Gilding the Ninny
It’s not beneath me to stage a ruse to goad an idiot into an argument he can’t win or to just rub my feces in some well-deserving proselytizer’s face. There. I confess. Fucking sue me.
I generally refrain from giving children a much needed slap of logic upside the head, especially someone else’s kids. But in this instance I just couldn’t restrain myself. My dear old friend’s son posted something on his Facebook wall so mind-numbingly stupid that my love of humanity compelled me to respond. The kid is clearly brainwashed. This much is clear. And I know damn well that my words are likely to no affect, but I feel a certain responsibility to at least make an effort. Decency owes the kid a chance to hear at least one other side. Ya never really know. Something rational just might seep in.
For interpersonal reasons that I hope you’re lucid enough to infer without any additional info, I was relegated to posting a phony status update that the child and his father (on principle) were certain to see. I waited a week or so to obscure the connection between my post and the child’s, and I changed the context to create a little plausible deniability in case someone tied the two together.
A Ruse By Any Other Name
And so I posted…
“Some strange woman standing behind me at the dry cleaners this morning for some unknown reason took it upon herself to tell me that she is a Christian, that god is always on the lookout for her, and that anything that happens is part of his very special plan – just for her. She punctuated this commentary by giving special thanks for his ever-watchful eye and control of her life. She literally raised both fists to the sky and exclaimed, ‘Thanks, god!’
And so I thought that a little interrogation of this bedrock belief was in order.
Unable to control my nervous tic, I just had to ask, ‘So, if you are raped or your daughter is murdered, that’s his plan for you – and you’re thankful, right? Someone else’s actions are clearly immune from your free will, so this (as you’re now arguing) is all part of god’s plan – just for you. And as he knows what’s best for you a little thanks are in order, don’t you think?’
She mumbled something unintelligible and scurried away.
Oh, and she didn’t like it when I asked if she looked both ways before crossing the street. Faith in god’s plan has its limits – and it would appear that getting hit by a fucking 4,200 pound car is it. I find this kind of cherry-picking decidedly convenient.
It beggars belief how seemingly intelligent people fall victim to the cognitive dissonance that religious dogma perpetuates. I find it utterly amazing how they remain willfully ignorant to the fact that they’re setting the rules of logic and happenstance to rationalize anything that happens in life to fit that which they want so desperately to be true. Something good, neutral, indeterminable, perplexing, or crazy happens and it’s ‘Thanks, god!’ After all, he knows what’s best for you and it was something you needed to experience for some divine reason that they be explained.
But it’s the highly selective thank-you’s these morons offer that I find so intellectually disturbing. When life hands them something tragic (or subjectively “bad”) you never hear a thank-you even though they’ve made it crystal clear that this is what god wants for them. (Ssshhh. Don’t soil the logic. Let’s just keep what’s comforting and sweep the rest under the carpet.)
Confirmation bias anyone?”
The Wingman Cometh
An atheist friend (who pretends to be agnostic) chimed in…
“The concept for free will is not meant to be individualistic but rather metaphorical relative to the entire human race/species/cult. This is what the rabbis told me when I took a Torah study class and posed the question regarding supreme power, both forward and retroactive through time and why terrible things would occur that could be prevented. This must be true because it is the interpretation of what is written in a book written by men many years ago. Please cease your doubtful ways or you may end up in the place where, if named during a valedictorian speech in Oklahoma, could result in said valedictorian not getting a diploma. I would not wish that on you – although the lady in line undoubtedly did.”
Taking advantage of his perfectly placed ball set, I spiked…
“I can’t touch your commentary because it’s spot on, but it points out one of the major differences between Judaism and Christianity: the role of free will.
Judaism says very little about free will for two fundamental reasons. First, Judaism doesn’t recognize salvation through Jesus rendering free will a rather moot point. Choose to do, do not choose to do, whatever. Your place in eternity isn’t predicated on your beliefs or actions. Second, Jews are far more fatalistic and far less childlike in their understanding of their place in the cosmos. (As I’ve said before, being the ‘chosen people’ means you get chosen for a beating more than the others.)
Google ‘free will’ [without any modifier or context] and all you’ll find are articles, debates, and rantings coming from the Christian contingent. Try it. You’ll be hard pressed to find any commentary coming from Jewish scholars [unless you specify it] because, as my friend implied, Judaism recognizes free will exactly for what it is. It’s the default argument of cherry-pickers and hypocrites. As you know, the god of Judaism [rejecting the divinity of Jesus] is more of deistic entity who created a bunch of crap and left us al to our own devices. Sure, we have ultimate free will – but nothing really hinges on it, again, rendering it moot.
But you’re talking about Judaism. My commentary is about the Christian who shoved her unsolicited bunk down my throat this morning. My inclusion of the word ‘free will’ was preemptive trap to ward off the typical Christian response that dodges the question, or rather the point. My hypothetical situation (i.e. ‘You are raped or your daughter is murdered…’) removes the Christian free will obfuscation. Someone else’s free will action has absolutely no bearing on how one responds to it.”
Disclaimer: As Christians love to play word games and obfuscate by not so cleverly swapping and redefining words mid-argument to preserve a failing position, know that acknowledging or accepting god’s plan for you is NOT the same as thanking god for the gift of his plan. (As a faithful, dutiful, and abiding Christian you are expected to do all three.)
“The ‘god’s plan’ argument is binary. It’s black and white. It’s not a sliding scale or occasional occurrence. You don’t get to cherry-pick when his plan is at work and when it isn’t. Whether god directs something to happen or allows it to happen [per another person's free will] is irrelevant. It’s ALL god’s plan. He’s in charge, he calls the shots, and he knows what’s best for you. (What part of the word “plan” is foreign to you?) Accept it all or reject it all. And so I make my point. It takes a very special kind of person to thank god for the good stuff in life and not the bad. Both are part of his plan for you. The intellectual dishonesty of those who cherry-pick their way around this fact [if you actually believe it, of course] is a wonderful combination of offensive and laughable.
But of course, what kind of idiot is going to thank god for death, disease, financial ruin, and other tragedies? No, they can’t have any of that. And so they thank god…sometimes. This is the pinnacle of duality and intellectual dishonesty.
So much for faith. But if you’d like to prove otherwise, step up to the plate and show it. Thank him for ALL of the bad crap – even when it’s profound or tragic. It’s all a gift that’s part of a plan that’s way beyond your understanding – so you have no excuses. I’ll remind you of this when your mother drops dead.”
This much I can guarantee. My friend and his son both read my wall post. And they stewed in delicious silence. No one likes to self-incriminate.
It was a good day. A very good day indeed.