02 September 2008
But for now, I'd like to jump right back into things. First off: Minneapolis Police at the RNC. What are they doing?
Well, it seems that the Republican Nat'l Convention is going on and they don't want the rabble (i.e. ordinary Americans) to be heard voicing their dissatisfaction with the last eight years during which the Republicans have run this country into the ground.
So here's what we've come to:
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
14 July 2008
It's almost as good as the Anonymous protest against Scientology in London earlier this year. LONG CAT IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!
07 July 2008
So I posted the video from my previous blog entry (see it here). And sure enough, my bear-baiting snagged a fundie.
Fundie: "Why try and convince believers that God is bad? All you're doing is trying to convince yourself there is no God so that you can go through life without fear of being punished for evil acts. Kind of gives you a license to do whatever you like, huh?"
Me: "Yep, in fact I'm eating an aborted fetus while we speak. Mmmmmm....it's like eating an omelette!!!"
Fundie: "God rebuke you, Satan!!"
Fundie: "God says not to be drug into endless debates by satan. We are to love and worship God."
Me: "Yep, you wouldn't want to end up in Hell simply for not believing in the right God."
I love it when he called me "satan." I rarely get that and it just gives me constant giggles when I do! Hehehehe! Fundies are so clueless!
"If you live your life and don't confess your sins to God Almighty through the authority of Christ and His blood, I'm going to say this very plainly, you're going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket."Enjoy.
-John Hageee, 6/11/06
06 July 2008
He's simply changed too much since 2000 when I wrote his name in on my ballot.
Another McCain, quote, shift was in his relationship with the religious right of his party.
During his 2000 bid for the Republican nomination, relations between Mr McCain and Christian Coalition founder Jerry Falwell were notoriously fractious.
The Arizona senator memorably described Mr Falwell and fellow members of the religious right as "agents of intolerance".
But in 2006, ahead of his second presidential run, Mr McCain delivered the commencement address at Mr Falwell's Liberty University, after which he attended a small private party hosted by his former political adversary.
02 July 2008
Seriously, sit down, I'm not paying for your ER visit when you split your head open from the *headdesk* that I'm about to lay on you.
Some people want to write-in George W. Bush in the 2008 election, they want four more years of "God's president."
Stay the Course
Under the strong leadership of God's President we've been safe for 7 years. But if we abandon God now, we could be hit again.
We don't need to worry about the details, we just trust in God and vote our faith. When we step out in faith and leave the details to God, there's no limit to what can be accomplished.
There is a lot of Poe's Law-induced confusion with this; it could be a clever attempt at satire, and it most likely is, but let's say for the moment it's real.
So what should we do about this? I say we help them out.
I'm being completely serious. Even if Bush was actually running, and even if there wasn't that pesky little 22nd Amendment, there is no way Bush could get elected again. These morons seem to think that there's enough latent support (through evangelical dissatisfaction with McCain and a screeching fear of the "Islamic-Atheistic-Hindu" Barack Obama) for Dubya to get a write-in campaign going and re-elect the Decider.
So I say let them throw away their votes, because it's assholes like these who subjected the rest of us to 8 years of failed policies.
Bush is a failure in so many ways, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are only the most visible. The environment, the economy, civil liberties and human rights, health care, and on and on and on.
So yeah, let's help these poor folks out. Print out a couple copies and post them on the bulletin board of your local Baptist church, maybe we'll be able to keep a few rubes from fucking up yet another election.
[H/T to Dispatches from the Culture Wars]
01 July 2008
Yep. It's the two Senators who have shown the LEAST concern for the "sanctity" of marriage: Sen. Bob "Dress me up in Diapers" Vitter and Sen. Larry "Tap Dancing Daisy" Craig.
Jesus' General has already lampooned them thoroughly:
"If we allow homosexuals to marry, who's going to take care of the needs of the many straight, married men who like to blow guys in public restrooms?"
---Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
"Being diapered by a prostitute didn't end my marriage. But if my wife knew homosexuals were marrying each other, she'd divorce me in a minute."
--- Sen. Bob Vitter (R-LA)
Ya gotta love the transparent, unabashed crassness of this bill. It's 2004 all over again, and the Republicans are once again trying to mobilize all the bible-thumping, gay-hating, slack-jawed yokels which make up their base. "Da Gayz R gettin married! Oh noes!"
On a related note, someone tried to convince me that James Dobson, one of the consummate Liars for Jesus, doesn't have anything against gays, even after I showed him this quote:
"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
---On gay marriage, from The Daily Oklahoman, Oct. 23rd, 2004
Apparently, accusing your opponent of being bent on the willful destruction of the whole world doesn't mean you hate them. Yeah right, and I'm supposed to believe that Hitler didn't really hate the Jews, even though he accused them of, well, pretty much the same thing Dobson is saying of homosexuals.
The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Jew himself. His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine. Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while our present-day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties-- and this against their own nation.
---Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
For Hitler, Jews were interested only in money and domination through political power, and that would lead to the destruction of civilization. For Dobson, the homosexuals are only interested in sex, though they only seek power insofar as it allows them to have more sex, as Dobson implies here:
"The state legislature here in Colorado has frankly become just about as radical and extreme as the California Legislature, in an effort that was designed to obviously appease the homosexual community give access to all public restrooms by people of the opposite gender," Dr. Dobson said on his radio program last week.It's all part of a huge conspiracy. The homosexuals want to control everything so they can destroy civilization.
Sorry to have broken Godwin's Law, but they're just too similar. Not that Dobson is advocating the wholesale murder of homosexuals, though his opposition to anti-discruminatory and hate-crime legislation which includes protections for homosexuals suggests that he doesn't mind if other people take the task on their own. He's perfectly content to play his role as a Julius Streicher with his own verson of Der Sturmer in the form of his daily radio broadcasts.
Seriously, it's nuts like Dobson that enable Republican hypocrites like Vitter and Craig to mobilize the legions of the ignorant so that they can continue to treat America like their own personal ATM. But it's not the nuts like Dobson or the Republican shills who parrot his shit, it's the credulous fools who vote for those shills.
We can't let 2004 happen again.
[H/T to Dispatches for the Culture Wars]
25 June 2008
It would seem that Dobson isn't as relevant as he used to be! A group of Christian pastors has repudiated James Dobson over his remarks on Obama, and what's more, they started a website with a title that just too rich not to type out in full caps:
And just LOOK at their statement! It's so much win!
James Dobson doesn't speak for me.
He doesn't speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide;
He doesn't speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible;
James Dobson doesn't speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;
He doesn't speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor's views when they don't line up with his;
He doesn't speak for me when he seeks to confine the values of my faith to two or three issues alone;
What does speak for me is David's psalm celebrating how good and pleasant it is when we come together in unity;
Micah speaks for me in reminding us that the Lord requires us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him;
The prophet Isaiah speaks for me in his call for all to come and reason together and also to seek justice, encourage the oppressed and to defend the cause of the vulnerable;
The book of Nehemiah speaks for me in its example to work with our neighbors, not against them, to restore what was broken in our communities;
The book of Matthew speaks for me in saying to bless those that curse you and pray for those who persecute you;
The words of the apostle Paul speak for me in saying that words spoken and deeds done without love amount to nothing.
The apostle John speaks for me in reminding us of Jesus' command to love one another. The world will know His disciples by that love.
These words speak for me. But when James Dobson attacks Barack Obama, James Dobson doesn't speak for me.
In addition, there's a run-down of what Barack has said in comparison with the distortions of Dobson.
Finally, people of faith are starting to wake up and smell the bullshit of these bigoted asshats.
(H/T to The Friendly Atheist)
It was only a matter of time before one of the fundies-in-chief, this time the "reverend" James Dobson (head of a mass organization of religious bigots known as Focus on the Family), to formally attack Barack Obama as not being "Christian" enough. He's taking issue with a speech Obama made two years ago about the role of faith in democracy.
Now, Obama takes a very rational, pragmatic view of Biblical scripture, taking into account that we live in a secular, pluralistic nation and that in order for us to co-exist, we have to translate religion-specific morals and values into universals so that they are, in Obama's words, "subject to argument and amenable to reason." Further, Obama had the audacity to point out that using "god told me" as a justification for anything is totally unacceptable in our democracy.
But as is the case with most fundies, this painfully obvious fact flies clear over Dobson's head. Whatever, he said he wouldn't vote for McCain anyway, so he's just flailing about trying to still look relevant.
24 June 2008
Eh? Who's making press releases for my blog?
Well, no one, it's just someone named Victor Senchenko plugging their own thing, but wait til you see what it is.
Looking over your website, you seem to present yourself as a rational thinker with liberal, humanist views. It is for this reason that the following Press Release may be of interest to you.
Ok, it seems to start off innocently enough...I like to think I'm rational, somewhat liberal on some issues, and definitely humanist (though in the traditional sense of the word, not the strawman definition from the 1970s that fundies still mistakenly use today as a term of derision).
In your personal pursuit of knowledge, you may have come across an interesting phenomena: every year there are millions of children born, of whom many parents become aware that their children are very intelligent. These smart children are often given the chance – by either their parents or the society in which they live – to develop that intelligence, so that it could be used to enhance and improve human existence. This has been occurring, more or less, throughout human existence. Currently we find that never before in human existence has literacy been so wide spread. Never before in human existence have humans possess so much knowledge on how to communicate, heal, and duplicate. Never before in human existence have humans achieved feats of intellectual brilliance and physical endeavors, such as that of a space program, and sending of probes to other planets, so as to learn exactly what our Solar System comprises of. And yet, for all the widespread literacy, numeracy, and vast range of intellectual application advances in all forms of industries and fields of research, a simple but irrefutable fact remains: that humans, as a species, are no more humanely civilized today than they were thousands of years ago.
Ok, he contradicts himself in the first paragraph...not good. If we've "never before" seen such advancements as those he lists, how can he claim that we are still "no more humanely civilized today than [we] were thousands of years ago"? We are definitely more humane than we were 1000 years ago, and this guy is being silly. Are we still keeping slaves? Do we not fight for human rights on daily basis? Do we not have a worldwide organization whose mission is to promote peace and human rights between and within all the nations of the world? It is true that we are still violent and can be generally horrible to each other, but to say we haven't made any progress is just stupid. Moving on...
Human species, made up of races and societies, remains divisive, unjust and ignorant – prone to inflict suffering both on humans and other species – due to human selfishness, greed, and love of brutality. Take a random look at any part of this planet today, and there shall be a presence of human misery: death from hunger; suppressions and oppressions by military juntas and dictators; revolutions; mindless wars waged by bully nations – including those that claim to be democracies – and other military aggressions; retaliatory terrorism; crime with or without violence; degradation and theft of natural resources by desperate or greedy individuals; destruction and pollution of environment by uncaring populations and business companies. Lately, such human behavior has been so bad it has resulted in a vast and rapid degradation of living conditions on this planet, not just for humans but for all life forms.
Yes, all this may be true, but, again, in order for his previous claim to be true, we have to ignore all the good things that have improved life dramatically for human beings. One metric to consider is life expectancy. Do you think it nearly doubled in the last 150 years just on accident? But he's identified his target problem, let's see how he goes about suggesting a solution.
So how can it be that at the period of being so intellectually advanced in knowledge of technical and chemical applications, this, the very brightest and the most educated generation of humans have brought upon themselves the most dangerous situation concerning their existence, the likes of which had never occurred to any earlier human generations?
Ok, I'll bite: how?
The reason for this current human dilemma is that humans replicate the behavior and thinking of those before them. A younger generation accepts the teachings of the older generations, who teach the younger generation what they themselves had experienced at the hands of their own older generation who taught them. In this way, a perpetuation of the ideals held by older generation is guaranteed, so that when an older generation embraces lies, prejudices, and delusions, these lies, prejudices, and delusions are certain to be passed on to the younger generation, who then shall pass the very same lies, prejudices, and delusions onto their own offsprings. In this way, no matter how clever, smart, or intelligent the young generation may be, they are sure to be no wiser than their predecessors.
Ah. He thinks we're all indoctrinated with lies, which is true enough: most of us are raised to believe some pretty crazy shit. But the problem with his argument is that it's too simplistic. Not only does he ignore that not everyone is raised in the same culture with the same beliefs, but he also ignores that there have always been revolutionaries and rebels who continuously challenge the status quo. Besides, it's almost like this guy somehow got through childhood without actually being a teenager! Did he go straight from 12 to 20 and skip his entire adolescence? Viva la revolucion! :P
Needless to say, there are many well-intentioned humans who claim to seek the truth through reason, by exposing human misguided notions of superstition and other delusions connected with religions. The irony is that these individuals are also participants in delusions, without even being aware of this. This occurs because current humans, irrespective of their intellectual pursuits and endeavors, continue to accept the erroneous notions they were taught by their teachers; the very same erroneous notions their teachers were taught by those before them: notion based on misconceptions and fabrications rather than physical reality, but which they all accepted as being factual, and therefore, presumably requiring no examination. This is exactly how science became, and remains flawed: where principles invented by someone, continue to be accepted with no authentication by others.
Uh oh. It would seem he's not just after superstitious religious beliefs, he's after science. So what exactly is it that he thinks are the "misconceptions and fabrications" that have invaded modern science? Evolution? Abiogenesis? What is he after?
Take ‘time’, for example. ‘Time’ was, and remains, an early human invention: a notion intending to explain the physical process of change, which inevitably includes a deterioration – or ‘dispersal’ – of every physical object or body. This includes a physical process that can be observed in humans as an aging of the body, leading to death. This physical process of change can also be witnessed in the continuous rotation of Earth on its axis (by that producing a day and night effect), and the planet’s ongoing orbit of the Sun (producing seasons on Earth’s surface). But instead of understanding that change physically occurs from all the surrounding physical influences of all the surrounding objects and bodies, early humans gave in to a presumption that change was caused by an unseen and unfelt force of mysterious ‘time’. A supposedly, powerful, mysterious entity very much like those of gods; an entity capable of manifesting itself in all that it influences to age and deteriorate.
If you just did a jaw-agape double-take, you're not alone! Time is an entity???? Are you fucking kidding me?? It's almost enough to call "Poe's Law" on this guy, if he wasn't arguing against religion at the same time. But still, let's roll with it and see if there aren't some lulz to be had...
With the development of science, scientists did not bother to examine the notion of ‘time’ seriously. They simply accepted it blindly. After all, were they not taught to accept ‘time’ to be an integral companion of space: a togetherness of time-space continuum? From that blind acceptance, the non-existent entity of ‘time’ had become a valuable commodity to aid the expanding imaginations of scientists and academics. So instead of ‘time’ being simply a ‘measure’ of any duration of the physical process of change, (not unlike a mile or kilometer being merely a measure of distance between two separate points in space, or on Earth’s surface) ‘time’ had been awarded flexible qualities, making it supposedly capable, in its own mysterious way, of fracturing, warping, accelerating and slowing.
Oh, yes, there have been some paltry experiments conducted to establish the physical existence of ‘time’, by examining the effects produced on some elements with a constant rate of decay. But all that these experiments could show, if examined properly, is that physical change can and does occur according to the levels of physical influence imposed upon the decaying elements, causing a speeding-up or slowing-down of decay. This does not, in any way, shape, or form, provide any physical proof to existence of ‘time’, but mere that physical change occurs from other physical change.
Were ‘time’ to physically exist, then, a simple experiment would have long ago provided physical proof to physical existence of ‘time’. That experiment would consist of a refrigerating unit standing exposed to the Sun and the elements of the weather, and of two leaves being removed from the same branch of a tree. One of the two leaves would be placed on top of the refrigerating unit, exposed to the Sun and the elements. The other leaf would be placed inside the refrigerating unit. Were ‘time’ to exist, then the two leaves, few centimeters or inches apart (one on the outside and one on the inside) would be affected at a similar rate by the surrounding-them same speed of ‘time’. As ‘time’ does not exist, but the physical process of change does, the exposed leaf on top of the refrigerating unit would soon disintegrate – disperse – while the leaf incased in the refrigerating unit would remain virtually unchanged indefinitely, for as long as the refrigerating unit continues to function, despite that the refrigerating unit itself is exposed to the Sun and the elements.
Wow. Just let that soak in. It's like bathing in pure inanity, isn't it? I especially love the setup for his proposed "experiment!" ROFL! Apparently, this guy read a little bit on wikipedia about the theory of relativity and the accompanying principle of spacetime, but failed to grasp that spacetime itself doesn't exist, but rather everything exists within spacetime. Things exists in a certain space during a certain time, and no two objects can exist in the same space at the same time. Spacetime is a context for existence, it is not an object in existence nor is it existence itself. It's not a hard concept to grasp, but this guy just took it in a whole new direction it was never supposed to go.
There are other such flaws to the current understanding of science. But despite them being flaws, delusions, or simply lies, it will not be easy for current humans – be they also scientists and academics or not – to acknowledge them as such. Having based their sciences on such delusions, the full scope of human knowledge depends for those non-existent entities to exist. So much like theists depending on their non-existent gods to exist. For that reason, blinded by their faith – despite proclaiming their allegiance to logic and reason – those in sciences shall (and do), belligerently refuse to admit their delusions, just like theists who refuse to acknowledge the non-existence of their gods.
Despite such opposition to physical reality, sooner or later humans will have to recognize and admit that their current delusions apply not just to religions, but to sciences as well. They shall also be required to admit that the reason why they find themselves, as a species, in such dire straits, is totally due to them structuring ABSOLUTELY ALL of their societies on their flawed, erroneous, and deluded perceptions of themselves and all that surrounds them, despite of their individual high intelligence. Humans had devised their societies according to their own, flawed perceptions of physical existence, rather than doing so based on absolute rational of reason.
Ugh, he just compared science to a religious belief, with time as its "god." Notice how he also set it up so that he can call you "delusional" if you don't agree with him? Classic denialism. So then what, pray tell, is the "absolute rational [sic] of reason" we should be following?
There is, however, an alternative to this situation. It is now possible for anyone to learn all there is to know about humans, the reasons for their behavior, and all that physically surrounds them. A book, “Revelations of a Human Space Navigator", by Victor Senchenko, discloses all the human delusions, which continue to afflict human existence. This book reveals the very basics of who and what humans actually are, and why they behave as they do. It explains exactly from what all that is physical is physically made of, and why in the process of being they produce resultant physical functions, such as gravity and electromagnetic fields. By providing all this information, it becomes quite simple to understand exactly why ‘time’ and gods not only do not physically exist, but exactly why they cannot physically exist.
Aha! Finally we cut to the chase! He's plugging a book! Let's just let get that title by itself so we can have a proper look at it:
Revelations of a Human Space Navigator
Oh my. So he's proving that something which we already know doesn't exist physically, doesn't exist physically? Wow. Not only that, but he claims he can explain everything! Did he come across this knowledge while he was "navigating" through "space?" ROFL!
Of course, there is no compulsion for you to either accept the claims made in the book, or to purchase the book. The only important factor is that of your awareness: should you ever choose to acquire the knowledge humans had always claimed to want, without any illusions, delusions, fabrications and lies, then you should know that such information is available to you.
Oh, don't worry, I won't purchase it. And it's not because I'm not without "illusions, delusion, fabrications and lies," but rather because I'm not without incredulity when it comes to the claims of cranks who don't understand the first thing about what it is they're arguing against. Time is an "entity?" LMAO!!!
But now we're coming to the really funny part...
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
Furthermore, in defending the uniqueness and originality of the information presented in the book, the author issues a challenge to Any and Every person on the planet who purchases this book: were that person to provide the author with a physical proof that his revelations
had already existed at any period of the Human Age, (as knowledge not derived or sourced from this book), then the author, himself, will refund that person the full purchase price of the book.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! He's already shown how fucked up his understanding of spacetime is, so how much you wanna bet he wouldn't know it if anyone actually bothered to refute any of his other "claims?" It's just put there to give the credulous fools who do end up buying his book the illusion that his positions are intellectually defensible. But judging just from the content of this "press release," I'd say anyone who bought the book and decided to challenge it should be guaranteed to get his money back...that's if this guy not only understands how he's wrong but actually admits it, which is exactly what these guys DON'T do. Remember Kent Hovind's $250,000 Challenge? Yeah, it's like that, only not as big.
Anyway, here's the guy's website for those of you who are actually interested in pwning this crank. www.victorsenchenko.com
That whole site earns Victor his own special cap. Thanks for the lulz Vic! :P
23 June 2008
One of the funniest, and smartest men of the last generation has passed. I'm really going to miss his incisive mocking of religion, among other issues that American go crazy over for the wrong the reasons.
I'll never forget this one...
"The God excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument, 'It came from God! Anything we can't describe must've come from God!'"
He had religion nailed a long time ago. He'll be missed.
21 June 2008
I know there should normally an exclamation point after that "hooray" but I just feel like this isn't a victory for reason. This guy was able to spew his bullshit in students' minds for TWENTY-ONE FUCKING YEARS!!!
Why? Why so long to fire such a blatantly obvious religious ideologue who had no business whatsoever being in a position of authority over children?
What's more, John is probably going to be taken care of by one of the nutjob creationist/dominionist groups out there who are looking to help him "sell" his story of being fired for merely "keeping a Bible on his desk," which is the lie his local defenders are telling right now.
Such a waste.
20 June 2008
The complete summary of the investigation is out. You can read it here.
There's word that the board is going to fire him soon. They should add a few more names to that list, like whoever shielded Freshwater from criticism over his 21 years of "teaching." Seriously, the damage that he's done over the years...outrageous!!! Of course, prepare for the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from the religious right for "viewpoint discrimination" or some such non-sense.
(H/T to Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
19 June 2008
Is anyone else laughing at this? Instead of doing there own research into primary source material, doing their own analysis and work, what do they do? They go to an ancient tome! Sound eerily familiar?
18 June 2008
How fucked up does a teacher have to be in order for the school board to kick them to the curb? We don't know what the limits of dingbattery the Mount Vernon City School District of Ohio is willing to put up with, because they didn't really do anything to correct this problem.
So now, predictably, there's a lawsuit.
I swear, this is insane. What was the board thinking? It's even worse when considering that the principal and superintendent of the school actually worked against the complainants! Check out this bullshit and then try not to vomit:
White also, according to the court documents, disclosed the identity of the plaintiffs to Freshwater, although Short had promised them anonymity. After the parents raised concerns of retaliation against their son, a field trip was scheduled, with their son assigned to a certain group and chaperone. The suit claims that once the child’s identity was revealed, his group assignment was changed to the one led by Freshwater. As a result, the parents “were forced to prohibit their son from attending the school field trip.” That caused injury by depriving the son of a valuable educational experience and discouraging the plaintiffs from continuing to exercise their right to free speech.As Abbie over at ERV astutely asked, "what was Freshwater planning on doing to this child?" It chills the bones to think that the group assignments were changed so that Freshwater could again be in power over this kid.
Anyway, this is a loser for the district and for Freshwater, but don't be surprised if you start seeing this case put forward by kooks and cranks as evidence of secular oppression. "ZOMG! CRISTAINS R BEIN PURSEQUTID!!!" So stupid...
Here's the review that I think best expresses my opinion of Shyamalan's latest work.
17 June 2008
So Christopher Hitchens has an essay in the latest edition of Newsweek in which he rightly takes Pat Buchanan to task over his new revisionist history of World War II speciously titled Churchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World.
World War II? THAT war was unnecessary??? I haven't read it, but already I can see Pat is once again wearing his daffy isolationism on his sleeve. Thankfully, Hitchens has summed up Pat's main points for quick refutation:
- That Germany was faced with encirclement and injustice in both 1914 and 1939.
- Britain in both years ought to have stayed out of quarrels on the European mainland.
- That Winston Churchill was the principal British warmonger on both occasions.
- The United States was needlessly dragged into war on both occasions.
- That the principal beneficiaries of this were Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
- That the Holocaust of European Jewry was as much the consequence of an avoidable war as it was of Nazi racism.
Point one is obviously ludicrous: it wasn't as if Germany hadn't ALREADY taken over two of its neighbours (Austria in 1937-8, and Czechoslovakia in 1938-39) and intervened in another country's bloody civil war to help install another fascist dictator (Spain, 1936-39). No, it's not like Germany wasn't aggressive all across the board. True, the Versailles Treaty was a raw deal for the Germans, but not in 1914!! Anyway, Hitchens does pretty well taking Pat apart on this one.
Point two is also ridiculous, and simply reflects Buchanan's dangerous belief that countries should mind their own business, apparently even when the business of that other country is to take over yours...
Point three is partially correct, ol' Winston was as gung ho as they came, but as Hitchens remarks, that he was unwilling to even be in the same room as the Nazis is a point in his favour, not against.
Point four is just plain stupid, old-fashioned, head-in-the-sand, isolationism. 'Nuff said.
Point five is confusing at first look, because Hitler had talked about invading the Soviet Union for years before he actually did it (as part of his push for more lebensraum or "living space"). But according to Hitchen's reading of the book, Buchanan apparently makes the case that Hitler invaded Russia to impress the British and show them that he was on their side. I don't think anymore needs to be said, that's batshit crazy enough. As for China, I think that Buchanan is forgetting that the Nationalists lost China, and had started to lose it as early as the 1920s, but hey, it wouldn't be a book by Pat Buchanan if it didn't include at least one old cold-warrior trope about losing China to the Reds.
The sixth point is not wrong, rather it's a distortion. It's true that without the war, the Holocaust could not have happened as it did. But even before the war started, the Nazis had already been imprisoning Jews and other "enemies" in concentration camps since 1933, and had been quietly murdering their handicapped at least a year before the war began. So much for point six...
Anyway, the REAL reason I wanted to write this is because I caught Hitchens in an error. It's a common error, and not a big deal, but because it's Hitchens, I HAVE to do it! How often does one get to correct one of the top intellectuals in the world today? :D
So here's the statement:
This might perhaps have worked if Germany had been governed by a right-wing nationalist party that had won a democratic vote. However, in point of fact Germany was governed by an ultra-rightist, homicidal, paranoid maniac who had begun by demolishing democracy in Germany itself, who believed that his fellow countrymen were a superior race and who attributed all the evils in the world to a Jewish conspiracy.
Ok, so we have two sentences, and only the first is wrong. It's true. The Nazis were ELECTED to power, they didn't seize it like so many think they did. It's easy to think they did, I know, because COME ON!! They're Nazis, after all, right? Yeah, but they were still elected by the German people in 1932-33, and Hitler was appointed Chancellor by the democratically elected President Paul Hindenberg in January 1933, following the previous July and November elections, and his cabinet was subsequently approved by the Reichstag. These two elections were both before the famous Reichstag Fire, which preceded the March 5, 1933 election that saw the Nazis achieve their greatest democratic gains and gave impetus to the Enabling Act which gave Hitler unfettered power over Germany.
The second sentence is correct: the Nazis wasted no time in dismantling the Weimar Republic with the Ennabling Act, and they believed unequivocally that they were the superior race on Earth.
So w00t for me! I got to correct Christopher Hitchens on something! I feel so empowered! :P
Q1. How would you define "atheism"?
Atheism isn't a positive belief, it is simply a lack of belief in a deity. That's all. This non-sense that it's a "religious belief that takes faith" would be laughable if so many Christians didn't think it was a serious argument. The reason that's it's laughable is because it's a distortion of mainstream non-belief, as only a very few non-believers actively deny any possibility of a god or gods (yes, even Richard Dawkins acknowledges that god "X" is possible), otherwise known colloquially as "strong atheists." The vast majority of non-believers, in my experience, treat God as possible, but in the same sense that it's possible that the Earth was sneezed into existence by a chimera, i.e. not likely enough to even begin justifying a belief.
So atheism is just a lack of belief, not a belief in non-belief.
Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?
I was raised in a "dual-faith" household, if you could call it that. Both my parents are Christian, but my mother is Catholic while my father comes from an evangelical protestant family. I say dual-faith because while my parents love each other very much, they have never, in their 36 years of marriage, agreed on the Christian doctrine. My mother secretly baptized me herself because my father forbade a Catholic baptism, and my father's mother used to worry that her son and grandchildren (my dad, my sister, and myself) would be drawn into Hell with my Catholic mother.
So how did they approach faith with my sister and I? Well, compromise mostly. Both my father and mother talked to me about their different faiths, and we attended Episcopal churches as our usual (Catholic rites pleased my mother, while the C of E's independence from Rome pleased my dad). I was read to out of a comic bible when I was 3, and got my first real Bible at age 7. I was encouraged by both my parents to explore the Christian faith in all its forms, which led to me attending many different denominational churches: Catholic, evangelical, methodist, unitarian, even a Jewish synagogue. (I never went to a Baptist church, though, my parents were pretty clear about not hanging out with them, and it wasn't until later on in my life that I figured our why: they're fuckin' crazy!!!)
Anyway, in addition to my parents, both sides of my extended family are very religious in their own respects. My mom's brother is a Catholic priest in Cincinatti, and the whole family is devout Catholic. On my dad's side, my grandfather was a minister for a time back in the 50s and 60s, and I have a cousin who started his own congregation, also in Cincinatti. The rest of my dad's family is mostly evangelical protestant. Thankfully none of them seems to be a creationist or dominionist, though the usual craziness over abortion and gay rights is alive and well.
I was a Christian for well over 20 years, before I realized that there really isn't much to Christianity at all aside from superstitions and wishful thinking.
Q3. How would you describe "Intelligent Design", using only one word?
Inane. See also: meaningless.
Q4. What scientific endeavor really excites you?
I love history, but I have a hard time considering it science, even as a "soft science." History is just too muddled by differing disciplines that it's impossible to really consider it scientific (I have to be a philosopher, a psychologist, a sociologist, an anthropologist, and a political scientist all at once in order to be a historian.)
So I'll pick my favourite "hard science," which has to be geology (Sorry Abbie!). I spend too much time climbing on all the wonderful ridges, cliffs, boulders, and rock outcroppings in southern Illinois for it NOT to be my favourite. Oh, and I love finding fossils at the roadcut on IL-146! I still have yet to find a coveted trilobite, but I'm sure I will someday!
So I like fossils, but geology is also the study of VOLCANOES!!! And I'm sorry, but forces of nature don't come any sexier than that! One of my fondest memories is the times I went tromping through the San Francisco Volcanic Field in central Arizona with my dad and best friend from high school Matt: the San Francisco Peaks, Sunset Crater, SP Crater, walking the lava flows...so much w00t it should be illegal!
Plate tectonics is fascinating to me and every time I've been in an earthquake (3 so far) instead of running for the nearest doorframe like a sane person should, what do I do? I go outside to watch the world shake!
Anthropology was my first major, but I'll admit that I only got into it because I loved the idea of working with fossils. Biology continues to awe me, and I love getting into discussions of science regardless of the discipline, but I have to say that geology is what gets me excited.
Q5. If you could change one thing about the "atheist community", what would it be and why?
I think it would be to get the ones who try to argue that science disproves god. These are usually the high schoolers who are just now discovering life without religion and are in rebellion against their upbringing. I went through a bit of it, but I was never so naive to believe that science definitively disproves any god. It can disprove a literal interpretation of holy scripture, but then, this was never a problem for me when I was a Christian. I was lucky enough to not have been so indoctrinated that I thought Genesis was a play-by-play for creation, and not the metaphor for creation it so obviously is.
Anyway, I think the effect this has is to further polarize the debate. I don't think that people who claim science disproves all gods are looking for a debate, they're looking to provoke an argument for the sake of argument, or to satisfy some juvenile need for validation.
Q6. If your child came up to you and said "I'm joining the clergy", what would be your first response?
"If you wanted to lie to people on a regular basis, why don't you just become a politician? At least that PAYS!"
Q7. What's your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?
Them: does that fossil have a date printed on it?
Me: Yes, only denialists and morons are unable to read the isotopes that say "OH HAI! I'z 1.3 billyun yeers olde!!1!!1"
I also like this one:
Them: The US was founded as a Christian nation!
Me: Then why isn't god or Christ mentioned anywhere in the Constitution? Article VI anyone? Establishment Clause? Treaty of Tripoli of 1793? Hello????
And the latest one, courtesy of "Expelled:"
Them: Science caused the Holocaust!!!
Me: Yes, it also caused the massacres and pogroms throughout Europe for 2000 years prior to the 20th century horror. Oh wait! No it didn't, that was CHRISTIANITY! My bad! (Then I begin by listing the many organized massacres, beginning with the Rhine Valley in 1096.)
Q8. What's your most "controversial" (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?
I dunno. I've gotten a bit of flak from being a pantheist, but it's mostly just 13 year olds (in mind if not in body) who go after me. Other than that, I don't think I'm that controversial.
Q9. Of the "Four Horsemen" (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?
I think Sam Harris. He seems to be the most appealing to me, mainly because he believes that there is still a place for the ineffable in life, as evidenced by his fascination with Eastern mysticism, which I share. I'd like to meet Dawkins just so I can say I did, but I'm not that enamored of him. Hitchens would be a riot, and we both like scotch a lot, so that would probably be fun. I've honestly never read anything by Dennet, though I did see part of his "debate" with Dinesh D'Souza, if you could call his smackdown of Di-know-nothing a "debate."
Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?
Abbie said the President, and I can't think of a better answer. Maybe the Pope, but just for the lulz. :P
12 June 2008
Check it out.
11 June 2008
09 June 2008
Why, it's a gas tax of course!
Some things, like renal physiology, are difficult. Some things, like Arab-Israeli peace, are impossible. And some things are preternaturally simple. You want more fuel-efficient cars? Don't regulate. Don't mandate. Don't scold. Don't appeal to the better angels of our nature. Do one thing: Hike the cost of gas until you find the price point.
Unfortunately, instead of hiking the price ourselves by means of a gasoline tax that could be instantly refunded to the American people in the form of lower payroll taxes, we let the Saudis, Venezuelans, Russians and Iranians do the taxing for us -- and pocket the money that the tax would have recycled back to the American worker.
Oh, he's serious, I assure you. But wait, he's only getting started. Apparently, completely unbeknownst to the rest of the world but knownst to Krauthammer, oil prices will fall if
Want to wean us off oil? Be open and honest. The British are paying $8 a gallon for petrol. Goldman Sachs is predicting we will be paying $6 by next year. Why have the extra $2 (above the current $4) go abroad? Have it go to the U.S. Treasury as a gasoline tax and be recycled back into lower payroll taxes.
Announce a schedule of gas tax hikes of 50 cents every six months for the next two years. And put a tax floor under $4 gasoline, so that as high gas prices transform the U.S. auto fleet, change driving habits and thus hugely reduce U.S. demand -- and bring down world crude oil prices -- the American consumer and the American economy reap all of the benefit.
Yeah, it's not like we have a dwindling supply of oil, or that India and China are drinking up more and more as they're economies modernize, or that a big chunk of our oil comes from volatile regions with bad people, or that speculators on the market tend to artificially inflate the price of commodities.
Yeah, let's tax it, that'll drive down costs. Who needs to develop alternative fuels? Conservation and reducing consumption? Hogwash!
Sorry Charlie, but you're just fucking stupid.
06 June 2008
We already all knew Israel would act in its own security interests, and so did the Iranians, no doubt. Does Ahmadinejad really think Israel wouldn't strike Iran, especially with their blitz of Lebanon and Hezbollah, who didn't have nuclear weapons? So what is the significance of having it stated so publicly and unequivocally?
Personally, I think the Israelis just handed the Iranians a powerful propaganda tool. I could see the Ayatollahs using this as a excuse to drum up nationalistic fervor: "The Israelis want to attack us! So we MUST have a nuclear capability!"
It doesn't matter that the Israelis said hostilities would be conditional upon Iran abandoning its nukes; do you really think a totalitarian regime like Iran's really cares about context when quoting its enemies?
This was a diplomatic blunder. Not to mention the fact that such an increase in tensions also artificially increases the price of oil, but hey, at least we'll only have to deal with a recession, surely not an out and out energy crisis plunging us into a full-on depression, right? RIGHT?
But what's done is done. Bush's plan for peace in the Middle East marches on inexorably towards what I'm sure will be a stunning success. :\
05 June 2008
I've worked in sales a long time. I know the pitch, I know how to read people, and I knew their script and stuck to it. In short, I know how to get people to hand over their money if I want them to buy something from me. In this case, I was selling democracy, so to speak, but you get what I mean.
So why so bad? Because even good salesmen have lousy days, and this was just a lousy day. That it happened to be my first day was unfortunate, and I wasn't asked back.
But not because I only met 25% of my goal, no. The Ass't director, a valley-girl who just graduated college, apparently didn't think I fit in with her clique of young, idealistic, world-changers. Or she just didn't "love my face off" like she said to the other 5 team members, two of whom raised less than me.
Whatever, I've been fired before over personality conflicts. But this was just stupid.
I didn't meet my quota, but neither did half the team. One girl, who was on her second training day, only made two dollars! But she was young and bubbly like the AD, as her face must've been worth "loving off." (I swear, she said it all the fucking time).
So from my point of view, they dumped an experienced and motivated person from their ranks because a petty and judgmental bitch didn't think I would fit in with the clique. Seriously, I would tell a joke and everyone else but her would laugh. She even called me rude when I related a story of how one door I knocked on revealed a Republican who accused me of the old "tax & spend" trope that conservatives love to bandy about; to which I replied that it was better than the "spend and spend" of the Republican congress of the previous 14 years.
Yeah, she though I was rude to him! That the other team members were nodding at me in approval and smiling at me apparently didn't enthuse her.
So I guess I had to be removed. Oh well, petty valley girls area dime a dozen these days (why can't we shoot Paris Hilton into space? Please?). Doesn't make it suck any less.
So much for working for democracy, I guess. Back to the comfortable confines of cranky cynicism. (Does it count as alliteration even though "cyncism" isn't a hard C? I think I should get the points anyway. :P)
04 June 2008
So what job is it?
I'm working as a canvasser for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. representing the Democratic National Committee.
I hate political parties, normally. Well, lemme rephrase, I hate the polarization that our two-party system has created in this country, especially in recent times thanks to quintessential douchebag Karl Rove.
But still, this election is too important to leave to chance...and I need the money. They gave me an interview and sent me out with a canvassing team to evaluate me and today I'm supposed to go out by myself canvassing and if I raise something like $100 then I'm automatically on staff.
So no waiting, that's good. I only have 8 weeks to work anyway, and I need to make the most of it. I move back to Carbondale in August.
Plus, this beats working some lame office job (I've done enough of those anyway), because I'm actually getting PAID to talk to people about politics!!! w00t!
I do have a script that I'm supposed to follow, though they explained to me that it's fine to personalize what I say to people, just so long as I stay "on the outskirts of the script."
Anyway, I'm a little apprehensive because on Monday, my "observation day," one of the team members I went with got a gun pulled on her when she knocked on someone's door. I wasn't with her, but she was freaked out, understandably. I realize that this doesn't happen often, and that it probably shouldn't have happened (we were in Evanston for pity's sake!). But still, it's a little scary to think about.
Anyway, I'll be campaigning for the Democrats this year. I usually support the dems anyway, but I've never worked for them. It's kind of weird, to be honest. The people are awesome, they're very energetic and enthusiastic, full of idealism. And it shows, sometimes in awkward ways. I've heard more than a few crazy ideas around that office, lemme tell ya. But the staff is young, on average I'd say about 5-8 years younger than me. The gap might not seem very large, but that 5-8 years means I remember more of what the Dems did when they were in power. I remember a lot of the things Clinton did pissed me off, and when I met Dick Durbin two years ago in Carbondale he pissed me off too with his lame answer to my question about why Dems weren't confronting the Bush Administration's denialism on global climate change (he claimed that nothing would get done by people in Washington, that change had to come from the people, starting at the local level, the grassroots. To which I reminded him that he was in Washington, and the way we little people change things is by changing the people in Washington. He seemed non-plussed by my response, but it's his own damn fault.)
Anyway, this should be an interesting job to say the least. I may even grow to like it. I just don't want to be one the sidelines this year. As much as I respect John McCain, a lot has happened since the 2000 election. I can't stand with him on foreign policy, much less domestic. I'm not totally happy with Barack's stated positions either, but he seems to have a much better grasp of the nuance of different situations. Plus, he talks to people like adults, unlike the Republican spin machine which only tells people who to hate and why, the truth be damned. So that's why I took this job.
Oh, and I need the money too. :P
21 May 2008
Why write anything, you ask? Aren't I an atheist? I write a lot about it, so what gives?
Well, technically, I'm not an atheist. I'm a pantheist.
So I do believe in something as opposed to just plain old non-belief. I'm not saying atheism is nihilism, it's just lack of a belief in the supernatural/spiritual/etc. Atheists hold many beliefs, like everyone, they just happen to lack one belief that most other people seem to have.
But wait, you say! Aren't I describing a line of demarcation between my pantheism and atheism, so why do I have the "A"? Well, hold on, I'm getting to that.
I do possess a spiritual belief in the inherent "being" of everything. Just the fact that everything in existence actually exists shows that, at base, existence or the state of "being" is the common denominator of all things. I think there is a spiritual kinship between all things, and the only "will" (if you could call it that) behind this common spirit is the single-minded will to exist.
Nothing beyond that, though. No design. No plan. No intent beyond simply existing.
I know it may smack of teleology and even perhaps a bit of ontology, but it's only my own poor definitions that may make it seem that way. But even when I considered myself an agnostic atheist I still at least believed in the human spirit, so it's not so different. It's just where my explorations into science, philosophy, and history have taken me so far. Right now, it makes the most sense to me, even if I can't describe very well the abstractions of it I conceive in my head.
But what does this have to do with atheism?
Well, pantheism is no more or less rational than agnostic atheism. I don't parade my beliefs as science, or even as an absolute truth. It's just what *I* think. And it may change someday. There is still the possibility, however remote, that something could bring me back round to Christianity, even though I have absolutely no clue what could possibly bring me round again.
Anyway, when it comes to religion, I don't see it as conducive to modern civilization. I see the acceptance of any absolutist position as the first step toward totalitarianism, and there are few things more absolutist than organized religions.
In this, the atheists and I are one. It is also a fact that, becuase I do not believe in a divine will or distinct personality when I talk about "god", the believers consider me in pretty much the same way they considers atheists. Not always, but most Christians I've talked to about my beliefs treat me the same as what they would call an atheist, e.g. I'm attacked for materialism, nihilism, moral relativism, etc. the same as when I was an atheist. They like that I don't call myself an atheist, but I get all the same flak that I got when actually identified as an atheist. So I'm really just another non-believer to those kind of people.
The bottom line is, I support Richard Dawkins' initiative to get people to talk more about non-belief, or at least belief without religious dogma. I think if we can get people to think more independently, more intelligently, then things will continue to improve in the world. Absolutist religion is an impediment to progress, to the betterment of humanity.
...that reminds me, I was also attacked for being a humanist, which is apparently a throwback to the 1970s fundamentalist term for the "New Atheism" of that era.
So I'm all for more people talking, more people thinking, and more people questioning. Doubt is necessary for improvement. Doubt is hope, hope for something better. It's not settling for the "good enough"-type answers provided for by ancient superstitions. Question! Question! QUESTION! It's the only way we move forward. The Scarlet "A" is a symbol of that, and so I sport it on my blog.
Well, turns out they're gaining more power than I had thought.
Check out this recent episode of "Dispatches" titled "In God's Name" on YouTube.
(It's broken up into five parts, here's the playlist with all the videos included.)
So I'd heard about the faith schools, and the anti-Muslim nuts, but seeing it on video really brought it home. Where am I supposed to go now if the US really does become JesusLand? Truly it's just like Tears for Fears said: "It's a Mad World..."
13 May 2008
The following is the first three posts from a topic titled "Christians if you honestly want even a chance at converting."
David wrote 5 hours agoDo what I do and don't EVER preach the punishment of hell because people feel as though you are just trying to scare them
If you truly want to have a chance preach the love and forgiveness of God and Jesus and show them the holy spirit
Van Davinci Gogh replied to David's post 5 hours ago
So basically, don't scare people. Tell them a more satisfying lie.
David Drennan wrote 5 hours ago
What was it that Einstein said? Something about man being in a poor way if he believed for promises of reward or fear of punishment? Was it something like that?
09 May 2008
It was touch and go for a while there, mainly because the controversy was still unfolding as I was writing. Indeed, it still is, though it has wound down considerably in the last week or so. Also, writing this and another historiography on the Holocaust (for a different class) is why I haven't been posting at all for the past month and a half, so I hope you'll understand that why it's only now that I'm able to finally come up for air. Phew! Thank goodness the semester is OVER!!!
Anyway, I decided I would post there for people to see and comment on (for the dozen or so people who actually read this blog).
[Cross-posted at The Second Enlightenment]
On April 18, 2008, a new documentary was released in theatres throughout the
The apparent antagonism between religion and science is nothing new: from the Catholic Church’s silencing of Galileo to the Scopes “monkey” trial, religious fundamentalists have been fighting what they perceive to be a threat to the moral and cultural absolutes revealed by God through the Bible. In the course of this “culture war,” the association of science, and specifically evolutionary theory, with the crimes of the Nazis has been a common trope among religious fundamentalists for years. But in so doing, this attempt at revisionist history ignores any other factors and contingencies that also contributed to the Holocaust; antisemitism, nationalism, totalitarianism, and especially religious-based prejudice are all given a pass. This latest attempt at co-opting the Holocaust for political ends led me to wonder how pervasive this revisionism has been in both mainstream and scholarly circles in the last decade. In this paper, I will examine the controversy caused by Expelled in relation to other recent attempts by revisionists to assign blame for the Holocaust solely to science; in addition, I will juxtapose this with the most recent historiography regarding the issue of Christianity’s relationship to Nazism.
Expelled represents yet another front in the culture war that has been ongoing in the U.S. for the past several years, and in particular it is part of a new tactic being used in the battle over the teaching of evolution in schools versus “alternative theories” such as ID, which has been described as “creationism dressed up in a cheap tuxedo.” This new tactic, by presenting proponents of ID as being persecuted by “Big Science,” appeals to traditional American notions of fairness and justice. By presenting the opposition as not only dogmatically intransigent to anything that might contradict evolution but also as sinister agents of a totalitarian-style effort to suppress free thought and religious beliefs, the producers hope to shift public opinion in their favor. This is part of a larger effort by the film’s chief ideological backer the Discovery Institute (DI), a Seattle-based think-tank that advocates the teaching of ID. Since its humiliating defeat in 2005 at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, in which attempts to inject ID textbooks and curriculum into public schools resulted in a damning judgment from the bench calling ID “breathtaking inanity,” the DI has shifted its focus to the passage of individual “academic freedom” bills by state assemblies meant to shield school teachers who teach ID/creationism from prosecution. This has extended to giving private exhibitions of Expelled for state legislators in order to impress upon them the need to protect educators from “persecution” by godless Darwinists such as Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, National Center for Science Education (NCSE) director Eugenie Scott, and Univ. of Minnesota-Morris biologist PZ Myers, all of whom are interviewed in the film. It also extended to selective screenings for Christian church and advocacy groups, screenings that were heavily vetted to bar potential critics.
But if the production of documentaries about the creationism vs. evolution controversy is new, the linkage of science to the Nazi genocide by groups like the Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis (which runs the “
This book appears to be the only volume put forth by a DI fellow who is a professional historian. Just from the title, it is obvious that Weikart is employing the same kind of teleology, indeed almost the same title that William McGovern’s From Luther to Hitler: The History of Fascist-Nazi Political Philosophy did in 1941, as historian Andrew Zimmerman alluded to in his review of the book for The American Historical Review. Even from the very first chapter, it is clear that Weikart is setting up his argument as a contest between amoral Darwinism and the traditional morality grounded in Judeo-Christian ethics, the implication being that only Nazis subscribed to Darwinism while Christians stood in stark opposition. Most reviews of Weikart’s book, including Zimmerman’s, actually had an eerie resemblance to how some scholars viewed Daniel J. Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners in 1996: great research, but bad conclusions. But Zimmerman went a step further by accusing Weikart, rightly, of attempting a “political sleight of hand” which, despite the book’s “fine research” that contributed greatly to the knowledge of Darwinian influences on Nazi policy, seeks to “distort the history of Darwinism and anti-Darwinism in
In contrast to the Discovery Institute’s veneer of scholarly credibility and their tacit acknowledgement of some aspects of evolutionary theory such as common descent, the fundamentalist organization Answers in Genesis follows a literal interpretation of the Bible. Their “
If the Nazi party had fully embraced and consistently acted on the belief that all humans were descendants of Adam and Eve and equal before the creator God, as taught in both the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures, the holocaust would never have occurred.
Although it lacks the sophistication and scholarship of Weikart’s book, the ideological argument is nearly identical: science is amoral and encourages genocide whereas Christianity is the only defense against such mass murder.
Outrageous as these efforts at blaming science as the primary cause of the Holocaust may seem, they failed to generate much controversy outside academic and professional circles. Indeed, only the Discovery Institute seems to have had much of an academic impact, with most of the publications from Answers in Genesis being simply ignored and their “
We have seen the arguments from ID/creationism advocates drawing a direct line from
Recent works have challenged the long-held notion that Christianity and Nazism were inherently incompatible, that Nazism was bent on destroying Christianity altogether, and that Christians heroically strove to save Jews whenever and wherever they could. John Cornwell’s book, provocatively titled Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, and Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity 1919-1945 shall serve as the basis for this examination.
Hitler’s Pope is John Cornwell’s attempt at a reckoning of wartime papal history, sparked by his own interests as a Catholic to examine critically the reasons behind Pope Pius XII’s (Eugenio Pacelli) controversial relationship with the Nazis in Germany, particularly his negotiation of the Reich Concordat in 1933 which eliminated Catholicism as a political entity in Germany (the last obstacle to Hitler’s achievement of dictatorial powers), and his notorious “silence” on the persecution and mass murder of the Jews in Europe. The conclusions he draws from his study are, to say the least, damning. But far from simply resorting to the common tropes that Pacelli was as antisemitic as the Nazis were (he wasn’t, though that did play a role) or that he was more interested in halting the spread of Communism (also a factor), Cornwell locates Pius’ motivations primarily in his interest in centralizing Catholic authority in not only the office, but also in the person of the Holy Father.
He provides an excellent examination of the context in which this attitude developed beginning with its origins in the 19th century and the doctrine of “papal infallibility” declared by the First Vatican Council in 1870; continuing with the “anti-modernism” campaign of Pope Pius X; and ending with Pacelli’s own efforts first as a Vatican lawyer responsible for codifying the 1917 Code of Canon Law expanding papal authority within the Church; then as papal nuncio to Munich and Berlin in the 1920s and as Cardinal Secretary of State in the 1930s to expand papal power and influence in Europe and around the world; and finally culminating in his own autocratic tenure as Pope from 1939 to 1958. The pursuit of absolute papal power by Pacelli bears an eerie resemblance at times to current arguments regarding the supreme morality of Christianity, especially as expressed in Pacelli’s famous Christmas Broadcast of 1942 in which “he declared that what the world lacked was the peaceful ordering of society offered by allegiance to the
Cornwell essentially argues that, rather than simple avarice, Pacelli was motivated by his conception of the Pope as the spiritual conduit through which God’s will was communicated to the world. As such, the Pope was in the world but not of the world, and therefore must give priority to the overall spiritual welfare of mankind over Earthly matters such as social justice, individual freedom, or political oppression. Thus it was, as Cornwell shows, that the Vatican under Pacelli provided ideological, moral, and political support to the Nazi-backed Ustashe regime in Croatia in 1941, even as the Ustashe went about slaughtering Jews and Orthodox Serbs in a massive campaign bent on eliminating “enemies” of Catholicism through forced conversion and, more often, deportation and annihilation; it was so violent that it caused even some Nazi observers to express disgust and dismay. Because Pacelli viewed Catholicism as the only means to truly achieve world peace, the wanton displacement and destruction of peoples of other faiths was seen as a small price to pay in the pursuit of a Catholic world at peace. The
In The Holy Reich, Richard Steigmann-Gall takes a new approach to the question of Christianity’s role in the development of Nazi ideology. Prior historians who have addressed this question have approached it from the point of view of Christian conceptions of Nazism; Steigmann-Gall approaches it from the opposite perspective, examining the opinions of Nazis, both Christians and “paganists” (such as Alfred Rosenberg and Heinrich Himmler), towards Christianity. As result, he finds that the received wisdom which holds that the Nazis were completely adversarial to Christianity is far more complicated in reality, and that in fact Nazis drew inspiration from “positive” Christian teachings which envisioned a sort of “reformation” of Christianity that would eliminate sectarian confessions/denominations and unite all humanity under the divinely ordained “order of creation” (schöpfungsglaube). Under this newly conceived theology, Christian Nazis were able to reconcile their faith with Nazi policies, as Steigmann-Gall illustrates by examining the specific attitudes towards eugenics, women, and youth movements. Finally, he shows that “paganist” elements within the Nazi party were never as anti-Christian as has been believed. Rather, non-Christians such as Rosenberg and Himmler were more ambivalent towards Christianity than overtly hostile, and in the expression of party policy, actually encouraged Christian faith among Germans, though a clear preference was shown for Protestantism rather than Catholicism, an indication of the widespread anti-clericalism among Nazis which Steigmann-Gall argues is often mistaken for being simply anti-Christian. The anti-clericalism of the Nazis was expressed in many ways. Their belief that the Christian religion had been contaminated by or was beholden to Judaism led to proposals that the Old Testament be removed from the Bible, as well as calls to a return to the “true” teachings of Christ, who was held up by the Nazis, both Christian and pagan alike, as the ultimate antisemite and supreme model of Aryan moral and racial purity.
Steigmann-Gall’s book was also the subject of a symposium conducted in the pages of The Journal of Contemporary History in early 2007. Several scholars from across the discipline were asked to comment on the book and its arguments. Of particular interest to the historiography of this issue was Stanley Stowers’ examination of what he sees as the fallacious conceptions of “religion” and “political religion” employed by most scholars when studying the Third Reich. In his view, scholars are hamstrung by an Enlightenment intellectual heritage which asserts that religion and politics are necessarily incompatible in modern, secular societies. Further, most historians identify religions through a “expressive-symbolist” conception of religion that focuses on ritual behavior as nothing more than an expression of “the sacred,” as opposed to the “rational-cognitivist” conception that takes spiritual belief at face value and distinguishes religious practices “from other categories of practices by referring to a class or agents and beings, e.g. gods, ancestors and other ordinarily non-observable entities.” The distinction is critical for the concept of “political religion,” because the rational-cognitivist approach is based on belief in the supernatural, whereas the expressive-symbolist approach, by employing a vague notion of “the sacred” in ritual behavior, essentially allows for any social behavior to be defined as “religious” regardless of whether or not spiritual belief in the supernatural is involved. Stowers does not comment on Steigmann-Galls book until the conclusion, and even then only to mention that Holy Reich utilizes the proper conceptual model, namely rational-cognitivist.
In contrast to Steigmann-Gall’s “proper” methodology, the articles following Stowers’ are an example of the persistence of the expressive-symbolist approach. With the exception of Doris Bergen, both Manfred Gailus and Ernst Piper argue from the standpoint that Steigmann-Gall was wrong based on this expressive-symbolist conception that states that Nazi ritual expressions and slogans that echoed Christianity were merely a façade meant to lend the credibility of Christian beliefs to Nazi policies. Steigmann-Gall, in reply, points out that essentially what Gailus and Piper are reduced to is arguments over what constitutes “true” Christianity, an impossible endeavor if there ever was one, and which can only lead to partisan bickering (e.g. “Catholics and Protestants are quite different, so which would be the “true” Christianity?”). It leaves unaddressed the reality that many self-described Christians saw Nazism as compatible with their faith, and further that many non-Christian Nazis favored many specific aspects of Christianity. Clearly, this is unacceptable, and Steigmann-Gall has made a major contribution to this issue.
The debate over whether or not science and religion are compatible will continue to rage, as it has, for a long time to come. Similarly, the historiographical debate over the origins of Nazi genocidal policy will also no doubt continue. In both cases, this is as it should be. There is nothing wrong with questioning beliefs, dogma, doctrine, theory, or faith; in fact it is necessary in order to move forward. The problem is that these issues are particularly volatile, and due to their complexities and emotional nature are therefore easily distorted, leading to the abuse of these issues in pursuit of partisan or sectarian political ends. The dangers inherent in the arguments put forth by advocates of religious belief like the Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis, which blame science for the horrors of the Holocaust, lie in the lessons that remain seemingly unlearned from the history of the Holocaust itself. The idea of an absolute ideal to which all must necessarily adhere is the very essence of totalitarianism, and in this, there is no qualitative difference between the authoritarianism of the Nazis, the Catholic Church under Pope Pius XII, and the ambitions of present-day religious fundamentalists to make the United States, both in name and fact, “one nation under God.” Ben Stein’s naïve assertion that “love of God” leads you to a “glorious place” is belied by the fact that such a blind faith in absolutes is precisely what allowed the Holocaust to occur, and it is thus imperative upon all people, both religious and non-religious, to take the words of Oliver Cromwell to heart: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken!” If this warning from history is not heeded, then indeed we may see the day when history will repeat itself, and it will only be a question of who will build the next gas chambers, and who will be consigned to them.
 Ben Stein, interview with Paul Crouch, TBN broadcast 21 April, 2008. Video available at http://tbn.org/video_portal (accessed 6 May 2008).
 It must be noted that I am not insisting that science did not play a role in the Holocaust, but rather I would argue that it was a necessary, but certainly not sufficient, factor in the genocide. This is in opposition to the argument posed by creationists who assert that not only was it sufficient alone to have caused the genocide, but that Christianity was in all ways and at all times opposed to Nazism.
 Adrian L. Melott, “Intelligent Design Is Creationism in a Cheap Tuxedo,” Physics Today, June 2002, 48.
 Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v.
 Stephanie Simon, “Evolution Critics Shift Tactics With Schools,” The Wall Street Journal, 2 May 2008, A10.
 All three, as well as others interviewed for the film, have complained that they were interviewed under false pretenses, having been told that the film was supposed to be about the “intersection of science and religion” rather than about persecution of ID proponents. For a full reckoning of this and other alleged dishonest practices and claims related to the film, see the NCSE-sponsored website http://www.expelledexposed.com.
 John Metcalf, “Disinvited to a Screening, a Critic Ends Up in a Faith-Based Crossfire,” The
 “Center for Society and Culture – Books,” Discovery Institute, http://www.discovery.org/csc/books (accessed 6 May, 2008).
 Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
 Andrew Zimmerman, review of From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart, The American Historical Review, Vol. 110, No. 2 (April 2005), 566-567.
 Weikart, 1.
 There were many scholars who weighed in on Goldhagen’s work, and not all of them praised his scholarship if not his conclusions. For example see: Norman G. Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998).
 Zimmerman, Response to Richard Weikart, in “Communications,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 110 No. 4 (October 2005), 1322-1323.
 Jason Lisle, “Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe is Old?” Answers in Genesis, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/does-starlight-prove (accessed 6 May, 2008).
 Jerry Bergman, “Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust,” Technical Journal: The In-depth Journal of Creation, Vol. 13 No. 2 (Nov.1999) 101-111. At: http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v13/i2/nazi.asp (accessed 6 May 2008).
 Ibid, 101.
 Arthur Caplan, “Intelligent design film far worse than stupid,” Opinion, MSNBC, posted 23 April 2008, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24239755 (accessed 6 May 2008).
 John Derbyshire, “A Blood Libel on Our Civilization,” National Review Online, posted 28 April 2008, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24239755 (accessed 6 May 2008).
 “Anti-Evolution Film Misappropriates the Holocaust,” Anti-Defamation League press release, 29 April 2008, http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/5277_52.htm (accessed 6 May 2008).
 See for example: Richard Roeper, “Ben Stein Deserves to be ‘Expelled,’” Chicago Sun-Times, 1 May 2008, http://www.suntimes.com/news/roeper/925734,CST-NWS-roep01.article (accessed 6 May 2008).
 Tom Neven, “Ben Stein: Expelled,” Focus on the Family, http://www.family.org/entertainment/A000004568.cfm (accessed 6 May 2008).
 Cornwell, 10-14.
 Ibid, 35-40.
 Ibid, 41-45.
 Ibid, 59-104, 130-178.
 Ibid, 292.
 Ibid, 248-260.
 Ibid, 296-297.
 Steigmann-Gall, 3-6.
 Ibid, 34-5, 51, 155.
 Ibid, 190-217.
 Ibid, 21.
 Ibid, 49-50.
 Ibid, 12.
 Ibid, 24.
 Doris L. Bergen “Nazism and Christianity: Partners and Rivals?” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 42 No. 1 (February 2007) 25-33.
 Manfred Gailus, “A Strange Obsession with Nazi Christianity,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 42 No. 1 (February 2007) 35-46.
 Ernst Piper, “Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 42 No. 1 (February 2007) 47-57.
 Richard Steigmann-Gall, “Christianity and the Nazi Movement: A Response,” Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 42 No, 2 (April 2007) 185-211.