Christine O’Donnell: Dear God, Change Your Mind

Sadness

IT'S SAD - For every person praying for Christine O'Donnell to win the election, there are others asking The Big Guy to stop her. Only time will tell whose side God will be on.

During her short time on the political stage, Christine O’Donnell has generated such incredible buffoonery she could start an “All Christine, All the Time” cable channel. Rupert Murdoch might want to talk to her about it. They seem to be made for each other – a win/win of biblically crapulent, synergistic proportions.

Almost everything that comes out of Chritine’s mouth is hilarious. Sometimes it’s in a Gracie Allen bubblehead sort of  way – “Hey, I dabbled in the witchcraft. My oh my, silly old me!” Sometimes it’s in a weird Kids in the Hall sort of way – “I’ll crrrrush your head and your evil masturbating ways too!” But, she actually believes some of the gooferous stuff she says and expects the rest of us to as well.

Her latest political/religious clone of a statement rivals her contention that scientists have developed mice with human brains. After taking her campaign lumps repeatedly, and responded with a series of demonstrably untrue statements or dubious “facts”, she still hasn’t gotten the kind of uncritical, Sharron Angle-style “leave me alone and don’t embarrass me” coverage she craves – or as media-savvy Sharron says, “I only want them to ask the questions I want to answer.”

Bring Out the Big Guy

Who, Me?

WHO, ME? - "God are you sure I'm the one you're picking? When you called, I thought maybe it was a wrong number."

“OUCH!” It’s time to bring out the Big Guy, personal friend and savior of non-Muslim Tea Partiers and Republicans everywhere.

Christine stopped by the Christian Broadcasting Network to explain why she stays in a political race that is turning her into a laughing stock.

As often happens with religious zealots dressed in right wing, fringe-bedecked vestments, she said God didn’t wanna let her quit. “…you see that if it weren’t for faith, when all logic said it’s time to quit, we pursued, we marched on, because we knew God was not releasing us to quit,” she said, referring to herself in the third person.

Christine, you’d have been better off to stop at logic before playing the God card.

As a young man questioning my own faith, I used to think about the many inconsistencies I saw in religious dogma. For example, if two football teams prayed before a game to win, how was it possible for one team to win, the other to lose, and not question how one  got short-changed on their “faith” and fervent prayers that they would win?

My religious betters gave many reasons for this, most of them seeming  specious to me.

“Obviously, one team believed more strongly and therefore God granted them their wish,” went one explanation. “God was demonstrating that not all prayers come true, even if you fervently do your best to make them happen,” went another. When the answers I got didn’t seem to match the questions I had, I was often treated to the all-purpose, “God works in mysterious ways,” explanation.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with believing there is no contradiction there. There’s nothing wrong with believing you got the short end of the political coverage stick – even while not considering the stupid things you’ve said. However, there is something troubling about blaming illogical decisions on God.

It’s Unfair to God
First, it’s unfair to God to put him in such a tenuous position. He has enough problems. Second, it gives you a convenient out every time something doesn’t go your way. “Hey, it wasn’t my fault. I talked to the Big Guy and he said it was OK for me to fudge my educational background“. Or, George the Lesser’s penchant for “talking to God” only to be told everything was hunky dory and he should just keep on keeping on as the country went to hell around him.

There’s a reason it’s good advice to not mix religion and politics. More often than not, one has nothing – as in Christine’s case – with the other. It’s also common that biblical explanations often doesn’t hold much sway with voters, even devoutly religious ones.  And when you say that you talked to God and he told you that it’s perfectly OK to, say, deprive Muslims of the same constitutional rights you reserve for yourself, many people are going to think your celestial cell phone needs some repair.

There is a place for religion in politics, just as there is a place for politics in the pulpit. However, in the middle of a campaign where your are partially representing yourself as God’s chosen candidate, you’re out of bounds and it’s unlikely you’ll feel the need to represent the majority of us who want to keep their politics and religion unmixed if you are elected.

Let’s just hope God changes his mind.

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What Do the Religious Know? It Turns Out, Not So Much

Jesus Christ!

DUH-O! - Athesists and agnostics are found to be the most knowledgeable about religion, but that's no reason for atheists and agnostics to break out the confetti and dance on the table in celebration.

I’ve debated hundreds of religious people over their preferred Tome of Enlightenment™ and found it interesting that a new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life validates my own anecdotal evidence – that some of the most pious are also some of the most ignorant of their own religion.

In fact, the study finds that not only do religious people often exhibit a shocking ignorance of their Bible, Quran, Torah, et al, but agnostics and atheists like me actually know more about them than those who depend on them for their moral guidance.

I’m what you might call a friendly atheist. I don’t get too worked up over many things believers think they’re divinely empowered to do, because in many cases, it doesn’t really matter. For example, is a dollar with “In God we Trust” worth less than a dollar without?

Believers as Aggressive SOBs?
On the other side of the fence, agnostics and atheists sometimes look at the religioned as aggressively ignorant SOBs who won’t stop discriminating against their fellow humans until they get to dance around the infidels nailed to the biggest cross around. But, that doesn’t mean everyone on both sides is an argumentative crapweasel intent on converting their opposites to a life of enlightenment and wisdom with extreme prejudice.

However, I can get worked up when it comes to believers imposing their beliefs on not only atheists and agnostics, but believers of religions not their own. It’s as harebrained for Muslims to assume Christians are, to a person, supporters of the most insane beliefs about Islam as Christians feeling divinely justified in depriving Muslims if all manner of Constitutional rights.

As a former Christian, I’ve come to believe the Bible is a wonderful work of literature, and on the whole, not a bad checklist for leading a morally good life. I know, and support, that others may differ. The biggest differences I have with most Christians are that I see the Bible as the work of man and where we’ll each end up when we die. I try to stay tolerant of views that oppose my own because that’s the compact I’ve made with myself – to allow believers the freedom to believe anything they want, so long as they respect my freedom to not believe.

I don’t believe I have the corner on biblical wisdom by virtue of answering more questions on a survey form, but I do think there is meaning – even non-biblical meaning – in how believers sometimes conduct their own religions.

Because My Bible Tells Me So
In all my personal religious debates I’ve ended up in the same place. I offer logical and scientific reasoning to explain things and, faced with the disagreement, almost every Christian explains away events or beliefs by saying, the Bible tells me so.

I have a feeling that part of this rhetorical impasse comes as a result of selective readings of religious texts – in other words, believers simply pretending Biblical quotes to the contrary aren’t there…when it’s convenient. The result is a disincentive to learn more about their religions. After all, if you only believe that parts of a religious text apply or that they apply differently to those you don’t like, what’s the point in digging further to find the inconvenient and inconsistent things hiding in the dense text?

There are many believers who dig hard and try to reach a level of religious understanding that clearly many of the people in this survey have no use for. And there are plenty of hypocritical muttonheads among the non-believers. I’d caution the non-believers to not do any fist-pumps over the survey though.

The poor showing of the believers isn’t doing believers OR non-believers any good. Without finding some middle ground where we can all learn to coexist, our philosophical culture wars and quite real hot, shooting wars, will continue unabated.

And, that is a situation that science can’t tolerate and isn’t what God wants.

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