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Friday, July 2, 2010

God plans rapes, and what is a "real christian"?

Yeah, you read that well, God plans rapes. Well, according to this lady:

Sharron Angle: God planned your rape, don't abort!

The Nevada Senate candidate says abortion is always wrong because there is a divine purpose to all pregnancies

Manders asks her whether there is "any reason at all for an abortion," and she answers: "Not in my book." For clarity, he says: "So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?" And Angle replies with this reasoning: "You know, I'm a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things." You see, God planned your rape and pregnancy. Isn't that reassuring?

Chilling, isn't it? There are so many things wrong with this, I don't know exactly where to begin.

First of all, there is the idea that a woman can't decide for herself what to do with her body. Yes, I know, abortion is such a hard topic, but, as everything, there is no black and white. But a pregnancy will truly affect a woman's life and she should some saying in that.

Second, we are not talking about some girl that got knocked up. We are talking about a rape. I'm pretty sure no woman would want to have any reminder of such horrific moment, not even if it is a baby. But according to this woman, that doesn't seem to be very important.

Third, the idea that God plans for someone to get a rape. As one of my friends commented, I don't know what to say. This should mean that such God is the greatest asshole ever. According to Angle, God must have planned the Rape of Nanking. What a dick, isn't it?

And finally, the idea that such God does this for "a purpose" and that this purpose is inherently good. I would like to see someone trying to explain that to a rape victim: "Don't cry girl, be happy, this happened because God wanted it. Remember, God loves you"

This would have ended here, but there is more to the story.

I published this on Facebook, where one of my contacts (a pretty clever guy, for what I know) shared it, But he made it with the following comment:

"horrifying. Angle, you are not a real Christian"

To which I couldn't hold my horses and replied:

So, you mean that she must be a muslim, a jew or an atheist, and is making people believe she is a christian? What exactly is a "real christian"?

Maybe I was being too sarcastic, which might have bothered my friend a little bit. Maybe that prompted his long response:

"What exactly is a "real christian"?" that's a big question and u know im not going to try to define that here--nor is it necessary for me to do so. that said, while creativity doesnt have a precise definition in the scholarly community, people are ok with the "you know it when you see it" standard, and im applying that to identifying christians

lets put it this way ... someone might call themselves a biologist, and then go on to make things up about the natural world. biologists would say that they're calling themselves a biologist, but they're not even bad biologists, they arent biologists period. their calling themselves one would make them a false biologist. and Angle is by similar reasoning a false Christian.

I know that in your atheist mind, religion leads to evil ideas and Angle's are just another example. in your mind, the faithful are stupid fucks filled with bad ideas such as these. so according to your schema of christians, using the same 'know it when you see it' reasoning I am, she fits the bill.

our definitions of what a real christian is are different and probably unresolvable. our fundamental difference is that all the stupid shit in the belief system as practiced today, you think of it as a correct understanding of a crap doctrine, while I see it as an interpretation by man that is wrong and driven not by reason but by our less impressive motivations. it is best in this case if we agree to disagree. but I leave you with the thought that supreme court justices often have pre-formed opinions on matters and pretty much rule however the hell they want, spinning the constitution as needed--same happens w/religious texts.

finally, "you mean that she must be a muslim, a jew or an atheist" is a completely ridic statement Diego, and you know it. statements this poorly thought out are not conducive to productive dialogue, so please filter these from your future comments. I dont want to be a dick--and since you yourself know this statement was unproductive, I know you wont take this request the wrong way.

Very articulated, I have to say. Not the average God-soldier, Christ-lover, abortion-doctor killer, who fights in the pro-life side so strongly. Yet, that wasn't enough for me. I responded a longer and more tedious post:

Nice try with the biologist example, but, as far as I know, there is a standard for someone to be call a biologist, which is a degree a person gets from an educational institution. Before that you may call yourself a biology student, but, to be properly recognized as a biologist, you may want to have something "official" to prove it.

With belief it is different. I don't doubt that Angle is a Christian, as much as I don't doubt that Martin Luther King Jr was. As far as I know, both of them believe in Christ and therefore, they both can be called christians. Even the guys from the Westboro Baptist Church are christians because, they believe in Christ.

Now, in my (actually) atheist/agnostic mind, I see religion as something that can produce goodness and love from people, but at the same time evil and intolerance. You, on the other hand, seem to think that if someone doesn't fit the ideal of "good person", therefore, that person must not be a true christian. That reminds me of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, which you must be familiar with. In case not, you can google it.

The question of her being a muslim, jew or atheist, yes, was kind of tongue-in-cheek. Why? because I didn't think you would be saying that, because she holds so despicable views, therefore she must not be a "real christian." Maybe I was wrong.

Finally, the "True christian" label has been used by many (if not all) denominations to discredit others. In this way, protestants accuse catholics of not being real christians ("they adore images" they say), and catholics accuse protestants of not being true christians ("their church was founded by Martin Luther and not by Jesus himself" they say). That is just one example.

I don't know you in person, but taking it from what you usually put in your wall, you seem like a very intelligent person. So, I don't think anyone is being a dick here, but actually having a very interesting conversation.

I think I addressed everything my friend said. I would have liked to point out that his assumption of my "atheist" mind was actually a prejudice of what we all atheists are. But that would have been something too long for a Facebook discussion. Besides, I prefer to demonstrate that by acts and just by mere words. Like a "true christian" maybe.

Here is his response:

thanks for explaining your comment as tongue-in-cheek ... glad I was wrong about it being unproductive, and yes, we are two smart people enjoying a good discussion hmm ... i could be committing the no true scotsman fallacy

but let's take the extreme example of taliban's ideas about islam. based on a "rational" understanding of the islamic God... what talibs do (poison gas girls schools, fuck donkeys on thursdays b/c they think friday prayers absolve of all sins, etc) is in no fucking way a reasonable interpretation of what islam should be. they might 'believe' in the prophet muhammad (as Angle 'believes' in jesus), but the belief system they're constructing about the world and the divine is in every other sense fucking unrecognizable as reasonable abrahamic religion. what they're doing is not islam, but a belief system that's completely their own invention that just happens to have co-opted the prophet of islam. sort of how "gnostic christians" gave jesus some significance but then spun alongside him a crazy system that ... totally isnt compatible w/the christian universe.

YES ... gnostic christians are a good analogy here

And my response...

Ok, let's take extreme example of the talibans. Their understanding of the islamic god is repulsive to us and most muslims will say that "they are not true muslims". However, that is the same thing the talibans would say about other muslims; and the same thing the Westboro Baptist wackos say about other christians. It is nice to think that a reasonable interpretation of islam or christianity leads to goodness and only goodness. But the problem is that nor Muhammad nor Jesus will come down to explain what the scripture their followers follow actually mean. But we have to ask, "reasonable" in terms of what? I would say, based on the actual society's norms. But to some, that leads directly to a false interpretation, since it is not totally based on the early scripture, which nowadays is usually found unreasonable.

Now, coming back to the issue here, Angle seems to be very sure that she is a true christian, and I bet most of her followers will think so too.

As we heard, according to her, her idea that God plans rapes is founded in her belief in God and, like many, an interpretation of the scripture. You, and many, condemn her for being a “fake christian” based on the idea that according to Jesus (through the bible, I presume), is just trying to get votes from the “true christians.” Again, I have to ask how do we know which one is right? According to whom? It would be awesome if the heavens opened, and, at least an angel came down, blow a horn, a trumpet, even a vuvuzela, and said “This is what God REALLLY meant…” But, as a non-believer, I don’t think that is going to happen anytime.

Finally, this is so interesting, I would like to post it in my blog.

And this is how we got here.

I'm sure updates will be coming. As I said, I'm not talking with just any guy that reads, repites and memorizes scripture. This is a very educated person with a degree in something I don't remember, so I don't think he will pull back. Just like I wouldn't.


Yes, there was more:

First of all, I failed to notice this message before my last response:

OH DAMN ... got it Diego. good idea just happened
sure one could define christians as all those who worship christ. or, in the case of gnostic christians, their belief system is SO diff from christianity that its more accurate to call them christian gnostics. here, christian is the adjective--but they're fundamentally gnostics.

when people spin their own belief system but co-opt just a few of another faith's ideas/figures, they're not members of that faith, they're members of the faith they pulled out of their ass (i grant that my judgment of these other faiths as "out of the ass" gives much credence to the atheist statement "i believe in only one less god than the rest"), and it is most appropriate to label them as members of their homespun faith--with the co-opted faith being nothing more than a modifier

admittedly, i dont know what I would call Angle's faith (also Palin's) =p. maybe "american redneck value system"?

So the next one didn't address this. If I had, I would have said that in such case, only catholics would be "real christians" since protestants pulled their own interpretation and believed what they wanted to believe. Their reasons to do so are not relevant, since they still differ from what at that point was the belief system. If so, we can call Palin and Angle just "fake christians" because they aren't catholics. But on the other hand, Martin Luther King wasn't a catholic either. And I wouldn't say he wasn't a christian.

Anyway, continuing the conversation, he responded:

Diego, yes, do post to your blog =D
In this debate your position... See More's best hope of correctness rests on the following: it is possible, however unlikely (but in matters of religion the unlikely cannot be discounted), that one of the apeshit (in our opinion) interpretations of the divine (e.g. the taliban's) happens to be the one that God (if he exists) actually intends

however, all interpretations are created by the human brain ... and understanding of God's intention is just one of the many things that the brain can come to understand about the universe. Angle's brain has fucked up the interpretation of a lot of things. Think of the divine is just another thing on that list.

I have to admit it took me some time to decipher what this meant. I don't know if my reading comprehension is too low or my friend was using complicated wording to mess with my brain. But after a while I managed a response:

So, in other words, since interpretations of the divine are just another thing created by the human brain, they aren't really divine. I can live perfectly with that, but I don't think a believer would be a real believer with such position.

Now, again, you can argue that Angle has interpreted many things wrongly, but, as I said before, she (and her many supporters) can say the same thing about all others. I do think of the divine as something our brain makes to explain stuff we don't understand (it's not that simple, but we can leave it at that). But, made up by our brain our not, I thing Angle's belief is sincere, maybe misguided, maybe fucked up, but sincere. And, as with the christians who support gay marriage or abortion, I wouldn't discount her as one just because her view doesn't fit with that of one group.

Then came his:

haha, thanks for the complimentary things you said about your debater on your blog. my degrees are in biology and mathematics, but I am self-educated (wikipedia ftw) in numerous subjects. as we've seen here, religion and ideological histories thereof is one of those areas.

in all faiths, and in all scholarly disciplines, a reasonable mind can come to several interpretations; less reasonable minds will create some others, which are clearly wrong. in scholarship, some number of people whose minds generate with greater-than-acceptable frequency unreasonable interpretations of the natural world do somehow get through and are given degrees. if this kind of idiot gets a bio BS, in my opinion I still wont recognize them as a biologist. but many people would count them as biologists--and i recognize this position as reasonable, albeit disagreeing with it.

those undeserving degree holders are biologists according to a "if it quacks like a duck" standard, and that's the standard you're applying to angle in counting her as a christian. i suppose the undeserving degree holder is a biologist in principle, but fails to be so in practice due to lack of understanding, and hence is not a "real biologist" by my standards.

haha, i'll meet u halfway. quacking like a duck is the requirement for being a christian (which makes angle one), but coming to a reasonable understanding is a requirement for being a "real christian" (which angle aint), similar to the distinction between the "biologist" and "real biologist"

And finally, mine, all for this night I presume. I want you to read this last answer very carefully, especially the part that talks about the atheists who are as prejudiced as the woman at the beginning of this post

You're welcome on the comments; I thought it was necessary, given that some nonbelievers tend to think that those who believe in God are uneducated rednecks that have no idea of scienceor on how to carry a debate.

Now, starting from that point, I could be tempted to say that those are not real atheists, since an atheist, to my standard has to be committed to the search of reason and logic, and those who are prejudiced are not doing so, therefore, they are not "real atheists".

Then you would say I'm wrong. You would be right.

Unfortunately, since they claim not to believe in a god (the ones who I know behave like that and I have no reason to believe that they are lying) they are atheists. No matter how bigoted and prejudiced they can be, they are.

So, I cannot put my own standard to filter those the rational ones from the prejudiced, and call the first ones "real atheists", because a "real atheist" is committed to science and science cannot be prejudiced. I would like to think that way, but then I would become one of those I deplore.

In the same way, Angle can be all the prejudiced and wrong she wants, that doesn't change the fact that she believes in Christ as the savior and son of God. For your standards that might not be enough, but for her and for many, it is.

So what are the morals of the story?

1. Not all believers are uneducated rednecks who just spout scripture. In case someone didn't get that clear, that is not always the case.
2. A nice debate between believers and non-believers is possible. No, it doesn't consist on the non-believer saying "you are fucking deluded, religion is bullshit". It's much more difficult than that

Maybe more will come. But I'll be out most of the weekend. So, happy July 4, Godless America.

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Blasfema libremente

"Que esté permitido a cada uno pensar como quiera; pero que nunca le esté permitido perjudicar por su manera de pensar" Barón D'Holbach
"Let everyone be permitted to think as he pleases; but never let him be permitted to injure others for their manner of thinking" Barón D'Holbach