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November 11, 2005

Two Quotes

For your consideration:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city, and don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin, and I'm not saying they will. But if they do, just remember you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, then don't ask for his help, because he might not be there."

-- Pat Robertson, on the citizens of Dover, PA ousting the school board that voted to place "Intelligent Design" into science classes.

 

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

-- Matthew 7, 15 - 23.
 

Posted by john at November 11, 2005 10:18 PM

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Comments

Dean | November 11, 2005 11:05 PM

I fail to understand why God would give a crap whether or not the school board or Dover PA supported 'Intelligent Design'.

If I were God, I'd want someone other than Pat Robertson speaking for me.

John Scalzi | November 11, 2005 11:11 PM

Sadly for God, He doesn't always get to choose his "spokespeople."

Jeff | November 11, 2005 11:17 PM

Yes, Mr. Robertson, but more importantly: does this mean He will no longer support Dover sports teams?

Soni | November 12, 2005 01:18 AM

According to Pat's 'smite makes right" standard, God must real hate po' white southern trash, because that's where all the tornados hit. And no, it's not just that tornados do more damage in trailer parks because they're crappily made (although that doesn't help). This last whopper literally flattened a trailer park directly without doing much damage elsewhere. http://www.cnn.com/2005/WEATHER/11/07/tornado/

And yet, you never hear Pat decrying the lax morals and obvious Satanic leanings of poor, white, primarily Christian Southerners and Mid-Westerners, despite God's obvious and ongoing jihad against them. Wonder why that is? Couldn't be that they're his primary donation base, could it? I mean, Pat wouldn't be such a hypocrite as to point to a few scattered hurricanes and ignore literally thousands of tornados when God's will is so blatantly obvious (I mean, after all, throughout New Orleans, the notorious French Quarter was among the least damaged). Would he?

Note to self - quit standing next to poor white southerners in the store. You know, just in case.

Soni | November 12, 2005 01:23 AM

Oh, and I found this earlier. Appearently God is considering a cease and desist order agains darling Pat. Via the Swift Report (link below)

God denied having any links to conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson yesterday after He received reports that Mr. Robertson told residents of Dover, P.A., that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them of His wrath. Sources close to the Higher Being say that He is "tired" of Mr. Robertson and wants him to stop using His name.

http://swiftreport.blogs.com/news/2005/11/god_denies_link.html

Martin Wagner | November 12, 2005 01:51 AM

Actually, the Bible passage I wish Christians would pay attention to is Matthew 6:5-6. Just STFU and leave the rest of us alone!

In any case, ol' Pat wouldn't be the first Christian in history to fit the teachings of their Big Book of Multiple Choice to their personal prejudices. Pat would probably respond to John's choice of scripture with this passage. Or maybe even this one.

Whatever attitude you want to justify — warm and fuzzy or eye-rollingly insane — you can find something in the Bible to back it up.

Joe Crow | November 12, 2005 03:19 AM

I dunno, that last guy kinda sounds like a hippie or something.

In other news, it's nice to see that the thugocracy and the theocracy are melding so well. O. G.'s (Original Godshouters) represent, y'all.

Cindy! | November 12, 2005 05:06 AM

I actually agree with Pat Robertson. After all, if you're going to deny god, you should be prepaired for his wrath.
I disagree with not teaching Christianity, and any other religion, in public schools. After all, if God did not make all this, who did? It's like saying by throwing all the letters there are up in the air, they will fall down to produce a perfect encyclopedia. God is the only rational answer to creation! ~Cindy!

Byron | November 12, 2005 06:32 AM

Cindy, I hope for your sake you're being facetious. If not, I'll answer your questions: You apparently didn't pay attention in history class. Institutionalizing a religion is known to be a Bad Idea. Its caused a lot of trouble here in the West and continues to cause trouble here and elsewhere in the world. Ironically, if the founding fathers had chosen to do so, it probably would have explicitly disallowed the religious sects currently clamoring for the merging of Church and State.

Next up, evolution. Your example mostly indicates that you didn't actually pay attention in Biology. Evolution is, in fact, nothing like throwing letters up in the air and having them land in perfect order. First, throwing a bunch of magnetic letters up in the air and getting a coherent sentence back would be pretty strong evidence for the existence of God or at least a sublimely skilled prankster.

The common misconception concerning evolution is the assumption is that that the process is random in the sense of a deck of cards. It is not random in that sense, a better word might be stochastic. Basically, there are events such as DNA mutation or the introduction of an exogenous influence that eventually lead to some change. It might even be some combination of these. I'm simplifying a bit, but one step at a time here. One of my favorite examples is a gene called CCR5. You may have heard of it, PBS did a special on it once not too long ago because of its remarkable properties. Some people have a mutation of this gene called "delta 32." Under normal conditions this mutation makes no difference whatsoever---you couldn't tell a delta-32 human mutant from a "normal" human without a gene test. That is until the Black Death comes to town. Then you can tell who the delta-32 mutants are really easily. They're the ones who don't die as the mutation confers immunity (being homozygous positive for the gene also confers immunity to HIV as an added bonus). Keep this going long enough and you might expect that the delta-32 mutation will become the norm in human population.

The same thing happens in other contexts. When they happen in such a way that it affects mating behavior you can eventually get a speciation event (I believe scientists are getting to see this in action "in the wild" with a species of butterfly in the UK well on its way to become two species because the coloration pattern of one changes).

Don't feel bad though, the ID people (some of whom have somehow obtained PhDs) make the same mistakes when they "run the numbers." Mostly it just shows that they don't understand probability (poor understanding usually isn't a good way to set policy). People mostly don't, especially when it gets much past a coin flip (Exhibit A: Vegas). Hell, I get confused and supposedly I do that sort of thing for a living.

On a side note, why does your name require an exclamation point?

John Scalzi | November 12, 2005 09:34 AM

Cindy:

"I disagree with not teaching Christianity, and any other religion, in public schools."

Who says they can't? A comparative religions course would be just fine. Teaching religion in a science class, however, is not a good thing.

Andrew Wade | November 12, 2005 10:07 AM

I actually agree with Pat Robertson. After all, if you're going to deny god, you should be prepaired for his wrath.

Yup, if you're a good Christian, God will spare you from disasters, and send that nasty cancer to your heathen neighbours instead of you.</sarcasm> This position has been risible for a very long time: Soni's trailer park tornados are a modern version of Voltaire's Lisbon Earthquake. Perhaps natural disasters are God's wrath, but if so he's wrathful against good Christian and heathen alike, and if that's the case you too should prepare for his wrath. Perhaps the heavenly father is an abusive parent, but I would want nothing to do with such a being, and I suspect the same is true of many Christians. Certainly the United Church thinks of God more as a nurturing parent.

For that matter, it would hardly be logical for I, an atheist, to prepare for the wrath of a being I do not believe exist.

Andrew Wade | November 12, 2005 10:49 AM

Now that I've got some of that out of my system, I feel like nattering about "if God did not make all this, who did?". Now my personal response is "nobody did", but there is certainly room for reasonable people to disagree on that point. But when it comes to the mechanism for how it was all made, the evidence is very strong: the Earth was formed by gravity glombing stuff together, humans were evolved from apes, and the stuff the Earth was made from is fairly well[1] explained by the Standard Model of particle physics. Now perhaps God did create "all this" and the laws of physics with possibly the occasional nudge are just the mechanism, but if so God probably isn't very human-like. A human would probably not design something like Quantum mechanics, what with it's bizarre complementarity that physicists have a hard time wrapping their heads around. But that shouldn't be so surprising: after all how well would a human mind cope with omniscience?

[1] Getting predictions out of the Standard Model is very difficult. If you want to derive the energy levels of an isolated Hydrogen atom, that you can do with great accuracy. But if you want to derive the chemistry of Carbon--forget it: it's just too difficult. Still Chemistry does kinda, sorta look like a consequence of those fundamental physical laws, if only we could crank through the calculations.

That aside aside, I don't think that a non-anthropomorphic God would be anything new to theology. Yes, Genesis does say that man was created in God's image, but medieval Kabbalistic Jews, for instance, thought that simply meant that the Adam was created half male and half female, like the outer sphere of God was. And besides, it's not as if Genesis is reliable when it comes to the details of Creation.

RooK | November 12, 2005 11:43 AM

Hey now, don't everybody forget that "Intelligent Design" Theory is claimed by it's proponents (most notably Michael Behe) to be not necessarily religious (nudge nudge wink wink), but actually "just another scientific theory". Albeit one that requires a re-definition of "science", and one that doesn't actually serve any useful purpose in terms of understanding. Perhaps those proponents of ID should have a chat with Pat, to help clear that up for him.

Besides, just think about how disappointed we would all be if a motion to teachy Flying Spaghetti Monsterism was shot down. Wouldn't we all be saddened by those people who might seem to bat away His Noodly Appendage?

Matt Arnold | November 12, 2005 02:39 PM

Pat Robertson: "Flying pigs exist."
Me: "Flying pigs do not exist."
Agnostic: "The jury is still out on flying pigs. Have you looked everywhere? They might be on another planet or something."
Liberal Religionist: "Flying pigs do exist, depending on your sophisticated re-definition of all the terms in the claim. For instance, I saw a police helicopter just the other day."

John Scalzi | November 12, 2005 02:42 PM

Pigs fly all the time. Usually in cargo.

Brian | November 12, 2005 03:49 PM

As a Christian, it saddens me that people like Robertson end up being the ambassadors of my faith to the country, and the world. John 12:47 (NIV):

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it."

Luke 6:37-38 (NIV):

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

(Jesus speaking in both of these)

Screaming at people that they're damned and going to Hell is really rather not the best way of persuading them to see things from your point of view. And, beyond that, the judgment one brings on them by doing so will be brought back on oneself in the end, at least so saith the Scripture. I don't think that bodes too well for Mr. Robertson...

In any event, if anyone's curious about what it looks like when Christians reach out to the world in love (y'know, like we're supposed to), I recommend browsing around the sites of Joyce Meyer Ministries and Mercy Ministries. Hopefully they'll give some folks an idea that not all Christians are froth-spitting, arm-waving camera-seekers.

As to teaching Intelligent Design in classes, I'm really in agreement that it shouldn't be. Religious and faith education should stay in the church, and science in the schools. No matter how far we (Christians) may feel that moral standards have fallen (or whatever the motivating impulse of the moment is), it's not our place to commandeer the educational system to indoctrinate everyone with Jesus. Besides, the whole Creation vs. Evolution argument is a huge straw man anyways... Big Bang and Steady-State origin theories have creationist elements to them just like the theistic theory, it's just that the creator involved in them is a non-sentient event, rather than a sentient being. <shrug> The core of the argument is actually over how things came into existence, not how they went from their initial form to their current one. I Cor 13:12 (NIV):

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

I know I don't know everything (especially as I'm currently in grad school—they hit you pretty hard with that right off :-P), and all things considered I'm quite content with that. Not worrying about it gives me fewer headaches, if nothing else. :-)

Brian | November 12, 2005 03:53 PM

Pre-S. (as opposed to P.S., since this will likely appear higher on the list than the comment I just posted): John, you may want to add something about how multiple links in comments trips the comment moderation thingie—currently it only mentions new commenters. <shrug> Might reduce some confusion.

Sal Towse | November 12, 2005 04:07 PM

Pat Robertson, idiot, yes. Also O'Reilly.


The Chronicle did a nice riff on O'Reilly's recent comments yesterday.



You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds," O'Reilly said Tuesday on his radio show as San Franciscans were approving the two measures. [banning military recruitment in public schools and handgun ownership] Perhaps, he didn't realize that he'd be speaking mostly to foreign tourists and suburbanites if he were standing in Union Square.



Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead, O'Reilly went on. And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.



Coit Tower being just a couple hundred feet up the hill from me, I sorta wished O'Reilly'd chosen a different place to point out as a suggested target for Al Qaeda.

JonathanMoeller | November 12, 2005 05:40 PM

Mmm...winged bacon...

I know both ID-parisans and evolution-partisans, and have never managed to get terribly worked up about it. After all, how we got to be here seems less important than what we're going to do, now that we're here.

(goes off to make a winged-BLT for supper)

Anonymous | November 12, 2005 07:15 PM

The good people of Dover didn't reject God, Pat, they rejected a bunch of nitwit sycophants who thought they could curry favor with Him by playing dumb. Not that you'd ever do that.

Andrew Wade | November 12, 2005 08:12 PM

Liberal Religionist: "Flying pigs do exist, depending on your sophisticated re-definition of all the terms in the claim. For instance, I saw a police helicopter just the other day."

Heh. Mind, with two different Creation stories, three slightly different 10 Commandments, and a God that changes personality from chapter to chapter, the Old Testament has something for everyone even without playing word games. And if you go to the original Hebrew, you've got a male God, a female God, a singular God, and Gods in the plural too. That's mostly been omitted in the translation (though I daresay a good annotated Bible will mention such things), but there is still a remnant of a two-sexed God: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Gen 1:27, KJV). That's what happens with a conglomeration of earlier traditions, what is what Genesis appears to be. The "Liberal Religionists" are perhaps more likely than most to be aware of such issues, and quite a bit of what appears to be new in the liberal side of the religion is in fact quite biblical. And if they ignore large bits of the Bible, well, that's true of pretty much every sect of Christianity.

Part of what I like about churches like the United Church is that they tend to be up-front about how they interpret the Bible, and have intellectual honesty when it comes to their beliefs and their source.

Christopher Billett | November 12, 2005 08:26 PM

Sage words, John. Pat Robertson would appear to be conclusive evidence that God also likes to dabble in 'non-intelligent design' from time to time. Hey, a deity's gotta relax every now and then - everyone needs a hobby!

Sulizano | November 12, 2005 10:00 PM

Soni,

As a North Alabama native and resident, I've seen tornadoes hit schools, churches, and trailer parks, but never a bar or massage parlor.

When the weather kicks up, I head to the neighborhood watering hole.

Suli

mythago | November 12, 2005 11:44 PM

Coit Tower being just a couple hundred feet up the hill from me, I sorta wished O'Reilly'd chosen a different place to point out as a suggested target for Al Qaeda.

I hear that a number of San Franciscans are petitioning Bill O'Reilly to change his recommended target to be the DeYoung...

Joe Crow | November 13, 2005 01:52 AM

Hey, I'm pretty satisfied by my religion's explanation for the creation of Life, The Universe, and Everything: It was all made by a magic cow and a dead giant. If we're gonna have Mythological Design, let's have GOOD Mythological Design.

Also, I think it was considerate of Bill O'Reilly to support the San Francisco Seccessionist Movement in public like that.

Bruce Adelsohn | November 13, 2005 04:07 AM

Andrew Wade said two different Creation stories

I thought I recalled that there were three, although the courses wherein I learned about them were *cough* many years agone. Not that it makes much difference to your point. (Though I think it's cool that one of them involved Tiamat, from IIRC the Babylonian Creation; dragons, even scary ones, are neato-peachy keen, in my book. Or Book, as the case may be. :-)

Hugh Casey | November 13, 2005 07:00 PM

John, if it's OK with you, I would like to repost this (with credit to you, of course) in my own blog.

Djscman | November 13, 2005 07:06 PM

Remember when Robertson was busted for using his "Operation Blessing" cargo planes to transport mining equipment for his diamond and gold mines in Africa? For me, that was his peak of incongruity between his piety and massive ethical lapses. All his recent antics have been merely annoying. Though I do get a twinge of schadenfreude when someone calls him on it.


Okay, it was pretty funny when, about five years ago, Miami had a Gay Pride parade, as they are wont to do down there. All signs were pointing to a record hurricane season that year. Since Pat is a master at hedging his bets in the Lord's service, he scolds the city of Miami, postulates that God wouldn't want those rainbow flags flying in His face, and predicts that a hurricane would be smiting Miami real soon now. (tangent: this hurricane would surely be a divine wind! You know, a kamikaze. Never mind.) Lo, Miami went on to enjoy year after year of hurricane-free weather! And if they did get a hurricane this year, it must have only grazed a suburb or two, and is only a footnote after Katrina and Rita. Pat Robertson: evangelist, not a meteorologist.


After relating that story, you may groan if I called him a "windbag", so I'll just say that he is verily the black goat that will be cast unto the Lake of Fire.

John Scalzi | November 13, 2005 09:13 PM

Feel free, Hugh.

Andrew Wade | November 14, 2005 07:12 AM

Andrew Wade said two different Creation stories

I thought I recalled that there were three, although the courses wherein I learned about them were *cough* many years agone

You're probably right; I'm no expert. I haven't even read the entire Testament--yet. It is interesting reading.

Jon H | November 14, 2005 07:53 AM

"Lo, Miami went on to enjoy year after year of hurricane-free weather!"

Even better, a hurricane *did* hit Virginia Beach, home of Robertson's 700 Club.

I'd kinda like the irony if a hurricane does hit Dover - Dover Delaware, not Dover, PA.

Whoops! Wrong address, Pat! Shoulda been more specific!

tpeeler | November 14, 2005 08:28 AM

Everybody learns the truth about his or her religion one at a time and luckily when it doesn't matter any more.

Brian Greenberg | November 14, 2005 11:49 AM

OK, I'm no bible scholar, so I can't pull quotes like John can, but isn't there something in there about God loving everybody (not just the ones who vote correctly)? "We're all brothers" or something like that?

Sometimes I think this guy talks just so people like us will rile against him, generating free publicity for him & riling his supporters into sending him more money...

Christopher Davis | November 14, 2005 02:20 PM

It seems likely that San Franciscans pay more in federal taxes than they get back. Perhaps all the cities that Bill O'Reilly dislikes should leave....

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