Friday 18 September 2009

Now THIS is a prophet

A prophet speaks unpopular truth with passion, and by that criteria Frank Schaeffer is one of America's best. This interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is a no holds barred, no apologies given call for sanity - all in under seven minutes.

Evangelicals: "a fifth column of insanity."
Those who believe President Obama is the anti-Christ: "beyond crazy."
The Evangelical subculture: "has rotted the brain of the United States of America... it's a disaster."
On moving ahead: "A village cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot... We have a village idiot in this country; it's called fundamentalist Christianity."

Schaeffer is a practicing Christian, not an atheist or agnostic, and has served time in the bowels of evangelicalism. His plain talking is welcome relief from the usual polite waffling of Christians who know better, but would rather tread on eggshells than offend the fanatical fundamentalist fringe, whether their particular village idiot calls himself a Southern Baptist, Missouri Synod Lutheran, or a member of a Church of God schism.


Speakerbox said...

Well..I think it is a stretch to lump COGers in with southern baptists and other evangelicals. When you paint a picture with too big of a brush, you just end up stereotyping a whole lot of people. With said, the survey was surprising, but I do wonder if their sample was a representative one: it is very difficult (not too mention expensive) to conduct an accurate survey.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this isn't an isolated report- it's part of, um, shall I say, a campaign in our lovely country whereby criticism of President Obama and his policies is being associated with racism, fear-mongering, and general overall evil. It's exactly the same thing the Bush administration did- those who protested the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq where painted by the White House and conservative pundits as radical who wanted the terrorists to win. The difference now is that most of the media (excluding FOX news and talk radio) is perpetuating this. It doesn't hurt to have most of the media on your side.

Soon after Obama took office I lost the last shred of hope in our two major political to put the interests of our country first- because both parties basically played musical chairs. Now the democrats have stopped criticizing the White House and the Republicans have started. Now the Republicans are worried about our civil liberties and the increased size of government while they didn't care under the Bush administration. Democrats have no problem with demonizing those who criticize the government as racists (and potential murderers) while under the Bush administration they decried this type of political name-calling as fascism. It's insane. To the Republicrats, this is all a big play and every four years or so they exchange roles. This means that none of them really care.

While the libertarians aren't entirely objective, it is refreshing to get a view on American politics from those who criticize both major parties equally. It's as close to objective as you'll get- far more objective than FOX News/Rush Limbaugh or the New York TImes/CNN/NBC/ABC/CBS/NPR/Hollywood/Ect.

The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the video to actually play, but then again, admittedly, I’m a bit of a technological retard!

But I think the best line in Gavin's written highlight section has got to be:

"A village cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot...We have a village idiot in this country; it's called fundamentalist Christianity."

That really says it all – especially coming from a more mainstream Christian! As I tirelessly point out on this blogsite, the craziness of the bizarre claims and assertions this loony ideology actually expects people to accept as literally true and buy into is endless.

Yet unfortunately, to a great degree that I find appalling and embarrassing, modern America is indeed “re-organizing life around the village idiot” as supernatural fundamentalism is growing rampant like an aggressive cancer among certain segments of the population of the United States, especially the southern states.

It’s funny how fundamentalists get their “knickers in a knot” raging about the country becoming too SECULAR – as we all did when Armstrongism had a stranglehold on our minds – and yet, in reality, various brands of fundamentalism are spreading like wildfire throughout the country.

A sad and alarming trend that does not bode well for America.

Leonardo said...

Well, I finally was able to watch this insightful video interview, and it very much reminded me of a comment our friend Byker Bob made recently.

He wrote in a previous blog topic (“Denis Michael Rohan – ‘The Lion King’ - Forty Years On”):
“Logic, facts, and reasoning never were the tools by which one could obtain or foment spiritual enlightenment. Though you personalized this, and attributed this process to me, and it really has universal application, you have articulated a basic truth. God does the work. He's got the keys to all of our minds, and He alone knows how to unlock them, and does this in His own perfect timing. There is absolutely nothing I can do to, as sales professionals might say, "educate you out of a mindset." That is not the way spiritual enlightenment is spawned. Otherwise, the educated people during Jesus' days would have come to Him by simply buying into His logic.”

This statement of Byker Bob’s is so extremely revealing of the fundamentalist mindset and “reasoning” that it must be broken into it’s component parts and analyzed a bit in order to see how flimsy and dangerous it truly is.

And it very much ties in with the video interview.

In essence what Bob and his fellow fundamentalists say is: “We believe in our supernatural worldview, not because of evidence, logic or that we have any demonstrable reasons to believe, but because we WANT to believe, we FEEL our beliefs to be true.”

Notice Bob’s essential three-step approach in establishing his belief in “spiritual enlightenment” - that is to say, supernatural religion:

1) First, with an arrogant and easy sweep of the hand, he just completely dismisses away the primary tool of man’s survival on earth, the precious endowment that has discovered all that man has about the world and universe around us, not to mention what it (through science) has given us to raise our standards of living and extend our natural life spans: man’s reason and rational faculty, man’s mind. But we learn here from the fundamentalist’s perspective, man’s mind presents an obstacle. The solution? – just eliminate this vital capacity when it comes to things “spiritual” because it merely gets in the way of arriving at the higher enlightenments called “religious truths.”

2) Now that the obstacle of man’s rational mind is arrogantly swept out of the way and discarded in the quest for spiritual enlightenment, he then proceeds to “beg the question” by just merely ASSUMING the existence of his magical mind-reading Deity, the very thing he so far has not demonstrated to us in any meaningful way. This is a demonstration of the constant circular reasoning fundamentalists are known for far and wide. And Bob is no different – his basic approach of “Poof! I believe it, therefore it MUST be true” seems to be the foundational springboard of all his religious assertions. And as he correctly points out, it has always been thus with fundamentalists. Intellectual history demonstrates this quite persuasively.

3) And finally, now that Bob has clearly “established” his case for supernaturalism (at least in HIS mind), the third and final assumption he undertakes is that it’s US, the unbelievers that question the validity of his many assertions, who actually have the problem; it’s OUR approach to reality that needs readjustment, just because it simply asks for evidence; it’s US who are in need of being re-educated, not him. This is but a small sampling that shows the heights of utter arrogance a religiously motivated mind can soar to.

So, in brief, that’s the structure of Bob’s argument, the foundation that all the rest of his other religious claims rest upon. Thus the real “evidence” such wishful thinking is founded upon can best be summed up very simply: subjective FAITH unhindered by facts and reason.

So a subtle but important distinction can be made at this point: a FACT is a product of observation. A BELIEF, by contrast, is a product of the imagination. Let that be understood. And fundamentalism is founded upon and driven by belief, as opposed to fact.

Leonardo said...

However, in stark contrast to Bob implied assertion, I argue that faith is NOT a legitimate path to “spiritual enlightenment” or any other such meaningless mumbo-jumbo, but rather an intellectual cop-out of the most dangerous sort. The resort to faith is a defeat, an open admission that the supposed “revealed higher spiritual truths” of supernatural religion are unknowable through the tools of evidence and reason. Faith makes indemonstrable assertions that require the absolute suspension of reason – and to hell with facts, empirical evidence, proof, logic, meticulous observation, etc.

That’s what Bob and his fellow believers are saying!

I further argue, however, that it is WEAK ideas which require faith to believe. Faith (or it’s synonym, spiritual enlightenment) is what you stoop to, what you’re forced to employ, when you don’t have knowledge, proof or reasonable evidence that can be intelligibly communicated to, grasped and understood by the human mind.

So to admit that the “truths” of faith are beyond reason and nonintellectual in nature is to simply remove them from the realm of rational discussion. Period.

And that’s precisely why Bob and the other believers who frequently this website are so consistently incapable of articulating their arguments in defense of their nutty assertions beyond their standard short bursts of sloganeering and sermonizing – not only do they believe that they don’t HAVE to prove anything, but they DON’T because they CAN’T.

Moreover, I invite you to just envision all of the potential “truths” (as ungrounded in objective reality as most would be) that the emotionally-driven, superstitious imagination of people could conjure up using this exact “method of higher knowledge” – which, obviously, is nothing more than the outright denial of rational thinking and the irritating obstacle of demonstrable facts!

It’s absolutely frightening, yes, but this is the slippery epistemological method Bob and his fellow fundamentalist’s openly advocate here on this blogsite, and ask that we adopt in place of facts and reason.

As I write this, methinks I can (metaphorically) hear religionists respond by angrily raising their voices and shouting out at the top of their lungs, “But human reason is limited!!!” To which I heartily agree! Human reason indeed IS limited – it is limited to demonstrable, empirical FACTS. And if you choose to sweep aside or ignore those facts you are left with nothing but your fictions of choice, and it’s my proposition that such fictional wishful thinking comprises the very core, essence and backbone of religious belief.

I really don’t have to establish any of these things - Bob’s above statement proudly proclaims them! At least he’s up front and honest about it, whereas other fundamentalists often will try to act as if there actually exists evidence for their many supernatural assertions, like the proponents of creationism or the Intelligent Design movement.

But once we understand that faith is the acceptance of a “truth claim” in spite of insufficient evidence, or even in the face of contradictory evidence, the entire issue becomes considerably more focused and clear. Those who must resort to appealing to faith, subtly but surely admit that the many religious claims depending on such faith cannot stand on their own two feet. That’s why the rigorously rational aspect of man’s mind must be dampened and extinguished in order to accommodate the numerous and zany claims of fundamentalist religion, of the sort Byker Bob constantly promotes.

Leonardo said...

Also, that’s why faith is not only required, but in many cases down through history (as in the example of the Spanish Inquisition during the Dark Ages, or militant Islamic countries in more modern times) it has had to have been DEMANDED and ENFORCED.

If people of sound mind just carelessly, by passive non-involvement regarding these important issues, give Bob and his fellow believers their way by default – intellectually, politically and legally – then it would only be a matter of time before such strong-arm tactics would again, in modern times, be violently imposed on others living in the free democracies of the west.

I say “Wake up!” – not only to the nightmares religious faith has lead to in the past, as plainly documented in the history of mankind, but more importantly to where it could lead humanity out into the future. Churchill said a man can clearly see forward out into the future about as far as he is willing to look back into the past. I agree. And so what reason have we to believe that the future of religion will be no different than it’s nightmarish past?

What this ALL boils down to is the vital subject of epistemology – the study of knowledge, and how we come to know what we claim to know. Every single topic, without exception, discussed on this blogsite all distills down to, in the final analysis, our methodologies of obtaining knowledge and understanding – and which ones are valid and therefore life-promoting, and which ones fail us terribly, and have a proven record of having done so in the past.

Please do some serious thinking about all this – there truly is nothing more foundational.

larry said...

Sure, there are some loons on the right. No news there. The guy was doing just fine right up until he used the words "Democrats" and "sane Americans" in the same sentence.

Michael Savage's statement: "Liberalism is a mental disorder." is not far off.

So, this guy is way off base by criticizing "fundamentalist Christians" as threats to the nation or civilization or whatever.

Fundamentalist Christians have very little political power, whereas left-wing liberal wackos control the US government right now. They may even control the governments of other Western liberal democracies, but there are other folks on this board who can better speak about those countries.

Leonardo said...

Larry wrote:
"Fundamentalist Christians have very little political power, whereas left-wing liberal wackos control the US government right now."

Larry, all I can say is your ignorance of what's going on in America is truly astounding – and incredibly hard to believe, coming from someone with so much "world-class university" formal education and all.

According to Gallop polls roughly HALF (53%) of the American population believe the universe, earth and man was created by an invisible supernatural God between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, in spite of the massive amount of ironclad evidence science has accumulated the past 100 years or so testifying to the much greater antiquity of all three, and you say that Christian fundamentalism doesn't exert much sway here in America?

No further argument is necessary - especially after your bald assertion that fundamentalist Christian's actually hold little influence in political areas in America. Just consult the data accumulated from the past three presidential elections!

I'm left speechless by your patently insupportable claim - and that doesn't happen very often to me!

Excuse me, I’m going to have to go lay down for awhile!

Anonymous said...

Hey Leonardo,

Keep up the heat on Byker Bob, great to see someone who'll hold him accountable for the nonsense he spouts.

Larry??? left-wing liberal wackos? In the western world public health care is the norm. Even Obama still looks right wing to many others in the world. Your meter is too swayed by fundamentalist bias to be accurate.

larry said...

Leonardo said,
"I'm left speechless by your patently insupportable claim - and that doesn't happen very often to me!"

Somehow I doubt that, but there is always hope. Leo, being criticized by you is becoming a badge of honor.

I am NOT AT ALL ignorant about what goes on in America! You would be amazed at how wrong you are on this matter. But, you are right about one thing: "No further argument is necessary".

And to "Anonymous", there are so many reasons why "public health care", run by the government, will not work here, that it is beyond the scope of this board.

Tkach's $wiss Banker said...

"Schaeffer is a practicing [Liberal]Christian, not an atheist or agnostic"

Hard hitting video. He rightly calls fundies insane....

But liberal christians are also insane (going to church yet not believing the bible)

Ned Flanders said...

"liberal christians are also insane (going to church yet not believing the bible)"

Christians got along nicely without the Bible as we know it for 3 centuries at least. American biblicism is a fairly recent phenomena. Even reformers like Luther could talk about sola scriptura while mocking parts of it (like James and Revelation.)

Insanity, T$B, is in the eye of the beholder.

Mr. Scribe said...

Not all conservatives are religious nut jobs. American's would do well to take Jesus out of politics.

More links:

Leonardo said...

Larry wrote:
“Leo, being criticized by you is becoming a badge of honor.”

Not really, Larry, because just like I told Byker Bob in a recent comment, sometimes the absolute foolishness of what you and your fellow fundamentalists often utter here just has to be responded to in order to show how shallow and vapid is really is. You know, “Answer a fool according to his folly” and all that.

Larry also wrote:
“I am NOT AT ALL ignorant about what goes on in America! You would be amazed at how wrong you are on this matter. But, you are right about one thing: "No further argument is necessary".”

Well Larry, all I can say is that the typical shallow comments you so often make here certainly would indicate otherwise. Remember, a man's WORDS are the most accurate index and expression of his MIND.

But, as expected, Dr. Larry just makes yet another one of his sweeping, all-inclusive pronouncements about how wrong I am, and then just stops there, providing no argument or facts or refutations whatsoever to support his assertion. Larry speaketh, and the rest of us must bow down in humble reverence, accepting without question or doubt whatever utterances proceeding from him as being true, proven and requiring no further elucidation at all, for the good PhD scientist has spoken!

The lesson: fundamentalists are so used to this form of monologue – that of just making a simple, dogmatic statement without any backing to support it, then quickly scampering back to their fundamentalist universe – that they no longer seem capable of realizing that ANY uneducated moron can do this, and most morons DO indeed confine themselves exclusively to this method of “communication” in public forums such as this.

It’s called the “speak and run” method of persuasion – because folks like Larry can just make a brief appearance, and utter their “pearls of wisdom” for us to partake of without ever having to engage in the laborious task of dealing with those stubborn things called FACTS, or having to build a rational, evidence-based argument that verifies such shallow utterances.

Stick around, my AW blogsite friends, and we will all get a real-world education into what constitutes intelligible communication that actually expands and informs our readers/hearers, in contrast to that which consists of nothing more than the blowing of the dogmatic hot air of shallow thinking!

Leonardo said...

Tkach’s $wiss Banker and Ned Flanders, you both talk about insanity.

My studies and life experiences (including over 30 years in COGism, twenty of them spent in the WCG) are quickly bringing me to the conclusion that RELIGION and INSANITY are virtually one and the same thing – synonyms, if you will, perhaps the phrase "sociably acceptable collective delusion" being the most accurate verbal expression of the phenomenon.

And why do I say this?

Because over time religion blunts the razor-sharp edge of reason – all but extinguishing the flame of rationality. The minds of most fundamentalists have been so dulled by the intellectual sacrifices demanded of their religion (as is so painfully obvious by the many true believers who so inarticulately attempt to defend their supernatural beliefs on this site) that I suspect an alien, visiting planet Earth, with sufficiently advanced technology and a good special effects budget, could have them groveling on the ground worshiping it within a couple of minutes or so after first contact.

It is no mere coincidence that the obvious decline in American public education is happening concurrent to the rise of fundamentalist religious belief here in America. The fact that when middle-school students were asked in a recent survey “What large country is located just on the other side of our northern border?” – and not even 50% of them could answer “Canada” – well, I think that is extremely indicative of the crisis we will be facing over the next several decades.

Notwithstanding Dr. Larry’s extremely articulate, penetrating and insightful observation above - “left-wing liberal wackos control the US government right now” – I’m telling you that in the years ahead we will have much more to fear as a nation from the potential dangers of fundamentalist religion than all the “left-wing liberal wackos” in the world could ever cause.

I have the indisputable testimony of history as evidence backing up my assertion, and could flesh it out in great detail with many relevant historical examples if required. What can Dr. Larry provide you in defense of his – the fact that Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson said it?

Byker Bob said...

I realize that my views here are unpopular to those in the disbeliever stage of Armstrong recovery.

But, seriously, the views I've expressed are indeed rooted in the Bible, a book which many of us believe to be the word of God. I don't take any of the negative comments personally. They don't even make me angry, because I realize it's all part of the process.


Leonardo said...

Byker Bob wrote:
"I realize that my views here are unpopular to those in the disbeliever stage of Armstrong recovery. But, seriously, the views I've expressed are indeed rooted in the Bible, a book which many of us believe to be the word of God. I don't take any of the negative comments personally. They don't even make me angry, because I realize it's all part of the process."

Oh, I absolutely agree that the comments you express are indeed rooted in the Bible, and in ideas first having arisen during the Stone Age. You’ll have no argument from me there at all.

And I'm also happy to hear that you don’t take things personally, Bob, because my words are sincerely not intended to HURT you (or anybody else) personally at all - they're merely to point out that you can indeed BELIEVE whatever you want to within the confines of your private subjective imagination, but that you CANNOT in any seriously way whatsoever demonstrate that the Bible is the "Word of God" or even that your Deity exists in the first place. Your many past comments plainly and painfully reveal this fact.

But remember, you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run, epistemologically-speaking. You can’t just pole-vault to wishful conclusions, THEN start building your case for mysticism from there, and not expect people to object to such obvious foolishness.

And also remember the vital distinction between FACT and BELIEF. A fact is a product of observation. A belief, by contrast, is a product of the imagine. A fact is like an individual piece of a puzzle – a belief is what we imagine the full picture on the front of the puzzle box to be.

Take away lesson for the rest of us: When fundamentalists fail abysmally in actually being able to defend their supernatural assertions in any intelligible way, as they ALWAYS eventually do, they will then, typically in some subtle yet condescending manner, still let you know that it’s THEY who have the REAL insights into reality, and that they are just waiting for the rest of us knuckleheads to arrive to the place they have matured to long ago.

Mr. Scribe said...

Byker Bob said...

"I don't take any of the negative comments personally."

You and I Bob go back aways.

I certainly do not agree with you on your re-conversion to religion. However, your choice is yours alone. Everyone of us has different ideas on everything under the sun. Religion or politics, we can fight and scream at each other, but at the end of the day I would still buy you a beer and I know you would return the same!

You do have a good heart and at the end of life there is nothing more to be proud and confident of than knowing you die without regrets.

Herbert was not so lucky.

Corky said...

Byker Bob said...
I realize that my views here are unpopular to those in the disbeliever stage of Armstrong recovery.

As for me, I "recovered" from Armstrongism in a very short time and then became a Christadelphian. I recovered from that very quickly too, especially after I discovered that Christianity is just one big fraud.

My unbelief is not a "stage" that I'm going through, as much as you would like to imagine that. No, I have already proved it's bunk and you have not proved that I'm wrong about that.

But, seriously, the views I've expressed are indeed rooted in the Bible, a book which many of us believe to be the word of God.

Bullshit! You have yourself denied some of the literal meanings of that "word" which is absolutely intended to be literal and made it into allegory to keep science from drowning you in something more real than Noah's flood.

I don't take any of the negative comments personally. They don't even make me angry, because I realize it's all part of the process.

You may fool some people with that pious, self-righteous remark but you don't fool me.

I've seen you people on other forums who start out saying stuff like that (and with all that "God bless you" crap) but sooner or later they all blow up and show their true colors.

Usually, they get kicked out of the forums for threatening the unbelievers with hell-fire or some other "God's gonna get you for that" bullshit.

It just happens that you are among some atheists here that are somewhat gentler in tolerating your bullshit. Go over and try your luck on Delphi's "Chritianity General" forum, see how long you last. Or, better yet, the Infidel Guy's "". I bet you'd break down an threaten hell-fire and brimstone within a month.