KNOW YOUR ENEMY #1

August 2, 2006

Today we begin a new feature called “Know Your Enemy,” in which I interview, well, the enemy. I’m a firm believer in understanding the opposition so that you can then misrepresent them with believability, and that’s why I sat down with Bora Zivkovic, who, according to his biography, is “better known online as ‘Coturnix’, [and] writes ‘A Blog Around The Clock.’” In addition to blogging, he spends a lot of time being a “Jewish atheist liberal PhD student.”

That sounds exhausting.

Bora and I met in my family’s kitchen and I had my mom make us some lemonade. I was thirsty, and I had some real “hard hitting” questions.

“Why do you hate God?” I asked, squinting at him like Jack Bauer in the interrogation room.

“Which one?” he said. “There are as many conceptions of God as there are religious people.”

I admit I wasn’t expecting that answer, otherwise I would have thought of a witty response. Instead, he continued.

“I don’t mind, really, when people imagine God as Faceless Nature or Mysterious Power or a Sweet Old Grandpa. What I have a problem with is the Angry Vengeful God who, like Big Brother (or Huge Father or Enormous Holy Ghost) watches over your shoulder all the time, making you nervous and making you do vile things to fellow human beings, animals and nature.

“I don’t hate God as I cannot hate something that does not exist, but I am deeply worried about the people who are living in a moment-to-moment fear of a spiteful, whimsical, inconsistent God who appears to be suffering from a bad case of gout, and thinking that this God is talking to them personally. When their darkest wishes from the deep subconscious flow to the surface, they think it is an order from high above and tend to act upon it — act upon their darkest wishes! That is scary.”

I could just tell that after that speech, God was itching to strike Bora down with lightning, and I’m convinced the only reason He didn’t is because father just had the roof re-tiled.

“Yeah,” I said, sarcastically, “well are there atheists in foxholes?”

“Apparently,” Bora said, “there are two meanings of the phrase, both incorrect.”

“Is that so?” I said.

“I, personally, never encountered an atheist in a foxhole, but that may be because I tend not to spend much time in them.”

“And why not?” I eyed him suspiciously.

“As skinny as I am, it is really hard to get down one of those narrow tunnels, and foxes are not very good hosts.

“Anyway, back to the two original meanings — it takes more courage to die in battle if you know there is no Heaven waiting for you, so I’d argue that atheists are braver than the believers. They truly sacrifice themselves for their country, not asking anything in return and not expecting any post-death rewards. That is as selfless as can be. That takes much more courage than dying and expecting to spend millenia sleeping with the lion and the lamb, or sleeping with a bunch of virgins.

“On the other hand, atheists, being in general more thoughtful and educated, may be more likely to question the causes and reasons for any particular war, as well as the practice of war in general. Thus, being braver would lead to more atheists joining the military, but being educated would lead to fewer atheists joining the military. As we can see from the statistics, the two effects cancel each other as the proportion of atheists in the military is equal to their proportion in the general population.”

“Oh,” I said. “So the percentages are the same as in the general population?”

Bora nodded.

“There aren’t fewer atheists in the military?”

Bora shook his head.

This was not going as well as I had thought it would.

Maybe because I was flustered, I blurted out, “What about foxes? Are there foxes in foxholes?”

“Foxes tend to live in foxholes.”

“I see,” I said. “One last question. How can you say that a natural explanation is better than a supernatural explanation when supernatural has the word ‘super’ right in it?” I knew I had him here.

“Because bigger is not neccessarily better. Why do so many Americans fall for terms like ‘super’?

“Now, if you could offer me an ‘unleaded’ explanation, or ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ or a ‘sustainable’ one, I would take a second look, but supersizing does not impress me at all.

“The term ‘supernatural’ has such a corporate sound to it, like something invented by PR guys in the smoky backrooms in order to fool us into buying their lousy unnecessary products, or to vote for their unethical, duplicitous, corrupt political candidates. Isn’t that what Intelligent Design/Creationism is all about, after all?”

I looked to the ceiling, knowing if God struck, my dad would be so mad at me. Fortunately, God waited till Bora was outside. Now, I admit, I didn’t see anything bad happen to him. In fact, he seemed pretty happy. But one doesn’t necessarily see everything that happens.

It’s the nature of the supernatural.


THE BIG SPACE FUCK

July 24, 2006

The above title is taken from a very dirty Kurt Vonnegut short story, and as a good Christian I rarely use that kind of language. But there is no other word — fuck — for the kind of sexual exploits which are now being studied. I accidentally stumbled upon a disturbing website called Boing Boing — referring to the sexual act, no doubt! — on which a person named Xeni Jardin posted about “sex in space” (you can find the post here).

Apparently, there is even a book about sex in space coming out next month, conveniently titled Sex in Space and written by Laura Woodmansee.

The Boing Boing piece quotes MSNBC science writer Alan Boyle as saying:

Sex in space would likely be “hotter and wetter” than on Earth […] because in zero-G there is no natural convection to carry away body heat. Also, scientists have found that people tend to perspire more in microgravity. The moisture associated with sexual congress could pool as floating droplets.

I’m blushing just reading that. Also, I may need a cold shower. The thought of vaginal fluids pooling together and floating through space like lightweight mercury — or worse, a wad of man…stuff floating through space like the ghost of Elmer’s glue — just disturbs me to no end. Americans’ obsession with sexual congress is part of what is wrong with America.

Put down the condoms and pick up the hymnals, America! Use the phrase “Oh, God!” the way it was intended to be used, in reverence — to God.

I find it disturbing enough that people have been studying sex on Earth for so long — but now, people are even studying future sex. People’s obsession with sex — oral sex, anal sex, missionary position vaginal sex, doggy style vaginal sex, doggy style anal sex, reverse cowgirl vaginal sex — is just…it’s what, in part, is wrong with this country. I myself am a proud virgin at the age of 23.

You may be thinking, But, Jon, you’re 5’7″ and 280 pounds, and also incredibly annoying, so of course you’re a virgin. You couldn’t get laid in Tijuana with a hundred dollar bill safety pinned to your shirt.

Which may be true, but it isn’t the point. Even if I could, I wouldn’t.

The sexual act should be performed only by married couples in an attempt to breed. This is why I support abstinence-only sex education. Now, sure, there are those who would argue that denying people knowledge of sex is more dangerous than giving it to them (knowledge, not actual sex), that since the drive for sex is natural, denying people knowledge of sex only makes it so people cannot deal with a natural drive in an educated fashion. That with knowledge comes power — that with knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, contraceptives, and so on, people can protect themselves from the dangers of sex. That ignorance will never eliminate a person’s natural drive for sex. And furthermore, that sex itself — like the drive for it — is perfectly natural and has no more inherent meaning than, say, pooping, though it often feels a great deal better (I have heard). That it can be special, and meaningful, if we love the person we’re sharing the experience with — but that it can also be a good way to kill an hour before heading off to see a film, and nothing more.

Yes, there are those who would make such arguments. I call them atheists. And since there is a 93% chance that you are not an atheist, I trust that you would never make such an argument, or buy into such an argument.

And since we’re in agreement, I urge you to never, ever have sex in space, unless you are married, and having sex in order to produce a child.

But for God’s sake — and I mean that literally: for God’s sake — don’t you dare enjoy it. Because then it’s a sin.


PEGGY NOONAN, GLOBAL WARMING & THE CLASH BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE

July 21, 2006

Aside from the fact that her politics are a bit too centrist for my tastes, I generally like Peggy Noonan, but yesterday she wrote a piece for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL — about global warming — that I do take issue with (which you can find here: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110008676).

In part she says this:

You would think the world’s greatest scientists could [come together and reach an agreement about global warming], in good faith and with complete honesty and a rigorous desire to discover the truth. And yet they can’t. Because science too, like other great institutions, is poisoned by politics. Scientists have ideologies. They are politicized.

Now her argument seems to be that there is no scientific consensus on global warming, which is, in fact, the argument of approximately 53% of journalists who write about the subject. The problem is this. Exactly 0% of the articles published in scientific peer reviewed journals back that claim up. (No, I can’t cite a source. I remember seeing the numbers somewhere, though.) Scientists agree, see, that global warming is real. And they agree, too, that it has a human cause.

What Peggy Noonan doesn’t seem to grasp is that:

1. Scientists do agree on global warming; and

2. Scientists’ politics are often formed as a result of their findings; their findings aren’t formed as a result of their politics.

Facts are, in fact, facts. Not always, but for the most part.

Okay. So on that the scientific community and I agree. But whereas they revere facts, I say to heck with them. I don’t need your stinking data to pollute my faith. Seriously. And this is what those science guys who think that religion and science can coexist peacefully don’t seem to get: their facts tread all over my faith.

They don’t have faith, so they don’t understand — some of them claim to, but they don’t have real faith, or they wouldn’t be science guys. Science guys look for natural causes to events. They have to. It’s the nature of science. When they ask a question — say, where did life come from? — they don’t look within for a spiritual answer; they don’t look to the world’s great religions — Baptism and Southern Baptism — for the answers. They examine DNA evidence, fossil records, and so on. And when the natural world gives them the wrong answers, as it inevitably does, they don’t have faith to rely on, to steer them back in the right direction. And that is why, sadly, science and faith just can’t ever get along. And I’m sick of those who say it can. They step all over my faith and then have the nerve to tell me it’s okay — science and faith can coexist.

No, I’m afraid they can’t. Not without altering that which we have faith in.

You see, back before scientists went nosing around, we knew that the world was six thousand years old. I still know it, but there are those “liberal Christians” who have bought into the nature’s “evidence,” who actually believe the universe is 13.7 (or so) billion years old. That the world itself is over four billion years old. And so their faith has been altered. They no longer believe that piece of their religion. Their faith has eroded.

And back before Charles Darwin nosed around, we knew that God made man, and then made woman out of one of man’s ribs (or made man and woman simultaneously, depending on whether you read the first or second chapter of Genesis — but that’s not the point!). Again, I still know it. And again, there are those “liberal Christians” who believe that man and apes share a common ancestor, and we split six to seven million years ago, and man evolved a big brain and language and so on, and apes are still swinging from trees and flinging feces like some heathen at a Slipknot concert. Their faith has eroded.

Science and faith cannot coexist peacefully, because as science grows, faith shrinks.

So I say to Peggy Noonan, you are wrong, science has reached a consensus on global warming, and that consensus is that it’s real and that human beings caused it and that we are continuing to worsen it. But there is something you can do besides believe the scientists or argue with them. You can be like me, and simply ignore all the facts that you don’t like. And you don’t only have to ignore the ones that try to make you question your faith; you can ignore the ones that try to make you question your politics, too. You’re pretty much doing it, anyway.

And it makes life much easier — just ask my main man, George W. Bush.


JOHN McCAIN ON INTELLIGENT DESIGN

July 20, 2006

John McCain recently spoke out on Intelligent Design, and I couldn’t be happier with what he said — except the part where he said he personally believes in evolution. What a nut! I’m not kin to no ape! But then, this is why McCain has a reputation as an “independent thinker” when anyone with half a brain knows he’s on our side and always has been.

So McCain, when responding to a question about whether Intelligent Design should be taught in schools “mocked the idea that American young people were so delicate and impressionable that they needed to be sheltered from the concept.”

“Shhhhh,” he said, “you shouldn’t tell them.”

Boy, what a kidder.

Now, I know there are those who would point out that the debate regarding Intelligent Design has absolutely nothing to do with whether kids should know about Intelligent Design — but rather, it’s about not establishing religion, and it’s about what passes for science.

After all, their argument might go, the majority of Americans believe in an Intelligent Designer — they call It “God!” — and there are churches all across America which discuss the Big Fella (and bible colleges, like the one I attend, which is a very good bible college indeed); so, by not teaching Intelligent Design in schools, no one is being denied knowledge of an Intelligent Designer.

However (these liberal Dumbocrats might continue), by teaching Intelligent Design in schools, you are establishing religion, and if you teach it in science classes, widening the definition of science to such a degree that even astrology could be considered a science (Behe said it in court, and he’s on your side, these liberals might say).

Science (they might say), is a process by which hypotheses are made and tested, and since the concept of an Intelligent Designer is not falsifiable, since it can’t be tested, even if there is an Intelligent Designer (and there is, guys!), it wouldn’t be science to teach such. We can only go by the evidence we have in the natural world, the fossil records, DNA evidence, and so on, and all of that points toward evolution — and not the Lamarckian variety either! And (these fools might continue), it is perfectly acceptable for someone to believe that an Intelligent Designer was involved somehow — but that is a belief not based on evidence, not a testable theory, but is rather based on faith, and faith is not something that should be taught in science classes.

Yeah, that’s what the liberal Dumbocrats might argue. And if I were standing in a room with them and they made such an arguement I would say, “Stop trying to confuse me with reason!”

Then I would say, ” Your argument about establishing religion is hooey. We’re one nation under God! We’re a Christian nation already, so when you deny God access to the classrooms, you’re denying what has made this country so great for so long — and that’s our total disregard for the evidence at hand, and our willingness to believe whatever we want regardless of what the data suggests, so go and take your intellectualism elsewhere!”

Yeah, that’s what I’d say, all right.


BUSH VETOES STEM CELL BILL

July 19, 2006

Just as he said he would, President Bush vetoed H.R. 810, “The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Bill.” It was his first use of veto power in the history of his presidency, and I for one would like to congratulate him on his choice of bills. In his statement he spoke of not crossing a “moral line,” saying he just couldn’t endorse a bill that would “support the taking of innocent human life.”

If you ask me, this is just more proof — as if we needed it — that President Bush is the best President this nation has had since Reagan. Here is a man who takes the moral high ground. Here is a man who, in the history of his presidency, has not once supported an act that would take an innocent human life, foreign or domestic, and his decision today maintains that clean record.


SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK: HERO

July 19, 2006

There is a video on YouTube.com of Sen. Sam Brownback giving a just fantastic talk on stem cell research (which you can find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS8B0gCPxjc).

The talk is being made, by the way, as part of a discussion on a bill which would expand federal support for stem cell research (which Bush, being the God-loving patriot he is, intends to veto, anyway, now that it’s passed).

If you have watched the video, then you know that what Sen. Brownback is actually talking about is not stem cell research, but “Hannah,” who was adopted as a frozen embryo — and, as Sen. Brownback points out, said embryos are called a “snowflakes.” I think we can all agree that that is a cute name for a frozen embryo. (And I don’t know about Sen. Brownback, but personally, I love to stick out my tongue when it’s snowing and let snowflakes fall on it, and then I eat them. I know it seems childish, but it brings me more joy than protesting abortion mills, and believe me, that brings me joy: there is almost nothing more fulfilling than making a teenage girl weep while on her way into a Planned Parenthood building. I say “almost” because of the whole snowflake thing.) It’s rather interesting that those frozen embryos aren’t called, I dunno, people, but that’s not the point. You see, the point is, to Sen. Brownback and to me, that this thing that was once an embryo is now a little girl called Hannah, so she has become a person, and what right do we have to play God by destroying thousands of little Hannahs in the name of research? Sure, it could be argued that the embryos scientists want to use for research are being destroyed by the thousands, anyway, as biological waste, side products of in vitro fertilization, and so they might as well be used in research which could potentially save the lives of the walking, talking, living, loving human beings that cover our planet right now, that none of them would be denied a waiting uterus in the name of research if said uterus was in fact waiting, and that said embryos are not persons (they’re snowflakes!), but a collection of cells with no feelings and no personality — but to make such arguments one would have to be a Dumbocrat liberal intellectual of the most repugnant (atheist) variety.

This debate is a matter of principle. These embryos, you see, are persons in principle, if not in fact. And maybe they are being destroyed anyway, but to destroy them through research is wrong. It is actively destroying a living thing (as opposed to them simply being discarded, which is also wrong, but less wrong); it is an immoral means to an end. It doesn’t matter that these embryos are being destroyed anyway. That isn’t the point. I know it, you know it, President Bush knows it, and Sen. Brownback knows it.

So, human lives could be saved by doing research on embryos which are being destroyed anyway — is that all you lefties got in the way of an argument? Well, it’ll take more than logic to budge me, and it’ll take more than logic to budge my man Bush, too.