Hitch’s commentary on the censorship of controversial cartoons is still relevant today:
As I have said more than once in newspaper columns the last couple years — most recently here — if the Republican Party is going to continue to be a viable political option for voters in the future, it is going to have to abandon some of Tea Party and ultra-right ideals that have all but turned off significant segments of the body politic, including Hispanics and women, and adopt more centrist positions to attract younger and more accepting groups of people who increasingly have no patience with policies that promote discrimination and inequality.
Possible GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, House Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham seem to understand this on some level, as each have both been open to an expansion of legal immigration, and Graham has even said he favored passing along citizenship to adults who have lived in the United States since coming here as children.
Enter GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, whose recent election in November, according to The New York Times,
provides a template for the party on how to succeed in a battleground state with two ascendant constituencies: well-educated social liberals and increasingly assertive Hispanic voters.
Gardner prevailed by jettisoning most of his own conservative baggage. A hard-core loyalist of the right during his service in the state legislature from 2005 to 2010 and as a congressman for two terms, Gardner won a tough election against the Democratic incumbent Mark Udall by shifting left on both immigration and social issues like abortion and contraception.
These maneuvers did not cost Gardner support from the Republican Party base. Exit poll data reveals that Gardner did as well or better with core party voters than other recent Republican statewide candidates.
Running statewide for the first time after representing largely conservative rural voters, Gardner radically altered his ideological self-positioning.
He abandoned his past opposition to liberal immigration policies. On June 5, Gardner declared his support for giving undocumented immigrants who serve in the armed forces a path to citizenship. On Aug. 1, Gardner cast one of only 11 House Republican votes in favor of an Obama administration program granting work permits to immigrants brought here illegally as children.
Gardner’s most dramatic shift was to publicly renounce, on March 21, his own sponsorship, as a member of the House, of an anti-abortion constitutional “personhood” amendment. That wasn’t all. On Sept. 2, he announced his support for making oral contraceptives available over the counter without a prescription – a tactic adopted by several successful Republican candidates.
In the House, he sponsored bipartisan water infrastructure legislation and formed a rural broadband coalition – the type of policies that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party exists to oppose.
Indeed, as The Times article pointed out, “establishment” GOP Senate candidates — contrasted with the anti-government Tea Party types — won decisively across eight states in the South and Alaska, arguably ground zero for Tea Party fervor that began in about 2008. While the Tea Party certainly still has a voice in Washington in the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and others, McConnell, Rep. John Boehner and other establishment Republican leaders will have a lot of work ahead of them to moderate a party that has been steered in a less than constructive direction these last six years and then to convince the American people that meaningful reform has taken place. Because for sure, the Tea Party, on the wane as it may now be, will more than likely have to be dragged kicking and screaming into that good night.
This is one of the best and clearest explanations of evolution that I’ve seen.
Worst host on the worst channel. That takes some effort.
I have to say, after hearing Sye Ten Bruggencate in several “debates” and learning more about this bizarre branch of Christian apologetics called presuppositionalism, I have to say he and his ilk make St. Augustine look like Friedrich Nietzsche. Case in point:
If you don’t want to watch the painful 13 minutes, much less the entire head-scratching debate, Bruggencate’s argument, in his own words, goes like this:
Why is it reasonable to believe that God exists? Quite simply because it’s true that he exists. Here’s my argument. Premise one: It’s reasonable to believe that which is true. Premise two: It’s true that God exists. Conclusion: Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that God exists. … I say it’s true that God exists; therefore, it is true that God exists. My argument is sound, and the debate is over.
Wow, that was fast. He just singlehandedly solved thousands of years of religious debate and philosophical inquiry. I mean, Bruggencate says this with such force and so matter-of-factly, as if by merely saying words, any words whatsoever, in public, they become true. Here, let’s try it out.
Why is it reasonable to believe that Krishna exists? Quite simply because it’s true that he exists. Here’s my argument. Premise one: It’s reasonable to believe that which is true. Premise two: It’s true that Krishna exists. Conclusion: Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that Krishna exists. I say it’s true that Krishna exists; therefore, it is true that Krishna exists. My argument is sound, and the debate is over.
Why is it reasonable to believe that Osiris, god of the afterlife, exists? Quite simply because it’s true that he exists. Here’s my argument. Premise one: It’s reasonable to believe that which is true. Premise two: It’s true that Osiris, god of the afterlife, exists. Conclusion: Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that Osiris, god of the afterlife, exists. I say it’s true that Osiris, god of the afterlife, exists; therefore, it is true that Osiris, god of the afterlife, exists. My argument is sound, and the debate is over.
Me a third time:
Why is it reasonable to believe that Hammy, Our Heavenly Lord of the Lunch, exists? Quite simply because it’s true that he exists. Here’s my argument. Premise one: It’s reasonable to believe that which is true. Premise two: It’s true that Hammy, Our Heavenly Lord of the Lunch, exists. Conclusion: Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that Hammy, Our Heavenly Lord of the Lunch, exists. I say it’s true that Hammy, Our Heavenly Lord of the Lunch, exists; therefore, it is true that Hammy, Our Heavenly Lord of the Lunch, exists. My argument is sound, and the debate is over.
As easily as Bruggencate worked out the problem of God for us, I just singlehandedly willed into existence two gods and created a whole new one. Hey, this creating gods thing is kind of fun! Maybe I’ll make some more gods tomorrow. For now, let’s all offer up some prayers to Hammy, Our Heavenly Lord of the Lunch, and a new god I just felt like inventing 30 seconds ago, all hail Cutletzimasha, Almighty Ruler of the Roast. Do you dare doubt the existence of Cutletzimasha? If so, this should clear it up for you:
Why is it reasonable to believe that Cutletzimasha, Almighty Ruler of the Roast, exists? Quite simply because it’s true that he exists. Here’s my argument. Premise one: It’s reasonable to believe that which is true. Premise two: It’s true that Cutletzimasha, Almighty Ruler of the Roast, exists. Conclusion: Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that Cutletzimasha, Almighty Ruler of the Roast, exists. I say it’s true that Cutletzimasha, Almighty Ruler of the Roast, exists; therefore, it is true that Cutletzimasha, Almighty Ruler of the Roast, exists. My argument is sound, and the debate is over.
My work here is done.
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. − John 3:12-16, NKJV
Note: I am remiss to even add this disclaimer − and don’t plan on doing it in the future − but to my dismay some Christians have actually made the claim that since I sometimes speak about God as if he is real for the sake of argument, I must subconsciously or otherwise actually believe that he does exist. In this post, as in any other on the topic of religion, I am speaking about God as a character in the Bible and considering the implications if certain parts of Christianity are actually true, again, for the sake of argument.
Now, with that out of the way, a few days ago I heard a Christmas commercial on the radio from a church, and a man said something to the effect of, “God loved us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son,” which is basically a paraphrase of John 3:16.
This got me thinking about the first part of one of the most often-quoted versus in the Bible: “For God so loved the world.” Let’s stop there and go back way before any events of the Bible allegedly took place. Let’s go back to before the beginning when this almighty god was first hatching his plan to create a world, inhabit it with animals and conscious beings that would later be called man and woman.
How much did God really love the world? A quick revisiting of the story will show that either a) not all that much and quite possibly the converse of that or b) he had good intentions that somehow went awry as soon as the serpent showed up in the garden, an option that itself belies the very nature of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.
I’ll take second option first. Let’s assume that an autonomous God, for reasons we can’t possibly understand, wanted or needed some type of relationship with a new creation that couldn’t be supplied by those groveling angels. He wanted a relationship with a being that could choose whether to love him or not. Thus, he created man in the garden and endowed him with free will and the ability to think and act on his own. Now, God had man’s best interests at heart, so instead of simply removing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from the Garden, he told them to avoid fruit from this tree because their lives will truly be worse if they were to become aware of evil and things like guilt, shame, etc. Presumably, he wanted his creation only to think on things that were good, which oddly enough, aligns quite well with preachments from the New Testament, particularly Philippians 4:8.
That’s admirable, I suppose, but it’s here where the disconnect begins. This all-powerful, all-knowing God truly wanted the best for his creation, yet he either allowed the devil to enter the garden or he simply missed the fact that the serpent had breached the gate. By the first option, God is evil and not as benevolent as we were led to believe. By the second, he is incompetent. So much for good intentions and omniscience.
But let’s ignore all that. Let’s assume that the Genesis story of creation is bunk and the god of the Bible simply guided the mechanism of evolution by natural selection and got us to the point in human history of Christ being born in the manger. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This verse means that before sending Christ to earth, God had an immense amount of love for mankind, such that he was willing to watch his own son die a horrible death for the salvation of man. He loves the world so much, yet if you fail to be convinced by the so-called “evidence” of the Bible about Jesus or if you fail to believe the testimony of his followers, that immense love will, in the blink of an eye, turn to judgment and wrath.
If God really had this deep and abiding love for man, the loss of just one person in hell, much less billions of people in eternal torment, should be enough to make this deity weep for all time. Presumably if this love were genuine, he would do everything in his power to prevent the spiritual death of billions of people for whom he told us he was willing to sacrifice his only son. The New Testament tells us his love has one important condition, however, namely that people accept Jesus Christ as savior or perish forever.
The strange kind of love in John 3:16, a compulsory arrangement based on fear and shrouded in judgment, doesn’t even extend until the end of the sentence, much less past the tattered pages of the Bible.
So, this was originally going to be a Facebook post, but it started to turn into one of those long, ungainly rants amid a sea of memes, one-liners and family pics, so I thought it would warrant an airing here.
I just finished watching the first season of HBO’s “True Detective,” and I must say, I’m a little underwhelmed, although I don’t want to diminish the superb acting performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The first few episodes were fantastic. I think episode four was possibly the climax for me, but the show seemed to drag a bit from there. I got through the last four episodes mainly just to find out what was going to happen.
In the end, I think we were left with a bunch of unanswered questions − What’s the deal with the Yellow King and what are the larger implications of the Tully family and government’s involvement − and an albeit creepy, yet anticlimactic resolution. But perhaps my biggest gripe is that Rust, Matthew McConaughey’s character, is this skeptical, nihilistic philosopher type through most of the show, and then in the last five minutes after solving the case, he suddenly believes in the afterlife and that light ultimately wins out over darkness. This, after the show tried so hard to convince us of Rust’s firm grasp on the hard truths of reality.
Rust scoffed at tent worshippers, and the Carcosa cult’s belief in the supernatural had terrible consequences, but Rust ends up joining all of them by buying into comforting, irrational mumbo jumbo.
So perhaps Rust’s nihilism over the course of the series was just the setup for one big, cosmic punch line about the human yearning for meaning.
If so, the ending of the show leaves me with a kind of despair, that the most unflinching of characters, who was at the core a decent person in spite of his nihilism and who was ready to meet life as it comes, ultimately just reverted back to the old human habit and the easy path of trying to find meaning and purpose in the meaningless.
Kudos to the show for attempting to deal with some of the more heady questions of life in a buddy-cop genre that is, in itself, a cliche, and some of the philosophical musings from Rust were profound indeed, but I’m afraid that only lasted for 7 3/4 episodes. The ending killed any professions of profundity for me.
— Seventh Loka (@SevenLokas) December 16, 2014
I highly doubt a TV carrier provider would drop a cable news channel based solely on ideology, unless Rupert Murdoch got into the satellite business, but if Dish Network doesn’t come to terms with FOX News — this website contends the two sides are in some kind of dispute — the national IQ should certainly stand to improve a point or two. Of course, unmaking more than a decade of obscurantism and a shameless, daily misrepresentation of facts will take more than just removing one station, given our already low expectations in national “journalism.”