Sunday, December 16, 2012

An unfortunate misnomer

Context is everything. There was nothing particularly wonderful about running around Wonderland this morning. The dark cloud of shame hanging over the nation was paralleled by increasing cloud cover and fog rolling in from the plains and it quickly enveloped this otherwise pleasant suburb of north Boulder. I was smacked hard with double injuries following my 10 mile run around Hall Ranch yesterday and decided I would take a brisk walk today with Otto and Olivia and try and stretch out the stiffness.
Otto and Olivia heading towards Hogback Ridge from the North Foothills trailhead

Rising early on Sunday - as I do every morning - I needed my "fix" of world and domestic news (in that order). Unfortunately, all news was the same today with domestic networks and international media all focusing on the horrible events in Connecticut. There was nothing new to report from yesterday, just more of the same, but the shift in articles questioning the lax gun controls ("controls"? - there aren't any!) in the US was at least a bright spot. Let's hope Obama seizes the moment.
Tracking south towards Wonderland and fog rolling in from the east

But I was quickly distracted by the jaw-dropping inanity of the faithful and the credulous, seeking to explain the unexplainable in theological terms. First, we had the incomparable Mike Huckabee speaking on Fox news (where else?) telling the world that this atrocious act was the result of a policy of keeping God out of the classroom. It seems that Huckabee, who in one moment explains that the Founding Fathers were Christians (which is certainly stretching the truth), isn't aware that those same Founding Fathers wrote a pesky constitution protecting the State (through its schools) from supporting or advocating religion. If God is being kept out of the classroom it's because either He, or those who claim to speak for Him, can't behave according to the law.
On the Old Kiln loop

Of course, this gives rise to the more obvious point not dealt with by Huckabee. If children were compelled to pray to his Christian God in classrooms, would this have afforded them protection in the face of an attack of this kind? This seems to be Huckabee's contention. Personally, I'm not convinced. I mean, if Pope John Paul II was shot and almost killed in an assassination attempt, was God asleep on watch or was he distracted by something else? If God can't look after his spokesperson on earth, what chance a small group of completely innocent children and their teachers at a school in Connecticut? Or maybe Huckabee thinks that if all children are compelled to pray to his God in schools this will somehow create a more moral and law-abiding nation? But if this were the case he would need to explain why only 0.2% of the US prison population is atheist, whereas this Pew survey of prison Chaplains (hardly known for their independence in religious matters) estimates Christians, Catholics and other Protestant groups to be in excess of 70%. Still, what are mere data points in the face of such unshakeable beliefs?
An icy Wonderland Lake. We would strike up the hillside to the right of the houses

We then have Brian Fischer, of that nasty organization "American Family Association", telling us that "God is a gentleman and doesn't go where he is not wanted". All of this, I am sure, is of enormous comfort to those who are dealing with this tragedy and might never recover.
Near the top of the hillside and the fog begins to thicken over Boulder

The problem of evil is religion's achilles heel. If the God of religion (and I'll not get into the different competing Gods who all have mutually incompatible versions of the truth) is all seeing , knowing and loving, it does raise the question why He is so unable to act to prevent these cases? After all, if God is all knowing he could have done something to prevent this yet chose not to. Whether the disasters have natural causes, such as a Tsunami, or are man made, such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, or Connecticut, they all happened under His watchful and protective embrace. Never have I been smothered by such ineffectual protection. It must surely be crossing the minds of victims' families that as some of them pray for their children's safe passage to heaven, what does it mean to believe in a God that permitted this to happen in the first place? And I really don't think that "God works in mysterious ways" is quite sufficient an explanation. Most people of above average intelligence know this to be the case yet find comfort in perpetuating the pretense. Like parents clinging to the last vestiges of the Santa Claus myth in the face of awkward questions from the children, they find it difficult to break rank. Social pressure is so strong. Let's hope that, as they reflect on the enormity of what has just taken place they get nudged a little closer to rationality.
Wonderland Lake

Fog quickly covers the hillside
You would think that rather than expose their stupidity to the world, Messrs. Huckabee and Fischer would show some restraint. But it is clear that the 8 year long embarrassment of a President who exemplified low intelligence and a high degree of certainty is but a superficial speck of neural circuitry in cavernous, echoing skulls usually occupied by a fully functioning brain. Shame on those media outlets giving these idiots airtime.
From clear skies to dense fog in about 30 minutes

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