blaming both sides for the violence and death — which was definitely not the case. He took some heat for that, from his own party, even (cached)! On Monday afternoon, he read a perfunctory condemnation of white nationalists, which he thought would end the matter (cached). But the hubbub triggered by his initial equivocation and false equivalence didn’t die down.

So today, the Apricot Wonder met with some assembled reporters and proceeded to launch into a full-blown, ten-alarm, all-hands-on-deck infantile meltdown (cached).

That’s the only description that fits this fucking debacle. Really. It’s juvenile beyond words. Quoting any of it would be pointless, and give it more dignity than it deserves. If you feel the need to, you can watch it, courtesy of PBS News Hour, via Youtube (cached):

You can also read a transcript, courtesy of CNBC (cached). Some of the more salient points of the Groper’s raging shit-show, are:

  1. He refused to say when he would speak with Ms Heyer’s family, but twice mentioned nice things her mother had said about him
  2. He refused to say when he’d go to Charlottesville, but mentioned his house — and winery — there
  3. He refused to call the car attack “terrorism,” claiming he needed more “facts,” even though he never previously let “facts” get in the way of venting his spleen
  4. His answer to the problem of racism in the US was talking about jobs, and everyone making so much money that it would just die out … somehow
  5. He invented a new word, “alt-left,” and claimed that the car driver had been responding to them “charging” at the alt-right

Honestly, this is about as fucked up a situation as I’ve ever seen from Washington — and I’m someone who remembers the Watergate scandal.

Turning away from the walking trainwreck that is our Groper-in-Chief, I came across something else hideous — and yes, it had to come from the Right-wing’s house organ, of course (cached):

The leader of a Ku Klux Klan group based in North Carolina said he was “glad” that a woman died and others were injured after a man allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters Saturday at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.…

Justin Moore, the leader of the Grand Dragon for the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told WBTV’s Steve Crump in a voicemail that he was “glad” Heyer was killed and others were injured in the vehicle attack.

“I’m sorta glad that them people got hit and I’m glad that girl died,” Moore said. “They were a bunch of communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn’t bother me that they got hurt at all.”

Is this really what’s become of the United States of America? Can it really be that we have such an infantile president and people who actually think it’s justifiable to drive cars into crowds merely because of them have “communist flags”?

This country is fucked. Royally. Right up the goddamn ass.

Photo credit: Brandon Baunach, via Flickr.

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